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The 5 Best Survival Water Filter Options For Bugging Out

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The 5 Best Survival Water Filter Options For Bugging Out

Having access to clean water should be at the top of any survivalist’s list of prepping items. Almost all adverse events would compromise our water supplies. Clean water supplies rely on a functioning power grid. Public water tanks can be the target of terrorist plots. Public water systems are often infected with bacterias and communities are given “boil notices.” A major earthquake, volcano eruption (think Yellowstone), an EMP attack, or a contamination leak can all shut down a healthy water supply.

A human can go without a lot of things, unfortunately, water is not one of them. The human body needs water. This is why every person should have a survival water filter system. The best survival water system is the one you have. Sound dumb? Not really. Most people have nothing. You have to ask yourself a serious question right now, if the power grid went down today, how much water would you have left to survive on? Remember, the stores will be looted of water from their shelves. The banks will be down. The public water supply filter system will be compromised.

Having a survival water filter system means having the ability to survive when things go bad. You can go without food for a while, but not water. In optimal conditions, according to a recent article by Dr. Randall K. Packer in the Scientific American, a human could go a maximum of one week without water. And that’s optimal conditions, meaning the weather is perfect and you aren’t overheating, you are in stellar health and you aren’t subjected to much exertion. During a survival situation, you wouldn’t be able to depend on nice weather. And you’d likely have to exert yourself and burn calories and further dehydrate. Most likely, you’d live a few days maximum. And your children could succumb to the dire circumstances of dehydration well before that.

You won’t be able to depend on the government to help you out in under 48 hours following an adverse event. Look at how long it took to distribute water and supplies to the people of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Survival Water Filter Guide Specifications

Before purchasing a survival water filter system, you should first make sure that you understand some basic specifications so that you can buy a system that fits your needs. You don’t want to get something based only on a cheaper price point to learn that it doesn’t help you fully, but you also don’t want to spend more money than needed. Understanding how to choose a water filter should help.

Let’s go over some specifications to consider.

How much does your survival water filter system cost per gallon?

You saved money when you bought it, but now that you have to use it for the entire family, you realize that the limitations on the amount of water it can filter are stifling. Typically, the cost of a water filter is based on the amount, or gallons, it can filter in a given time span. This is why jumping at the first cheap unit may not be wise. If you live alone, however, you could downgrade in price. Cost per gallon is your first consideration.

You now need to decide how many people the water filter will be used by. Yes, this ties strongly into the prior point of cost per gallon.

The fact is, even a cheap water filter system can increase any family’s survival rate in a doomsday scenario. But, the work in order to constantly pump would become rough after a given amount of time. This is why you need to figure out your needs based on family size and then match that with cost per gallon on the filter and then decide what works in your budget.

Is it easy to order replacement filters?

When it comes to prepping, I really do preach that people should look into replacement parts for anything. Even when it comes to a bug out vehicle, you should have a grasp on how you’d get replacement parts. You can’t order them from China after an EMP attack. The same goes for survival water filters. The best survival water filters will be the ones you can replace filters on easily. If you can’t replace your filter, the clock is ticking. You want a water filter that has readily and inexpensive filters available on Amazon. Be careful, a water filter’s filter could break your bank and cut down dramatically on how many reserve filters you collect over time. Likewise, having limited availability to new filters could be problematic just as well.  I’d also note that similar to my bug out vehicle logic, check where the filters are made. I’m not a fan of foreign supplies. If a water filter is made crappy, it may not do its job. It is one thing to purchase a plastic smartphone cover from China that doesn’t hold up and far another to find out your Chinese water filters are garbage right at the moment you need them to work.

Bug Out Survival Water Filters

So at this point, it is important to decide what purpose the water filter serves. Is it for bugging out or bugging in? Sans the prepper vernacular, this means, is the water filter being used as part of an evacuation plan or is it being used in a survival spot? The difference is that if you evacuate, you may not have the option to lug around a large unit. Thing size, here.

I will begin with the best survival water filters for bugging out. These filters will work for a few people. I will list the least expensive option first, but read the specifications.

The MSR Sweetwater

MSR Sweetwater survival water filter

Per the manufacturer: “Testing: Meets NSF protocol P231 for removal of bacteria (99.9999%) and protozoa (99.9%) from beginning to end of filter life in “worst-case” water.

