In a survival situation water is critical. In harsh conditions the survival rule of 3 states that a person can only live without water for 3 days. This for the most part is true. On top of that the average person needs roughly a gallon of water per day.
Who really wants to carry around gallons of water when hiking or bugging out? Locating and filtering water is a much simpler process.
With that said, there are a number of filters available on the market.
Today we are going to look at 4 different filters that are all lightweight and small enough to easily be carried on your person or in a backpack.
Prepping Resources’ Picks For Best Survival Water Filter
Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review
My first experience with any type of water filters for survival was with the Sawyer Mini. When I first tried it, I thought it was a genius product.
- Hollow Fiber Membrane with 0.1 micron pore size
- Filters up to 100,000 gallons of water
- Affixes to any 16oz bottle
- Multiple ways to be used
The Sawyer is a small compact water filter that is capable of filtering 100,000 gallons of water and all for the low price of $20 bucks.
One of the things I like best about the Sawyer mini is that it offers several ways to use it including, using it as a straw, screwing it onto pretty much any 20 ounce water bottle from the grocery store, or using it inline with a hydration bladder.
Sawyer Mini Water Filter Features:
- Hollow Fiber Membrane with 0.1-micron pore size. The small pore size means the filter is capable of filtering out 99.9% of all bacteria and protozoa like Giardia or Cryptosporidium.
- Weighs 1.3 ounces making it one of the lightest water filters on the list.
- Capable of being used multiple ways including as a straw, screwed to a bottle, or inline with a hydration bladder. One thing to note with the hydration bladder is, you have to make the commitment because you will need to splice the filter into your hydration bladder hose.
- Capable of filtering up to 100,000 gallons of water. Sawyer includes a plunger to backwash the filter. This must be done if you want the filter to be capable of filtering that much water.
- The filter has threads, that make it capable of screwing onto the 16-ounce plastic pouch included with the filter, as well as most 20-ounce plastic soda and water bottles.
LifeStraw Emergency Water Filter Review
LifeStraw is an ideal water filter for both hiking and survival. The LifeStraw requires little to no effort, which means no pumping, squeezing, or filling. You simply dip the straw end into any lake or stream and start drinking.
- Hollow fiber membrane with 0.2 micron pore size
- Weighs 2oz
- Filters 1000 litres or 264 gallons
- Easy to use
Because the LifeStraw can only be used as a straw I consider this its one major downside when comparing it to the Sawyer Mini and other filters on this list.
LifeStraw Emergency Water Filter Features:
- Hollow fiber membrane with a 0.2 micron pore size. Making this filter capable of removing 99.9% of waterborne bacteria and protozoa including E. coli and Salmonella.
- Weighs 2 ounces.
- Has a Filter capacity of 1000 liters or 264 gallons of water. While this seems like a huge difference as compared to the Sawyer. Keep in mind that LifeStraw is typically meant for one to two people and would take you a very long time to burn through it.
HydroBlu Sidekick Water Filter
The Hydroblu Sidekick is a relatively new water filter on the market. It is actually a 3 stage water filter that includes a replaceable carbon filter. Meaning it is actually capable of removing chemicals and heavy metals along with common waterborne bacteria.
- 3 Stage water filter with replaceable carbon filter
- 0.1 micron pore size
- weighs 1oz
- Capable of filtering heavy metals like lead, iron, cadmium, and chlorine
Due to the Sidekick’s price point it is poised to likely be a great replacement for the Lifestraw, since it can remove other harmful substances besides bacteria.
HydroBlu Sidekick Water Filter Features:
- Cotton prefilter, carbon filter, as well as a 0.1-micron pore size hollow fiber membrane capable of removing bacteria and protozoa, heavy metals like lead, iron, cadmium, and chlorine, and toxic chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, diesel fuel, and gasoline.
- Weighs 1 ounce – making it the lightest filter on this list.
- The cotton prefilter and carbon filter are only capable of filtering 50 gallons of water. But Hydroblu includes a secondary filter in the packaging.
- Like the LifeStraw, the Hydroblu is only capable of being used as a straw, making it less versatile than the Sawyer Mini.
Survivor Water Filter
The Survivor Filter personal water filter is probably the most versatile filter on this list. This filter is capable of filtering water down to 0.05 microns, making it capable of filtering out both bacteria and viruses. Something, no other filter on this list can claim.
