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Gravity Water Filters: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Product

Unfiltered water is as much a killer as any other contaminant that you can think of. You’ve probably heard of the serious health effects that substances like asbestos and lead cause. Well, unfiltered drinking water poses arguably a bigger risk than those two and many others.

Why? Because it may contain up to 2100 known toxins—including lead and asbestos.

The problem is, when you are backpacking in the backcountry, you might be forced to do with untreated water. Any outdoor adventurer will tell you that every often you may have to fetch water from rivers, streams, ponds, springs, or even the sea. That’s especially true if you run out of the clean water that you packed for your trip.

The solution? It’s simple—get yourself a gravity water filter. It is a very effective yet simple and affordable method of removing contaminants from drinking water. That makes it a perfect line of defense against water-related illnesses for any outdoor adventurer.

What Is A Gravity Water Filter?

Simply put, a gravity water filter is a water filtration system that removes harmful bacteria, viruses, and protozoa found in unfiltered water. The “gravity” part of the name comes from the fact that this system depends on gravity.

Basically, your main task is just to fill the reservoir, and the kit together with gravity will do the rest. That makes it very easy to use and perfect for backcountry adventures. But remember to clean the filter regularly. Otherwise, its efficiency might get compromised.

Who Needs One?

Gravity water filtration kits are made for everyone, so even you need one. That is especially true if you usually go on outdoor adventures, whether it be regularly or rarely.

Of course, most people have home-based water filtration systems, but you can’t possibly carry that one whenever you go on a trip. But that shouldn’t mean that you should now resort to drinking unfiltered water.

Instead, simply get yourself one of these kits, and you will be set to enjoy clean drinking water whenever you go backpacking.

The Benefits That Come with a Gravity Water Filter

You don’t need expert knowledge on health to understand why you need a gravity water filter. A simple Google search on the dangers of unfiltered water will tell you pretty much everything you need to know. But to save you that time and energy, we have put together these benefits that come with owning a gravity water filtration kit:

  • Unfiltered water has up to 2100 known contaminants. Consuming it exposes you to a wide range of problems. For instance, the water may have traces of lead, a substance known to cause hearing and blood pressure problems in adults as well as impairing the physical and mental development of children. There is also asbestos, which is known to cause several types of cancer. And while you may not be able to carry your home filtration system whenever you go backpacking, you can stay clear of problems by arming yourself with a gravity filter.
  • When it comes to getting the job done, a gravity filter works just as good as any other sophisticated water filter. It removes chlorine and bacteria to leave your drinking water tasting and smelling better.
  • On top of its efficiency, most units are small and compact enough to suit a backcountry trip. When you are backpacking, chances are that you will need to be economical with space. The good thing is that these highly portable units are designed exactly for that.
  • Gravity water filter kits are very affordable. You won’t have to break the bank to own one of these. Actually, it is a better deal than relying on bottled water.
  • Other than price, a gravity water filter kit is your best bet for getting clean water in the jungle. If you are one to enjoy an occasional weekend, week, or even month in the wilderness, you will treasure this seemingly small lifesaver. You never know when you will run out of water in a land far away from civilization. If that does happen, at least your only task will be sourcing water. Your little gravity filter will ensure that the water you find is clean enough for drinking and cooking.
  • Ultimately, the fact that your water filter will provide you with clean water will work to boost your health. That’s definitely something that you will need when you are out there in the jungle.

Guide to Choosing the Best Water Filtration Kit

Pretty much every gravity water filter can filter water, but not all of them can do the job effectively. Considering that water is life and dirty water can kill you (literally), you shouldn’t compromise on the water filter you purchase for your outdoor fun. Go for the best that you possibly can. So, with all the brands and manufacturers on the market today, how do you know which one is great and which one is crap?

Look at the Filtering Membrane

When it comes to the filtering membrane, you will be spoiled for choice. However, the best gravity filters are the ones with technologically advanced membranes.

For instance, the PointOne hollow filter membrane is a perfect pick because it is extremely efficient. Its many micro-tubes have micro-pores that trap water contaminants like bacteria, sediments, and protozoa. Eventually, the water you get will be clean and healthy for drinking and cooking.

