Top 5 Bushcraft and Survival Water Filters

When it comes to survival, bug out bags (BOB) or your get home bag (GHB), you want to be sure you have a way to filter water. You have heard it before and I will say it again, water is one of the most important things you can have in a SHTF situation.

It isn’t easy to carry all the water you may need to bug out or get home so being able to filter water you find on the way is imperative. And, the last thing you need in an already stressful situation is to get sick from your water.

How do Water Filters Work?

Emergency Essentials

A water filter mechanically removed pathogens (the bad stuff) that are extremely small. They are capable of filtering down to .2 microns and some can even filter down to .01 microns.

Water filters can catch bacteria, protozoa and parasites. Although the water may seem clear, it may still contain these contaminates and may not be safe to drink. It is always wise to filter your water unless you know exactly where it is coming from such as straight from a spring.

Water Filters will Treat Water Filters Will NOT Treat
Bacteria Viruses
Protozoa Organic chemicals
Parasites
Algae
Inorganic chemicals

What is a Water Purifier?

Water purifiers treat and kill viruses in the water. One thing to keep in mind is that purifiers such as water purification tablets and UV light pens, do not remove sediment from dirty water. Although the sediment probably won’t kill you, it still isn’t easy to swallow.

Different Water Filters Work in Different Ways

  • Squeeze Filters – By squeezing the water container, it forces the water through the filter
  • Gravity Filters – Simply hang the container and filter and wait for it to trickle down
  • Pump Filters – A pump is used to force the water through the filter
  • Straw Filters – Used like a straw, you are the power that forces the water through the filter

How I Came to Our Water Filter Decision

I have reviewed five of our top favorite water filters I have used. I based my recommendations on the following:

  • Filter Micron Size – This will determine how small the particles the filter can remove. There isn’t a filter on our list that goes above .2 microns.
  • Filter Life (cartridge) – Filter life is gauged in liters or gallons and refers to the amount of water it can filter before the cartridge needs to be replaced.
  • Flow Rate – This is how fast a water filter can filter the water.
  • Back-flush – If your water filter becomes clogged, you may need to backflush it to remove sediment that has collected. This is just the practice of pushing water in the opposite direction of normal flow with a flushing tool. Back-flushing can extend the life or your filter.

I also judged on the carry size, affordability and how easy the filter was to use. Additionally, I considered whether the filter kit included some way of capturing the water after it was filtered.

The Top 5 Bushcraft and Survival Water Filters

5. HydroBlu Versa Flow Light-Weight Water Filter

HydroBlu Versa Flow
HydroBlu Versa Flow


Price: ~ $20

Weight: 2.08 ounces

Filter Size: 0.1-micron hollow fiber filter

Filter Life: 100,000 gallons

Warranty: Lifetime

 Pros

  • Light weight
  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • .1-micron filter
  • Stops working when the filter has reached capacity
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Doesn’t connect well to hydration bladders

This an extremely versatile filter, light weight and easy to use. Like the Sawyer filter, the HydroBlue can be attached to a disposable plastic water bottle. It can also be used as a gravity system and if you connect the hose, you can use it like a straw. The filter can be back-flushed to extend its life. It’s a great option for hikers and survivalist alike and if you carry this filter, you will never need additional filters, cartridges, batteries or iodine drops again!

4. Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

Katadyn Pocket Microfilter
Katadyn Pocket Microfilter


Price: ~ $290

Weight: 7.4 ounces

Size: 2.6 x 5.4 x 1.5 inches

Filter Size: 0.2-micron

Filter Life: 13,000 gallons (50,000 liters)

Warranty: 20 Year Warranty

This filter is by far the most expensive of the five filters in our list, but it is easy to use. All you need to do is connect the outlet hose to the filter and pump. It has a slow flow rate but it’s small enough to carry just about anywhere. The Katadyn Pocket Filter is designed with longevity and reliability in mind and is built to last.

Pros

  • It’s the most well-built and durable of all the filters I tried
  • Great for filtering water for large groups
  • Perfect for treks where weight is not a concern
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Not ideal for those trying to cut weight
  • Slow flow rate at about 2 minutes per liter

3. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter

Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter



Price: ~ $62

Weight: 11 ounces

Size: 3 x 6 inches

Filter Size: 0.2-micron

Filter Life: ~200 Gallons (~750 Liters)

Flow Rate: 1 liter / minute

Warranty: 1 Year

The Katadyne Hiker Microfilter is one of the easiest I have used and there is no need for back-flushing. Weighing in at about 11 ounces, it’s as simple as tossing the prefilter in water pump away. The filter has a fast flow rate pumping out 1.06 quarts per minute. It also comes with very little need for maintenance and can be bac-flushed for extended life.

 Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Light weight
  • Fast filtering

 Cons

  • Short warranty
  • Replacement filters are a bit pricy

2. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter


Price: ~ $15-20

Weight: 2.08 ounces

Size: 7.9 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches

Filter Size: 0.2-microns

Filter Life: 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters)

One of the industry standards, the LifeStraw is small enough to carry in any backpack or even your pocket. The filter is disposable and can filter up to 1000 gallons of water. The drawback is that there is nothing included to collect the water you have filtered.

Pros

  • Received several awards including the Time Magazine Invention of the Year (2005)
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Not filter to replace (Disposable)
  • Can be back-flushed manually

Cons

  • You must get right down on the water to use
  • No way to collect water that is filtered, not practical for filtering cooking water
  • Suitable for only one person
  • Seems to get clogged quicker than comparable filters

 1. Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System


Price: ~ $21

Weight: 2 ounces (filter)

Size: 4 x 3 x 8 inches

Filter Size: 0.1-Micron

Filter Life: 100,000 gallons

The Sawyer Mini wins the prize due to the affordability, size and filtering capabilities. Another great thing about the Sawyer Mini is that it can connect to any standard disposable plastic water bottle. The packaged also includes a cleaning syringe that is used to backflush the filter for extended life and a water pouch.

Pros

  • Versatile, adaptability is one of its greatest strengths
  • It is small, lightweight and easy to carry anywhere
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Connects easily to standard water bottle

Cons

  • Included pouch can be susceptible to leaks
  • Water flow is a bit slow
  • Pouch is a bit hard to fill due to its shape and flexibility

Finally

With all filters, I suggest that you pre-filter your water before putting it through your main filter. This will remove larger particles and sediment saving your water filter from clogging too often. Coffee filters, bandanas or a t-shirt would work fine for this. Also, don’t let your water filter freeze, this is a sure way to kill it quick.