In any survival situation, a survival water filter is a must-have, and clean water should not be a luxury: viruses, chemicals, bacteria, contaminants, protozoa, carbon, and other harmful contents of water can seriously affect your health. This is why water filtration techniques are so important. By reading this article, learn about the ways to obtain clean water and most top-rated water filters that will make your survival less dangerous.
Water is the source of all life on the planet. That is why space explorers, first of all, look for water on other planets to understand whether there could be life there.
We do not even think about how often we use water in everyday life. We drink it, cook food on it, take showers or bath, wash clothes, use it for heating, clean our home with it, flush it in the emergency toilet. And we do not use any kind of water, and we need clean water.
Imagine for a moment that the water in the tap has disappeared and you cannot buy water bottles in the store. What will come then? Panic? Without drinkable water, the panic will not last very long because you will die very quickly.
Knowing how to find, and most importantly, clean water is one of the most important for survival life.
You might think you can easily collect water from a nearby stream, lake, rainwater, or another water source. Maybe it is so. But the water is already quite polluted, and what can happen when a survival situation occurs. You need to be able to purify this water. This skill will deeply expand your ability to use water. You can take it from anywhere, and you can use rainwater, water from mud puddles or cisterns. The ability to remove harmful substances, contaminants, and chemicals from the water will greatly facilitate your life in a survival situation.
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To be on the same page with you, you need to understand the main concepts – filtration and water purification.
Both words mean the same thing for ordinary people, but they are two different processes in reality.
This process uses special water filters that remove foreign particles.
Filters are classified by the size of the largest particles that can pass through the filter openings. The measurement system runs in microns. For example, if you have a 0. 2-micron filter, it can remove 99.999% of particles, protozoa, and bacteria.
The principle of water purification is based on the incapacitation of hazardous pollutants. It is not necessary to remove them. Using mechanical filtration, chemicals, or UV light, viruses that can slip through almost all filters are killed.
Secondary treatment is often used to remove odor, taste, and dissolved chemicals.
In this article, we will dive deeper into the water filtration process.
3 Types of Survival Water Filters
Based on each situation and condition, you can choose from three types of survival filters for water.
Gravity Fed Water Filter
This filtration system requires a collecting tank under the filter and a water tank above the filter. All this takes up a decent amount of space, so it is impossible to travel with such an emergency water filtration system. Still, it is better to install it permanently for a longer period.
As you might have guessed from the name, the gravity filter works due to the force of gravity. That is, the water itself passes through the filter under the influence of gravity, and you do not need to perform auxiliary actions. The main thing is to adjust the water filter correctly.
Gravity itself will suction and pump out water.
Due to the passive pumping of water and its bulkiness, this filtration system is best suited for camps or dwellings based on the long term.
These survival water filters are best suited for people on the road or the move because of their portability and small size.
The in-line water filter is a small tube that includes a filter medium.
This filter is great for drinking but is unlikely to work for other purposes. Water filtration is triggered by human suction, and the water flows through the tube through the filter medium.
Hand Pump Water Filter
In fact, as in the LifeStraw water filter, this one consists of a tube with a filter material inside, only, in this case, the tube will be larger. And the system of work is a little different. Nothing needs to be sucked off in the hand pump filter, but you need to use a hand pump. By pumping the water through the pump, you pass water through a filter material that traps contaminants.
This type of water filtration system is larger than inline filters, but you can still take it with you on the road. It is not much heavier than a small personal filter and is great for traveling groups of people.
Best Inline Survival Water Filters
Personal water filters are a must for everyone, whether you are a prepper or a simple traveler. Even if you are traveling with a company, do not forget to get a personal water filter. After all, anything can happen on the way, perhaps you have to split up, and if everyone has an inline survival water filter, you do not need to worry that someone will be left without access to clean water.
There are a lot of light portable water filter options. You just have to choose which one suits you best.
1. Sawyer Mini Water Filter
This portable water filter is excellent value for money. It is perfect for survival situations as well as for everyday use, such as camping or hiking.
Despite its lightweight and size (only 2 ounces of weight and 4 inches in length), this baby can handle up to 100,000 gallons of water. This water filtration device is equipped with a 0: 1-micron filter and hose adapters on both sides.
