I have spent countless hours in the wilderness, and I have learned the importance of having access to clean and safe drinking water. Portable water filters are essential for us survivalists, as they allow us to purify water from any source, even if it is contaminated with bacteria, protozoa, or viruses.
In this article, I will discuss the 7 best portable water filters for survivalists. I will evaluate each filter based on its effectiveness, portability, ease of use, and durability.
1. Platypus Quickdraw Ultralight – Best for Platypus products
2. Lifesaver Jerrycan Water Purifier – Best for outdoor expeditions
3. LifeStraw Peak Series Compact Gravity Water – Best for those who want lightweight trips
4. Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter – Best for hikers
5. Hydrapak Seeker (2L, 3L, 4L, or 6L Water Storage Bag – Best for adventurers needing reliable water storage
6. MSR AutoFlow XL Gravity Filter – Best for backcountry use
7. Platypus GravityWorks Group Camping – Best for backpacking
1. Platypus Quickdraw Ultralight
Check on Amazon Check on OpticsPlanet Check on DvaSata
The Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter System is straightforward and functional. It’s light enough not to be a burden and the flow rate is impressive, making rehydration quick and easy. The filter connects well with other Platypus products but can be a bit finicky with non-brand bottles.
It’s a solid choice for filtering large quantities of water without the wait. Its high-capacity filter processes up to 3 liters per minute, providing you with clean drinking water when sources are questionable.
The system’s versatility is enhanced by its compatibility with a range of bottles and reservoirs, ensuring you can always have purified water at hand, no matter where your journey takes you.
However, the cleaning process isn’t as smooth as I’d like. Backflushing the filter takes some effort, which can be a bit of a hassle in the field. Also, the gasket can be prone to leaking if not seated properly, which requires careful attention every time you set it up.
|Weight||3.3 oz (93 g)|
|Filter Life||Up to 1,000 liters of water|
|Flow Rate||3 liters per minute|
|Filter Medium||Hollow Fiber|
|Compatibility||Fits most bottles and hydration packs|
2. Lifesaver Jerrycan Water Purifier
Check on Amazon Check on OpticsPlanet Check on Cabelas
The LIFESAVER Jerrycan is a sturdy and reliable water purifier, ideal for outdoor expeditions where water quality cannot be guaranteed. Its large capacity and long-lasting filter make it a practical choice for groups.
Meeting NSF P248 military-grade standards, this jerrycan ensures the removal of 99.9% of viruses, bacteria, cysts, and parasites, providing safe drinking water from even the most challenging sources.
Its user-friendly operation allows for easy fill, pump, and drink functionality, with a generous 18.5-liter capacity. On the other side, the flow rate can feel slow, and the initial cost is quite high compared to other options on the market.
Additionally, the need to order replacement carbon discs from the UK adds an extra layer of inconvenience, especially for those based in the US.
|Purification Standards||Exceeds NSF P248 Military-Grade|
|Capacity||18.5 liters storage, 20,000 liters filtering|
|Filter Technology||Ultra Filtration (UF)|
|Flow Rate||4 liters/min|
|Material||Durable rotomolded plastic|
|Additional Features||Activated carbon filter for taste improvement|
3. LifeStraw Peak Series Compact Gravity Water
Check on PlanetsHoup Check on OpticsPlanet Check on Cabelas
The LifeStraw Peak Series Compact Gravity Water Filter is a solid choice for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s simple to use and the gravity does the work for you, which means you can go about setting up camp or taking a break while your water gets filtered.
The flow rate is impressive for such a small unit, and it’s reassuring to know that it can handle such a high volume of water before needing a replacement. There are a couple of drawbacks. The first is the initial backflushing process, which can be a bit tedious, but it’s a one-time setup hassle.
