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11 Best Survival Water Filters to Save Your Life (#1 is Lifestraw)

Water is essential when you are trekking in the wild or want some adventures in forests.

Adventure and risky routes might cause you an adrenaline rush, but looking for clean drinking water is something that you always have to ensure. There are methods of purifying water with natural elements, but it might not come handy if you are just a beginner. You should be equipped with some survival water filters so that you can purify water with ease, even during emergencies. 

We have some suggestions for the best survival water filters in the market. You cannot expect all the best qualities in a single product so you can buy two or three of them for different purposes.


  1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

This water filter is a favorite of preppers as it assures complete safety. It can filter up to 4000 liters of wild waters and provides topnotch service even during an emergency. This filter does not need batteries to work, so you do not have to carry lots of cells to make it work. This filter also provides assured protection against bacteria and pathogens. It comes with a microfiber membrane that traps the microorganisms and passes only clear water for you to drink. It is light and easy to carry, so this does not overburden your bag. 

However, this filter cannot remove salt from the water. So this might not be your best option to put it on your safety kit in the sea. 

The LifeStraw is a widely known product that went viral in 2005. The LifeStraw intended to provide an affordable way to combat the serious threat of waterborne illnesses globally. Time Magazine recognized LifeStraw as the best invention of 2005.

The LifeStraw can be purchased for under $20. Impressively the water filter is extremely light, about 2 ounces. They are personal water filters, so when possible one should be purchased for each expected group member. Extras can be bought and stored in common locations like in your car or at work, in case you are caught unaware by a disaster.

They also serve well for hikers because of their weight. On long-hikes, a hiker can significantly reduce their physical load with a LifeStraw and adequate nearby water sources.

The LifeStraw is constructed of BPA free plastic. It filters using a hollow fiber microfiltration membrane capable of filtering out debris and bacteria bigger than 0.2 microns. Expected use is about a year (2L/day) or 1,000 gallons, whatever comes first.

The LifeStraw does solve the dehydration issue very well, but it requires the user to physically be extremely close to the water source. It would be possible to store and move water to a campsite and then use the LifeStraw to filter onsite as needed.

Like the packaging shows: removes 99.9 percent of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics.



  1. MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter

It is a water pumping device that has been in the market for a long time. Many preppers have used and loved it. The device might look complicated, but it is easy to use when you get the hang of it. It is equipped with ceramic or carbon filters to filter and purify water. The pump is made for heavy-duty use even in challenging conditions. It can pump up to 1 liter of water per minute. Such a speed is impressive indeed! 

This filter is loved by hikers, campers, and adventure freaks. You can clean it easily and use it as many times as required. Light and portable, it can easily fit in your emergency bag. This filters muddy water and provides assured protection against germs, bacteria, and protozoa. After lots of use, you might see that the water is still not clear, that is when you know that the filters need scrubbing. It gives you clean, odorless water so that you stay healthy and fit on your adventure. 


  1. Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter  

It is unique for its transparent quality. You can see for yourself how the water is being filtered. It is proven to last for many trips to the wild. The brand is trusted by hikers and preppers for its trustworthy service over the years. It filters the water with activated carbon. It ensures that the water is filtered without chemicals and remains odorless without compromising on its purity. 

The Katadyn is known for its extreme durability and dependability. This water filter can last for years with moderate use, rating to at last 13,000 gallons. The company backs its product with a 20-year warranty. It is capable of outputting 1 liter of clean water per minute, excellent for dire situations.

The Katadyn is high-quality and as such doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay around $370, but can be found for lower when on sale. The filter weighs about a pound, which may deter backpackers from carrying it.

It is built from stainless steel, aluminum, silicon, and ceramic parts. The Katadyn filters bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants using a pump filter down to 0.2 microns.

The Kayadyn Pocket water filter isn’t intended for large groups. If preparing for a societal breakdown situation, if your family or group consists of more than 3 individuals, you may want to purchase multiple.

This product is highly functional and light and portable enough to be carried everywhere. The carbon cartridge is changeable, which increases its life to many more uses. 


