10 Best Survival Water Filters 2017 [REVIEW]

Whether you are hiking or camping or when a natural disaster strikes, you need a reliable source of drinking water. Water filters have greatly improved over the years. From bulky and heavy system attached to our taps, manufacturers have developed units that are small and portable but do the job right – filter even the tiniest contaminants.

Before we go into details… A quick look at the best water filters

Brand Katadyn Acquapura Survival Hax Lifestraw Family LIfestraw
Rating  ✓✓✓✓ ✓✓✓✓ ✓✓✓✓ ✓✓✓✓✓ ✓✓✓✓
Type  Pump  Straw  Water Bottle  Gravity  Water Bottle
Micron  0.2 0.01   0.1  0.02  0.2
Weight  15 oz. 2.12 oz.  22 oz.   1.5 lbs.  23 oz.
 Price Learn more Learn more Learn more Learn more Learn more
Brand Lifedefender Sawyer MSR Montop Katadyn
Rating ✓✓✓✓ ✓✓✓✓✓ ✓✓✓✓ ✓✓✓ ✓✓✓✓✓
Type Straw Straw Pump Water Bottle Pump
Micron 0.01 0.1 0.2 0.2
Weight 2 oz. 2 oz. 456 g. 1.62 lbs. 2 Lbs
Price Learn more Learn more Learn more Learn more Learn more

10 Best Survival Water Filters 2017 [REVIEW]

Table of Contents

What we recommend

What is a survival water filter?

Why is it important to own a survival water filter? Buyer’s guide in finding the best survival water filter
Types of Water Filters Taste quality
Top 10 survival water filters Mike’s Gear Reviews Choice

What we recommend:

If you are looking for the best survival water filter, seek no further as MSR MiniWorks EX water filter brings home the crown as it effectively filters water and is used by thousands of people worldwide.

  • Lightweight and compact, perfect for travelers, hikers, and campers.
  • It filters the water with its ceramic/carbon element despite frequent heavy use that removes bacteria and protozoa, including giardia and cryptosporidia, as well as unpleasant tastes and odors.
  • Pumps up to a liter of water per minute with its AirSpring Accumulator™.
  • Easy to assemble and clean after use without the need of constant back flushing.

Here is the cheaper alternative:

For a fraction of the price of MSR MiniWorks EX water filter, you can get Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System, which is an ultra-lightweight water filter system that is perfect for travel.

  • Weighs two ounces and fit any backpack. Perfect for travelers and campers.
  • Has a 0.1-micron rating that filters 99.99 percent of bacteria such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli.
  • Easy to assemble as you simply need to attach the screw cap to water bottles. You can also drink directly from the outlet.

Water is essential for life. All living things depend on water in order to survive. A human body is made up of 55 to 65 percent water.

In the past, the rivers and lakes are crystal clear and are the main sources of drinking water of people. However, the advent of pollution deteriorates the quality of our water sources. Moreover, neglect and abuse of humans to the different water sources made them no longer safe and potable. How bad is the current situation of our water sources? According to WaterProject.org,

  • One out of nine people worldwide does not have access to safe and clean water.
  • Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease.
  • Globally, 70 percent of our water sources are used for agriculture and irrigation, and only 10 percent for domestic use.
  • On a worldwide scale, nearly one out of every five deaths under the age of 5 is due to a water-related disease.

Due to unsafe waters, various diseases are waterborne such as cholera, leptospirosis, and typhoid fever. These are caused by either viruses or bacteria thriving in water sources, organisms living in it, or chemicals and other agents found in the water.

What is a survival water filter?

While most of us are familiar with water filters attached to the faucet in the kitchen or the big and bulky filters, a survival water filter is a portable version of that that you can bring anywhere. Taking a hint from its name, it is essential for survival and a must in every bug-out bag. While you can survive for three days, this is not something that you should risk due to dehydration that can quickly lead to illness or death.

The best survival water filters sift the water of harmful contaminants such as bacteria and viruses that will often lead to diseases. If you travel to a remote place where the water is not treated, drinking it may cause pain and upset stomach. The best water filters help to remove these agents and make the water safer to drink.

Why is it important to own a survival water filter?

A person needs at least a gallon of water everyday either for drinking, preparing food, or cleaning. You cannot use unsafe water for all of these since they are for consumption and sanitation. Best water filters are essential so anyone can filter their water anywhere.

