The 6 Best Water Filters For Off Grid Living: An In-Depth Review [Updated 2019]

The 6 Best Water Filters For Off Grid Living: An In-Depth Review [Updated 2019]
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Looking for a great water filter for when you’re off the grid, but are overwhelmed by seemingly infinite options?

You came to the right spot!

Whether you’re thinking about going off the grid, or you live in the city and are concerned about the quality of the city’s water supply (and for good reason), a high quality water treatment is the perfect to make sure your water is clean and pure. 

In this article, we go over what to look for when choosing a water system, followed by in-depth reviews on the 6 best off grid water filters available on the market today. 

Features

  • Capable of filtering up to 7 gallons of water per minute
  • Removes viruses, bacteria, cysts and chemical contaminants
  • Available in 5 different sizes

OUR RATING



Our #1 Rated

5/5

5 out of 5

What to Look For in an Off Grid Water Treatment System

When comparing water treatment systems there are several key factors that come into play. 

These include:

  • Type and Level of Treatment
  • Powered vs Gravity Fed
  • Flow Rate
  • Water Storage

Type of Filtration/Purification

The first thing you should consider when comparing different water filters is how comprehensively it filters and purifies water.

If your water comes from a well, lake, river or something like a rain catchment system, it’s not going to be microbiologically safe to drink.

There may also be things like agricultural runoff, heavy metals or other major contaminants present.

You need a treatment system that can remove physical particulate matter, filter out contaminants, and disinfect bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

Some water treatment systems will do this purely with filters. Others combine filters with chemical treatments like chlorine or UV radiation.

For most situations, we don’t recommend chemical treatments. The goal is to become more sustainable after all and chlorine treatment isn’t very environmentally friendly. 

On the other hand, UV is great, but it too has limitations. Any water you’re treating with UV radiation must first be run through a filter to remove particulates. 


Powered vs Gravity Fed

With water treatment systems, there are two main methods used to actually filter the water:

  • Powered
  • Gravity Fed

Powered filters are much less common. For off-grid and sustainable living, they usually run off DC batteries connected to solar and have the ability to filter a lot more water than other systems.

The majority of sustainable water treatment options will be gravity fed. These rely on two or more containers stacked on top of each other.

The topmost container holds untreated water and the force of gravity moves it through the filter elements.

Gravity fed filters aren’t as fast as powered filters, but they also don’t require electricity.

This makes them excellent if you’re on solar and trying to conserve energy, or as an emergency backup system.


Flow Rate

Flow rate is one of the most important metrics when comparing different water treatment systems. Powered systems will always be much faster than gravity fed systems. 

This only comes into play when you’re dealing with a high demand for water over a very short amount of time. Most gravity fed treatment systems give you about a 1 to 4 gallon flow rate per hour. 

By comparison, powered systems can give you that same flow rate per minute. If you need to provide water for a lot of people, a powered system may be the way to go. You should expect to pay a premium for them, though.


Water Storage

One of the key differences between water filters and water treatment systems for off-grid living is water storage. Water treatment systems produce water faster than a water filter and generally have at least a several liter storage capacity.

The most comprehensive water treatment systems don’t have storage. They’re built to filter enough water to fill barrels and cisterns over a relatively short amount of time.

Figure out how much water you want on hand versus the amount of time it takes to treat more. That will tell you how much water storage you need in your system or whether you should go for a higher capacity one that doesn’t store its own water

 

Features

  • Capable of filtering up to 7 gallons of water per minute
  • Removes viruses, bacteria, cysts and chemical contaminants
  • Stores 2.25 gallons of water
  • Looks really sharp
  • Collapses down for easy transport and storage
  • Filter elements good for 3,000 gallons

OUR RATING



Our #1 Rated

5/5

5 out of 5


The Berkey line of gravity fed water filters are well known among the off-grid and tiny dweller communities. The Big Berkey is one of the most popular sizes of their filter line. It’s made up of a two part stainless steel gravity filter system.

The Big Berkey has storage capacity of 2.25 gallons of water. It relies on the Black Berkey water filter elements from New Millennium Concepts to work. These are some of the best filtration elements available.

Not only do they remove the vast majority of bacteria, viruses and protozoa, they also greatly reduce any lead, chlorine or other chemical contaminants. This makes the Big Berkey suitable for use with any off-grid water source.]

