Best Survival Straw Filter: Reviews, Things To Know

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By Dennis Howard •  14 min read

Most of us take water for granted.  Go to the tap, turn it on and you instantly have hot or cool water that you know is safe.  What if that weren’t true?  What if a time comes that you turn on the tap and nothing comes out or, worse yet, you find yourself in a place with no taps?  Finding yourself without a water source is not as farfetched as you might think.

  • Weighs only two ounces dry and three ounces once it is wetted
  • True inline design with intake on one end and outlet on the other
  • Filters up to 1,000 gallons of contaminated water
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  • Can process up to 100.000 gallons of water
  • Filters down to .1 microns
  • Comes with a pouch, a disposable water bottle, drinking tube, and a cleaning plunger
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  • .2-micron filtration
  • Field cleanable pre-filtration screen for easy maintenance
  • Includes a carry bag
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Best Inline Water Filters

Inline water filters have a definite place in your kit.  They are convenient, easy to use, and versatile.  With most of them, you can drink directly from a water source if necessary.  Many are adaptable to your hydration pack so that you don’t have to worry about filtering your water before you put it into the hydration bladder.

LifeStraw Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency...

LifeStraw has become a mainstay in the emergency water filtration market.  For many years these handy little devices have been sent around the world to disaster sites or locations where water systems have been compromised. 

There are several reasons to have a LifeStraw in your bug-out bag or other survival kits.

Life straws are great options for a bugout bag or three-day pack.  They are inexpensive enough that you can afford to outfit everyone in your family with a LifeStraw. For further details, check out our hands-on review of the Lifestraw.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency...
  • Removes Bacteria & Parasites: The Microfiltration Membrane Removes 99.999999% Of Waterborne Bacteria...
  • Removes Microplastics: Removes The Smallest Microplastics Found In The Environment (Down To 1...

Last update on 2024-06-16 at 12:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sawyer Mini Filter

Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue

Look in my bug-out bag and you will find a Sawyer Mini Filter.  Look on the water line from my hydration pack and you will find a Sawyer Mini Filter.  Look in my bigger packs, my bigger first aid kit and even in my emergency truck box and you will find a Sawyer Mini Filter carefully packed.  The Sawyer Mini Filter is my choice of a water filter to carry almost anywhere I go.

The Sawyer Mini Filter offers some many features that it is hard not to like it.

For my money, this is the best option for an emergency water filtration system. For further details, check out our hands-on review of Sawyer Mini.

Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue
  • Ideal for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, scouting, domestic or international travel, and...
  • High-performance 0.1 micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just 2...

Last update on 2024-06-15 at 06:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Pump Style Filters

Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter

Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter Water Purification Unit, Chlorine Removal,...

If you want the next level of filtration, the Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter deserves a look.  This pump style reverse osmosis system is the next level of technology and will ensure cleanest and best tasting water no matter what the source.   Designed for rugged environments and rough used, the Katadyn Hiker Pro works well for ay survival or bugout situation.

Katadyn is a known and respected leader in water filtration systems and the features included with the Katadyn Hiker Pro reflect that reputation.

The Katadyn Hiker Pro does require you to pump the system to pressure the filter.  This eliminates the ability to clean water on the move but can be useful if you are stationary and want to filter larger quantities of water for storage.  For more information or to check prices, visit Amazon at this link.

Last update on 2024-06-16 at 05:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

MSR Miniworks Ex Microfilter

MSR MiniWorks EX Backountry Water Filter

The MSR Miniworks Microfilter uses a carbon/ceramic filter element to remove 99.9999% of bacteria ad protozoa from freshwater sources.  MSR is known for its durable and rugged construction.  With a fast flow rate and a long filter life, the MSR Miniworks Microfilter is a great choice for extended backcountry trips or as a part of your survival kit.

Features of the MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter include

One suggestion that we will make about the MSR Miniworks is to purchase and keep with your filter a set of replacement O-rings in case you damage one while cleaning or using the filter. You can access more information and the most current prices on Amazon at this link.

MSR MiniWorks EX Backountry Water Filter
  • Microfilter water filter pump for hiking, backpacking, camping, travel, survival, and emergency...
  • Replaceable carbon and ceramic filter removes bacteria, protozoa, organic compounds, and...

Last update on 2024-06-16 at 05:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Group Water Filtration

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If you anticipate a situation where you may need to supply water to a larger group over a longer period, your survival kit may need to include a LifeStraw Mission Purifier.  These systems have greater capacity and faster flow-through rates than the smaller LifeStraw and can be set up in a semi-permanent manner. Empty, they pack down in size and weight to make transportation easier.

