A water filter is a piece of gear that every hiker, camper and survivalist needs. If you spend any amount of time in the outdoors, you should have one with you, regardless of how or what you do when you’re out in the wild. In fact, you probably need more than one. When you’re out in the great outdoors, staying hydrated is should be a priority, and access to clean drinking water is one of the key factors that will determine your survival if something goes haywire. Survival water filters are designed to help keep you hydrated even when there’s no clean water nearby.
Survival water filters come in many different shapes and sizes, as well as designs, but their basic function is to intake dirty water, filter out the bad stuff, and provide you with crystal clear water that is 99.99% safe to drink.
Not only that, but water filters are good for the environment. They reduce the need for plastic bottles and they don’t require the water to be boiled, so no energy is required (other than your own if you’re using a pump-style water filter). That means that even in non-survival situations, using these kinds of survival water filters is preferable to disposable plastic bottles.
In this guide to the best survival water filters, we’ll go over the different types of water filters available, plus we have a buyer’s guide at the end if you’re not sure what features and factors to prioritize (depends on your specific use-case). We also have the top ten survival water filters (split out into the different types) that we recommend here at Secrets of Survival. We’ve arranged them in groups according to the four styles to keep things nice and simple.
By the end, it should be totally clear which survival water filter is right for you. But we’ve tagged on some FAQs to clarify any remaining questions you’ve got.
Different Styles of Survival Water Filter
There are four styles of survival water filter: straw, pump, water bottle and gravity bag. I’ll go into a bit more detail on each style here.
Straw-style water filters are small portable hollow tubes with a filter or filters inside. They are called straw-style filters because you use it just like a straw. You suck water through them, meaning you can drink straight from muddy puddles. They are probably the simplest filters, but they are effective. Straw-style filters are ideal for one person who wants something light and simple. They’re the most portable of the four options, so if you’re shooting from something super lightweight, you’ll want a straw-style filter.
A hand pump water filter comprises a bag, a pump, and a tube. By putting the tube in the water you want to filter, and pumping the handle, you suck water up the tube, through the filter medium inside the pump itself and into the reservoir bag. Hand pump water filters are great ways to stock up on good amounts of clean water and are ideal for situations with a few people.
Water bottle style
A water bottle-style water filter is similar to a straw-style filter, the difference being the straw, which contains the filters, is inside the bottle. All you have to do is fill the bottle with water from whatever source you’ve found, and suck it through the straw and filter medium. A water bottle-style filter is a great, simple and lightweight way to ensure you have clean water on the go. The good thing about the water bottle style is it allows you to carry some amount of drinking water with you (rather than forcing you to drink at the location of the source of water like the straw-style). On the other than, it’s less lightweight.
Gravity bag style
The gravity bag-style water filters are the easiest to use in some ways. You have to do the least amount of effort with a gravity bag because, as the name suggests, you let gravity do the work for you. Fill the bag and hang it up somewhere high and let the water flow down the tube, through the filter, into a reservoir below. Gravity bags are great for groups of people because they can filter the largest amount of water.
Top 10 Best Survival Water Filters
Take a look at these key points to keep in mind when you’re buying a survival water filter. Hopefully, they’ll help you make the right decision and get the one best suited for your needs.
What’s it for?
Are you getting a water filter for hiking and camping? Or are you going to store it with your get home bag or bug out bag and only use it in emergency situations? Do you want something that can easily provide water for an entire family or are you running solo? Capacity, filter lifespan, and size will all depend on your specific use cases. If it’s just for emergencies and you don’t have a family, then a portable straw-style filter would make the most sense. If you’re sheltering in place with a family, portability is less of a priority and a gravity-bag style survival water filter might be your best bet.
By answering these questions, you’ll be able to match the filter’s style and features to your requirements.
What style suits your needs?
If you’re going on a day hike, you probably don’t need a 4-liter gravity bag. For day use, maybe think about a water bottle-style filter. Do you only need the water filter for SHTF disaster situations? Then maybe a straw-style filter is right for you.
What features do you want?
Extra features like multiple reservoirs, water bottles, and cups might be what you’re looking for, so always check to see what the filter comes with. A nice added feature is the activated carbon filter in some of the products on this list. The carbon helps take bad tastes and smells out of the water, making it more pleasant to drink.
How good a filter do you want?
Different water filters filter to different specifications – 1 micron, 0.1 micron, and so forth. In all honesty, even the less exact filters will probably work most of the time, but if you want to further guarantee the safety of your drinking water, then a more exact filter is probably what you’re looking for. Carbon filters are also a consideration – they act slightly differently from non carbon filters and can make the water more pleasant to drink. You’ll need to decide whether or not that’s a priority for you.
Hopefully our product reviews, explanations and buyers guide have made it easier for you to choose the best survival water filter for your specific needs.