  1. Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

The strong fiber membrane helps to pump lots of water without succumbing to the flow. It allows the filter to work heavy duty. The filter consists of pores not larger than 0.1 microns. It helps to filter out harmful bacteria and protozoa and provide only clean potable water. 

Sawyer products have been around in the survival market for decades. The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is a second-generation product. Similar to the LifeStraw, the Sawyer Mini is only 2 ounces, made of plastic, and is very versatile.

The filter removes 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa, exceeding the EPA guidelines. The filter provides 0.1-micron filtration, better than the alternatives.

The Sawyer Mini also comes with a 16 oz drinking pouch and straw. This pouch can be attached to the water filter, connected to a hydration pack, or screwed onto a standard water bottle. This capability is an improvement over the LifeStraw by allowing for storing and transport of clean drinking water.

Amazingly the Sawyer Mini is rated for up to 100,000 gallons! That is years and years of water filtration for multiple people. And for a retail price of around $20, this is an excellent choice for budget-minded individuals, large groups, and hikers.

The filter comes with a drinking pouch and can be used in water bottles and hydration packs. You can also drink from the source without any fear of harming your health. Its compact size allows you to carry it easily in the emergency case. 


  1. Miniwell Gravity Water Filter

The miniwell water filter is a great choice for campsites. It comes as a set of eight parts that will aid you to set up your water filtering station. It uses gravity to filter freshwater and purify it from harmful bacteria and germs. However, it cannot purify dissolved salts from the water but maintains the balance of minerals.

The product can filter 2000 liters of water at a rate of 600 ml/minute. It is convenient to carry around and easy to use.


Big Berkey water filtration system

The 3 water filters above are mostly personal water filters, easy to use for one person during survival situations or hiking. In the event of SHTF, a long-term larger water filtration system is ideal. The Berkey water filtration system is in use by the Red Cross, UNICEF, and the Peace Corp.

The Big Berkey is particularly well-suited for a family. It’s a stainless steel system that comes with 2 9-inch white ceramic filters, as well as 2 PF-4 fluoride filters. Currently, the Big Berkey is retailing for $278.00. The Big Berkey can store 2.1 gallons at a time and filter up to 170 gallons daily.

While the initial price is steep, this gravity-fed system can last for everyday life. Big Berkey promises to remove bacteria, chlorine, heavy metals, arsenic, fluoride, and more.

The reason the Big Berkey is such a good seller among preppers is the lifetime of the water filters. Each element can filter up to 3,000 gallons (6,000 between the two), meaning it can provide a family for years before needing to be replaced. This system also shines during camping trip.

Potable aqua germicidal water purification tablets.

Purwell water filter

Membrane solutions straw filter.

Wimolek water survival straw

Brita filtering water bottle

WakiWai personal filter


Survival water filters are getting quite popular nowadays. There are many methods to purify water in the wild, but these filters are the most dependable. You can also boil water if you have fire. These are all available at sporting good stores and online.


Clean drinking water is of vital importance during survival situations. In the worst conditions, you and your family could last weeks or even months without a steady food supply. Finding a clean water source during disasters can be difficult and you can only survive three days without water. Making securing a clean water source your first initial priority.

When buying equipment and supplies for an emergency preparedness kit, it is important to research and find reputable products. Nothing would be worse than banking on a product to clean your water only to find out it doesn’t work, causing you or a family member to fall ill. Additionally, make sure you thoroughly understand how the operate and clean the filter as needed.

Risks of Untreated Drinking Water

In the United States, the main waterborne illness is giardiasis. This protozoan can trigger severe cramping and diarrhea which is incredibly dangerous in a survival situation, especially if medical care is not accessible. Cryptosporidium is also somewhat common in the United States and causes similar digestive upset. Other common waterborne diseases throughout the world include cholera and dysentery.

Untreated water can also contain sediments including sand, silt, and even animal matter that you don’t want to ingest.

Algae blooms are becoming an increasing problem, particularly in cities where industrial waste may be dumped. Some of these blooms can be harmful to ingest. These water sources would also be prone to chemical contaminants like pesticides, paint, and heavy metal runoff, oil, and cleaning agents. 68 million pounds of the most toxic industrial chemicals are dumped into drinking water sources in America yearly, so even in a developed country, contaminants lurk.

