Having the best emergency water filter in your disaster preparedness or survival kit can improve your chances of survival when things go south. This product not only improves the characteristics of water from unreliable sources but also removes harmful pathogens to save you from water-borne diseases.
You only need to know how to pick the right system for you.
- Water Impurities Removed: Disasters and natural calamities can render ordinary water sources questionable. Harmful substances can leach into bodies of water and contaminate them. Hence, an emergency water filter must remove as many water impurities as possible, with an NSF, EPA, or WQA certification to support its claims.
- Ease of Use: The last thing you need in an emergency is a complicated device to drink safe water. You will want a filtration system that can dip into any water source and never worry about getting water-borne diseases.
- Filter Capacity: An emergency water filter is useless if you can only use it once. Moreover, it should accommodate enough water for a family or several people. Hence, a 2,000-gallon emergency water filter is a more sensible choice than a 500-gallon unit.
This article shows you how to bring home the best water filtration and purification system for your emergency and survival needs. Let us start with a dozen of the top-tier products on the market today.
Table of Contents
Top-Tier Emergency Water Filter Reviews
1. Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System
Getting a Sawyer water filter can be the wisest decision you can ever make as a family man, a survivalist, an adventurer, or a prepper. The company’s products are some of the top-quality worldwide, capable of removing more water contaminants than any other system.
This product happens to be the most trusted water filter for emergency preparedness and outdoor activities. It has one of the smallest pore sizes on the market at 0.1 microns. It is capable of safeguarding you and your family from water-borne diseases that are quite rampant during calamities and disasters.
This gadget has two main parts: the filter unit and a drinking pouch. I like the filter unit’s design because you can fit it into standard water bottles and other water vessels with threaded mouths. If you do not have these containers, you can always use the squeeze pouch.
My only lament is that the pouch only has a 16-ounce capacity. It should be enough to keep you hydrated for several hours. It is also worth pointing out that this filter unit can accommodate 100,000 gallons of water before you dispose of it.
Unlike other products that claim they can remove viruses, this portable water filter is honest enough about what it can and cannot remove. The product can remove up to 99.9999% of bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics. What it cannot remove are chemicals, pesticides, and viruses.
2. Membrane Solutions Straw Water Filter
Everyone wants to get the most suitable value for every purchase they make, including portable water filters. That is why Membrane Solutions is one of the most trusted emergency portable water purification systems on the market. For the price of the leading brand, you already get six filters that you can use for many years.
Its affordable price may prompt you to question its filtration performance. That is understandable. What you need to know is that this product went through rigorous testing and validation to meet EPA/NSF requirements for microbial removal. This system removes up to 99.99999% of cysts, bacteria, and microplastics.
Inside this super-compact water filter is a four-stage filtration technology that includes activated carbon, mesh filter, polypropylene filter, and hollow-fiber ultrafiltration. Its ultrafiltration mechanism has a 0.1-micron pore size, allowing it to remove many microscopic particles and substances.
Unfortunately, it may not be able to remove viruses that are smaller than 0.1 microns. You might want to use water purification tablets to kill viruses and other microbes that pass through the filter.
The carbon filter also improves the taste and odor of your drinking water, regardless of its source. You will never worry about getting a tummy ache from drinking water from a questionable source.
3. Survivor Filter PRO Emergency Water Filter
Survivalists, backpackers, and journeymen trust the Survivor Filter PRO to deliver safe drinking wherever their adventures bring them. This survival water filter is one of the top-tier globally, capable of removing up to 99.999% of water contaminants.
According to the company, its filter can remove bacteria, parasites, protozoa, and viruses. It can also reduce heavy metals and odors and tastes to make your water more pleasant, regardless of where you got it. That is why many people consider this product the most useful emergency water purification system.
Several things make this filter admirable. First, its internal ultra-filtration membrane has a pore size of 0.01 microns, allowing it to filter out certain viruses.
