The 9 Best Survival Water Filters [2021 Buying Guide]

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The 9 Best Survival Water Filters [2021 Buying Guide]

Water is a necessity for life, but during an emergency, your access to clean water might be limited. During emergencies like flooding or grid failures, the water around you might contain organisms that can make you sick, and the last time you want to get sick is during an emergency. That’s why you need one of the best survival water filters – or several water filters!

It’s never a good idea to drink whatever water you find, even if it’s running. Never – EVER – drink standing water, like a puddle. The amount of bacteria that live in standing water is scary, and you’ll get sick quickly. Running water, like streams, is generally safer, but if you live in a city, chances are its contaminated.

We need survival water filters so that we can turn this harmful water into useable, safe water for us to drink during an emergency. If you’re bugging out with your family, each of your family members should have a water filter, and if possible, consider a group filter as well. The more water filters you have to use, the more likely you are to survive.

Humans can live for days with minimal food, but we cannot survive without water. It is the most important thing you need for survival.

Buying the best survival water filter should be on the top of your list of things to do when prepping. Let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market and how to make your selection.

In a Rush? Here are Our Top Choices

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness, 1 Pack, Blue
Check Price Now
Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue
Check Price Now
Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Elements Provides Clean, Refreshing Water at Home, Camping, RVing, Off-Grid, Emergencies
Check Price Now

The 9 Best Survival Water Filters

1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
93,743 Reviews
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  • Removes Bacteria & Parasites: The Microfiltration Membrane Removes...
  • Removes Microplastics: Removes The Smallest Microplastics Found In The...
  • Rigorous Testing: All Claims Are Verified With Laboratories Using Standard...
  • Long Lifetime: The Microbiological Filter Will Provide 4,000 Liters (1,000...
  • Make An Impact: For Every Lifestraw Product Purchased, A School Child In...

No review of survival water filters is complete without mentioning the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. This is, by far, the most popular choice for a portable filtration system. Despite its small size, this little straw filters up to 1000 liters of water, and all you have to do is drink through it.

LifeStraw stands out for several reasons. It has a 0.2-micron filter that works against waterborne bacteria and parasites. It only weighs two ounces and measures nine inches long, so it fits into pockets and backpacks with ease.

The price is great for the LifeStraw; they even sell these in double and triple packs. They go on sale frequently, so if you’re on a budget, this might be a great choice for you.

2. HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter

HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter
359 Reviews
HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter
  • Hollow fiber membrane
  • Attaches to standard plastic bottle with internal 28 mm threading, can be...
  • Perfect for hiking, backpacking, camping, travel and for emergency...
  • Flow rate of 1 gallon in 5 minutes

HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter is another choice for an in-line water filter that is lab-tested to filter out 0.1 microns, protecting you against all common bacteria and protozoans that are a significant threat to humans, like gird and cryptosporidium. The filter works for up to 378,000 liters, which is highly impressive. It filters out one gallon every five minutes, faster than most filters.

One of the reasons why this filter deserves consideration is that it also works with the other Versa configurations, like their standard bottle or gravity bag. It’s easy to clean in the field, and it’s easy to use. It has backflushing capabilities that clean the filter, so it lasts longer.

Considering the price, this filter is a great choice. It fits right into any backpack, and if you want a complete system for hiking and camping, the Versa has everything you could need.

3. Sawyer Mini Filter

Sawyer Mini Filter
23,570 Reviews
Sawyer Mini Filter
  • Ideal for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, scouting, domestic and...
  • High-performance 0.1 Micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your...
  • Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable water bottles,...
  • Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria (salmonella, cholera, and E. coli);...
  • Filter rated up to 100,000 gallons; Includes one Sawyer MINI filter,...

Another popular choice for an in-line water filter is the Sawyer Mini Filter. While it’s not as popular as the LifeStraw, it’s an excellent choice that I venture to say has MORE impressive features. If I had to pick between the LifeStraw and Sawyer Mini, I would go with the Sawyer.