- 0.05 micron pore size
- Capable of filtering heavy metals, bacteria, and viruses
- Rated for filter 100,000 gallons of water
- Able to be attached to a plastic pouch or any standard 28 mm threaded bottle.
Like the Sawyer mini, the Survivor filter is able to be used as either a straw or screwed onto a plastic pouch or water bottle. Making it more versatile than the Lifestraw and the Hydroblu Sidekick.
Survivor Water Filter Features
- 3 stage filter capable of filtering down to 0.05 microns. Successfully removes 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, and is able to reduce heavy metals.
- The hollow membrane filter is able to be back washed and is rated for 100,000 gallons of water. The cotton prefilter and carbon filter can be both be replaced and are rated to filter 264 gallons of water before needing to be replaced.
- Weighs 3.5 ounces – making it the heaviest filter on this list.
- Can be attached to a plastic pouch or any standard 28mm threaded bottle such as a coke or smart water bottle.
How To Buy A Survival Water Filter
Water Filter Reliability
The first thing you need to consider when purchasing a survival water filter, is reliability. Reliability actually has two parts when it comes to filters.
First, you must consider just what exactly will the filter remove. Items that need to be removed from water to make it safe for consumption include bacteria, protozoa, viruses, heavy metals, and chemicals.
Most filters on the market at the very least will remove both bacteria and protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. However, not all filters will remove viruses due to their extremely small size, chemicals, or heavy metals.
These features usually come with a higher price tag than the filters that will just remove bacteria and protozoa.
In America, most backcountry streams and municipal water is treated and virus free. But, during a prolonged SHTF event. That may not be the case.
The second thing you need to consider when choosing a filter is the life of the filter. Most filters will need to be replaced at some point. Especially when you get into carbon filters.
Most hollow fiber membrane filters like the Sawyer Mini can be back washed, extending the life of the filter. This is why the Sawyer mini in particular has such a long life.
Ease Of Use
Along with reliability, you must also consider the ease of use. Many different types of filters exist on the market including, gravity, pump, and straw type filters. Each come with their own sets of pros and cons.
Some filters allow you to attach them to a water bottle, or attach it to to hydration bladder.
Other filters like the LifeStraw are only able to be used like a straw, where you either have to drink the water directly from the source by sticking your face 6 inches away from the water.
Or you have to have a container of dirty water that you need to carry around and stick the straw in when you want a drink. This is a perfectly acceptable option, just not one I tend to favor.
Whether you are in some type of survival situation by yourself or with a group, you must also consider the treatment capacity.
How many people can a filter reliably filter water for?
Most of the filters on this list will be personal water filters that are perfectly capable of handling the water needs of one or 2 people.
However if you plan to filter water for a group of people, or need to filter large quantities of water you may need to move a larger pump style filter like the Katadyn Hiker Pro.
Size and Weight
Weight can play a critical role in selecting a filter for your bug out bag or other survival kits. As we all know, the lighter your bag, the better.
Especially if you are going for a more minimalist style of bug out bag. Some filters can weigh several pounds, so it is important to pay attention to the weight of the filter. As well as the size.
The size of your bug out bag, will ultimately determine how large of a filter you can carry. This really only comes into play if you are planning to filter water for a large group, or you want a filter that will be capable of actually purifying your water.
Most water filters made for campers and backpackers will be small and lightweight. Making them the ideal water filter system for a survival kit or bug out bag.
The Sawyer Mini is a personal favorite of mine, and the one filter I probably use the most, due to its convenience and where I usually spend my time.
However, each filter on this list will do the job. At least here in North America. If you are traveling abroad that may be a different story.
As listed each filter as it’s own sets of pros and cons. It is really up to the consumer on which to buy.
Some things you must consider when picking a filter system for survival are where you will be using your filter, how many people will be using the filter, and how long you think you might be gone.
Keep in mind that no filter on this list will purify water. If you use a filter that doesn’t remove viruses you may also want to consider adding a few purification tablets to your kit or ensuring you have a way to boil water to kill any pathogens not removed by the filter.
If this post helped you, or you found it useful in some way be sure to share it on social media so others can find it as well.
Thank you for reading, and always be prepared!