The 6 Best Water Filters For Off Grid Living: An In-Depth Review [Updated 2020]

The 6 Best Water Filters For Off Grid Living: An In-Depth Review [Updated 2020]
water filtration systems
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Looking for a great water filter but are overwhelmed by seemingly infinite options?  You came to the right spot! Sometimes, what we don’t see in our waterlike viruses, bacteria, and pathogensis what can do the most damage. As a result, there’s never been a more important time to make sure your water is clean and safe for drinking. In this article, you’ll find in-depth reviews on the 6 best water filters available on the market today. 
Water Filters
Big Berkey Water Filter
LifeStraw Community
LifeStraw Family 1.0
Platypus Gravity Works 4L
big berky water filter
life straw
LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Gravity Powered Water Purifier for Emergency Preparedness and Camping
Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System for Group Camping and Emergency Preparedness, 4.0 Liter
Our Ranking
Best Overall Option
Best Family Option
Our 2nd Best Option
Best Portable Option
Type and Level of Treatment
Black Berkey filter (100% pathogen filtration efficiency)
0.02 micron hollow fiber membrane ultrafiltration cartridge
0.02 microns filter
Hollow Fiber Technology
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
7 gallons per minute
12 liters/hr
9 -12 liters per hour
1.75 liters/minute
Water Storage
2.25 gallon (8.5L)
13 gallons (50 liters)
2-liter
4-liter
Filter Life Expectancy
3,000 gallons
25,000 Gallons (100 people for 3-5 years)
18,000 liters/4755 gallons (up to 3 years of water for a family of 5)
Up to 1,500 gallons
Why We Love This One
100% filter efficiency and overall best reiable product.
Great from providing clean water for larger families over long periods of time.
Great use for on the go or in-home
Super light & portable. Great for on-the-go.
Prime Status
NA
NA
N/A
Price
Medium Range
High End Pricing
Medium-end
$82.46
Water Filters
Big Berkey Water Filter
big berky water filter
Our Ranking
Best Overall Option
Type and Level of Treatment
Black Berkey filter (100% pathogen filtration efficiency)
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
7 gallons per minute
Water Storage
2.25 gallon (8.5L)
Filter Life Expectancy
3,000 gallons
Why We Love This One
100% filter efficiency and overall best reiable product.
Prime Status
NA
Price
Medium Range
More Information
Water Filters
LifeStraw Community
life straw
Our Ranking
Best Family Option
Type and Level of Treatment
0.02 micron hollow fiber membrane ultrafiltration cartridge
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
12 liters/hr
Water Storage
13 gallons (50 liters)
Filter Life Expectancy
25,000 Gallons (100 people for 3-5 years)
Why We Love This One
Great from providing clean water for larger families over long periods of time.
Prime Status
NA
Price
High End Pricing
More Information
Water Filters
LifeStraw Family 1.0
LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Gravity Powered Water Purifier for Emergency Preparedness and Camping
Our Ranking
Our 2nd Best Option
Type and Level of Treatment
0.02 microns filter
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
9 -12 liters per hour
Water Storage
2-liter
Filter Life Expectancy
18,000 liters/4755 gallons (up to 3 years of water for a family of 5)
Why We Love This One
Great use for on the go or in-home
Prime Status
N/A
Price
Medium-end
More Information
Water Filters
Platypus Gravity Works 4L
Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System for Group Camping and Emergency Preparedness, 4.0 Liter
Our Ranking
Best Portable Option
Type and Level of Treatment
Hollow Fiber Technology
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
1.75 liters/minute
Water Storage
4-liter
Filter Life Expectancy
Up to 1,500 gallons
Why We Love This One
Super light & portable. Great for on-the-go.
Prime Status
Price
$82.46
More Information

Our #1 Rated Water Filtration System: Big Berkey (Best Overall Option)

The Filtration System

Why We Love It

  • Capable of filtering up to 7 gallons of water per minute
  • Removes 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria, as well as cysts and chemical contaminants
  • Available in 5 different sizes

OUR RATING



Our #1 Rated

5/5

5 out of 5

The Berkey line of gravity fed water filters are well known and have been the trusted leader in water filtration for a long time, and for good reason. 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. Big Berkey Not only do they remove 99.9999% 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 water water source. Berkey Filters remove the following:
  • Bacteria like E. coli – Greater than 99.9999%
  • Chlorine – Removed to Undetectable Levels
  • Viruses – Greater than 99.9999%
  • Chloramines – Greater Than 99.9%
  • Parasites – Greater than 99.9999%
  • Heavy Metals – Greater than 99.9%.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Greater than 99.5%
  • Herbicides & Pesticides – Greater than 99.9%
  • And more…
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. Big Berkey Review Click here to check the price of a Big Berkey Water Filter.