Here’s why.

The Sawyer Mini Filter processes up to 100,000 gallons of water, and It has a 0.1 micron filter. It filters out bacteria and parasites smaller than the LifeStraw. Plus, it’s more versatile because it has hose adapters that let you attach it to other products from LifeStraw, like their hydration pack and gravity filter.

The Sawyer Mini gets its name because it’s so small. It is two ounces and only four inches long, so it takes up hardly any space in your backpack.

4. Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter

Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter
1,401 Reviews
Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter
  • Proven protection against bacteria and protozoan cysts down to 0.2 micron...
  • Activated carbon in the core of the filter improves the taste and reduces...
  • The field cleanable filter protector screen extends the life of the...
  • Long-time trusted option for backpackers with it's ultra-light 11oz,...
  • Transparent design allows you to see the filtration working

Katadyn is one of the best known water filter company, and their products are made to last for years, something I appreciate especially considering the cost of the products. The Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter down to 0.2 micron; it’s a hand pump filter that is lightweight and sturdy. It doesn’t feel like the pump will break easily; the handle is strong.

One of the nice features is that the Hiker Pro has a cleanable filter, so you can extend its lifespan before replacing. The activated carbon at the core of the filter helps to improve the taste of the water, as well as removing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.

This filter is light, weighing only 11 ounces, so carrying or taking it with you is no big deal. It should fit into your pack, but it also can hook to the side. This filter is designed to hook up with their hydration pack if you want to filter larger amounts of water.

5. MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter Purification System

MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter Purification System
185 Reviews
MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter Purification System
  • Microfilter water filter pump and 50 purification tablets for hiking,...
  • Replaceable carbon and ceramic filter removes bacteria, protozoa, organic...
  • Pumps at a rate of one liter per minute; compatible with a variety of wide...
  • Effective against viruses (99.99%), bacteria (99.9999%), and protozoa...
  • Pump measures 7.5 x 2.75 inches and weighs 1 pound; storage bag included;...

If you want a water filter for a small group of people, the MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter Purification System is a great choice, and it’s one of the cheaper choices. This system uses a filter and a purifier to protect you against viruses, bacteria, parasites, protozoa, and more.

The filter works for around 2,000 liters of water, and after that, the filter needs to be changed. Changing the filter is easy and requires no tools, but the cost of the filters adds up over time, especially if this is used daily. It filters up to one liter per minute, so it’s efficient and works quickly.

This is a hand pump water filter that is great for a small group. It’s not too big and clunky, so while it’s too big for a backpack, it weighs less than two pounds, so carrying it won’t be a huge drag. It comes with a travel bag, so if you have room in your pack, it might fit, or you could hook it with a carabiner.

6. Miniwell Gravity Water Filter Straw Ultralight

Miniwell Gravity Water Filter Straw Ultralight
726 Reviews
Miniwell Gravity Water Filter Straw Ultralight
  • FILTERING MORE - Filters up to 2000 litres of natural fresh water without...
  • GRAVITY WORK - Take use of gravity for filtration. Threads on filter both...
  • BACKFLUSHING WITH EASE - Water filter lifespan can be extended by clean...
  • ENDURABLE WATER BLADDER - Food-grade premium quality materials. The water...
  • ULTRA-LIGHT AND VERSATILE - L630 water filter can be screwed on 28mm thread...

Unfortunately, the Miniwell Gravity Water Filter Straw Ultralight doesn’t receive the hype that it should, but consider the cost and how well it filters out microns, it deserves more. This gravity fed filter works great, filtering down to 0.1 microns, and it has a steady flow rate. It’s a hands-off filter, so hang it up and let it filter the water for you.

Like a few other filters on the list, the MiniWell has a cleanable filter that extends it overall lifespan and saves you money. A cleanable filter is particularly helpful during an emergency when you might not be able to buy another filter. The strap is strong, so you can hang it anywhere that you want. It’s a tree strap, but it works for anything. Then, it feeds into the filter.