Second, this unit can accommodate a whopping 100,000 liters (26,400 gallons) of water. You can have it in your emergency and survival kit for many years and never worry about drinking unsafe water ever again.
Its ABS plastic construction offers exceptional durability, vibration-resistance, and ruggedness.
Fourth, you can clean and reuse the filters. For example, you can reuse both the pre-filter and ultra-filtration unit up to 100,000 liters. The carbon filter is good for another 2,000 liters with proper maintenance.
4. Waterdrop Personal Water Filter Straw
Not many portable water filters can provide you with more than germ-free drinking water like the Waterdrop Personal Water Filter can. This neat device can also make water more enticing to drink by improving its aesthetic qualities.
Its water odor and taste-improvement capabilities are what separate it from other products. This company believes that an emergency water filter system should not only remove as many harmful microorganisms as possible. It should neutralize any unwanted odor and taste to make drinking more pleasant.
As such, the brand used four different filtration technologies in this product’s design. It removes up to 99% of bacteria and other microorganisms larger than its 0.1-micron pores. Unfortunately, many viruses are smaller than 0.1 microns, making this system not a true water purifier in its strictest sense.
Nevertheless, I love its compact design because you can slip it into your back pocket without fuss. You can also connect it to any water container with a threaded mouth. Fit it into a disposable plastic bottle and you already have access to safe and great-tasting drinking water.
I like its reusable filters because you can further extend its 100,000-gallon filter capacity. That translates to better savings and long service life for you.
5. LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Water Purifier
Emergency preppers know that only the LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Gravity-powered Water Purifier can deliver pure water in dire circumstances. This portable water purifier features one of the smallest micron ratings among emergency and disaster water filtration systems.
At its core is a purification membrane that comes with a 0.02-micron pore size. Thanks to this, it can effectively remove at least 99.99% of viruses, 99.9999% of bacteria, and 99.9% of cysts. You will never have to worry about these pathogens undermining your health whenever you drink water from an unsafe source.
I like its simple design and the materials used in its construction. You can rest assured no chemicals will ever leach into your drinking water. The system is pretty straightforward to set up, too. There are no batteries and motors to worry about.
My only concern is its low water flow rate of 9 to 12 liters per hour or about 2.3 to 3.17 gallons per hour. It translates to a measly 6.4 ounces per minute at peak flow.
6. LoGest Water Filter Straw
If you are going on a trek, you will want to be ready at all times. That is why I recommend getting the LoGest personal water filter. It is among the most compact and portable units you can ever bring to your adventures.
As one of the top-tier portable disaster water purification systems, this product adopted a straw design to make drinking water from any source more convenient. You only need to dip the device’s lower end into the water and sip through it like you would an ordinary straw.
This product has a 0.01-micron rating, making it efficient in removing viruses, bacteria, and other harmful microbes in water. What is interesting is that the company never publishes its viral-removal capability. It only says it can remove up to 99% of bacteria and other pathogenic microbes.
You will also love this portable water filter’s ability to improve your drinking water’s aesthetics. You will never feel uneasy about drinking water from any source ever again.
I also like the carrying strap because I can sling it around my neck or wrist. You will never lose this baby, regardless of how active you are.
7. Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
Perfect for families on a great weekend picnic in the woods, the Platypus GravityWorks is a reliable solution for ensuring safe drinking water from any source. It has a compact design that you can assemble as a standalone water filtration system.
This product works by gravity, eliminating the need for batteries or electricity. You only need to hang the unfiltered water pouch higher than the second unit and let the hollow-fiber microfilter unit do the rest.
While it does not have an NSF certification, this system meets all the NSF and EPA requirements for microbial removal. It removes up to 99.9999% of bacteria and other pathogenic microbes, except viruses.
I love its filter design because it facilitates a faster flow rate. Most products can only deliver about 40 to 60 ounces of filtered water per minute. This system can give you 60 ounces every minute. That should fill the 4-liter filtered water pouch in about 2.5 minutes.
