Gear Review Top portable water filters and purifiers

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by The_Prepared, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. The_Prepared

    The_Prepared Derpy Monkey

    (Free water filter giveaways until end of Tuesday the 26th! See post for details.)

    Review of the best survival filters for preppers

    I just finished a big 48-hour review of over 70 water treatment products for prepping. When the "what filter should I buy?" question comes up again and again, the usual answers are Sawyer Mini or Squeeze (or even LifeStraw, which we never recommend). But in the end we picked a Mini competitor, the relatively new HydroBlu Versa, as the best singular pick.

    Other models we like:
    • Pumps: Katadyn Hiker Pro and MSR Guardian
    • Bottles: LifeStraw Go, Aquamira Frontier Flow, Sagan Journey, and LifeSaver Liberty
    • Gravity: HydroBlu Go Flow
    • Straws: Survivor Filter, HydroBlu Sidekick (EDC)
    In the end, which filter makes sense for you depends on a variety of factors. But the right answer is usually a mix of 2-3 different models and types to cover all your bases.

    Personally, in one bug out bag I run a LifeStraw Go bottle with spare filter, HydroBlu Versa kit (with bags), and Katadyn Pocket. In another bag I plan on running a HydroBlu Go Flow gravity kit (with their inline filter), LifeSaver Legacy bottle, and Survivor Filter straw.

    What do you like, and have you compared it against others or just in a vacuum?

    Happy to answer any questions about filters, alternatives, water threats, or whatever!
    Zimmy, Asia-Off-Grid, duane and 2 others like this.
  2. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Review is well worth reading, points out strong points and weak points in a wide range of filters types and price ranges. Best thing I have seen on bug out bag, get home bag, carry with you options. Still prefer chlorine for virus with charcoal for taste, but that is a personal choice for at home and contaminated water with mineral problems with deep well I am using Kind of a belt and suspenders approach.
    Asia-Off-Grid and The_Prepared like this.
  3. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    If I may ask, why do you never recommend LifeStraw?
    The_Prepared likes this.
  4. The_Prepared

    The_Prepared Derpy Monkey

    To specify, I'm referring to the base straw model. Some of their newer stuff is acceptable. But I took a clear stance on the ubiquitous LifeStraw because so many new people think it's the best without questioning it. We dislike straws in general because of the lack of versatility and getting so close to water source, and specifically the LS because there's no 28 mm threading or hose nipple on the input end, something at least other straws have.
    Asia-Off-Grid likes this.
  5. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    @The_Prepared, thanks for posting your review.

    I know little to nothing about these types of filters, which is why I asked. Here (in Cambodia), we tend to use whole house type filtration, if using filters. (Most of our water is from rainwater harvesting.) If time came for most people to bug out, in this part of the world, we would bug in.
    Zimmy and The_Prepared like this.
  6. The_Prepared

    The_Prepared Derpy Monkey

    Bugging in is almost always the default choice. It's just a great idea to have some of these portable ones on hand! If you can get ahold of even just one Sawyer Mini or HydroBlu Versa, it'd be a great investment.
    Asia-Off-Grid likes this.
  7. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    I will see if my brother can send one or two of these to me, from the US.

    Thanks for the recommendation.
    The_Prepared likes this.
  8. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Thanks for the review. I see that the listed HydroBlu Versa Inline Filter Kit is 'designed in SLC" but is actually made in China.- which they openly admit on the Amazon site, good for them.

    The Sawyer is made in the USA by the same company that make filters for dialysis machines. I would venture to say their USA based and inspected manufacturing standards a bit better than a Hencho en China filter.

    Also - might be a nitpick, but words really do mean things. The review uses the term 'fileter' for all of these products. They are not - all 'filters'. Several, like the Sawyer, are Purifiers.

    Why does this matter?
    Simply put, the main difference lies in the level of protection they provide. Generally speaking, a water filter is designed to remove waterborne protozoa and bacteria, but not viruses. A water purifier is designed to combat all three classes of microbes, including viruses.
    (another good overview - Backpacking Water Filter vs. Water Purifier: What’s the Difference? - The Summit Register)
    (The linked site focuses on 'backpacking' devices, something we likely all have)

    I carry the Sawyer and still use Chlorine Dioxide tabs here in AK. In too many places (mostly villages) the water is simply not safe to drink - for a large number of reasons.