In addition to that, the many micro-tubes allow the kit to filter water at a faster rate (two liters per minute) compared to other filter kits. That should save you a lot of time. Plus, you won’t need to filter a lot of water for storage because you can do the filtration as soon as you need the water.

Consider Your Water Needs   

Not all outdoor trips are the same, and that means you might have different water needs for each trip. If you are going hiking for a day, you might be comfortable with a three-liter bottle of water. You probably won’t even need to use your water filter, but it is wise to carry it anyway just in case you actually need it.

If you are going for a week or more, however, you certainly need a fast-performing gravity filter that can supply you with clean water on a daily basis. In that case, a kit that can filter at least six liters of water in five minutes will serve you best. There are various models that can do that.

Be sure to go through our list of recommended products to see a few of the best options.

Lightweight Kits are Better

Weight is a very important factor. You don’t want a water filter that will slow or weigh you down when you are having the backpacking time of your life. Make sure the kit you choose is light enough for you to carry comfortably.

Of course, we all have different carrying capabilities, so this one is up to you to decide. Remember to be realistic with yourself. We have listed a few products below. They are all lightweight, so feel free to make your pick from there.

Add-Ons Count

Make sure your gravity filter has all the necessary accessories ranging from filter cartridge replacement to carbon element replacement and a universal bottle adapter among others.

The Top Four Products on the Market Today

Platypus Gravityworks 4.0L Filter System 

Dimensions: 3.25 by 9.5 inches

Weight: 11.5 ounce

Best For: Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking

Despite its amazing and seemingly-sophisticated construction, the Platypus Gravityworks is surprisingly very simple to use. Just fill its reservoir with water, and gravity will do the rest. The high-capacity system allows water to filter at a rate of 1.75 liters per minute. That’s more water than you can consume in a single minute. The full system includes a Gravityworks filter cartridge, a Gravityworks carbon element, replacement hose kits, and a universal bottle adapter.

Water passes through the former (gravity cartridge) before flowing to the latter, where purification continues to take place. The double filtration is responsible for the thoroughly clean water that you will get from this kit. As a matter of fact, it cleans water down to 0.2 microns in accordance with the EPA guidelines. That should leave you with clean water that is free from bacteria and protozoa. It will also remove any odor that might be present.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will have to buy the cartridge separately. Depending on what you settle for, you can get a cartridge that has a filter life of up to 1500 liters. Of course, the higher the filter life, the more the kit will serve you. So don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks on a high-end cartridge. After all, it won’t break the bank.

Other features of this gravity water filter include a corner-mounted valve that you can use to regulate the flow of water, two replacement hoses—one for dirty and the other for clean water—a shutoff clamp, and a clip webbing strap. The whole kit is field cleanable, so don’t worry about keeping it hygienic.

2. Sawyer All-in-One Water Filter

Dimensions: 3.50 by 6.13 inches

Weight: 10 ounces

Best For: Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking

Sawyer makes some of the best gravity water filters, and its all-in-one offering is no different. It has a one million gallon filter life. It’s pretty safe to say that if you maintain it well, it can actually serve you for life. As you marvel at that, you should also know that it has a 0.1-micron hollow-fiber membrane for trapping bacteria, protozoa, sediments, and cysts. That is just another level of filtration. Actually, it was modeled after how the kidney works. So as far as purifying water goes, there’s hardly any filtration kit that can beat this one.

It is called all-in-one for a reason—it comes complete. The full kit consists of a bucket adapter and hose, an O-ring for the bucket adapter, a faucet adapter, a one-liter pouch, a screw cap for the pouch, a filter hanger, a filter cleaner, two pop-out drinking spouts, and an instruction manual. Using it is a piece of cake. Simply fill the reservoir with water and then squeeze the pouch. That will allow filtered water to stream out.

The kit is surprisingly affordable and portable. Both factors make it a must-have for anyone. You just never know when you will need to filter water, so get yourself this unit and enjoy some peace of mind. Speaking of peace of mind, the manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty.