I also like this product’s carrying pouch. it is a neat way to secure your water filter and ensure its optimum functionality over time.
8. Katadyn Vario Water Filter
The top-tier water filtration for emergencies should not only remove pathogens. It should also be very convenient to use, requiring no effort on your part. It would also help if it could provide you with more water per minute, so you get to enjoy safe drinking water in no time.
These characteristics are exactly what the Katadyn Vario Water Filter provides. Its innovative three-stage filtration mechanism includes a revolutionary ceramic pre-filter, a pleated glass-fiber microfilter, and an odor-reducing carbon filter. It works like a charm in removing bacteria from your water.
I love the ceramic pre-filter because you can adjust it depending on water turbidity. It is also removable, allowing you to clean it thoroughly before reuse. The core carbon filter is not reusable, but you can easily replace it with a new one.
This device’s adaptor base can connect to any water vessel, making it a great option for surviving in the wild or in emergencies. It is compact and very straightforward to operate, too.
One of this product’s most remarkable features is its water flow rate of two quarts per minute. Wait times will be shorter, allowing you to enjoy safe and fresh-tasting water in a flash.
9. SimPure Gravity Water Filter
Most emergency water filtration systems work as a straw or as a water container-attached device. The SimPure Gravity Water Filter can do both. Its design gives you plenty of options on how you want to use it in filtering water from any source.
You can use the accompanying 3-liter gravity bag or connect the filter unit’s bottom edge to an ordinary water bottle. It is also possible to submerge the device’s bottom edge in the water, wait a few seconds to filter water, and sip like you would an ordinary straw.
While it does not have any new filtration technology, it makes up for it by improving its contaminant removal performance. This product eliminates up to 99.9999% of protozoa, microplastics, and bacteria, ensuring you have safe drinking water wherever you are.
I adore the product’s slim design. It is easy to sling around the neck or secure in a carabiner. The water filter unit is also lighter than other products with a similar design. You will also be glad to know that this filter is easy to wash and clean. You can extend its filter life span of 3.5 years by another year or two.
10. FS-TFC SY-RO-01 Portable Water Filter
You would be surprised to know that a revolutionary reverse osmosis system is present in the FS-TFC SY-RO-01 Portable Water Filter. Its unique combination of sediment, carbon, and reverse osmosis filtration makes it one of the best emergency water filter systems you can get.
You have to love the company for designing a reverse osmosis membrane that fits into a 2.32-inch diameter tube. Removing heavy metals is a breeze with this product. Its ultrafiltration membrane also has one of the smallest pore sizes on the market at 0.0001 microns. No virus or any other contaminant can pass through this membrane.
Like other portable water purifiers, there are many ways you can use this product. You can dip the tube into any water source and filter the water into your glass. It is also possible to pump the water straight into a hydration pack or an empty water bottle.
Speaking of the pump, there are no complicated mechanisms in this device. Its pump handle is ergonomic and you will never get tired of pumping water into your bottle. It is also nice to know that the filter housing features BPA-free, food-grade materials.
What Is The Top-Tier Emergency Water Filter? Who Is This For
The top-tier water filtration and purification system for emergencies removes harmful water-borne microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, and others. These microbes can cause gastroenteritis and other water-borne diseases.
Disasters and natural calamities can undermine water quality. Earthquakes and severe storms can break water pipes and introduce microorganisms into the water. A purifier can help remove these microorganisms from the water and make it safe to drink.
An emergency water purification unit is perfect for emergency preppers, first responders, survivalists, campers, backpackers, hikers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. This product is also ideal for families living off the grid.
How Do Emergency Water Filters Work
Emergency or survival water filters work like any other water filtration system. Everything depends on the filtration technology present in the device. In general, filters allow the passage of water molecules through the holes or pores of a membrane. Any particle larger than the pore size will not pass through.