    If using any surface water, adding a carbon block filter will go a long way to lower stuff like pesticides, heavy metals and so on. In my younger days, I was less - fussy. I was lucky for the most part owing to the remote areas I was visiting at the time.

    Everyone makes their own choices, while the OP's review has some good information, I would suggest buying based on price may not be the best of all choices. When it comes to water treatment, your choices can come down to a matter of life or death (or at least, so sick you wish you were dead)

    Because nobody wants to be this guy -
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    Zimmy, The_Prepared and Asia-Off-Grid like this.
  9. The_Prepared

    The_Prepared Derpy Monkey

    Thank you for the contribution. But I want to kindly clarify some things you might've missed (understandably so) in such a long article.

    We're very hard on Chinese garbage. There's a section in that article where we specifically call out Chinese stuff from Diercon etc and all the white-labelled junk found in the US. That said, I don't think something being manufactured in China is inherently bad. If it's built by Americans with American standards and testing, then I'm OK with it. The Apple computer I'm typing on is made in China. All the details/context matter, and in this case I'm comfortable with the HydroBlu stuff until I see negative data.

    Also a mention of this in the post: "When looking at the kinds of products relevant to personal emergencies, it usually comes down to filters versus purifiers. “Purifiers” typically remove more threats than filters, but the wording has been misused enough in marketing to lose most of its meaning."

    I mostly used the filter label, rather than getting specific on labeling one thing a purifier vs the other not, for that reason (the meaning has been diluted) and because normal people are thinking/searching mostly by "filter" — so instead I just label everything as bacteria/protozoa protection or that+virus.

    We didn't make decisions based on price, because you're right, there's no point saving a few bucks if you die. Price is more of a qualifier, such as there being no real reason for a prepper to spend an extra $100 above the Sawyer/HydroBlu gravity kits for a Platypus GravityWorks. We also have to balance that against the fact that if something recommended is too expensive, many people just don't buy anything (or they buy the wrong Chinese junk) and end up with a false sense of preparedness.

    I do! I wish I looked that good at 900 years old... :)
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
    Zimmy and Asia-Off-Grid like this.
  10. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    I agree.

    Typical of countries in this part of the world - if you stay on top of them, constantly watching them, requiring them to perform work at YOUR level of standards, they can produce some good quality items. However, left to their own devices, they make junk, and / or will perform work in a half-assed fashion. This, I know to be a fact. I've witnessed it countless times.
    The_Prepared likes this.
  11. Oddcaliber

    Oddcaliber Monkey++

    Katadyn and Berkey here. Enough said.
    The_Prepared likes this.
  12. The_Prepared

    The_Prepared Derpy Monkey

    Which Katadyn? Do you use your Berkey portably?
  13. Oddcaliber

    Oddcaliber Monkey++

    Got the Katadyn Pocket and a Travel Berkey. Well worth the money for pure water.
    The_Prepared likes this.
  14. The_Prepared

    The_Prepared Derpy Monkey

    Agreed, have had the Pocket for a long time, thing's a tank.
    Oddcaliber likes this.
  15. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I believe that there are some factors the people tend to over look.
    .1 the bucket filter
    pre filter with a paper coffee filter, washed gravel, washed sand, and activated charcoal . I might still add chlorine to the mix as a precaution . learn how to make chlorine, it has a limited shelf life .
    2 . In the olden days they put the silver ware in the milk to help preserve it .colloidal silver is an invaluable tool in this regard .
    Many of your filters already use silver in their process .
    3. PPM meters are not expensive ,valuable tools in determining the filtering process.
    4. swimming pool test kits can reveal the status of your water in several ways .
    5. PH test strips are valuable in knowing your PH as well as the PH of the water , get a kit learn how to use it . A person too acidic is prone to tumors and cancer , however some have found that correcting their PH has reversed the damage. Baking soda water neutralizes the acid . .
    6 the steri pen does not kill bacteria per say ,it sterilizes bacteria so it can't reproduce . the water must be free of particulates bacteria can be hiding inside of and not be exposed . I would use the steri-pen after filtration .
    7. something to remember; a warranty on things does not replace your health if there is a failure, I seriously doubt that post SHTF there will be any one to sue.
    I include microscope in my water purification analysis .
    I don't know all there is to know about micro biology ,but hey, we have the technology at our finger tips why not take advantage of it ?
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