The second is the lack of a carbon filter, which means it won’t improve the taste of the water as much as some other filters on the market. But if you’re looking for a filter that’s compact, lightweight, and reliable, this is a great option.
|Filter Type||Hollow fiber membrane|
|Efficacy||Removes 99.999999% of bacteria, 99.999% of parasites, and 99.999% of microplastics|
|Flow Rate||High flow rate for quick hydration|
|Capacity||Can filter up to 500 gallons (2,000 liters) of water|
|Weight||Lightweight design for easy transport|
4. Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter
Check on Amazon Check on OpticsPlanet Check on REI
Its 1L flask volume is perfect for individual use, ensuring you stay hydrated without the burden of carrying heavy water bottles. The filter’s ease of use is one of its standout features; simply fill the flask from any water source, screw on the cap, and you have clean drinking water in seconds.
It’s an essential tool for hikers, campers, and travelers who venture into areas where water quality is uncertain. The product isn’t without its drawbacks. The flow rate can decrease significantly after multiple uses, which may require more frequent cleaning than expected.
Additionally, the collapsible flask is prone to wear and tear, especially when used in harsh conditions, which could lead to leaks over time. Despite these issues, the Katadyn BeFree system remains a favorite for its portability and ease of use.
|Filter Type||Hollow fiber filter|
|Effective Against||Bacteria, protozoa, and sediment|
|Flow Rate||2 liters per minute|
|Weight||2.3 ounces (65 grams)|
|Dimensions||9.1 x 2.8 x 2.8 inches (collapsed)|
|Material||BPA-free Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), 0.1 micron microfilter|
|Lifespan of Filter||Up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons)|
|Suitable for||Hiking, camping, backpacking|
5. Hydrapak Seeker (2L, 3L, 4L, or 6L Water Storage Bag)
Check on Amazon Check on OpticsPlanet Check on Cabelas
The Hydrapak Seeker Collapsible Hydration Reservoir stands out as a practical solution for adventurers needing reliable water storage. Its 6-liter capacity ensures ample hydration for extended trips, while the collapsible design makes it a space-saver in your pack.
The durable, BPA-free construction withstands the rigors of the outdoors, and the wide-mouth opening allows for easy filling and cleaning. However, the Seeker’s utility is slightly marred by a cap that some users find challenging to close tightly, potentially leading to leaks if not secured properly.
This hydration reservoir is equipped with a versatile carry handle, adding convenience when transporting water around the campsite. The compatibility with water filters is a bonus for those venturing into areas where water purity is questionable.
Despite these strengths, the Seeker’s flexibility can be a double-edged sword; the soft material may require extra care when packing to avoid punctures, and some users report difficulty in drying the reservoir thoroughly, which can be a concern for maintaining cleanliness over time.
|Material||BPA & PVC free, TPU|
|Weight||Lightweight (specific weight not listed)|
|Dimensions||Compact and collapsible for easy storage|
|Compatibility||Suitable for use with water filters|
6. MSR AutoFlow XL Gravity Filter
Check on OpticsPlanet Check on MSR Check on REI
The MSR Guardian Gravity Water Purifier is a highly effective and easy-to-use water purifier that is perfect for backcountry use, global travel, and emergency preparedness. It uses a hollow fiber membrane with a 0.3-micron pore size to remove bacteria, protozoa, and cysts from water, making it safe to drink.
The purifier also has a self-cleaning mechanism that ensures that it continues to work effectively over time.
One of the best things about the MSR Guardian Gravity Water Purifier is that it is so easy to use. Simply fill the reservoir with water, attach the filter, and let gravity do the rest. The water will filter through the hollow fiber membrane and into a clean container below.
The purifier is also very portable and lightweight, making it easy to take with you on your adventures.
There are a few things to keep in mind about the MSR Guardian Gravity Water Purifier. First, it is not effective at removing viruses from water. So, if you are concerned about viruses, you will need to use a different type of purifier.
