What to Look For In A Survival Water Filter

Years ago, people laughed at those who prepare for a disaster, calling them paranoid. However, with Texans dealing with massive power failures their wind-energy-dependent infrastructure having frozen stiff, prepping seems more reasonable than ever. But survival preparation is not a game for hobbyists.

For optimal disaster preparedness, we must cover several bases. They are food, water, shelter, heat, and defense. But if you had to focus on one thing only, it should be water. Lack of access to clean water would kill more people faster than anything else.

In any situation, we need a reliable way to produce sufficient amounts of clean water. The good news is that there are many high-quality products on the market to choose from.

But they are not all created equal. The ideal survival water filter is durable, long-lasting, light, and reliable. Here, we’ll discuss the properties of the best water purification products for your emergency kits, for your car, your boat, basement, or bugout bag.

survival filter
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle with 2-Stage Integrated Filter Straw for Hiking, Backpacking, and Travel

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What to consider when looking for a survival water filter

There are two primary ways to clean water other than boiling it; filtering the water, and using chemical purifiers. A filter forces water through micron-sized holes to separate it from dirt, germs, and parasites.

Chemical purification kills pathogens that may be in the water, but it does not separate it from other impurities, and it takes longer.

Portable water filter, Survival water filter
Water filter

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Ideally, you should have a way of filtering water that comes from questionable sources and have halogen water purification tablets for good measure. If you have the option of boiling water, this can replace the halogen tablets, allowing you to save them for another time.

In addition to these considerations, a survival water filter should be tough. It should be able to take some rough treatment and still do its job. Most portable camping filters are encased in a tough plastic shell, but the inner filter may still be rather fragile. Keep in mind that a filter designed for camping may not be up to the task of serving your hydration needs in a survival situation.

Some purifiers use UV light to clear microbes from water and distillers that use a complex process to filter it, but for portability and emergency use, we will stick to filtering and halogen tablets as a supplemental purification method.

Types of Survival Water Filters

There are at least five types of water purifiers that we consider practical for our purposes, each with its relative advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Pump Purifier

With a pump purifier, you use a manual pump to press your water through the filter. This is usually the fastest portable way to produce drinkable water. A quality pump-type filter can produce up to two liters of potable water in as little as two to five minutes. A good, high-quality purifier of this kind will cost between $40 and $300.

best water filter
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The difference being in the strength, durability, and quality of the filter system. Filters for these types of units must be quite robust to tolerate the strain of the pumping action. Fortunately, replacement filters are available for most of these types of products, making a single unit highly practical.

Recommendation: Katadyn Vario Dual-Tech MicroFilter

This portable pump purifier is solidly constructed from high-impact plastics and contains one of the most effective and robust filters in its class. It is available on Amazon for $94.95

2. Survival Straw

The advantage of a survival straw purifier is they are small, very portable, and fairly tough. You can pack a dozen of these into the space of a thermos and bet on long-term access to clean water.

The disadvantage is they produce relatively small amounts. The user also has to be able to crouch down into or next to the water source. These also don’t tend to last as long as a larger pump model.

survival water filter
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness

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Recommendation: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

This product is extremely light and portable with a simple exterior design that is great for packing. It is also one of the highest quality products of its kind and is very affordable at just $14.97 on Amazon.

3. Purifier Bottles

These are handy, simple to use, and come in several versions. Some models filter while you carry the bottle. Others use a coffee-press-like mechanism, and still, others just have a filter in the nozzle.

Water bottle water filter
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness

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They are relatively inexpensive and are another good supplement to your purification arsenal. But we would not recommend relying on these alone.

Recommendation: LifeStraw Go Portable Water Bottle

Simple and effective, this portable purifier is comfortable in the hand, comes with a carabiner to attach to a backpack, and fits easily into your pack as well. The filter offers a larger purification surface compared to similar items. It is available on Amazon for $74.95.

4. Ceramic Filters

Ceramic has been used to safely and effectively filter water for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It is easy to clean and produces some of the best results you’re likely to find.

ceramic water filter
Ceramic Filter

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Once they crack, however, they are useless, and they can be a bit heavy. They can be fairly expensive, but a quality unit is well worth the price.

Recommendation: Aquaboon CE-S Water Filter

With unparalleled portability compared to most ceramic systems, the Aquaboon is setting the standard for practical and portable ceramic water filtration systems. It is available on Amazon for just $12.99.

5. Gravity Fed Purifiers

These tend to be large, complex, and unwieldy, but they produce the largest amount of clean water of any portable survival system. They usually feature large, plastic bags to hold a few gallons of water.

gravity fed water purifier
Gravity Fed Purifiers

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These bags can be easily damaged. But if you pair these with a pump model and a few survival straws, you’ll be sitting pretty.

Recommendation: Travel Berkey Gravity Fed Water Filter

One of the largest “portable” products in the category, the Travel Berkey Filter offers second to none purification power that s well worth the price. It is available for $269 on Amazon.

So, What is the Best Survival Water Filter?

If you could pick only one for a group of survivors who had to keep moving, a high-quality pump filter or a small collection of survival straws is probably your best bet.

If you have the luxury of being able to shelter in one place, a larger gravity-fed system will serve you well. Pair it with a portable or semi-portable ceramic purifier for short journeys to and from your water source.

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At the end of the day, our recommendation is to buy nice- don’t buy twice. Be ready to spend money on a quality filter, regardless of the type of system it is housed in. Also, if you have the pack space, get multiple types of quality portable purifiers.

No matter how small your group, every filter has a limited operational life. So if you won’t be able to replace it later, be prepared and supply yourself with backups now. That’s what preparation is all about.