5 Best Survival Water Filters – 2024 Field Test

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After reviewing dozens of survival water filters, the Grayl GeoPress Water Purifier is the best survival water filter we tested.

It’s lightweight and compact, making it ideal for carrying on long treks. It is the same size as a common water bottle, and it works in only a matter of seconds. During my testing, it took about ten seconds to purify 24 ounces of water. That’s far faster (and easier) than other options on the market.

Best Survival Water Filter
Kristin showing the survival water filters that she tested
My top three Survival Water Filter Pics

There are tons of survival water filters and purifiers out there today. To find the best ones, I tested each with my team, which includes survivalists and military veterans. Blake, one of our team members, has experience in training groups for emergency relief. He’s used many of these filters in the field during actual emergencies.

We ranked each water filter based on its effectiveness, ease of use, and efficiency. There are certain things to consider depending on your situation and needs.

Keep reading to find out what they are and which is the best for you.


Quick Comparison of Our Favorite Water Filters for Survival and Emergencies

BEST OVERALL
Grayl Geopress Water Purifier

Grayl Geopress Water Purifier

Full Purifier

Filters Fast

Portable Bottle

Price: $$

BEST SOLO FILTER
Lifestraw Water Filter

Lifestraw Water Filter

Compact

Affordable

Lightweight

Price: $

BEST SMALL FILTER
Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Compact

Versatile

Includes Pouch

Price: $

BEST FAMILY FILTER
Sawyer Gravity Water Filter System

Sawyer Gravity Water Filter System

One Gallon Capacity

Hanging System

Easy to Use

Price: $

BEST FOR HOME
Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System

Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System

Excellent Filtration

High Capacity

Easy to Use

Price: $$$


Best Survival Water Filters

Grayl GeoPress Purifier – Best Overall Survival Water Filter

Grayl Geopress Water Purifier
  • Rate: 5L/min
  • Removes: Viruses, bacteria, protozoa, chemicals, and heavy metals
  • Weight: 12.5 oz
  • Filtration Capacity: 65 gallons
  • Water Storage Capacity: 24 oz

Despite being relatively unknown, the Grayl GeoPress Water Purifier is easily the best survival water filter. Through my testing, I discovered that it is exceptionally faster than other water filters out there. Its broad spectrum filtration and compact design are unmatched.

I’d recommend it for anyone preparing for an emergency, hikers, and bushcrafters.

Kristin showing the Grayl Geopress Filter
We tested the Grayl in this stream near our campsite

I put the GeoPress to the test on several of my trips camping and hiking. I filtered water from streams and out of a lake. The press mechanism is a game-changer. It makes filtering water both effortless and efficient. After a long day on the trail, the last thing I want to do is spend time hanging a gravity bag.

The fast filtration meant I could quickly fill my bottle without waiting, a huge advantage to other filters. Since it has a built in bottle, I can quickly fill, press, and then drink. I can take it with me, instead of needing a separate container to put my filtered water into.

The water was also of excellent quality. I pulled water straight from murky streams, and it quickly delivered clean, drinkable water. It didn’t taste weird, unlike many other filters I tried. There wasn’t an aftertaste, and I felt confident in the water.

Jason using the Grayl Geopress
Jason using the Grayl Geopress

Compared to competitors like Sawyer Mini or LifeStraw, the GeoPress stands out for its ease of use and speed. I found pressing to be much faster and less tiring than pumping or sucking, especially when my hands were cold or wet. Plus, it is a purifier, not just a filter, so it is the best you can get.

Personally, the GeoPress became my go-to companion for every hiking trip and emergency. It’s given me the freedom to drink from practically any water source. Plus, when paired with the Pathfinder nesting cup, the combo is tough to beat.

Recommended for:

The innovative Grayl GeoPress is a worthwhile investment for anyone who needs a convenient, fast way to filter water. It’s easily the best survival water filter I’ve encountered.

PROS

Unmatched Speed

Built in 24oz Bottle

Full Water Purifier

Extremely portable

Simple to use

CONS

Higher cost

Here is a good video review of the Grayl Geopress. Also see our Battlbox Review, there is usually a good water filter in the box every few months.