Second, the purifier can be slow to filter water, especially if the water is heavily contaminated. So, if you need to purify water quickly, you may want to consider a different option.
|Filter type||Hollow-fiber membrane|
|Pore size||0.3 microns|
|Flow rate||Up to 2 liters per minute|
|Dimensions||8.2 x 4.7 inches|
7. Platypus GravityWorks Group Camping Water Filter System Bottle Kit, 2-Liter
Check on Amazon Check on OpticsPlanet Check on Cabelas
The Platypus GravityWorks 2.0L Water Filter Bottle Kit is a lightweight and easy-to-use water filter that is perfect for backpacking, camping, and hiking. It uses a microfilter to remove bacteria, protozoa, and cysts from water, making it safe to drink.
The filter has a lifetime of up to 1,500 liters of water, and it can be easily cleaned in the field. The kit includes a 2-liter dirty reservoir, a microfilter, a hose, and a storage sack.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Portable Water Filter
The primary purpose of a portable water filter is to purify water, so it is essential to choose a filter that is effective at removing contaminants. Look for filters that have been certified by reputable organizations, such as the NSF International or the Water Quality Association.
Survivalists often travel long distances and carry heavy loads, so it is important to choose a filter that is lightweight and compact. Consider the size and weight of the filter, as well as its ability to be easily carried in a backpack or attached to a belt.
3. Ease of Use
In a survival situation, you may not have access to clean water or the time to experiment with a complicated filter. Choose a filter that is easy to use and requires minimal maintenance. Look for filters with clear instructions and simple designs.
Survival gear needs to be able to withstand harsh conditions, and your portable water filter should be no exception. Choose a filter that is made from durable materials and can withstand being dropped, bumped, or exposed to extreme temperatures.
5. Flow Rate
The flow rate of a portable water filter refers to the amount of water that it can filter per minute. If you plan on using your filter to purify large amounts of water, choose a filter with a high flow rate.
6. Filter Life
Different portable water filters have different filter lifespans. The lifespan of a filter is typically measured in liters of water that it can purify before it needs to be replaced. Choose a filter with a long lifespan to avoid the hassle and expense of frequent replacements.
7. Type of Contaminants Removed
Different portable water filters are designed to remove different types of contaminants. Some filters are effective at removing bacteria and protozoa, while others can also remove viruses and chemicals. Consider the types of contaminants that you are most likely to encounter in your survival environment.
Portable water filters range in price from around $20 to $200. Consider your budget and choose a filter that provides the best value for your money.
9. Brand Reputation
Choose a filter from a reputable brand that is known for producing high-quality products. Read reviews from other survivalists to get an idea of the performance and reliability of different brands.
10. Additional Features
Some portable water filters come with additional features, such as a built-in pump or a water bottle attachment. Consider the features that are most important to you and choose a filter that meets your needs.
How long does a portable water filter last?
As a general rule, they can last anywhere from 6-12 months. After that, they need to be replaced.
How effective are portable water filters?
A portable water filter is effective in removing bacteria and protozoa, but NOT viruses, which are far smaller. You would likely get very sick using a water filter to treat water that contains viruses.
How long does it take for a water filter to work?
A full tank is usually filtered in 45 minutes, give or take 10 minutes. All other cases mean that your filters are not primed properly.
Can I store a used water filter?
Yes, remove them from the system, place them in a sealed plastic bag, and then place the filters in the refrigerator, making sure they do not freeze.
Is a portable water filter safe to drink?
As portable filters do not remove viruses from the water, it’s fair to say that water purifiers are a safer option than water filters.
Each of these filters has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to choose the one that is right for you. I recommend that you consider your specific needs and preferences when making your decision.
No matter which filter you choose, I encourage you to always test it before you rely on it in a survival situation. This will ensure that you are safe and stay hydrated, even in the most challenging conditions.
My name is Casey Harper, and I specialize in wilderness survival, navigation, and first aid. With over 12 years of experience as a wilderness survival instructor, I have had the privilege of guiding individuals and groups through challenging outdoor environments, ensuring their safety and teaching them essential survival skills. Additionally, I contribute to GearDisciple by writing insightful articles on survival strategies and reviewing outdoor gear. Through sharing my knowledge and experience, I aim to equip others with the skills and tools necessary for thriving in the wild, embracing the beauty and challenges it presents.