Best Family Survival Water Filter: Top Picks, Reviews & Buying Guide

best water filtration system for survival

Shopping for a Water Filter for your family survival kit?

You’ve come to the right place.

Water is vital for emergency preparedness. Without it, you can only survive three days (as a general rule of thumb).

Of course, you can’t drink water straight from a stream because it could be loaded with parasites and dirt. 

So, if you find yourself in a situation where water quality is not guaranteed, what will you do?

This is where you need the best family survival water filter. 

What’s In This Buying Guide

Table of Contents

In this buying guide, we review some of the most efficient family survival water filters commercially available.

We also explain the different types of family survival water filters and discuss some crucial features to look out for and consider when making a purchase. We further discuss their pros and cons and their care and maintenance.

In the end, we answer some general FAQs regarding family survival water filters.

However, if you are looking for a permanent water filtration solution for your home, be sure to check out our top picks for Home Master water filters.

Best Family Survival Water Filters

Disclaimer: All links below go to

survival water filtration systems
  • LifeStraw Personal Filter

  • Award:
    Best In-Line Water Filter

  • Dimensions:
    1 x 1 x 8 inches

  • Weight:
    1.6 Ounces

  • Filtration Capacity:
    1000 Gallons

  • Filter pore size:
    0.2 microns

  • Flow Rate:
    3 liters per minute

  • Certification:
    US EPA & NSF P231 Certified

  • Warranty:
    1 Year

survival water filter
  • Katadyn Hiker Microfilter

  • Award:
    Best Hand Pump Water Filter

  • Dimensions:
    9 x 8 x 3 inches

  • Weight:
    11.04 ounces

  • Filtration Capacity:
    200 gallons

  • Filter pore size:
    0.2 microns

  • Flow Rate:
    1 liter per minute

  • Certification:
    Not Specified

  • Warranty:
    2 Years

water filtration system survival
  • Platypus GravityWorks Filter

  • Award:
    Best Gravity Fed Water Filter

  • Dimensions:
    13.2 x 2.8 x 5.8 inches

  • Weight:
    11.5 ounces

  • Filtration Capacity:
    1,500 Gallons

  • Filter pore size:
    0.2 microns

  • Flow Rate:
    1.75 liters per minute

  • Certification:
    EPAandNSF Certified

  • Warranty:
    Limited lifetime warranty


Best In-Line Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a basic in-line water filter that allows you to drink straight from questionable water sources. 

The hollow, straw-like structure is loaded with a filtration medium that features 0.2-micron microscopic pores to trap microplastics, parasites, and bacteria.



Our Review

The LifeStraw personal filter’s impressive design consists of a small hollow tube with the filtration medium loaded inside. 

Being purely mechanical in nature, it does not require any batteries or chemicals to work.

It is also quite compact and lightweight, so you can easily fit it inside most backpacks.

Using the LifeStraw filter is very simple – it basically works like your regular straw.

The sucking action pulls the water up and through the filtration medium, which traps 99.9% of contaminants, including microplastics, bacteria, parasites, and particles like sand and slit, and only allows clean water to reach your mouth.

The LifeStraw filter does not have any replacement cartridges. It is a reusable product that you can clean, dry, and store away for further uses. Covers on both ends protect the medium when it’s not in use.

Although it has a total filter lifespan of 1,000 gallons, you can increase the service time by cleaning the LifeStraw filter after each use.

Plus, you never have to drink dirty water from your LifeStraw because the water flow drops as the filter loses its effectiveness. Once the water stops flowing through it, you know it is time to get a new one.

Issues & Limitations

The biggest issue with the LifeStraw personal water filter is that it only has single-person usage. 

This means only one person can use it at a time, so if you are going to share it with a group, everyone will have to take turns to use it.

Secondly, there is no way to store filtered water for future uses.


LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a small, highly portable, and affordable in-line filter, but you will have to purchase one for each family member if you don’t want them to take turns.


Best Hand Pump Water Filter

KatadynHiker Microfilter is ideal for camping, backpacking, and hiking expeditions. 

Unlike most hand pump filters, this survival filter is portable, lightweight, and extremely easy to use. 

It not just removes visible particles from the water but also gets rid of disease-causing microbes.



Our Review

Katadyn Hiker is small, lightweight, and highly portable.

While hand pump water filters are usually bulky, this filter does not weigh you down. 

Using it is also effortless; just hold it in one hand and use the other hand to pump water.

The Katadyn Hiker has a very simple design and works just like a fish tank filter. As you pump the handle, it draws water into the intake tube. 

Here, it first runs through the activated carbon granules and then through the AntiClog pleated cartridge.

The activated carbon and the AntiClog filter effectively remove large particles like sand and slit, reduce foul odors and tastes, and eliminate microplastics and microorganisms (as small as 0.2 microns) present in freshwater sources.

Issues & Limitations

Although it is a great filter for a family survival kit, the Katadyn Hiker is also known for its fragility. 

While using it, you have to be very careful because the intake nipple is easily breakable can quicklyget damaged with the slightest mishandling.