Lifestraw Water Filter – Best Solo Survival Water Filter

Lifestraw Water Filter
  • Rate: 3L/min
  • Removes: Bacteria, protozoa, and parasites
  • Weight: Less than 2 oz
  • Filtration Capacity: 1,000 gallons
  • Water Storage Capacity: None

The Lifestraw water filter is a personal water filter that’s a straw-like device. It lets me drink directly from contaminated sources like streams, lakes, and even puddles. It’s ideal for those who want a small backup filter or shorter excursions like hiking. It does remove bacteria, protozoa, and parasites, but it doesn’t remove other harmful substances.

The main benefit of the Lifestraw is that it’s lightweight and easy to use. Its simplicity is its greatest strength. Forget pumps and complicated instructions. You just dip in the straw, suck, and enjoy clean water.

It’s so easy that a younger child can figure it out with minimal instructions.

Kristin showing the Lifestraw Water Filter
My Lifestraw Water Filter

It’s also very portable. It can slip into your pocket, and carrying it in your backpack won’t take up much extra room. I typically recommend it as a backup filter.

However, it doesn’t do one very important thing: hold filtered water. You cannot use it to filter a liter of water to take with you. You have to stay near a water source.

You also have to lie on the ground. I don’t know about you, but most places in my area near creeks are wet. Laying on the ground is not a good way to stay dry, especially near a water source. I would prefer to not lay on the ground to drink.

Recommended for:

If you’re looking for an extremely small, portable filter, the Lifestraw water filter can be a solid option. Its affordable price and minimum weight make it an excellent backup filter.

PROS

Protects against most contaminants

Very small

Inexpensive

Simple to use

CONS

Not for viruses or chemicals

Slow flow rate

No capacity


Sawyer Mini Water Filter – Best Compact Survival Water Filter

Sawyer Mini Water Filter
  • Rate: 2L/min
  • Removes: Bacteria, viruses, and protozoa
  • Weight: 2 oz
  • Filtration Capacity: 100,000 gallons
  • Water Storage Capacity: 16 oz

The Sawyer Mini water filter is a tiny water filter that takes up minimal space. It can remove most of the common contaminants and is extremely lightweight to boot. Plus, it’s easy to use and requires minimal maintenance.

Blake has used the Sawyer Mini several times while in the field. In his experience, it tackles everything from freshwater springs to murky puddles with ease. The lightweight design means that it fits easily into his pack, even with a week’s worth of gear.

The simple squeeze operation is also a breeze, even when your hands are numb from the cold! I just simply fill the bag, attach the filter, and drink.

Kristin showing the Sawyer Mini Water Filter
My Sawyer Mini Water Filter

The Mini was a huge upgrade compared to the bulkier filters he’s used. The flow rate may not be the best, but it does absolutely work. Plus, the filter’s durability allowed it to withstand tough conditions, even after dealing with Tennessee’s red mud and silt.

It does come with a bag that rolls up nicely for storage. I like being able to take filtered water with me from my water source.

Recommended for:

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Grayl water filter, the Sawyer Mini water filter is a fantastic alternative for a single individual. It does not work well for larger groups, though. Each person will need one.

PROS

Takes up very little space

Filters most contaminants

Versatile

Includes Bag for Water

CONS

Slow flow rate

Small capacity


Sawyer Gravity Filter: Best Family Survival Water Filter

Sawyer Gravity Filter
  • Rate: 0.5 L/min
  • Removes: Bacteria, protozoa, cysts, and microplastics
  • Weight: 1.5 oz
  • Filtration Capacity: 100,000 gallons
  • Water Storage Capacity: 1 gallon

The Sawyer Gravity Filter is a reliable, simple way to filter a lot of clean water while camping or during emergencies. It’s perfect for families and groups of up to five people. Plus, its impressive filter capacity allows it to filter tons of water before the filter becomes inefficient.

Blake has used the Sawyer gravity filter for years. He typically fills the bag up and hangs it on a tree branch. It’s best to have two hands for this job, we found, but it is possible to do it by yourself. The water will flow through the filter thanks to gravity. It is very slow, but you don’t have to pump.

Blake Filling the Sawyer Gravity Bag
Blake Filling the Sawyer Gravity Bag

Once done, you’ll have a full gallon of water to split between several water bottles. (You do have to put it into a separate container for transport. The bag alone isn’t practical for carrying around.)

When not in use, the bag folds down nicely. It comes with a pouch, but Blake didn’t use it for more than a few trips. Its lightweight design and durability make it very easy to transport around.

After filtering, the water it leaves behind is very clean and odorless. It doesn’t have a weird taste like some chemical purification options leave behind.

