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 water—like viruses, bacteria, and pathogens—is 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. 

For those who want a quick overview, below is our comparison table:

Water Filters
Big Berkey Water Filter
Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System
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 Group Camping Water Filter System
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)
Pre-primed filters with extended filter life
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
2,25 gallons, 8.5 liters/hr
9 -12 liters per hour
1.75 liters/minute
Water Storage
2.25 gallon (8.5L)
2,25 gallons (17 liters)
2-liter
4-liter
Filter Life Expectancy
3,000 gallons
5.000 Gallons (10 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.
Certified to remove more than 200 contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, heavy metals, and chemicals
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
Very affordably priced for its capacity and performance
Medium-end
$119.95
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
Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System
life straw
Our Ranking
Best Family Option
Type and Level of Treatment
Pre-primed filters with extended filter life
Powered vs Gravity Fed
Gravity Fed
Flow Rate
2,25 gallons, 8.5 liters/hr
Water Storage
2,25 gallons (17 liters)
Filter Life Expectancy
5.000 Gallons (10 people for 3-5 years)
Why We Love This One
Certified to remove more than 200 contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, heavy metals, and chemicals
Prime Status
NA
Price
Very affordably priced for its capacity and performance
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 Group Camping Water Filter System
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
$119.95
More Information

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

Water Filtration System
Features
Our rating
Big Berkey Water Filter
product-image
Big Berkey Water Filter
Features
  • 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 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: Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System (Best Runner Up)

Water Filtration System
Features
Our rating
Features
  • Very affordably priced for its capacity and performance
  • Certified to remove more than 200 contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, heavy metals, and chemicals
  • 5,000-gallon filter element lifespan is impressive given its capabilities
  • Can hold 2.25 gallons of filtered water
  • The stainless steel body is attractive and easy to clean
Our Rating
Our #2 Rated
4.8 out of 5

The Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System is a new offering in the off-grid water filter market from a company with a history of making high-quality filtration systems and equipment. A direct competitor to our top-ranked Berkey filter, it has quickly established itself as a cost-effective and high-quality alternative.

Like the Berkey, the Alexapure relies on a dual-tank stainless steel design and offers a total capacity of 4.5 gallons. In our comparisons, the tanks themselves were virtually identical in both form and function, with Alexapure even offering the ability to use 1-4 filter elements to adjust the flow rate and filter life.

Alexapure’s filter elements use a combination of silver-impregnated ceramic outer layer for primary filtration and an internal chemical and viral filter core. Each filter is rated for 5,000 gallons of water and has been independently certified to remove more than 200 contaminants including bacteria, protozoa, viruses, chemicals, and heavy metals. 

That works out to at least several years of use per filter element for the average family.

The flow rate was comparable to the top-ranked Berkey filter and offered a similar level of protection. The Alexapure was more affordable upfront, but the filter elements were more expensive to replace over the long term than with Black Berkey filters.

In our testing, we found the Alexapure and the Berkey to be neck and neck in terms of performance and reliability. Berkey narrowly edged out the Alexapure for our number one spot because of its decades of proven performance and long history of standing by its products. 

Pros 

  • Very affordably priced for its capacity and performance
  • Certified to remove more than 200 contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, heavy metals, and chemicals
  • 5,000 gallon filter element lifespan is impressive given its capabilities
  • Can hold 2.25 gallons of filtered water
  • Stainless steel body is attractive and easy to clean

Cons

  • Flow rate drops significantly with only one filter equipped
  • Our #3 Rated Water Filtration System: LifeStraw Family 1.0 (Most Portable Option)

    Water Filtration System
    Features
    Our rating
    LifeStraw Family 1.0
    product-image
    LifeStraw Family 1.0
    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
    • Affordable 
    Our Rating
    Our #3 Rated​
    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 

    Water Filtration System
    Features
    Our rating
    Platypus Gravity Works 4L
    product-image
    Platypus Gravity Works 4L
    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 #4 Rated
    4 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 Group Camping Water Filter System
    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
    Price not available
    $119.95
    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
    Price not available
    More Information
    Water Filters
    Platypus Gravity Works 4L
    Platypus GravityWorks Group Camping Water Filter System
    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
    $119.95
    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. 

    Additional readings:

    For more in-depth learning, read our Alexapure Vs Big Berkey – 2021 Comparison Guide here.

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