With the help of hoses, the Sawyer Mini filter can be used for large options to produce clean water.
It can be used to create a gravity filter or to extract water from a small crack. Or you can splice it into your hydration pack. Plus, you can screw the Sawyer Mini Water Filter onto any water bottle. For this, the manufacturers have provided a special threaded end.
2. LifeStraw Go Water Filter
LifeStraw is one of the easiest portable survival water filters on the market. You simply drink water through a straw, and the water passes through the 0. 2-micron filter material and is cleaned of foreign particles, bacteria, and protozoa. One filter can create up to 1 000 liters of drinking water.
The LifeStraw filter is ideal for taking with you. It does not take up much space in your backpack or bug out bag. It is lightweight, weighing only 2 ounces. LifeStraw water filters are perhaps the most affordable.
It is so easy to use that even a child can handle it.
Best Large-Scale Water Filters
An emergency often means the constant movement of people in an attempt to survive. But there are also situations when it is possible to settle in a certain area or create a camp to which you can return, the so-called survivalist or prepper base.
When setting up a camp, you need to have all the camping essentials, and drinking water is, of course, included in this list. The use of personal or manual pump filters for the extraction of clean water, in this case, is not very advisable. First, you will have to assign this mission to a person or people, and the human resource can be essential for other missions. And secondly, to stock up on clean water for a company of people can take too much time and effort.
3. MSR AutoFlow
MSR AutoFlow water filter is good if you are confident that you are in a virus-free environment, such as far away in the wild. The creators of MSR AutoFlow sacrificed virus protection for the speed of water filtration. It reaches 1/3 gallon per minute. The device uses a 0—2-micron filter.
4. LifeStraw Mission Water Purifier
LifeStraw Mission Water Purifier is a whole water filter system consisting of a reservoir, a hose hole, a pre-filter, and the 0.02-micron filter itself.
The pre-filter allows you to take even turbid water. It will clean up large dirt particles to not to clog the main water purifier.
Water tanks are available in 5 or 12 liters. They look like a dry bag that you can hang.
The water filtration rate reaches 3 gallons of drinking water per hour. All you need to do is fill the tank with water and hang it up. No further action is required on your part.
A LifeStraw filter is a real survival water filter packed into a bag for transportation if necessary. Its weight, when folded, will be less than a pound.
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5. AlexaPure and Berkey Countertop Gravity Water Filters
These emergency water filters are best suited for use in your home or other permanent residences. Their transportation will be quite complicated and require additional vehicles. These are some of the heaviest and bulky water filters. Why do we recommend them?
The fact is that they are very durable and reliable. They can last you years of continuous operation (but do not forget to change the filter material).
These gravity filters look that it is not a shame to install them in your kitchen. Stainless steel tanks and ceramic filters make up their system.
If you are looking for a water filter for everyday use that may come in handy in the disappearance of clean water, we advise you to pay attention to Big Berkey or AlexaPure. These are good and high-quality water filtration devices, although they have a corresponding price.
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Best Survival Water Filters For Small Groups
In the case of traveling in small groups of people, a personal filter will no longer be enough for you, and large or stationary water filtration tools will be a burden. For such a situation, we recommend purchasing a water purifier and filter with a pump.
They are slightly larger than personal water filters. They will resemble a 1-liter water bottle in weight and size.
One such water filter is enough for several people, and you can effectively distribute the load between partners. Someone will carry food supplies, tools for camping, equipment for food extraction, and someone will carry an emergency water filter.
Pump water filters are very diverse, you will find many lovely pieces on the market, and the price range can vary from very cheap to filters over $300. Below we will give an example of several portable water filters that we liked.
6. MSR Guardian Purifier
This water filter works on a mechanical water purification system. Perhaps you are accustomed to the fact that such water purifiers clogged too quickly, but they successfully coped with this problem when designing the Guardian purifier. Each time the pump is pressed, about 10% of the water is sent to flush the filtering mechanism.