Because the filter rate is so slow, you do have to plan ahead. We tried this gravity filter next to the Grail filter, and the Grail was exceptionally faster (and easier to use).

Recommended for:

The Sawyer gravity filter is a solid option if you have a fairly large group. It has a much higher capacity than other filters. However, it is very slow due to its gravity-driven design.

PROS

Straightforward and simple to use

Folds into a very small footprint

Inexpensive

CONS

Very slow filter rate

Requires hanging


Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System: Best Water Filter for Home Preparedness

Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System
  • Rate: 0.25L/min
  • Removes: Bacteria, chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, viruses, heavy metals, lead
  • Weight: Under 8 pounds
  • Filtration Capacity: 200 gallons
  • Water Storage Capacity: 2 1/4 gallons

The Alexapure Pro water filtration system is a gravity-fed water filtration system that is designed for at-home use. It has a robust filtration system that removes just about all contaminants. Unlike pitcher filters or faucet attachments, the Alexapure Pro has a larger capacity and doesn’t require your water to be running.

Therefore, it works great during at-home emergencies.

This filter removes more serious contaminants, like bacteria and viruses. However, it also removes very common contaminants like heavy lead chlorine. The simple gravity-fed design allows you to produce ample clean water fairly quickly. You can fill it up and forget about it.

Compared to competitors like the Berkey (which I also looked at), the Alexapure is much cheaper and works just as well. The rubber pieces are also of higher quality, so the water tastes better. The long-lasting filter and minimal maintenance make this filter easily one of the best.

Even after several months of use, the Alexapure Pro is still going strong. It’s very easy to use daily, and having a few filters on hand can provide you with plenty of water during an extended emergency.

Recommended for:

The Alexapure Pro water filtration system is perfect for those looking for a high capacity at-home emergency water filtration system.

PROS

Superior filtration

Exceptionally easy to use

Cheaper than similar systems

CONS

Higher initial cost

Slower filtration rate


Puribag and P&G Purifier of Water: Best for Very Dirty Water

Puribag and P&G Purifier of Water
  • Rate: 10 Liters/Hr
  • Removes: Bacteria, Viruses, Cysts, Heavy Metals, Pesticides, Protozoa
  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Filtration Capacity: Depends on Water Condition
  • Water Storage Capacity: 10 Liters

The Puribag and P&G Purifier of Water Packets is more than just a water filter. It is a combination of a heavy-duty clear plastic bag with an integrated filter and water purification packets.

All of the other water filters on our list struggle with water that is very muddy or silty. I find that most filters can become clogged very quickly with turbid water and become almost unusable. Most recommend running very dirty water through some type of cloth first.

Treating nasty, muddy water is the Puribag’s specialty.

Jason Showing the Puribag
The Puribag is very compact and rolls up nicely

It rolls up so it is very compact and easy to carry in my bug out bag or pack. It has a unique shape that allows the contaminants to settle to the bottom.

To test it, I filled it with very nasty water in an area where I know water stands most of the time. It is a very muddy area that usually smells bad as well.

Jason Filling the Puribag
Jason filling the Puribag, this water is Nasty

I added one of the P&G Purifier of Water packets and could immediately see the mud start to separate from the water through a process known as “Flocculation.”

Jason showing the Puribag Hanging
You can see the contaminants start to separate immediately

After about 30 minutes, the water was clearer but still not completely clear. I opened the bottom of the bag to let the solids out and added another packet. After about 1 hour the water was almost clear, but still had some orange-colored solids floating in it. I massaged the bag to get the remaining solids to settle and after about another hour the water was clear.

I found that the included clamps were easy to use. It is amazing how the purple clamp slips right on and doesn’t allow any water to leak from the bag.

Jason showing the Clamps on the Puribag
The clamps are easy to use

The bag has a spout on it with an integrated carbon filter that removes any remaining contaminants. I found it did a great job and the water did not taste or smell funny.

This system is great for emergencies such as flooding. Where normal filters will struggle it will remove all of the mud and hazardous runoff like pesticides and heavy metals. It is great for urban environments.

The only negative is it takes time to work. Depending on how dirty the water is, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. It is a iterative process and could take 2 or 3 treatments to get the water clear. The P&G packets also expire in about 18 months, but they can be purchased separately and are inexpensive.

