Liquid Life: 12 Best Survival Water Filters

Photo: LifeStraw

Sometimes it seems like everything in our world is ready to come crumbling down at any moment – whether that be the result of natural disasters, all-out war, or just bad luck. That means you should probably make ready, at least to some degree, for a possible survival situation. And the most important thing to have access in any emergency is probably water.

But, if you find yourself without it, you can’t simply find a puddle or stream somewhere and drink up, as random water sources can often be loaded with parasites and other nasty things that will do you far more harm than good. That’s why you should have some way to clean out any bacteria and toxins – namely a survival filtration and/or purifying device. For reference, the chief difference between a water filter and a water purifier is the extent to which the water gets clean. For instance, a water filter will clean out practically all microbes from a water source, but a purifier will take it a step further and get rid of impurities on an even smaller level – like viruses. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find a worthwhile one in the following collection of the 12 best survival water filters on the market.

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

For a surprisingly low price, the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System packs a lot of versatility into a tiny package. Not only can it filter out 99.99999% of all impurities from bacteria to protozoa, but it’s also compatible with the included drinking pouch, normal disposable water bottles, hydration packs, or can be used to drink water directly from the source. It also has the capability to filter up to 10,000 gallons and comes with a cleaning plunger.

Purchase: $19

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LifeStraw has pretty much set the standard for survival water filtration. And this, their flagship product, is a shining example as to what you should expect out of any survival filter. Small enough to fit in just about any backpack, duffel bag, or otherwise, this disposable filter can make ready to drink up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water – eliminating over 99% of waterborne bacteria and protozoa. And each one comes in a hermetically sealed pouch, so you can be sure it’s fresh and clean the first time you use it.

Purchase: $20

LifeStraw Universal Filter

If you’re going to be carrying around a water bottle anyway, you might want to incorporate your water filter into it. That’s where LifeStraw’s Universal Filter comes in. This clever device – which comes with three optional lids – is designed to fit a number of different water bottle types, including those made by Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen, Nalgene, and Camelbak. This 2-stage filter will clean up to 1,000 liters of water of over 99% of all bacteria and protozoa, and you don’t even need to swap out your favorite water bottle to use it.

Purchase: $30

LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle

Say the idea of a water bottle with a built-in filter appeals to you, but you don’t already have a reusable bottle at your disposal, then you can get an all-in-one package out of LifeStraw’s Go Water Filter Bottle. It’s remarkably easy to use – just fill the bottle with contaminated water, lower the filter with the attached lid into the bottle, and get to drinking. Like the rest of their products, this one eliminates over 99% of impurities and works for 1,000 liters of water per filter.

Purchase: $45

MSR TrailShot Water Filter

While it looks a bit odd compared to some of the other filters on this list, the MSR TrailShot has a few handy features that make it one of the better options for hikers and adventurers. For instance, the long hose allows you to easily drink water directly from the source without having to practically put your face into it. Plus, the handle doubles as a squeeze-pump, making it easy to drink directly from the device or fill up containers with potable water. In fact, it can filter an entire liter of water in only 60 seconds. And, of course, it filters out 99% of all impurities and can filter up to 2,000 liters per filter.

Purchase: $50

Katadyn Hiker Microfilter

This portable hand pump water filter is considered to be one of the easiest to use water filtrations systems on the market. And that’s only partly due to how straightforward the device’s functionality. The other reason it’s so easy is because of how simple the filter is to clean. All you have to do is pull it out of the filter, rinse off all the particulates in some water (even a creek works fine), and then put it back. You don’t even have to worry about backflushing the filter.

Purchase: $53

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier Bottle

In only 15 seconds, the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier Bottle can get you clean drinkable water. That means virtually no waiting, no pumping, no sucking, and no squeezing. And that simplicity alone may be enough for most people. All you have to do is fill her up, press the top down, and get to drinking. The resulting water will be cleaned of over 99% of all bacteria and particulates, making this a safe bet for world travelers and outdoorsmen alike.

Purchase: $60

SteriPen Ultra UV Water Purifier

Probably the most unique water filtration device on our list, this one doesn’t actually remove bacteria from the water – it uses UV light to kill it and over 99% of anything else that might be floating around in there. The downside – this means that you might still be drinking hazy water, which can be a little gross even if it is safe. Still, the added benefit is that it’s electronic, so you don’t have to worry about buying new filters. You just have to charge it back up. One charge will give you roughly 50 filtrations, and it can be recharged roughly 300 times – that equals about 15,000 liters. It also features a handy indicator LED to let you know when the battery is low.

Purchase: $87

Lifesaver Bottle 6000

You might think it absurd that a water filtration bottle could cost nearly $150, but this one has some features that back up its high price tag. For starters, it’s not just a filter – it’s a purifier, meaning it can filter out everything from bacteria to viruses. It can also filter up to 6,000 liters of water per cartridge. And it has a simple indicator that lets you know when the cartridge needs to be swapped out. Pricey, sure, but worth it.

Purchase: $144

Matador Hydrolite Packable Filtration Backpack

If you want a water filtration device but need a little more functionality out of it, then you might be looking for the Matador Hydrolite Packable Filtration Backpack. This set includes a 2-liter hydration pack attached to a hose with a built-in Sawyer Mini filter capable of purifying up to 100,000 gallons of water, a 30D waterproof and puncture-resistant backpack to carry it in, 8-liters of extra carry space, and another small stash pocket for expandable storage. If you’re looking for a minimalist pack that can get you through the apocalypse, this is it.

Purchase: $190

Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System

Perhaps you need a water filter for semi-large groups of people (like, perhaps, on a camping trip with friends or in a fallout shelter). Then this one from Berkey is big enough to handle the job and simple enough to be relatively frustration-free. With enough capacity to supply water for 4-16 people, this filter uses gravity to drive dirty water through its filtration system and down to the spigot at the bottom. Think of it like a water cooler, but made for surviving the end of the world. It can also filter up to 6,000 gallons between the two included filters.

Purchase: $289

MSR Guardian Water Purifier

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line purifier you can use just as easily on a camping trip as in an apocalypse bunker, then it’s the MSR Guardian. This military-grade pump doesn’t just get rid of bacteria and protozoa; it also gets rid of waterborne viruses – making for perhaps the cleanest water you could get. It can also filter up to 10,000 liters of water; is resistant to freezing, heat, impact, and heavy usage; and it is made right here in the USA.

Purchase: $349

Best Survival Foods

While water is the most important consumable to have in an emergency, food follows fairly close behind. So, whether you want to prep your apocalypse bunker or you just want to be prepared for the worst, our list of the best survival foods will go a long way toward getting you ready.