The 8 Best Water Purifiers for Off-Grid Living

by Oliver Guess | LAST UPDATED November 9, 2021

Best water purifiers
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Clean drinking water is possibly the single most important thing in the world, so it’s quite a problem that many people in certain areas and countries can’t trust their tap water due to harmful contaminants.

This issue is present even in first-world countries, and the EPA has stated that the presence of both lead and VOCs in the water supply is a pretty common occurrence in certain areas.

The exact severity of the impurities is going to depend on the country that you live in, the effectiveness of the water purification system that the government uses, and a few other external factors as well.

Luckily, you don’t need to second guess every sip you take, and the best way to avoid drinking potentially contaminated water is to simply get a water filtration system and handle the water treatment yourself.

Water Filter Options

Several different water filters can be distinguished by the type of filter they use and their general functionality. We’ll go over a few different brands and models, all of which have their own use, but first, let’s go over the filters themselves.

  • Activated Carbon

Activated carbon filters use block or granulated carbon that bonds to the water in the system. This process removes chlorine, mercury, lead, and several other potentially harmful particulates. The downside of carbon filters is that they can’t eliminate inorganic pollutants like nitrates, arsenic, and fluorine.

  • Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis purifiers work by putting the water through a semipermeable membrane that removes larger inorganic pollutants. However, while they’re able to get rid of the microns that the carbon filters can’t, they also get rid of healthy minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium.

Due to the interaction between these two types of purifiers, the best water filters are the ones that use both of them. An osmosis purifier is usually an under-sink filter that goes on the water pipes, while the activated carbon usually goes on the faucet.

This setup means that the purifier below the sink will get rid of any inorganic contaminants, while the purifier that’s attached to the water dispenser will remove the organic protozoa and improve the overall quality of the water.

  • Ion Exchange

There are also ion-exchange purifiers that replace magnesium and calcium with sodium, UV filters that use ultraviolet rays to purify the water, and so on. 

However, while there are a few different types of water filters that you can find, most of them use either reverse osmosis or the activated carbon method.

Our List

This list won’t be a ranking since all of the items that we mention are different types of water filtration units. However, we do firmly believe that these items are some of the best water purifiers that you can currently find on the market, and each and every one of them has its use and time to shine.

Brita Marella XL Water Filter Pitcher

Brita Marella XL Water Filter Pitcher

The Marella looks like an average pitcher, but it has a cartridge that houses the water filtration device, which uses activated carbon pearls. The pearls are dropped through the lid into the filter in the middle of the pitcher, where they will break down any harmful chemicals once the water level in the pitcher reaches the cartridge.

The pitcher itself is transparent, so you can see the whole process take place, and while it might not be a night at the movies, it’s still interesting to see the purification process in action. Additionally, the device also comes with an electronic memo that reminds you when the filter’s lifespan is about to run out, which is around every two months.

KENT Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher

KENT Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher

While the KENT may seem identical to the Marella, they’re actually quite different. This item is known as a water ionizer, and while it does still purify the water somewhat, its primary function is to increase the PH value of the water and make it alkaline.

This process is done by using the cartridge in the center of the pitcher to introduce more minerals to the water, all the while not using any pharmaceuticals or electricity.

Keep in mind that while this improves the water taste, it’s probably a good idea to run the water through another purifier before using this item if you’re worried about contaminants.

PUR Plastic Faucet Mount Filter

PUR Plastic Faucet Mount Filter

This faucet add-on is essentially a sediment filter. What this means is that while this filter removes around 70% of all contaminants, the flow rate is a bit too quick for it to be able to separate all of the potentially harmful substances that could be found in the water.

You can find this item in several different colors on Amazon, but aside from the different paint jobs, the filter and all of the important aspects of the purifier stay the same. There’s no need for different models since the purifiers can already fit on any standard faucet and can easily be installed by anyone in around 10 minutes.

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

The sawyer is a slightly less sophisticated sediment filter than the PUR, but the ease of use and portability more than make up for that insignificant drawback.

The 0.1 Micron absolute inline filter works like a reverse osmosis purifier and blocks larger protozoa and bacteria from escaping past the filter media.

All you need to do to use this filter is attach it to a water bottle or even place it directly in a river and draw in the water by using the straw. Keep in mind that while the filter does its job, you’ll still need a relatively clean water source, or otherwise, it’s not very effective.

What we’re trying to say is that you can directly drink from a freshwater stream while backpacking and the filter will catch most of the contaminants even if the water isn’t as clear as crystal. However, don’t expect to be able to drink from a muddy puddle on the side of the road and not wind up with some serious health problems afterward.

Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Stainless Steel Water Filter

Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Stainless Steel Water Filter

The Big Berkey is what’s called a countertop water filter. All you need to do to operate it is place it on your kitchen counter, fill it up with water, and then use the dispenser in the front to pour yourself a nice glass of clean water. 

This filter comes with two custom purification elements, which are constructed out of several different filter media types that are combined to create a web of micro-fine pores. These pores are designed to keep out parasites, cysts, and most other harmful organic materials.

Keep in mind that while this is one of the best water purifiers that you can buy, it’s a lot less portable than a lot of other purifiers on this list, thanks to the stainless steel shell.

KENT Grand+ ZWW Mineral

KENT Grand+ ZWW Mineral

The Kent Grand is also a countertop water purifier, albeit one that’s a lot lighter and contains a more standard reverse osmosis purification system. However, this doesn’t mean that this filter is in any way inferior to the Big Berkey one; it just means that you’ll need to get replacement filters a bit sooner.

This purifier comes with zero water waste technology, which means that the water that was filtered out in the initial run will be sent back through the system again and purified until there’s not even a drop of moisture left in the system.

Lifesaver Bottle Filters 4000 & 6000 UF

Lifesaver Bottle Filters 4000 & 6000 UF

Hard as it may be to believe, this bottle actually has a built-in reverse osmosis filtration system. As with any other similar system, this bottle has a filter media with pores that are too small for any harmful organic matter to pass through, which is pretty impressive for such a small container.

The bottle has a plunger on the back that works like a syringe. Simply place the top of the bottle into the water and then pull on the plunger to gather water inside the filter. Once the bottle is full, you’re going to locate a cup and push down on the plunger. The water passes through the tiny pores and is purified of most of the potentially harmful substances that it could hold.

Keep in mind that this purifier is similar to the Sawyer in that it’s a great portable filtration unit, but it’s not 100% effective.

OSEASAQUA Commercial Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier

OSEASAQUA Commercial Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier

The last item on our list is a jack of all trades and probably one of the best water purifiers that you can find. The OSEASAQUA can be attached directly to the water system of the whole house and can run up to 3000 TDS of Input Water.

The reason why this purifier is so effective is that it runs on four filtration stages. The first pre-filter stage goes through a 1: 5 microns inline PP filter, while the second and third stages go through a granule and block active carbon filters, before finally passing through an RO membrane at the end.

As we mentioned before, a system that has both reverse osmosis and an active carbon system can pretty much get rid of all possible contaminants, which is why we have such a high opinion of this item.

Several Alternative Options

If you’re not interested in running all of your water through a filter, then there are several other options available to you. These solutions all have their flaws, but at the very least, they spare you from having to spend thousands of dollars on a water filter.

The easiest way to make sure that the water you’re drinking is safe is to simply buy water bottles. The issue with this option is that while it may be simple, it can get pretty costly in the long run. Additionally, since it’s not recommended to reuse the same plastic bottle due to the buildup of microorganisms after a few uses, this method also creates quite a bit of waste, making it the least eco-friendly solution.

Another option is to use a well, provided that you own property somewhere in the countryside. The problem is that while this solution is significantly more eco-friendly, there’s no guarantee that you’d have a water vein under your property to tap into.

Additionally, even if you put in the effort to look for water, dig the hole, and get the well to work, you’ll still need to run constant tests on the well water to make sure that it’s clean or that it hasn’t been contaminated overnight. Needless to say, the continual testing and the construction costs make the bottled water solution seem like the cheaper option.

The final option is to simply boil or distill your water instead of using a filter. While this is pretty easy to do, using this method to purify several gallons of water each day takes quite a bit of time. Additionally, while these methods get rid of foul-tasting water, they also eliminate all of the flavor entirely. We know that most people believe water doesn’t have a flavor, but we guarantee that if you pour a glass of regular water and a glass of boiled water, you’ll be able to tell the difference right away.

Conclusion

The water filtration units on our list are all incredibly effective and can help you make sure that you can still use your tap as a source of clean drinking water.

However, please keep in mind that there is a limit to the capabilities of these purifiers. While most companies have stated that their filtration system can purify any water source regardless of how contaminated, we’d still take that with a grain of salt.

If your water comes out looking like chocolate milk, then it’s time to put the filter down and call ANSI or NSF international.

Oliver Guess
Oliver is an off-grid living enthusiast currently residing in the mountains of New Mexico. His interests in sustainability originally lead him down the path of an off the grid lifestyle. When he's not tinkering with his broken solar panels, Oliver enjoys searching out hot springs, whittling and cooking.

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