The Big Berkey is capable of filtering 3.5 gallons per hour with 2 filters. This is enough for daily use by a family of 4. The metal storage containers are burnished to a high sheen and look great on your countertop.

The elements themselves are each good for 3,000 gallons of water. You can use up to 4 total filters at once for a total flow rate of 7 gallons per hour. This allows you to rapidly expand your water production or preserve your filter elements.

Check out our in-depth review of the Big Berkey filter for more information.


Pros 

  • Capable of filtering up to 7 gallons of water per minute
  • Removes viruses, bacteria, cysts and chemical contaminants
  • Stores 2.25 gallons of water
  • Looks really sharp
  • Collapses down for easy transport and storage
  • Filter elements good for 3,000 gallons

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Filter elements equally expensive

Features

  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Flow rate of 12 liters per hour
  • Filter rated to 18,000 liters of water
  • Requires no power 
  • Removes the vast majority of bacteria, viruses and cysts
  • Relatively inexpensive

OUR RATING



Our #2 Rated

4.8/5

4.8 out of 5

When the original LifeStraw was released, it rapidly became one of the most popular and widely used personal water filters in the world. The LifeStraw Family 1.0 is a larger scale gravity fed version of their effective filter.

It uses a two part system comprised of a small reservoir connected to a filter with spigot. This allows you to hang the reservoir somewhere convenient and dispense filtered water as you like.

The LifeStraw Family 1.0 can filter up to 12 liters of water an hour and is effective at removing 99.99% of viruses, 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of cysts. This leaves you with microbiologically safe drinking water. 

The filter is rated for 18,000 liters of water, enough for a family of 4 for 3 years of use. It weighs just 1.6 lbs and the whole system rolls up into the reservoir. This allows you to use it when needed and stow it away when not.

One thing to keep in mind is that the LifeStraw Family doesn’t remove chemical contaminants. If your water supply may have been contaminated by fertilizer runoff or heavy metals, you’ll need additional filtration.


Pros 

  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Flow rate of 12 liters per hour
  • Filter rated to 18,000 liters of water
  • Requires no power 
  • Removes the vast majority of bacteria, viruses and cysts
  • Relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • Doesn’t remove chemical contaminants
  • Has no water storage

Features

  • Capable of storing 8L of total water
  • Weighs less than a pound and folds down into a very small package
  • Removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa

OUR RATING



Our #3 Rated

4.6/5

4.6 out of 5

Each reservoir of the Platypus Reservoir contains 4 liters of water. By placing the dirty water reservoir above the clean one, gravity forces water through the filter element.

The filter used is made up of thousands of hollow fibers. This allows it to safely remove 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa. The design of the hollow fibers also makes it one of the fastest gravity fed filters available. 

It can produce 1.75 liters of pure water every minute. Each element is capable of filtering up to 1,500 liters of water before replacement.

The system itself is easy to set up and use. To remove filtered water you just open up the top of the clean water bag and either scoop or pour it into another container. 

The whole thing weighs under a pound and can be stowed away in seconds. This makes it perfect for use in tight spaces to quickly filter water then put away.

Like many of the other treatment options on this list, it’s important you recognize what the filter can and can’t do. It does a great job removing bacteria and cysts, but doesn’t filter out viruses or potential chemical contaminants.

Pros 

  • Fast flow rate of 1.75 liters per minute
  • Capable of storing 8L of total water
  • Weighs less than a pound and folds down into a very small package
  • Reasonably priced and easy to use
  • Removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa

Cons

  • Doesn’t remove viruses or chemical contaminants
  • Filter element must be replaced after just 1,500 liters

Features

  • Filter element good for 25,000 gallons
  • Removes the bulk of viruses, bacteria, parasites and microplastics
  • Rugged and durable construction

OUR RATING



Our #4 Rated

4.5/5

4.5 out of 5

The LifeStraw Community takes the highly effective filter system of the original LifeStraw and pairs it with large scale water storage. It has both a 25 liter dirty water tank and a 25 liter clean water tank.  

The LifeStraw Community incorporates a pre filter particulate screen that removes dirt and debris before entering the filter. It can filter up to 12 liters of water per hour, removing the bulk of viruses (99.999%), bacteria (99.9999%), parasites (99.99%), and microplastics (99.999%) from the water.