Pros 

  • Capable of filtering up to 7 gallons of water per minute
  • Removes 99.9999% of viruses, bacteria, and pathogens
  • Removes
  • Stores 2.25 gallons of water
  • Looks really sharp
  • Collapses down for easy transport and storage
  • Filter elements good for 3,000 gallons

Cons

  • Not the lowest priced (but the quality makes it worth it)

Our #2 Rated Water Filtration System: LifeStraw Community (Great For Families)

The Filtration System

Why We Love It!

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

OUR RATING



Our #2 Rated

4.8/5

4.8 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, so it’s on the larger size for water filtration systems.  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. LIFESTRAW Benifits

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

Our #3 Rated Water Filtration System: LifeStraw Family 1.0 (Most Portable Option)

The Filtration System

Why We Love It!

  • 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
  • Affordable 

OUR RATING



Our #3 Rated

4.8/5

4.6 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.

SURVIVAL WATER PURIFIER WITH VIRUS REMOVAL

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

Our #4 Rated Water Filtration System: Platypus Gravity Works 4L 

The Filtration System

Why We Love It!

  • 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 #4 Rated

4.6/5

4.0 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. Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity 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. Platypus GravityWorks Amazon Review

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

What to Look For In A 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

Best Water Treatment Systems

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.

Recap Of Our Water Filter Rankings

Water Filters
Big Berkey Water Filter
LifeStraw Family 1.0
Platypus Gravity Works 4L
LifeStraw Community
big berky water filter
LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Gravity Powered Water Purifier for Emergency Preparedness and Camping
Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System for Group Camping and Emergency Preparedness, 4.0 Liter
life straw
Our Ranking
Best Overall Option
Our 2nd Best Option
Best Portable Option
Best Family Option
Type and Level of Treatment
Black Berkey filter (100% pathogen filtration efficiency)
0.02 microns filter
Hollow Fiber Technology
0.02 micron hollow fiber membrane ultrafiltration cartridge
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
45 Liters/Hour
9-12 Liters/Hour
105 Liters/Hour
12 liters/Hour
Water Storage
3.25 gallon (8.5L)
2-liter
4-liter
13 gallons (50 liters)
Filter Life Expectancy
3,000 gallons
18,000 liters/4755 gallons (up to 3 years of water for a family of 5)
Up to 1,500 gallons
25,000 Gallons (100 people for 3-5 years)
Why We Love This One
Best Overall Filter – Filters 99.99% Of Pathogens
Great use for on the go or in-home
Super light & portable. Great for on-the-go.
Great from providing clean water for larger families over long periods of time.
Prime Status
NA
NA
Price
Medium Range
$147.28
$82.46
High End Pricing
Water Filters
Big Berkey Water Filter
big berky water filter
Our Ranking
Best Overall Option
Type and Level of Treatment
Black Berkey filter (100% pathogen filtration efficiency)
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
45 Liters/Hour
Water Storage
3.25 gallon (8.5L)
Filter Life Expectancy
3,000 gallons
Why We Love This One
Best Overall Filter – Filters 99.99% Of Pathogens
Prime Status
NA
Price
Medium Range
More Information
Water Filters
LifeStraw Family 1.0
LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Gravity Powered Water Purifier for Emergency Preparedness and Camping
Our Ranking
Our 2nd Best Option
Type and Level of Treatment
0.02 microns filter
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
9-12 Liters/Hour
Water Storage
2-liter
Filter Life Expectancy
18,000 liters/4755 gallons (up to 3 years of water for a family of 5)
Why We Love This One
Great use for on the go or in-home
Prime Status
Price
$147.28
More Information
Water Filters
Platypus Gravity Works 4L
Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System for Group Camping and Emergency Preparedness, 4.0 Liter
Our Ranking
Best Portable Option
Type and Level of Treatment
Hollow Fiber Technology
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
105 Liters/Hour
Water Storage
4-liter
Filter Life Expectancy
Up to 1,500 gallons
Why We Love This One
Super light & portable. Great for on-the-go.
Prime Status
Price
$82.46
More Information
Water Filters
LifeStraw Community
life straw
Our Ranking
Best Family Option
Type and Level of Treatment
0.02 micron hollow fiber membrane ultrafiltration cartridge
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
12 liters/Hour
Water Storage
13 gallons (50 liters)
Filter Life Expectancy
25,000 Gallons (100 people for 3-5 years)
Why We Love This One
Great from providing clean water for larger families over long periods of time.
Prime Status
NA
Price
High End Pricing
More Information

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, and that it will give you clean drinking water during hard times.  Our overall best pick, and the filter that provides the best solution for filtering out harmful contaminants, like viruses and bacteria, 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 pure water after a long day’s work. 

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