If you’re like me, one of the things you least enjoy about traveling the world is the mountain of plastic water bottles you leave behind you (and let’s face it, we know they aren’t being recycled).
Up till now, it’s been a necessary evil since the water in most places just isn’t safe to drink.
Imagine, though, if you could drink the water anywhere on Earth without worrying about getting sick.
The Grayl Geopress is a bottle-sized water purifier that offers a way to do just that. It promises to keep you safe without having to throw away your weight in plastic bottles at every stop.
It also makes for an enticing piece of gear if you’re putting together an emergency kit for your family.
When Grayl reached out to me about reviewing the Geopress, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve used their Ultralight model previously and was impressed but left unsatisfied. Being able to dig deep into what makes the Geopress tick was too good to pass up.
Keep reading to find out what I thought about the Grayl Geopress, what makes it unique, and who I believe can benefit from picking up one.
**While Grayl reached out to me for the opportunity to review, I was in no way pressured to give a positive review. Below, you’ll find my honest and unbiased review.**
What Makes the Grayl Geopress Special?
The Grayl Geopress is one of the most unique water purifiers out there. Instead of pumping, squeezing, or sipping through a straw, you actually use your bodyweight to press clean up to 24 oz of water in just seconds.
It’s made up of four distinct components that together give you a rugged and highly effective water purifier that can provide safe drinking water anywhere in the world.
First things first, the Grayl Geopress is not a water filter, it’s a water purifier.
That means it removes not just bacteria and protozoan cysts from water, but also things like viruses, heavy metals such as lead, chemical contaminants, and even microplastic sediment.
How the Grayl Geopress Works
Using the Geopress is as simple as fill and press. It relies on Grayl’s patented Onepress purification method and lets you use highly ergonomic movements to purify water.
Start by filling the outer refill container with water from the cleanest source available to you (I recommend you always use a bandanna or similar pre-filter when drawing from a natural source).
Place the outer refill container on a level surface and twist the cap on the inner press container to the green airflow notch. After you fit the inner press into the outer refill container allow the weight of your body to press the water through the filter.
It’s just that easy.
As someone who’s struggled with pump filters in the past, I was seriously impressed with how easy it was to purify water with the Geopress.
Purification Cartridge Effectiveness
Where the Geopress truly shines is in its effectiveness as a water purifier. It uses a multifaceted approach starting with electroabsorptive media that combines ion exchange to pull out pathogens and activated carbon to protect against chemicals and heavy metals.
It’s verifiably rated to remove a huge range of waterborne threats, including:
- 99.99% Of Viruses – Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus
- 99.9999% Of Bacteria – E. coli, salmonella, and cholera
- 99.9% of Protozoan Cysts – giardia and cryptosporidium, plus amoebae
- Heavy Metals – lead, arsenic, and chromium
- Chemical Contaminants – chlorine, benzene, and chloroform
- Particulates – microplastics, sediment, and silt
That’s a very long list of threats. It’s much more effective than something like a UV water purifier or a simple hollow-fiber membrane water filter. Grayl backs up these claims too, with independent testing verifying that their purification cartridges meet or exceed NSF standards 42 and 53 (the gold standard in portable purification).
If you’re anywhere outside the U.S., Western Europe, or Australia, it allows you to drink water straight from the tap without worry and without having to use dozens to hundreds of unsustainable plastic bottles.
Purification Rate and Lifespan
Two of the most important factors for a water purifier are how quickly it can purify water and how long its purification element lasts.
Couple of things to keep in mind. The speed of purification and the lifespan of your purification cartridges are both affected by how dirty your water is.
You should always pre-filter any water you plan to purify through something like a bandanna or old t-shirt.
Grayl claims you can filter 24 oz/710 ml of water in just 8 seconds using their patented Onepress purification method. After running a hundred or so cycles through it I got an average of about 10-15 seconds for a full press depending on the water source (Mine were quite dirty and silty even after prefiltering) and working surface.
That’s pretty close to the marketing line and certainly good enough to make the Geopress one of the fastest water purifiers on the market.
Compare that to just a single gallon every five minutes from the top-rated HydroBlu Versa filter, itself far less capable than the Grayl, and you can see why I was so impressed.
The Geopress comes with a single purification cartridge, rated for 350 presses or about 65 gallons/250 liters. That’s comparable to other water purifiers with similar effectiveness, though far lower than the tens to hundreds of thousands of gallons of use you can get from less effective hollow-fiber membrane filters.
Grayl makes knowing when to switch out your cartridge a breeze. They recommend replacing it once it takes approximately 25-30 seconds to purify water.
The replacement process itself is very simple.
Grasp the spent cartridge on the bottom of the inner press component and give it a twist counter-clockwise. It’ll twist off and separate from the press. Press your new cartridge into the inner press and twist clockwise until you hear a satisfying click.
If you’re storing your Geopress between uses a used cartridge should be allowed to air dry. Grayl says it’s good to be stored for up to three years once it’s been used, though they highly recommend storing it inside an airtight bag to protect the activated carbon.
On first glance, the price of the Grayl Geopress may seem surprisingly high. With the advent of squeeze-style water filters, most hikers are used to paying practically nothing for their water treatment solution, and the Geopress costs noticeably more than nothing.
What really stood out to me is that even the replacement purification cartridges cost nearly twice as much as some popular hiking water filters.
For that reason, I don’t recommend the Geopress for hiking or camping in the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe.
For a highly capable water purifier, the Geopress’ price begins to make a lot more sense. Most water purifiers on the market today are either bulky multi-person gear or lightweight UV purifiers. The Geopress beats out both of those in effectiveness and is very cost-competitive with them.