3. MSR Autoflow Gravity Filter

Dimensions: 3.94 by 5.91 inches

Weight: 10.5 ounces

Best For: Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking

Lightweight, a fast filtration rate, field maintainable, and compact: that’s how you can describe the MSR Autoflow Gravity Filter at the very least. All those features are certainly things you want in your backpacking gravity water filter kit.

Now to specifics. The 10.5-ounce weight is pretty light—light enough for virtually any adventure lover to carry comfortably alongside other items. The kit has a filtration rate of 1.75 liters per minute, which is more water than you need in a minute. The fact that this filter kit is field maintainable means that you can use it in the ruggedness of the jungle. Of course, that is what it is meant for, but you can still use it at home if the need arises. One thing that really makes this water filter the first choice for many adventurers is its collapsible polyurethane-coated reservoir. Despite having an ABS plastic housing, it is flexible enough to collapse for easy storage and portability.

The MSR Autoflow Gravity Filter is no joke when it comes to performance. The hollow fiber technology used filters water down to 0.2 microns. That makes it one of the most thorough filtration systems. It will keep you healthy by removing viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and a host of other water contaminants.

You should know that this kit has a filter life of 1500 liters when filtering clean water. But that reduces dramatically to 1000 if you consistently filter unclear water. If you want to ensure it serves you longer, you might want to avoid unclear water.

4. Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L

Dimensions: 9.84 by 5.91 inches

Weight: 11 ounces

Best For: Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking

The Katadyn Gravity Camp earns a spot here for many reasons. For starters, with a flow rate of two liters per minute, this kit dispenses water faster than any other gravity water filter that we have looked at so far. Even at that high rate, the filtration system does not compromise on the cleanliness of your water. The 0.2-micron ultra-flow filter is the reason why you will be guaranteed odorless water that is free from bacteria, protozoa, sediments, and many other water contaminants.

With a 1500-liter filter life, it is safe to say that this kit will serve you for a comfortably long time. That filter life is not compromised considerably by dirt because the kit has a sediment trap that removes dirt from unfiltered water way before it enters the filter. It will even allow you to keep track of your water usage thanks to the calibrated six-liter bag (reservoir).

The one thing that makes this gravity filter a real darling to many backpackers is the fact that you can use it as a shower. There is an adapter that you can use to switch from the water spout to a shower and vice-versa. That should make your work very easy. Rather than carrying a portable shower and a water filter, you can just opt to take this unit, and it will do both things for you.

To top all that off, the manufacturer added a carrying strap to this unit to make it even more reliable for outdoor activities. So, in summary, this is one unit that you definitely need to consider as you do your shopping for outdoor gear.

Treatable as water-borne illnesses may be, you don’t really want to take the risk, do you? And if you are in the jungle, getting access to medical facilities can be one hell of a task. The good thing is that you can avoid all that by simply getting a gravity water filter. Best suited for all kinds of outdoor activities, these kits filter water as effectively as any conventional filtration system.

While there are many brands and models on the market, it is always best for you to take a little time and examine what each one brings to the table. A lightweight kit that has a filtration rate of at least 1.5 liters per minute will serve you very well. As far as cleanliness goes, you certainly don’t want a kit whose filtration is more than 0.2 microns. It might not be effective at getting the filtration job done. So be wise as you make your pick. Your life will depend on your choice.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that outdoor adventures are fun. If you are not busy bonding with family you will be enjoying quality time with friends or colleagues. But if you don’t make the necessary plans for getting clean water, the fun might turn to severe dehydration at best and death at worst. That is by no means an overstatement!

The moment you run out of water is when you will realize that your body cannot really function normally without this precious liquid. If you don’t refill you will suffer from dehydration. Well, you can rely on other water sources like springs, rivers, streams, lakes, and seas. The only problem is that their water is not clean. It is filled with all types of contaminants, including bacteria, protozoa, sediments, chemicals, and dirt. If you drink or use the water for cooking before treating it you will expose your body to unimaginable killer diseases cancer and other treatable ones like diarrhea.

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