[Update] This post was updated on
In an emergency, clean drinking water can mean the difference between life and death. The “law of threes” states that you can survive three weeks without food, but only three days without water. After addressing shelter and warmth, finding water will be your number one priority.
There are many different water treatments available on the market. Some are better than others. While dirt, leaves, and algae are digestible after treatments such as boiling or water purification tablets, they taste disgusting. Water purification drops or tablets can also be difficult to use correctly. Indeed, boiling water regularly may well be impossible in a true survival situation.
For the safest, purest water, a reusable filtration system is your best bet. As they vary a lot in their features and capabilities, it’s tough to know which one to get. Here’s what you need to know when looking for the best water filtration system, and our top picks.
Water filter system buying considerations
There are a variety of types, sizes, and styles of water filtration systems available at every price point. To begin with, let’s look at what contaminants you might need to remove from your water source. Besides the obvious, visible detritus and debris, untreated water can also contain a variety of microorganisms. You can’t see them, but they are ever-present and potentially deadly.
- Protozoan parasites such as giardia or cryptosporidium can cause nasty illnesses and even death. Protozoa have a general size of ~5 microns.
- The bacteria family includes diseases like cholera, e-coli, and salmonella. They normally have a size between 0.2 to 0.4 microns.
- Waterborne viruses such as Hepatitis-A are often even smaller, although they range in size from 0.004 to 0.1 microns. Viruses, however, are usually far less common to encounter than the other types of waterborne diseases, especially in North America and Europe.
The best water filtration system will not only remove dirt and muck, it will also prevent you from becoming very ill. In particular, you want one that will remove parasites and bacteria. As such, is the minimum size required for most units is 0.1 microns.
Why Own One?
In the developed world, such as here in USA, we usually don’t give clean water a second thought. It’s taken for granted that potable water is only as far away as the nearest faucet. In an emergency situation however, everything changes.
In both short- and long-term disasters, whether it’s an event like hurricane Katrina becoming lost in the wilderness, your chances of survival depend on having access to clean water. You may never find yourself in a survival situation but, if you do, a water filtration system can save your life.
According to FEMA, an adult requires about a gallon of water per day for drinking and hygiene. Pure water weighs eight pounds a gallon. As a result, it’s a near impossibility to carry, or even store, enough to get you through an emergency.
What about alternatives methods of water purification? They make water far more palatable than purification tablets or drops. They are also usually easier to use (no measurements or waiting-time required).
Due to the high risk of severe illness from waterborne diseases, a filtration system is the most essential piece of “just-in-case” equipment you can own.
Lifestraw Personal Water Filter
Lifestraw’s revolutionary and award-winning water filtering products have saved innumerable lives across the globe. Since 2005, NGOs and private hikers alike have used and benefitted from Lifestraw filters. These small and lightweight (2oz) personal devices are highly-portable and ideal for survival situations.
Buyers love that this filtration device requires no chemicals or battery power, and has no moving parts. The only downside to this particular product is that it only has a lifetime of 1000 liters (around 264 gallons). Two-hundred and sixty-four gallons, however, is enough to keep you and your loved ones safe during an emergency. The Lifestraw Personal Water Filter may be small, but it provides access to drinkable water at a low cost.
Sawyer Products Mini
This very affordable filtration system removes 99.99999% of bacteria and 99.9999% of protozoa parasites. Reviewers say all parts of this kit are made to a high standard of quality. The kit includes a plunger for cleaning, 7-inch straw, reusable 16oz squeeze pouch, and the filter itself. It attaches easily to your hydration pack or water pouch, and can be used directly via the straw.
While nobody seems to have used one up to the 100,000 gallon limit, many have used this system for a long time without failure. Sawyer Products’ filter also boasts a very impressive flow rate, reportedly one of the fastest available. One disadvantage of this system is that it has a tendency to clog after only 5 to 10 gallons if the water source is high in dissolved particulates. If you are prepared and have read how to use to plunger to perform field back-washing, the filter should last through any survival situation.
In a survival situation, it’s critical to have access to potable water as soon as possible. When you’re thirsty, even that disease-ridden river will begin to look tempting. There’s a huge range of filtration systems available, which vary significantly in quality. Ideally, you want a simple, portable system that can prevent waterborne illnesses.
Because of its exceptional performance and bonus features, we recommend the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System as our top pick for survival. These systems are very affordable, so it may be a good idea to stock up. After all, what price can you place on a life?