Herewith, the pumping complexity does not increase. On the contrary, it is straightforward to pump this filter. So easy that we even thought there was something wrong with the filter, and we checked it several times. Its special design allowed MSR Guardian Purifier to eliminate the smallest bacteria without losing its operation speed.
The filter pores are 10 times smaller than MiniWorks EX, making this survival filter ideal for purifying drinking water from contaminated water sources.
You may be intimidated by the price of this device, but believe us, the purifier is worth it. Its speed is almost twice higher than the speed of similar filters, and the level of water purification is really high.
7. MSR MiniWorks Purifier System
It is a cheaper but also less reliable emergency water filter system. But this one also has undeniable advantages, given which we have included in our list:
- combines a filter and a purifier, which will be indispensable in an extreme situation;
- the ability to disassemble this filter system without additional tools;
- replaceable filter and purifier parts;
- the opportunity to refuse water treatment from the virus;
- lightweight, the ability to carry the filter;
- affordable price.
The ability to unwind and disassemble the purifying device yourself can greatly facilitate your life. You can clean the filter core without additional tools so that the flow rate does not decrease. It will be easy for you to replace the purifier cartridge, and you need to replace it after every 2000 liters of water.
If you are sure that there are no viruses in the water and you only need to filter it, then you can pull out virus treatment drops yourself, thereby saving them for the right time.
MSR MiniWorks is well suited for an unforeseen emergency when you are on the road in a small group of people. This system is quite cheap, but it can become more expensive to maintain over time, so we recommend using it for a short time.
Main Survival Water Filter Factors
Different water filtration systems can be useful for different needs.
Water is essential for life, so you cannot risk such a resource. We recommend having several different filters for different survival situations or at least having several backup devices in case of a breakdown or loss of one of them.
Below we list the most important factors to consider when choosing emergency water filters.
The Size of Your Group
If the number of people in your group exceeds 5 people, then it can be considered large. When placing a large group at a specific location, a gravity feed filter can be used. They are quite heavy and large, so it is not always convenient to move them on the road.
But for permanent placement, this is the best survival solution since, without much additional effort, they will get you gallons of water for various camp purposes. The main thing is to add water for processing on time.
For groups of two to five people, we recommend using a water filter with a pump. You will not get tired before you fill up a few water bottles.
And if you only need a source of drinkable water for yourself, then it is most reasonable to use a filter straw or inline filter. They are easy to use and weigh very little, making them easy to use on the go.
Water Source Quality
This is the most important question you should ask yourself when choosing to use the water purification or filtration method.
If you are sure that the water is not contaminated, for example, if you take water from clean water sources such as glaciers, cold springs, and water sources very far from people, you can avoid using any additional water treatment. In such a situation, you will only need to apply a filter to create potable water. But you must be sure not to get the virus; otherwise, the risk is too high.
Most of the water sources you may need to use for survival are located near human settlements. Water is very polluted in the city, but it can be the same near farms or villages. You will need special water treatment, not just a filter. To get water without chemicals, viruses, odors, and bacteria, you will also have to use a water purifier.
The question of price is also important when choosing the best survival water filter. Prices for these devices range from very cheap to over $300 apiece. An individual portable filter will be cheaper than large gravity water systems. It is not always better to pay extra for quality if you want a simpler device. Sometimes it is better to spend money on other useful gear for survival. So start with your budget first.
Pay attention to the features that each filter offers, so you will understand what price-quality ratio it has, and you will choose the one that suits you best.
Size and Weight
Everything here also comes from your needs. Small personal filters weigh almost nothing and are perfect for situations when you need to get out of dangerous terrain or just use it on the road.
You may need a gravity filter that you can install in your vehicle or camp or bug-out location.
You will have to compromise anyway, or if budget and space allow, you may take different filters for multiple survival emergencies.
Water Filtration Best Practices
You can choose any emergency water filtration method and purification method, but certain techniques will help you get clean water most efficiently.
Read Maintenance Instructions
Do not try to save time by skipping reading instructions. You may think you know the best, but the manufacturers have had a modified device, and you may not know that it needs different care. Spend a couple of minutes reading the operating instructions, it may not save your life, but it will definitely save your nerves. Survival life is not easy; anyway, there is no need to take additional risks.