This gives you microbiologically safe drinking water from any source. The filter element is rated for 25,000 gallons. That’s enough to provide water to 100 people for 3 to 5 years.

It’s just under 2’ wide by 2’ deep and is about 3’ tall. That’s definitely on the large size for a tiny home, but not bad at all if you’re living in a larger off-grid home or trying to be a modern homesteader.

The container is made from durable plastic. It collapses down for easy storage when not in use and can be set up in minutes.

The LifeStraw Community is capable of providing all the water you and your family could need for the foreseeable future. It’s great for daily use or to keep in case of large scale emergency.

Pros 

  • Filter element good for 25,000 gallons
  • 50 liter water storage capacity
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Provides 12 liters of water per hour
  • Removes the bulk of viruses, bacteria, parasites and microplastics
  • Runs completely without power
  • Rugged and durable construction

Cons

  • Larger than many other water treatment systems
  • Doesn’t remove potential chemical contaminants

Features

  • 4 step treatment system removes particulates, chemical contaminants and destroys bacteria, viruses and cysts
  • 2.9 gallon per minute flow rate
  • Can purify water from any source
  • Turns on with the flip of a switch

OUR RATING



Our #5 Rated

4/5

4.3 out of 5

If you want an off-grid water treatment option as close to on-grid living as possible, the Water Safe Pro Survivor is the answer. It’s a DC powered water treatment system that produces safe and potable water from just about any source.

It relies on a 4 stage treatment system that begins with a particle screen. The water then goes through a 1 micron filter, a .5 micron activated black carbon filter to remove chemical contaminants, and finally a UV germicidal filter that kills any potentially harmful organisms.

You’re left with pure water that’s safe to use for any purpose.

One of the best features of the Pro Survivor is the included Flojet pump. It runs off of 12V DC power and lets you draw water from storage tanks or a cistern without the need for additional pumps or hand carrying water.

The Survivor can either be permanently mounted in your tiny home or used with an included hard case. This lets you take it with you wherever you need large scale water filtration.


Pros 

  • 50 PSI Self-Priming Flojet 3526 Pump
  • Runs off 12v DC drawing just 6 amps
  • 4 step treatment system removes particulates, chemical contaminants and destroys bacteria, viruses and cysts
  • 2.9 gallon per minute flow rate
  • Can purify water from any source
  • Turns on with the flip of a switch

Cons

  • Definitely on the expensive side
  • Doesn’t function without power

Features

  • Runs off 12V DC power
  • Kills 99.99% of bacteria, cysts and viruses
  • Flow rate of up to 3 gallons per minute
  • 9,000 hour lifespan

OUR RATING



Our #6 Rated

4.2/5

4.2 out of 5

The Outback Water LB5 is a UV water treatment system designed to run off 12V DC power. It’s designed for off-grid or mobile use and provides up to 3 gallons per minute of microbiologically purified water.

The LB5 is capable of eliminating 99.99% of bacteria, cysts and viruses. This makes it suitable for use with any water source. It does this using UV radiation in a sealed quartz sleeve.

The bulb is one of the most environmentally friendly UV bulbs in the world, using 30% less heavy metals in its manufacture. It’s rated for 9,000 hours of use before requiring replacement.

That’s enough to purify more than 1.5 million gallons of water.

There are a few downsides to the LB5 system. As a UV only treatment system, you still need to run any water through a minimum 5 micron particulate filter before purifying. It also won’t remove any chemicals or other contaminants in your water. 

Overall though, it’s a reasonably priced water treatment system capable of generating significant amounts of microbiologically safe water.


Pros 

  • Runs off 12V DC power
  • Kills 99.99% of bacteria, cysts and viruses
  • Flow rate of up to 3 gallons per minute
  • 9,000 hour lifespan

Cons

  • Water must be pre filtered with a 5 micron sediment filter
  • Won’t function without power
  • Must be connected to a pressurized water system

Final Thoughts

You’ll use your water treatment system more than just about any other part of your home. Make sure the one you pick has all the features and capabilities you need.

Our overall pick, and the filter that provides the most sustainable and easiest to maintain long term solution, is the gravity fed Big Berkey filter. It requires no power, removes chemical and biological contaminants, and is capable of providing ample water for a family of 4.

Regardless of which of the water filters you decide to purchase, there are few things as great as a nice, cold refreshing glass of water after a long day’s work off the grid! 

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