Emergencies – During emergency situations, expect a shortage of safe water to drink. Ideally, you pack water that will last for 72 hours. However, you will run out of supply later on. Survival water filters may save your life until the rescue or relief goods arrive.

Traveling or camping – Some wanderlust people may find themselves running out of water supply during their travels. With no store or house in sight, travelers are in a tight situation and a backpacking water filter will come in handy. Streams and rivers can be drunk using this filtrating device.

Disadvantages of survival water filters

Survival water filters are convenient but they also have their set of limitations. Filters are highly effective and some models have different features. Furthermore, they are economic, too. Filters work by literally filtering out the impurities in the water. The following are the things that the best water filter cannot do.

1. Does not purify – While water filters strain big organisms and agents in the water like E. coli, protozoans, and even the deadly Ebola virus., it does not purify as purification is different from filtration. It is still best to boil it or use purification tablets to make sure that the water is safe enough to drink.

2. Does not filter dissolved chemicals – Even the best survival water filters cannot treat water contaminated with chemicals. The sieve of water filters elements that are 0.5 to 0.2 microns in size and dissolved chemicals are out of the question.

3. Cannot make salt water potable – Most survival water filters cannot remove the salinity in salt water.

Buyer’s guide in finding the best survival water filter

You may think that choosing a portable water filter is an easy task but you must be keen to details of to ensure that the unit fits your needs. There are several models of survival water filter and they all claim that they are the best. There is a straw type that filters the water as you sip. This model needs you to be close to the water source if you do not have something to gather the water. However, you cannot expect the elderly to be on all fours on the banks of the lake or river just for a drink. Thus, it is important that you know who and how they will use the product.


Backpacking water filters that we have at home are big and bulky so it can filter large volumes of water. However, survival water filters are smaller and more compact version of the former. Portability is important when choosing a water filter for your bug-out bag. Everything must fit inside a backpack that you can easily pick up in case of an emergency. There are different kinds of survival water filters like water bottle-type and one with pump and they differ in size and weight.

Filtration Effectiveness (Filtration vs Purification)

The main game here is on how small these filters can sieve from the water. The level of the microns it can filter out determines the filtration effectiveness of the product. The smaller the particles it can filter out, the better. Water filters that can filter 0.1 or 0.2 microns are commendable. However, some models can filter 99.99 percent of microorganisms and viruses.

Water Filtration

Basically, water filtration is the process of getting rid of the impurities in the water either through a sieve, chemicals, or biological process. A common process of filtration is through carbon filters that filter the water and improve its taste.

The most important feature of water filtration is that it focuses largely on impurities. It filters even the tiniest particles, including bacteria. However, it is important to note that water filtration does not remove some variants of viruses as well as diluted chemicals in the water. Thus, filtration alone cannot be relied upon to make the water totally safe to drink.

Water Purification

With the same idea as water filtration, purification is removing the impurities from the water. However, this process focuses on the overall safety of the water making it free of biological contaminants, pathogens, and chemicals. The most common process of water purification is boiling. However, it important to note that simply purifying water cannot always remove other impurities found in the water.

What Is a Micron Rating?

Micron is the average size of the openings in a filter. Water filters have the smallest 0.1-micron opening that prevents particles bigger in size to pass through. Bacteria range from 0.2 to 2 microns. Water filters with smaller openings can filter bacteria and cysts. The general rule is, the smaller micron rating, the better, especially if the water sources are rivers, deep wells, and springs.

When the hiking water filter needs too much maintenance and cleaning, it means that the quality of the water is not good and has a lot of sediments. The quality of the water adds information on what type of filter you need. If there is too much sediment, there must be sediment pre-filter in order to remove larger particles so they will not clog the filter. Some filters have three stages of filtration to prolong the life of the water filter.

Speed of output

The amount of water it filters in a given time is vital when choosing the best survival water filter. A water filter must have a high flow rate to make collection and filtration easier and faster. Normally, large filters tend to filter water faster in comparison with portable water filters. Some water filters are pump-type that has an output rate of 1-2 liters per minute. Meanwhile, straw-type has smaller openings and it is used for sipping water from the source.


Survival water filters should be easy-to-use. Some models are either pumped or sipped. The pump-type requires for you to exert more effort in obtaining the water. The straw-type, on the other hand, you need to suck from the source.

Types of Water Filters


One type of survival water filter is one with a mechanical hand pump in which the water is pushed through the filter due to the pressure applied via the pump. The mechanism of getting water is through pumping that has an output rate can reach 1-2 liters per minute. One of the advantages of pump-type is speed and flow rate that allows you to filter more water in less time compared to other water filters.