A filter’s effectiveness is a function of its pore size. Viruses are some of the smallest microorganisms on the planet. Using a standard 0.5-micron filter is often insufficient to remove these microbes. You need a smaller pore size of at least 0.1 microns. The top-tier products use micron sizes of 0.0001 for more efficient virus removal.
Some systems push water towards a more diluted solution in a process called reverse osmosis. The movement of water molecules leaves heavy metals and other non-water elements in the solution.
What Are The Different Types Of Emergency Water Filters
Water filters for survival or emergency use come in three basic types.
- In-line Water Filters
Known as a water filter straw, an in-line water filter consists of a hollow tube with a water filtration media inside. Using this device is like sipping through a straw. As you draw water, it moves through the filtration media for purification.
- Pump Filters
These water filters have a larger filter component than in-line water filters. You draw water by operating a lever. Some products have an electric motor that sucks water from any source.
- Gravity-fed Filters
This system relies on passive filtration, requiring gravity to push water through the filtration membrane. It is one of the easiest ways to obtain safe drinking water.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using An Emergency Water Filter
An emergency water purification or filtration system offers the following advantages.
- Less expensive than conventional water filtration systems. On average, they can cost anywhere between $10 and $100.
- Designed primarily for microbial removal. Compared to traditional water filters, emergency-use water purifiers remove as much as 99.9999% of bacteria, cysts, and viruses. Conventional water filters cannot remove these microorganisms.
- Simple to operate and maintain. Most products have a very simple mechanism that requires users to sip like a straw, operate a pump, or hang the system to let gravity do the work. These products also have straightforward backwashing procedures to simplify cleaning.
- Use anywhere, anytime. You can turn any water into drinking water without fear of getting water-borne diseases.
Unfortunately, there are also downsides to this type of water filtration.
- Some products may have a mediocre water flow rate. You cannot expect to get 10 gallons per minute from these systems. At best, you can enjoy about 50 to 60 ounces of filtered water per minute.
- Not for daily water filtration. Using this product as an everyday water filtration system under normal circumstances is impractical.
Emergency Water Filter Buying Guide
Buying a water filter for emergency or survival use starts with a determination of what type you want.
Pore size is the single most important factor you have to consider next. The smaller the micron rating, the more effective it is in removing viruses and other pathogenic microbes.
The filter capacity or life span is also crucial. You want a device that lasts many years. Some products have a filter capacity of 100,000 gallons, while others can only accommodate about 500 gallons or less.
The device’s water flow rate is also essential. Ideally, you do not want to wait hours to fill a glass with drinkable water. The faster you can get filtered water from the product, the better protected you are against dehydration.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are emergency water filtration solutions easy to use?
Yes, an emergency water filtration system for home and outdoor applications should be easy to use. After all, convenience or operation simplicity is one of the most significant factors in emergency water purification methods.
That said, different products will have varying pros and cons. UV wands, for instance, are straightforward to use but require batteries. Iodine tabs don’t require complex filtration steps, either, but they will change the taste of the water.
On the bright side, these are more convenient than the non-portable Berkey units or the Lifestraw that require suction to work. Overall, the most useful choice depends on what you mean by “easy to use.”
The ideal system allows you to filter any liquid source, including river water, ponds, and puddles, after rain. It should make the water from these places safe enough to drink, particularly to augment disaster relief resources.
Although an emergency water filtration system can purify pond water for drinking, it should also be compact and lightweight enough to make the device easier to stash in an emergency kit. Ideally, the product must also deliver sufficient water for family or group consumption.
Sadly, not all so-called “survival” filter systems can guarantee these attributes. You might have a compact and high-capacity water filter bottle survival unit that cannot reduce microbial counts well.
Hence, be meticulous when choosing a filtration device for emergency drinking water. Most homeowners read real-life customer reviews, while others post their concerns on Reddit and similar platforms.
How many times can you reuse a LifeStraw?
According to the brand’s official website, LifeStraw has an unlimited shelf life and a 1,000-gallon operating lifespan. Hence, you can reuse LifeStraw as often as necessary until it reaches the 1,000-gallon mark.