Remember it is impossible to know what kind of human or animal fecal waste is being introduced upstream from your sourcing location. Avoid drinking water before treating or risk catching E. coli., shigella, coliform, salmonella, or cholera from feces contamination.

In the event of catastrophic flooding, water sources will be contaminated with sewage and industrial runoff. Boil water notices are common immediately after natural disasters as officials work to determine the safety of municipal water systems. Imagine all of the flooded businesses and cars, leaking chemicals into the water. This water would be highly dangerous to drink and without another alternative could leave your family in a dire situation if unable to turn it into potable water.

How Water Filters Work

In developed countries, it’s easy to be unaware of the immense sanitation work happening behind the scenes of every shower and glass of tap water. Water is purified into clean and safe drinking, bathing, and cooking source. There are many situations that can arise requiring you and your family to need to purify water yourselves.

Backpackers often carry water filters in the situation they didn’t pack enough water and need to purify nearby water sources. Undeveloped countries also tend to have unsafe water systems and only bottled water is recommended, without that resource, you may need to purify on the go. And of course, in the event of societal breakdown, clean water would be vital to survival especially in urban areas.

The goal of a water filter is to remove potential contaminants, especially bacteria and protozoa. This article specifically discusses water filtration, which is different than water purification. Water filtration uses a mesh net or cloth as a sieve to catch debris while allowing the water to flow through. Water purification destroys bacteria and protozoa using UV light or chemicals. Both processes are important and knowing when to use each could save your life.

Water filtrations methods include pump filters, gravity-fed systems, hollow fiber filtration membranes, and carbon filters.

Pump filters employ a pump that is usually mechanically worked by the user, to force the water through a filter. Filters often contain fine meshes that need to be replaced or cleaned.

Hollow fiber filtration consists of thousands of filaments a few millimeters wide, in a PVC shell. These filaments are porous with a very high packing density. The contaminated water will enter the system and move through the hollow fibers. Suspended solids and microorganisms will be trapped in the hollow fibers and will have to pass through the hollow space, whereas the clean water can permeate the porous fibers, to be consumed.

Gravity-fed filters take advantage of gravity to feed the untreated water through a filter. No electricity or mechanical labor is needed. These systems usually have a top compartment with filters and a lower compartment. The lower chamber will collected the clean water. This method is slow but effective.

Filtering During Survival Situation

In survival situations, water for drinking should be sourced from rainwater caught in clean containers or snow. Water can also be collected safely by collecting transpiration from plants. Other water sources should be considered contaminated and filtered before drinking.

Without a filtration or purification system, you can still boil water. Boiling water is still an excellent way to kill bacteria and protozoa. It’s recommended to boil the water for about 10 minutes at a rolling boil. In desperate survival situations, boiling may not be practical. You may not have access to a container to boil water in and you may not have the ability to easily start a fire. But this remains the lowest-tech method and usable if other options don’t exist.

If you chose a personal survival straw, like LifeStraw, you may spend time during the day leaning over stagnant water to filter and drink.

A pump water filter like the Katadyn uses a pump to force untreated water through a filter cartridge. These filters are typically quick and will produce about a quart a minute.

Larger gravity-fed systems are unlikely to be used in short-term surprise survival situations, like when a hiker is lost in a National Park, but provide security for preppers planning to survive long-term survival after societal collapse.

Best Options Depending on the Situation

The best filtration method will depend upon the drinking water and survival situation, that’s why it’s important to understand the types of filtration systems and when they are appropriate.

If hiking or backpacking in the United States or Canada, survival straws and pump filtration systems are popular. These are light and produce extremely clean water quickly. If traveling or hiking internationally, these options are still excellent, but it is highly recommended to purify the water as well. Tablets or UV devices can be used to do this.

In the event of natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding, personal pump filtration systems are excellent. They allow for the storage of some water as needed and are highly reliable.

In the event of a long-term societal collapse, with sewage systems potentially compromised, a combination of methods is best. Having a few personal filters provides flexibility for your group and promotes personal safety, while having a gravity-fed filter provides clean drinking water in high-volumes for the foreseeable future.



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