Overall, this filter might not look beautiful, but it’s lightweight, easy to use, and filters out most bacteria and viruses. It’s budget-friendly, so it deserves more credit and consideration.

7. MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Pump

MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Pump
408 Reviews
MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Pump
  • Military-grade water purifier pump removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and...
  • Meets NSF protocol P248 testing standard of the U.S. military, using...
  • Pumps at a rapid 2.5 liters per minute, treats up to 10,000 liters of...
  • Pump self-cleans on every stroke, providing consistently fast flow rates...
  • Ideal for backcountry, expeditions, global travel, and survival; purifier...

If you’re worried about worse-case scenarios, the MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Pump is a good choice, but it’s expensive. This is a mechanical filter purifier that doesn’t rely on chemicals to get the job done. When compared to the MSR MiniWorks, the Guardian uses a filter that is 10x smaller and removes microscopic viruses.

MSR uses a military-grade filter, which means that it goes through the same testing that the military uses on their water filters. It removes 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, parasites, protozoa, and sediments from the water.

MSR stands out because mechanical purifiers have a bad reputation. They used to get clogged often, but they changed their design to divert the water to flush the filter. It works brilliantly, and customers rave about how easy it is to use this filter.

Since this filter is so easy to use, it’s a great choice for a group of people. It flows rapidly out, so you don’t have to wait for your water to be filtered. The pump filters out 2.5 liters per MINUTE, and the filter handles up to 10,000 liters before needing to be replaced.

8. Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter
3,582 Reviews
Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter
  • POTABLE WATER IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS- Black Berkey Elements remove or...
  • ECONOMICAL, LONG-LASTING- Black Berkey Elements provide filtered water for...
  • INDEPENDENT TESTING- Black Berkey Elements have been tested by accredited...
  • 2.25 GALLON CAPACITY- The portable Big Berkey System effortlessly filters...

When someone says they want a water filter for their house, most people recommend the Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter, and it’s easy to see why. While it’s large and expensive, it will filter water for years to come with minimal filter changes. Plus, there is a convenient spigot at the end, making it easy to fill up water bottles.

If you plan to bug-in or have a permanent survival shelter, the Big Berkey is the ultimate choice for a gravity-fed water filter. This thing is way too big for you to carry with you; it looks like a small appliance, but it looks great on your counter!

So, are you wondering what’s so great about this filter?

It filters enough water for four people per day, removing 99.999% of viruses and bacteria, along with protozoa, out of the water. The filter takes out inorganic materials, sediments, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals, including caffeine, from your water.

A filter lasts through 6,000 gallons before needing to be changed. The filters are expensive, but considering that the Berkey is an investment for years, it’s worth it.

9. LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System

LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System
364 Reviews
LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System
  • Gravity-fed, high-capacity, hollow membrane water purifier; ideal for group...
  • Removes virtually all bacteria (99.9999%), protozoa (99.99%), and viruses...
  • Compact roll-bag reservoir available in 5-liter (1.3 gallon) or 12-liter...
  • Simple to use and maintain, without chemicals, batteries, or moving parts;...
  • Lifetime filtration capacity of 18,000 liters (4,755 gallons); produces...

The name LifeStraw might be familiar, but their Mission Water Purification System is a lesser-known product created by this popular company. This is a gravity filter that combines a 0.02 micron filter (yes, it’s really 0.02 not 0.2) with a 5 or 25 liter reservoir.

The reservoir is essentially a dry bag that has a roll-top seal and a hose port at the bottom. So, you have to hang it somewhere for it to filter out the water through the straw. It comes with a pre-filter, so you can remove larger sediments from the water before running it through the gravity-fed filter.

The LifeStraw Mission filters up to three gallons of water every hour. That’s not as fast as other filters, but if you’re camping, chances are you won’t need to drink that much. Three gallons per hour should be sufficient for most small groups as well.