The MRS Sweetwater uses activated carbon to help filter, which also helps the taste of the water (not that you’d care that much in a survival scenario, but it doesn’t hurt). There are two good things here, one is the less expensive price (typically below $100) and the other is that it is easy to carry at just 11 ounces. It will also fold up and flatten out. In a true bug out situation, these factors play well.

The downside is that it can take an hour to pump just a few gallons. You’d need to add on purification tablets with this purchase to protect from viruses.

Katadyn Pocket

katadyn water filter

This is more your gold standard in for a family of 3 range. Superior quality, highly reviewed, but twice as much in cost. This will filter out all microorganisms and it is super easy to use. You can get 13,000 gallons per filter from the Katadyn Pocket. In terms of survival water filters, this is what you look for.

The Katadyn Pocket could help a small family caught up in a longterm bug out situation, or even a survival situation like being trapped in the woods. Here’s the thing, the cost maybe more than the Sweetwater, but the filter longevity would more than make up for the intitial cost. Hence, the Katadyn Pocket is the most thrifty of the two if you can put out a little more cash up front.

MSR Guardian Purifier

msr guardian purifier

Now your expense is tripled, but in my opinion, you might be overpaying. The filter will get you 10,000 gallons, so you do come out ahead of the Sweetwater, but not the Katadyn Pocket. However, here’s the big bullet point: Physically removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa. You pay more, but that’s a heck of a specification. You can’t go wrong with it, it is the best, but I’d compare it to the Katadyn Pocket and see what you feel works best for you.

Bugging Out As A Group

When you get beyond the three and four persons mark, you start to become a group. When it comes to preppers, I firmly believe that larger groups are a benefit. Having a ‘tribe’ offers the added value of a diversity in skill sets as well as much improved security. This is why I always encourage meeting with your neighbors and having a plan. If things go down, you’d want to use every possible person to help protect the neighborhood from looters and possible civilian militias.

That said, the downside is supplies. When it comes to water, you must be able to supply the group with a constant stream of filtered water. Therefore, the best survival water filters for the group would likely be different. One thing to note, if you do meet with your neighbors, I’d encourage them all to get their own survival water filters to help eliminate the need for a larger portable unit in the event the group needs to flee. But if the group does need to bug out, you may need to have a much larger water filter unit. And this commonly means a gravity fed water filter system. These aren’t actually more expensive, they are just used differently in order to filter water for the group.

Lifestraw Mission High Volume Gravity Filter

lifestraw water filter

The filter on the Lifestraw gives you over 4,700 gallons of water. It gets rid of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. You’d have to hang the bag up above the unit as pictured (hence, it is “gravity fed”).

Lifestraw also offers a super inexpensive personal water filter. This would be a great purchase to help protect from any potential survival scenarios.

Bug In Survival Water Filter

If you plan to stay put during a bad situation, or, you are building out a prepper survival shelter, then you might consider just getting a big permanent standing water filter.

There is only one that is consider top dog and that’s the Berkey.

Berkey Water System

berkey water filter

Berkey’s reputation for overall quality is unmatched. It is the top brand in the industry and a prepper reviews are outstanding. According to Berkey, you can supply water for up to 16 people. The Berkey is also gravity feed and needs a consistent stream of water in it to increase the filtered water output. Translation: It is more work. If you have physical limitations, you might consider that using a Berkey could be difficult if not impossible depending on your situation.

The filter matters in terms of water supply. There are also larger, more robust units on Amazon that you can search for in related results. In other words, you could get much more than 16 people taken care of.

If you are building a prepper retreat, this system is an absolute must.

Water Filters And Viruses

Your water filter needs to protect you and your loved ones from viruses. If the filter you are looking at doesn’t explicitly say this, I’d avoid. That said, you should still always use water purification tabs!

Bioterrorism Is A Real Threat

A biological attack would take out the water supply, which is why this prepper website preaches water preparedness. It is essential that you take care of your water supply now so that you aren’t left without it when you truly need it.

Water filtration capabilities have never been more available to people. Buying a survival water filter is not only practical, but cost effective. We live in a modern world that is constantly at risk of adverse events. Don’t be left unprepared.



Author: Jim Satney

PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.

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