Some users have also reported that it needs a lot of energy to pump until you get used to it.


If you’re an avid hiker or are looking for a quality filter to add to your family’s survival kit, the Katadyn Hiker filter is a good choice. It also comes with a carry case for easier carrying, making it convenient and very portable.


Best Gravity Fed Water Filter

Whether you are looking for a survival water filter for emergency preparedness or your regular weekend camping trip, the Platypus GravityWorks Filter System is a good option.

This gravity-fed filter delivers 99.99% safe water that is free from impurities and disease-causing microbes like Cholera and E. Coli.



Our Review

ThePlatypusGravityWorks filter comes with 2 clearly labeled bladders – ‘Dirty’ for raw, dirty water and ‘Clean’ for collecting clean, filtered water.

All you have to do is fill the ‘Dirty’ bag with water you want to filter and hang it to a high branch. 

Then, wait as the clean water moves to the ‘Clean’ bag with the help of the earth’s gravitational pull.

The Platypus filter has a fast treatment time – it can filter up to 1.75 liters in a minute!

Plus, with its 0.2-micron filtration pore size, it removes 99.99% of impurities from water. 

The treated water pours into the ‘Clean’ bag, which also detaches from the system for easy pouring.

The Platypus GravityWorks meets all EPA/NSF guidelines for the removal of bacteria and protozoa. 

It can keep you safe from many disease-causing microbes like Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E-Coli, Salmonella, and Cholera.

It is made from durable, BPA-free polyethylene. The rugged design also resists punctures well. 

Issues & Limitations

The biggest issue with the Platypus GravityWorks is its tendency to clog. If you use it to filter water with a lot of sediment, it will require periodic backflushing to maintain optimal performance.

You also have to protect it from freezing temperatures, falls, and impacts, as all of these can damage the filter tubes.

Also, you have to make sure that the ziplock on top of the dirty water bag is debris-free prior to sealing it.



The Platypus GravityWorks Filter is a reliable system to include in your family survival kit.

It comes with 2 separate bags, one for the ‘dirty’ water and the second for collecting the clean filtered water.

In a survival situation, it is a quick and efficient way to remove all the undesired impurities and harmful microbes like Giardia, E-Coli, and Salmonella from water.

Family Survival Water Filters Buying Guide

survival water purification systems reviews

What Is a Family Survival Water Filter – and how does it work?

A survival water filter uses a porous filter medium to remove harmful substances from water so that it is safe for you to drink. 

It traps contaminants and provides you with clean, usable water, even if you use it on unconventional water sources like puddles or streams.

It is an essential tool to have in any family survival kit. 

Types of Family Survival Water Filters

Family survival water filters are mainly classified into 3: in-line, hand pump, and gravity-fed water filters. They are all suitable for different situations and setups.

In-Line Water Filter

In-line filters are wide hollow tubes with the filtration medium filled inside. Think of them as large straws; you put the lower end in the water source and suck through the upper end.

The sucking action pulls the water through the filter medium, capturing harmful contaminants and bacteria and bringing clean water to your mouth.

In-line filters are lightweight and quite portable. They are designed for single-person use, so you will have to buy one for each family member if you don’t want others to wait their turn or aren’t into sharing.

Hand Pump Water Filter

best water filtration system for survival

Hand pump water filters also consist of hollow tubing with a filter medium inside. 

This tubing is longer than the tubes used in in-line filters, so hand pump filters need something more powerful than sucking action. That’s why these devices are installed with hand pumps to pull the water.

You dip one end of the tubing in the water and the other on the container you want to fill. 

As you squeeze the hand pump, it pulls the water and forces it through the filter medium. 

The filter traps all the harmful contaminants, allowing clean water to go through.

These filters are usually bigger but are still quite portable. They are more suitable for small to medium-sized groups because they can quickly process more water.

Gravity Fed Water Filter

As the name suggests, gravity-fed water filters rely on the earth’s gravitational pull to filter contaminants out of water.

These are the only family survival filters that don’t require your active participation. 

All you have to do is set them up, and they’ll work via gravity while you attend to other tasks.

These systems take up the most space (when in use) because, in addition to the filter, there is a water reservoir above the filter and a collection reservoir below it.

Although the filter itself is quite small, the dual reservoirs can make them a tad bit difficult to set up, especially if you have limited space.

Gravity-fed filters are suitable for a large group of people. Their reliance on gravity means that they have to stay put. 

In fact, many gravity-fed water filters are actually not mobile at all. So, it’s better to use one of these when you are not on the move.

What to look for in a Family Survival Water Filter

Choosing the right family survival water filter is not an easy task. Of course, you should plan and think about the filter’s future use, but also keep in mind that your needs may change according to different situations. 

With all these considerations in mind, some aspects to look for in a family survival water filter are:

Source Water Quality

The most important consideration in any filtration system is what you want to remove from the water.

If you are near a natural source of water, such as snowmelt, springs, or glaciers, the water will need very little purification treatment because it is mostly pure. 