Although the product does not have a pump that can undermine its longevity and reusability, this device requires care in storage. Otherwise, your SHTF water filter won’t be ready when you need it.
Check your LifeStraw and see if it has a removable carbon filter. Remove the filter and allow it to air dry for half an hour before securing it in an airtight Ziploc bag.
If the device does not have a removable carbon filter, you can disinfect it with a bleach solution (two cups of water and ¼ teaspoon of bleach). Fill the LifeStraw chamber with the mixture and let it sit for five minutes before rinsing it under running water for a minute.
Make a salt solution (two cups of water and one teaspoon of table salt) and store the filter with it.
Your LifeStraw should be ready for your next adventure, when you need to obtain potable water in an emergency.
A water filter vs water purifier: What is the difference?
Many people use water purifiers and water filters interchangeably. The terms connote divergent processes. One system “filters” or “screens” unwanted substances, while the other “purifies” or “cleanses” the water of contaminants.
Water filters use a semi-permeable membrane to separate larger particles from smaller ones. Any molecule bigger than the filter pores (in microns) cannot pass through. Hence, you can say the filter “removed” these substances.
Filtration treatment options include microfiltration (for 0.05 to 5-micron-diameter contaminants), ultrafiltration (for 0.001 to 0.05-micron water impurities), and nanofiltration (for 0.008 to 0.01-micron molecules).
Microfilters can remove protozoa and some bacteria but are ineffective against chemicals and viruses. Meanwhile, ultrafiltration is good for reducing viruses in contaminated water. Nanofilters are moderately effective against some chemicals.
On the other hand, water purification systems handle contaminants that remain in the water after filtration. These can include minerals, viruses, and other substances as small as 0.0001 microns (the average semipermeable membrane pore size of a reverse osmosis system).
You will want purified water for emergency storage. However, filtered water should be sufficient in most instances.
What are the most trusted emergency water filter brands?
LifeStraw, Sawyer, Survivor Filter, and Waterdrop are four of the most trusted emergency water filter brands. Other reputable brands include SurviMate, Platypus, LoGest, Katadyn, Membrane Solutions, SimPure, Outback, and FS-TFC.
Do emergency water filters remove viruses?
No, they cannot remove viruses. Because of their inherent design, filters can only remove bacteria, protozoa, and other microbes with a larger diameter than a filter’s pore rating. Only water purifiers with pore sizes of no more than 0.0001 microns can remove viruses.
Can LifeStraw filter urine?
No, LifeStraw cannot and should never be used to filter urine. This emergency water filter cannot remove dissolved salts. Drinking undiluted urine can upset the body’s delicate fluid and electrolyte balance.
How to care & clean?
Always check your manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance instructions. Most products require backwashing by injecting clean water into the unit to rinse the filter membrane. Some systems provide their special cleaning solutions. Other products have removable filter cartridges that require soaking in a disinfectant solution before rinsing with clean water.
Caring for your portable water filter requires proper storage in a dust-proof container. Some systems have their respective carrying and storage pouches. It is always advisable to use these items to protect your water filter.
Where to buy?
You can buy a personal water filter from Amazon because it has the most extensive collection of products you can choose from. It has excellent customer service and program offerings that might land you a better deal. You can also try other e-commerce platforms, such as eBay, Sears, Lowes, Home Depot, and Costco.
The best emergency water filter not only removes close to 100% of harmful pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It also improves the water’s aesthetic qualities. The ideal unit should be portable, easy to set up, and effortless to maintain.
The products we reviewed and shared in this article should help you pinpoint the top-quality water filtration system for emergency and disaster preparedness.
Hi, I am Ronald, founder of Saveourh2o. With this website, we aim to solve all the problems related to your water filters, softeners, and heaters. I have five years working in water equipment sales & service. I hope to bring the knowledge gathered from my daily work to help you to achieve comfort and safety in your home!