For international travel, especially, the Geopress becomes a money-saving proposition as it allows you to drink water straight from the tap instead of having to buy bottled.
For a water purifier, the Grayl Geopress ranks highly in terms of portability. It’s not even close to the level of portability of modern ultralight water filters, but it’s also significantly more effective than those filters.
It weighs 15.9 oz empty and is 10.4 inches tall. That’s a bit taller than a 32 oz Hydroflask but similar in diameter.
I tried it out on all the hiking and travel packs I have, including an Osprey Nebula 34 L commuter pack, and had no problem fitting it into side pouches for easy carry. I would recommend you add a carabiner or similar clip to the lid as I found it made it really easy to secure it while in your bag.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it here:
The Geopress is bigger and heavier than what most people are used to in a water filter.
It’s important to remember that it’s a water purifier, though. It’s vastly more capable than some 2 oz squeeze style filter.
It’s one of the most portable options out there for a water purifier, especially when taking durability into account.
I was really, really impressed by the ruggedness of the Geopress. It’s built like a tank, with a thick outer refill shell that protects the inner press container and purifier cartridge.
The lid is made from highly durable plastic with rubberized edges and was more than capable of standing up to drops from hand or table height.
I dropped the bottle from just below shoulder height as part of my testing onto a hard concrete surface.
Thankfully, there was nothing but some light scratching to show for it.
Durability is absolutely critical for a water purifier that you’re taking across continents, through deserts, and into rain forests and the Grayl Geopress is seriously durable.
Storage and Freezing Concerns
The Geopress has an excellent storage life. Unopened it’s good for up to 10 years, great for emergency preparedness, and even when opened the filter lasts up to 3 years.
Before storing, Grayl recommends you air press the unit to thoroughly remove any excess water from the purification cartridge.
To do that you empty the outer container and press the inner press container down on empty air. That will force water out of the purifier. You should also allow it to air out until completely dry, about 2-4 days depending on your local humidity.
You can hand wash the non cartridge components with warm soapy water, then reassemble everything once it’s thoroughly dry. By putting it together and closing all openings you create an airtight seal that helps protect the filter.
If you’ve ever ruined a traditional water purifier by freezing it you understand the concern over accidentally allowing your Geopress to freeze. I’ve got some good news for you though:
The Geopress can be frozen up to two times and still function effectively.
That gives you some leeway on accidental freezings, though it’s still highly recommended you work not to freeze it.
Who Should Buy the Grayl Geopress?
The Geopress is a traveler’s, prepper’s, and adventurer’s dream.
Travelers and World Trekkers
If you’re heading out to South America, Africa, or most of Asia you most likely won’t be able to drink water straight from the tap.
Everyone has heard (Or worse, experienced) horror stories about traveler’s diarrhea. Improperly purified or transported water is one of the biggest causes of it. When I was traveling in Southeast Asia I religiously purchased bottled water and avoided ice whenever possible.
I’ll be honest, bottled water in places like Thailand is pretty cheap, around 15 Baht/$.50 per liter at time of writing, but when you drink 4 or 5 liters a day it starts to add up.
The Geopress, by comparison, averages out to just $.10-$.15 per liter over its lifespan, and allows you to avoid the plastic waste that comes from disposable bottles.
It’s also a lot more convenient, especially if you’re planning to go hiking into the backcountry somewhere like Doi Suthep–Pui National Park in Thailand, the Chiling Falls in Malaysia, or the Inca Trail in Peru.
Preparedness and Off-Grid Use
We’re long past the point where cracking jokes about ‘survivalists’ is funny. With the rise in natural disasters, the Pandemic, lead pipes, and other major disruptions (looking at you Texas snow) everyone should take basic preparedness seriously.
The Grayl Geopress is, bar none, the best way to prepare your family for disruptions to your local water supply in times of crisis.
Boil warning? Lead in your water supply?
Not with the Geopress, a single purification cartridge can provide a family of four with enough drinking water for two weeks of disruption.
The Geopress can remove a vast array of threats. If you find yourself evacuating in your vehicle or on foot you can make certain any water supply you have access to is safe for your family to drink.
Who Shouldn’t Buy the Grayl Geopress?
I’ll be blunt here: The Grayl Geopress isn’t for your run-of-the-mill hiker, camper, or backpacker. If you need to filter water in the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe where viral, chemical, or heavy metal threats are rare a full-up water purifier like the Geopress is too much filter.
It’s also big, heavy, and expensive.
The Geopress empty weighs 15.9 oz and is almost a foot long. That’s something you’ll notice if you’re trying to ultralight your next backpacking trip.
The system itself is quite expensive, but it doesn’t end there. A replacement purification cartridge itself costs more than most modern squeeze- or straw-style water filters and provides just a fraction of the clean water to boot.
Unless you believe that you’ll face a viral, chemical, or heavy metal contamination situation you’d be better served to go with a smaller, cheaper, and longer-lasting water filter.
The Grayl Geopress is a rugged and highly effective water purifier that protects you from some of the most serious waterborne threats. It can remove viruses, bacteria, protozoa, heavy metals, chemicals, and sediment from water all over the world. For international travelers and those interested in emergency preparedness, it’s the water purifier I’d most highly recommend.
If you’re a world traveler the Grayl Geopress just makes sense.
It’ll save you money on bottled water and allow you to cut down on the single-use plastic bottles you consume.
That’s not the only reason though. For me, there’s something I found really attractive about being able to drink the water anyone on Earth. Sharing a drink with friends after a long hike, or even just drinking from the same pitcher as your host family while backpacking through Asia, South America, or Africa, is incredibly rewarding.