There is very little chance of these sources being contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses.

On the other hand, contamination is more likely when you collect water near farms, cities, or swamps because of upstream human activity. 

So, water from such sources needs better treatment to remove viruses, chemical runoff, and bad taste and odors.

If your water source quality is good, a basic filter is enough to treat it. But if it is compromised, you will need to treat it thoroughly with a more competent filtration system to make it clean and safe enough to be consumed.

Quantity of Water Needed

An in-line water filter is the best option for single-person usage because it is light, portable, and very cheap.

If your family consists of a small group (2-5 persons), you can surely get an in-line filter for each person, but it makes more sense to purchase a small pump filter. You can take turns pumping it and quickly fill up several bottles of water.

And if you are planning to stay in one place for a while, consider getting a gravity-fed filter. 

Although such filters are comparatively slower, they can provide gallons of drinkable water. 

You may argue that they are big and bulky, but you need to remember that you get a lot of clean water with such filters.

Weight and Size

The majority of your survival plans will involve being on the move. So, it’s important to find a filtration system that is both portable and efficient.

The most basic in-line filters weigh almost nothing and can fit inside a pocket with ease. But as you move towards better, more efficient systems, the weight and size also increase.

So, although a comparatively larger hand pump or a gravity-fed filter will provide more water, it will also take up more space in your pack.

It’s better to weigh down the technology against your needs and understand the trade-offs to find a suitable water filter for your family survival kit.

Warranty & Price

Look for a device that has an affordable upfront cost as well as low maintenance cost, so it does not put an unnecessary burden on your budget.

Comprehensive warranty coverage is also imperative. Whether your survival filter starts malfunctioning suddenly or has been faulty right from the start, good warranty coverage can save you from additional costs.

We suggest that you look at different models and choose the one that checks both these boxes.

Pros and cons

best survival water purification system


Easy access to clean and fresh water

As past events have taught us, a disaster can strike at any time. If you ever find yourself and your family in an emergency situation without water, a family survival water filter will ensure you have a steady supply of clean water at your disposal.

The biggest advantage of survival water filters is their ability to draw clean water, even from the dirtiest source. 

They can remove harmful microbes and other toxic substances from raw water so that you have a steady supply of clean and fresh water.


Family survival water filters are also great for use on hikes, traveling, and camping trips.

In-line filters are great for keeping a single person sustained throughout the trip, hand pump filters are great for a small group on the move, while gravity-fed units are perfect for large groups that camp in one place.

Simple to set up and fairly easy to maintain
water filtration system survival

Survival classes teach us how to create a sediment filter to obtain clean water. The technique is surely effective but takes a lot of time. 

On the other hand, most survival water filters are easy to set up and maintain and provide clean, usable water within no time.


In-Line filters are suitable for drinking purposes only

Since you have to suck on in-line filters to get the water to pass through the filtration medium, you can only use the clean water for drinking purposes. It is not possible to store it or use it for other purposes.

Require proper cleaning and maintenance

Family survival water filters can freeze or crack in freezing temperatures. They can also clog if you don’t flush them regularly. 

So, you have to be careful about their cleaning and maintenance to keep them functional.

Cleaning and Maintenance

best survival water purification system

Like you need to clean and maintain a reverse osmosis system or a regular water filter, a survival water filter also needs regular cleaning and maintenance. 

If you are not careful about this, your survival filter might not work when you need it the most.

Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining survival water filters:

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get clean water in a survival situation?

Water is crucial in a survival solution. You can get clean water from conventional sources like rivers or streams. 

Another way to obtain freshwater is via plant transpiration. You can also purify contaminated water using water filters, sedimentation, and water purifying tablets.

Are filtration and purification two different processes?

Most people believe that the two terms are interchangeable, but that is not true.

Filtration focuses on removing particles from water. Purification, on the other hand, may or may not remove particles.

Instead, the process renders dangerous contaminants inactive by using chemicals, UV light, or ultrafine mechanical filtration.

Do survival water filters remove all types of impurities?

Hardly any filter can remove all types of impurities (except maybe RO systems, although some people still believe RO water to be bad). Survival water filters are not any different.

For example, some survival filters can remove germs but not chemicals. Manufacturers usually list the impurities that their filter can remove on the label.

Is it possible to carry the survival water filtration system in my backpack?

It is definitely possible to carry the survival water filtration system in your backpack.

In fact, in-line water filters are specially designed for this purpose. Some hand pump filters also come with special carrying bags that make it easier for you to load them in your backpack.

And while gravity-fed filters are somewhat bulky, you won’t have much difficulty adjusting one in your backpack.

Final Verdict: What is the best Family Survival Water Filter?

The Platypus GravityWorks Filter is the best family survival water filter. It is a high-capacity unit with a fast treatment time and enough storage capacity for a small group.

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is also a great in-line survival filter that removes bacteria, parasites, and microplastics.

Lastly, the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter is also a highly effective product that provides you with clean water, pure and safe in no time.

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