Jason showing the clean water in the puribag
It takes some time, but that nasty water is clean now

The packets can be used without the bag in another container, but I would recommend getting the Puribag. It will be hard to find and carry a large container in an emergency.

Reccommended for:

The Puribag and P&G Purifier of Water Packets are for anyone in an urban or flood prone environment. It will purify muddy, turbid water when most other filters will struggle.

PROS

Compact Bag

Holds 10 Liters

Great for Very Dirty Water

CONS

Wait Time

Packets Expire


Tips for Choosing the Best Survival Water Filter

According to the survival rule of three, you can only live three days without water. That’s why you should never leave having fresh, drinkable water to chance. But with so many options, finding the perfect match can be overwhelming.

But don’t worry! I’ll explain exactly what you must consider when choosing a survival water filter for you and your family.

Assess Your Needs

There isn’t a single water filter that works for everyone. If there was, I wouldn’t have written this whole guide. It’s important to consider what you need to select a proper water filter. Here are some questions we recommend asking:

  • Will you be solo or with others? If it’s an emergency, don’t forget to select a system that will work for the whole family.
  • Backpacking or stationary? The Aquapure Pro is a great filter for your home, but the Grayl is best for backpacking.
  • What water are you purifying? Water in rural woods is much different from a murky city puddle. If you live in an urban area, filtering out chemicals is a must.

Answering these questions should help you determine exactly what you need to purchase. In some cases, several different water filters may be best. Having the Aquapure for your home and the Grayl as one of your go bag essentials is a great choice for example.

Features to Prioritize

After you’ve assessed your needs, it’s important to know what you’re looking at when reviewing survival water filters. The terminology can be a bit complicated! Here are some terms that are important to understand:

  • Flow Rate: This is how fast a water filter processes the water. Speedy filters are typically better, as you don’t have to wait for your water.
  • Capacity: Some water filters can hold gallons of water. Others don’t hold any at all. Choose a capacity that matches the number of people you use water for. (Or, you may need to purchase several smaller filters. I prefer a Grayl per adult person, for instance.)
  • Weight and Size: If you’re backpacking, weight matters. Don’t get a huge filter for your bugout bag.
  • Ease of Use: Simple filters are typically best, as complicated instructions are easily forgotten in an emergency. Look for filters that only require one or two steps.
  • Filter Capacity: This refers to how many gallons a filter can process before it no longer becomes effective. Of course, more is better. However, you should also consider the price of replacement filters.
  • Filter Effectiveness: Some filters can only remove common contaminants like bacteria and parasites. However, if you live in an urban setting, you must filter out chemicals. The Aquapure and Grayl are the most effective at removing various contaminants.

Pump vs. Gravity Filters

There are two main types of survival filters: pump filters that require you to push water and gravity filters that do not.

Pumping does require some effort. However, these filters often have a faster flow rate. Quality pump filters won’t make you work that hard to pump the water, though. The Grayl is very easy to pump down, and the whole action takes about ten seconds.

Many people make a big deal out of pump filters because they require some work. However, in my experience, they’re very easy to use.

Gravity filters only rely on gravity. Typically, there are two bags or containers. You place one above the other. In the woods, you can hang it from a tree. However, filtering water in a field can be a bit complicated. You have to have something to hang the bag from.

Gravity filters are also a lot slower. Gravity doesn’t pull water as quickly as a pump. However, they also don’t require any manual labor on your part. They can be a good option for “filling and forgetting.” Blake has filtered gallons of water by filling up a gravity filter and letting it work for an hour or so.

The Best Survival Water Filter for You

I typically recommend the Grayl GeoPress water filter. It works much faster than other filters and is exceptionally easy to use. During my testing, it was easily one of my favorites (and I’m keeping it in my emergency kit).

However, if you need a small filter, I recommend the Sawyer Mini water filter. It’s very small, so keeping it in your bug out bag as a backup or in your vehicle get home bag is a great option.

Of course, all the water filters on this list are our favorites! Any of them will work well in an emergency to keep you and your family hydrated.

Many of these filters have been featured by Battlbox. Be sure to check out our full Battlbox Review to see how you can save some money!

Be sure to check out our full How to Start Prepping guide as well as our other Survival Guides and Gear Reviews!

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Kristin is a fulltime writer with an obsession for being prepared. She spends much of her time working towards making her family self-sufficient, including homeschooling her children. When she isn’t writing, she’s shooting with her husband or homesteading.