Straw-type water filters are the lightest among hiking water filters since it is a cylindrical device and you will simply sip the water. They are handy and can fit in your pocket and you will just have to take it out when you need to drink. You can drink immediately upon collecting the water in a container. You can also drink directly from the source, although it could be awkward if you are drinking straight from the river

Water bottles with a built-in water filter

Probably the best filter, water bottles with built-in filters are so handy. Using this device, one can collect and filter water. This type of hiking water filter is also lightweight and can be easily maintained. Although some people may find it gross thinking that they could be drinking unsafe water, but the filter sifts the water and what touches your mouth is safe and clean water. Moreover, this type of water filter is no fuss making it perfect for camping trips and traveling. And water bottles are not hard to assemble.


Ceramic water filters are probably the most popular variant of handy water filters. The ceramic part is very effective in filtering water from natural sources. Ceramics are porous as they have microscopic openings that can filter contaminants and microbes.

Meanwhile, ceramic filters are usually bulkier and heavier than their counterparts. They are also fragile and may break if mishandled. However, ceramic types are probably the best water filters when it comes to longevity. Ceramic filters can effectively bring the contaminants to nil for drinking water. They also last for a long time.

Gravity filters

Thanks to Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity, this water filter makes use of gravity in filtering the water. When water is poured down the reservoir, gravity helps the water to pass through the pre-filter down to the hose with hollow membranes inside that filter the water. By the time it reaches the other end, the water is already clean and safe to drink. It is more effective than other types since the filter is not using pressure to work. The only downside of this kind of filter is it is quite slow compared to other filters.

Taste quality

Organisms and chemicals in the water can alter its taste. When tasting something funny in the water, you tend to suspect that the water is not clean and unsafe to drink. The taste of the water must be neutral. Some backpacking water filters have activated carbon that traps impurities and makes the water tastes natural.

Surpasses EPA standards

The Environmental Protection Agency dictates the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in water which is delivered to any user of a public water system. If it passes the standards set by EPA, it is safe to drink.

Selecting a water filter for your survival needs entails meticulous assessment of the different features of the product to make sure they suit your needs. In the end, portability, convenience, and whether it does the job properly are the main things you need to consider.

Top 10 survival water filters

Katadyn Vario Water Filter

Type Pump type
Micron rating 0.2 micron
Weight 15 oz.
Speed up to two quarts per minute

If you are looking for a portable water filter that is both efficient and user-friendly, this product is what you are looking for. Katadyn Vario Water Filter has three filter levels: a glass fiber filter, a ceramic pre-filter, and an active charcoal. The glass fiber filter removes waterborne bacteria. The ceramic disc can be adjusted based on the cloudiness of the water. Lastly, the replaceable active charcoal filter eliminates odors and improves the natural taste of the water.

Because it is a pump type of water filter, it pumps water fast and can produce up to two quarts (roughly eight cups) per minute. It comes with a pre-filter, deluxe carry bag, and cleaning pad.

Survival Hax Water Purifier Bottle

Type Water bottle type
Micron rating 0.1 micron
Weight 22 oz.
Speed not specified

The filter is made from coconut activated charcoal that effectively detoxifies the water, including heavy metals. Coconut charcoal is more refined than ordinary charcoal and absorbs more toxins. The filter has 0.1-micron rating that can remove 99.99 percent of bacteria and other parasites that even the water from muddy swamps come out clean.

Survival Hax Water Purifier Bottle is easy to use. Just scoop the contaminated water through the bottle. The filter is attached to the cap and you can suck the filtered water through a straw. This water bottle type water filter is BPA-free and portable. It holds more than two cups of water.

Acquapura Premium Camping Water Filter

Type Straw type
Micron rating 0.01 micron
Weight 2.12 oz.
Speed not specified

Acquapura can turn any non-saline water into safe and drinkable water. This water filter offers triple filtration system. Collect water from containers that have a screw cap. Screw one end of the water filter with the pre-filter that has 0.01-micron rating. The water then passes through an antibacterial activated carbon filter that has ionic silver, which is known to be one of the most potent antibacterial elements in the world. Lastly, it passes through a mesh with an ultra-fine membrane. Its design makes it a perfect addition to your EDC items as it easily fits in your pocket.