The great thing is that there is nothing you need to do with this system. Hang it up on a branch, add water, and let it filter your water. When it’s not in use, you can fit it right into your backpack because it weighs less than one pound and rolls up.

How to Pick the Best Survival Water Filter

Boiling water is another way to filter water if you don’t have a survival filter!

These are just a few of the options for a survival water filter, so picking the best one is a hard task. A lot of factors go into this selection, and you need to plan for the future. Your needs might change over time, and it’s also good to have more than one option.

Seriously, you always need backups during emergencies, and since plans change, you might want to have more than one type of filter available.

Here are some aspects to consider when picking the best survival water filter.

The Source of the Water

What is the quality of the water that you plan to drink? If you plan to filter melting snow or cold springs, you don’t have to worry too much because this water is mostly pure. This is when a basic filter is great.

If you live near or will bug out near cities, swamps, or farms, your water will have more contamination than you might imagine. So, you’ll need a stronger filter than something basic. This is when you need a filter that purifies as well as removes viruses, chemicals, tastes, odors, and more.

The Size of Your Group or Family

Next, think about how many people will drink this water. If you only need to supply water for yourself, an in-line filter is a good choice because they’re cheap and lightweight, but if you have a family, you’ll need something else.

Gravity-fed filters are great for families, but if you need to bug out, having individual in-line filters along with a hand pump could work for your group.

Portability or No?

Do you want to bring this filter with you hiking, camping, or bugging out? If so, then you need something portable and lightweight, but if you want to keep it at home, you have more options.

This is part of why some people have more than one survival water filter. You might want to have some portable water filters, along with ones that are better for home use.


Survival gear is expensive, no matter how you look at it, but that doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget. I suggest that you read the specifications closely and compare the products in your price range to find the one that is the best possible. The small details matter.

You don’t have to spend more than you’re comfortable spending, but water is essential. This is a category that I think spending money is more important than other areas of prepping. No one can survive without water.

3 Different Types of Survival Water Filters

Not all survival water filters are the same; each one works different for different situations, so it’s important to understand the differences and when you should use each one.

Let’s take a look at the three types of water filters; you need this information for when you pick the best survival water filter to buy.

In-Line Water Filter

In-line water filters are small, portable, and have a filter inside. The most common type of in-line filter is a large straw that you suck on that pulls water through an interior filter, removing any harmful contaminants.

The idea is simple, but it works. This style is great for hiking and bugging out; if you’re on the go, you need something portable, that fits right into your backpack with no problem.

Hand Pump Water Filter

The next common type is a hand pump water filter, and these have a larger tube with a filter inside. They’re bigger than in-line filters, so don’t expect to use them like a straw. Instead, you use a hand pump to bring the water through the filter. The pumping action pushes the water through the filter, cleaning any microns and bacteria out.

Hand pump water filters are in the middle. Some fit into a backpack, but they’re larger and heavier. On the other hand, they filter more water faster, so they work for small or medium-sized groups that might be bugging out or camping together.

Gravity Fed Water Filter

The last type is a gravity fed water filter, and these takes up space and time. The filter itself is small, but the reservoir sits above the filter along with a collection reservoir under the filter. Gravity causes the water to pass through the filter; no need for suction or pumping.

Most gravity fed water filters aren’t portable; these are better for countertops. If you plan to stay put and want to filter out water that you might collection from a stream nearby, this is a great choice, but don’t expect to take it when bugging out.

These are a great choice if you want to filter water to go into your storage containers as well. Whatever water you put into your storage containers needs to be filtered and clean.


Whatever you do, make sure you have at least one of the best survival water filters in your preps. You won’t make it far into an emergency if you cannot access bacteria-free water. You’ll end up sick, dehydrated, and miserable – not how you want to feel when SHTF.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness, 1 Pack, Blue
Check Price Now
Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue
Check Price Now
Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Elements Provides Clean, Refreshing Water at Home, Camping, RVing, Off-Grid, Emergencies
Check Price Now
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