Some filters should not contain traces of water; otherwise, they will freeze at sub-zero temperatures (MSR Guardian, Sawyer, LifeStraw) or even crack. You need to clean some devices with a cloth, others you need to rinse with water, and some do it automatically. Most emergency water filters are straightforward to use, but there are nuances everywhere. Extend your filter lifespan and read the instructions.
You might think that dripping water from a dirty water tank is okay, but it is not. Untreated water can contaminate your freshly mined clean water, and you may not even notice it.
Best water filter producers make special protective valves and tags on their devices to avoid cross-contamination of water.
Be careful with the use of hoses and pipes. Separate them for clean and untreated water. Care and attention in this matter will help you avoid contamination of your emergency water stocks.
Choose Water Source Wisely
If you have a choice, then choose the cleanest possible water source. Firstly, it will save you from possible virus infection. And secondly, it will help extend the filter lifespan. Between a muddy puddle and a forest lake, choose a lake. This is logical. Besides, when manufacturers calculate the emergency water filter’s service life, they indicate it for just bad water and not a puddle that cars drove through.
If you do not have much choice, then you can do the primary water filtration by yourself. To do this, you can use a piece of clean rag, such as a reusable tissue or scarf, and a hair tie. Tie the water container with a rag and secure it with a hair tie. The rag will remove large grains of sand, silt, or other visible contamination from the water, greatly facilitating the filter’s work and preventing it from clogging.
DIY Gravity Filter
If you decide to save money or just want to try your hand at creating a DIY gravity filter, we will provide you with simple and clear instructions. You just need several items:
- Sawyer Mini water filtration system (or any inline filter);
- a tank that can be lifted (for example, a cylinder or a bucket);
- a reservoir into which potable water will drain;
- a length of tubing.
So having all these items, you need to follow a series of simple steps:
- Plumb a valve into the bottom of a lifted tank.
- Attach a tube several feet long to the inline filter.
- Lower the hose into the second reservoir.
- Pour water into the first tank and wait for it to drain.
That’s all. Nothing complicated at all, isn’t it?
To increase the pressure, you can increase the height of the first water tank. So the greater the distance between the reservoirs, the faster the flow rate will be.
Now you know a simple technique that you can use in survival conditions.
Survival Water Action Plan
A person uses clean water for almost every action, from drinking to flushing in the toilet.
We considered several water filtration options and told you about the best water filters, their types, and methods of using them. Now you need to create your survival water plan based on your needs and capabilities.
We hope you understand the advantages of different filters and whether you need a portable water filter or a large stationary or drinking pouch with a filter.
Our final recommendation is to purchase several Sawyer Mini emergency water filters. You know how easy it is to make a full-fledged gravity filter out of them, and this kid will make your survival life much easier. Of course, you can buy just one, but a backup copy just in case never hurts.
What is the best water filter for survival?
Different devices are better for various situations. You need to proceed from such parameters as the size of the group, water quality, price, the ability to transport the filter. We recommend getting a small portable device that will work for most survival conditions (Sawyer Mini). It also does not hurt to get a copy for an emergency.
How do you filter and purify water for survival?
Filtration removes the smallest foreign particles from the water, such as grains of sand, dirt, bacteria. For primary filtration, you can use a cloth, pass water through it, and pass it through a special filter. Water purification is based on the incapacitation of hazardous pollutants. The simplest methods are boiling water or cleaning tablets.
Can water filters remove viruses?
Some filters are capable of this, but you need to make sure that the filter has a water purification function. For example, we can advise the MSR Guardian Purifier, which has a high flow rate despite the double water purification system.
Is there a water filter that removes arsenic?
Removing arsenic from water is difficult. Boiling water will not help here (it can even increase the substance’s concentration), nor disinfection with chlorine. Methods to get rid of arsenic are ion exchange, ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis, and distillation.
How to clean water in the wild?
First and foremost, use the purest water available. Make a primary filter using a cloth such as a scarf, bandana, or handkerchief. Tie the fabric around the water container with a hair tie. By passing water through an improvised filter, you will remove visible dirt. Then use the filter or water purifier you like most.