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

Type Straw type
Micron rating 0.1 micron
Weight 2 oz.
Speed not specified

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System is lightweight as it weighs only two ounces. It has 0.1-micron rating that filters 99.99 percent of bacteria such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli. It is also easy to use as you only have to attach the screw cap to water bottles or to Sawyer hydration packs. Drink directly from the water outlet.

Life Defender Survival Water Filter

Type Straw type
Micron rating 0.01 micron
Weight 2 oz.
Speed not specified

The life Defender water filter is a pocket-sized water filter that can be attached to the water bottle or can be used as a straw. It is an ultralight water filter weighing like nothing with a size fits any pocket or bag.

Its 0.01-micron rating removes 99.9 percent of waterborne bacteria and protozoan parasites. It is BPA Free and coconut activated charcoal that offers better filtration. Moreover, Life Defender is a proud supporter of Water.org. $1 of every filter goes to help support the mission of Water.org.

MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter

Type Pump type
Micron rating 0.2 micron
Weight 456 grams
Speed 1 liter per minute

MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter is a workhorse in a small package. This water filter is engineered for frequent and heavy use despite being lightweight and compact. It is capable of pumping a liter per minute. It has a ceramic filter that ensures clean, reliable, and taste-free water. Some of the key features of this product are its fast flow and its activated carbon in its core that removes the unpleasant taste in the water.

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1,000-Liter LifeStraw Filter

Type Water bottle type
Micron rating 0.2 micron
Weight 23 oz.
Speed not specified

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle boasts leak-proof bottle that can be used infinitely. The filter is replaceable and is being sold separately once yours reached capacity. It removes 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria and protozoan parasites. Moreover, it surpasses EPA standards for removing E. Coli, Giardia and Cryptosporidium oocysts, and many other waterborne contaminants.

Mountop UV Purification Water Bottle, Portable 750 ML Bottle

Type Water bottle type
Micron rating not specified
Weight 1.62 lbs.
Speed not specified

Different from the previous water filters, Mount UV Purification Water Bottle uses UV rays to kill all the bacteria and viruses present in the water. UV light emits radiation that kills microorganisms. Moreover, UV light does not affect the taste of the water. However, filtration must be done to remove sediments as these contaminants can create a “Shadow” which prevents the UV rays from reaching the harmful microorganisms.

LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier

Type gravity type
Micron rating 0.02 microns
Weight 1.5 lbs.
Speed 9 -12 liters per hour

This gravity filter makes use of gravity in filtering the water. The water travels from top to bottom and gets filtered of impurities along the way. It has a slow flow rate since the water has to travel a long route, but since the water is not rushed or forced as it uses gravity, it takes its time to get clean. LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier surpasses EPA standards for water purifiers and removes 99.99 percent of viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts of up to 0.02 micron.

Katadyn Hiker Water Filter

Type Pump type
Micron rating 0.2 microns
Weight 2 lbs.
Speed not specified

The Katadyn Hiker Water Filter is designed for amateur and serious backpackers. It has a glass fiber filter that has 0.2-micron rating. In the middle, there is an activated carbon that improves the taste and reduces chemicals in your drinking water. Lastly, the product is low maintenance and there is no need for constant backflushing.

Mike’s Gear Reviews Choice

Water is essential as it sustains life. People need access to clean and safe water. When disaster strikes, we must anticipate that our convenient access to potable water will be cut off. However, we cannot risk drinking unsafe water due to the danger of diseases caused by microorganisms and other impurities in the water. Therefore, filtration is of vital importance. There are several best water filters that fit the needs of every person, whether you are a sole hiker or camper or part of an adventurous family traveling to remote places.

Mike’s Gear Reviews highly recommends MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter. You can say that this best survival water filter is small but terrible. It is compact and lightweight, which is the primary feature that you should look for in a portable water filter. Despite its size, this product is hardworking filtering a liter of water per minute.

MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter uses a ceramic filter with 0.2-micron rating that sifts the water of sediments and other impurities. In its core is activated carbon that removes the unpleasant taste in the water and gives it a more natural taste. MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter is easy-to-use. Being a pump type of water filter, making it easier to collect and filter water.

Are you getting ready to start a new adventure? Mike’sGearReviews will help you with your check list: Do you have an EDC Flashlight? Did you get your hiking pants? How about the fire starter?…and you can also read our Zombie Survival Guide, because… you never know!

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Katadyn Vario Water Filter
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