The combination of features makes the LifeStraw Mission Purifier an exceptional choice for maintaining a freshwater supply for a group or family.

The LifeStraw Mission Purifier could be an important addition to your family or group’s survival planning and equipment.  The ability to continuously filter water without more effort than adding water to the bladder frees you to take care of other things.  For more information about the LifeStraw Mission Purifier, No products found.

The Truth About Water

We are almost as dependent on water as we are on air.   You can only live for about 3 minutes without air.   Without water, you will start to suffer the effects of serious dehydration in about three days and will probably die in just a few days more.

Water is everywhere, it seems, except in the harshest environments.  There are places where available surface water is non-existent, but the likelihood of finding yourself in a survival situation in one of these places is remote.

Think about Water

Stop and think about water for a moment.  If we turn off that ready supply that we get from our municipal water systems and take out the possibility of getting water easily from a well because the power grid is no longer operating, what are your options?

I know there is water in several ponds in the parks around our city.  We don’t have the option of large lakes or rivers nearby.  Given a situation in which you need to move from one place to another to find a safe haven, how will you manage to stay hydrated and healthy?

Drinking straight from most ponds, rivers, lakes, or collected rainwater is an invitation to some serious health risks.  Not something you want to find yourself facing, given the absence of professional medical care in these instances. 

You may simply be deep into a wilderness experience and need to replenish your drinking water supply.  The question remains, how do you deal with the need for a constant and daily supply of purified drinking water?  There are some options, but each seems to have its own set of pros and cons.

Check out our article on water purification myths.

Water Filtration vs Purification

There is a huge difference in filtration vs. purification.   It is a difference that could affect your ability to survive or maintain your health.   Don’t be fooled by some advertisements.  Not all survival water systems are the same.  This is one of those situations that you want to outfit your bug out bag or survival kit with the best possible equipment you can buy.


By definition, a filter or a filtration system is designed to remove particles from the water.  Filters don’t have any capability of rendering bacteria or viruses inert.  Filters are mechanical devices that are rated by the largest particle that will pass through the filter material.

Filters are typically rated in microns.  A micron is 1/1,000,000 of a meter) For comparison sake, a human hair is about 181 microns for the coarsest hair.  The E-coli bacteria measure about 1 micron in diameter and about 2 microns in length.  E-Coli are rod-shaped bacteria, so to be sure that you are safe, your water filter system would need to filter down to 1 micron to prevent your drinking water from contamination.

About Viruses

Viruses pose an entirely different problem in water.  Viruses are typically much smaller than either protozoa or bacteria.  Many of the most dangerous viruses range in size from .001 to .3 microns in size.  The smallest viruses will pass through most commercial water filters unimpeded. 

Additional steps must be taken when filtering water from sources that may be virus contaminated.  Filters or purification systems that tout themselves capable of removing viruses must have laboratory testing to prove these assertions, and you should ask for a copy of the lab test results.


Water systems that are advertised as purifiers or purification systems must also have some means of rendering viruses and bacteria inactive.  This can be accomplished in several ways.

Which do you need?

The answer to that question depends a lot on your location.  If you live someplace where naturally occurring springs are common, or you can access meltwater directly from a glacier, you are probably safe with almost any filtration system on the market.  However, if you are sourcing your emergency supply of water from any other source, it always has the possibility of contamination from a variety of sources.

I am a bit of a redundant person.  I don’t like to depend on one tool, source of supply, or water purification system.  My motto has always been, “One is none, two is one.”  Let’s look at some of the options for survival water purification and filtration and how they can fit into your survival or bugout plan.

Open Questions…

What are the Advantages of Straw Water Filters?

Straw water filters have some characteristics that make them pretty great to have on hand. Most of them are quite affordable, so really, anyone can pick one up and be prepared. 

Their small size makes them incredibly easy to pack in a bag, a vehicle, or even in a pocket. This allows them to be carried almost anywhere with ease. 

Also, straw water filters are extremely easy to use. Their size and ease of operation mean anyone can start using one without much of a learning curve. 

What are the Disadvantages of Straw Water Filters?

Straw water filters can be rather good at what they do but they are not the end all be all for obtaining drinkable water.

Some straws have limited capabilities of what they can filter from a contaminated water source. 

Like the above, straw filters do not filter everything harmful from a contaminated water source. So, they should not be used without that consideration. 

If water straws are not taken care of, there is potential for them to become dirty and not as safe to drink from. 

Lastly, some straw filters are constructed from questionable materials and put together in questionable locations. Both parameters should be thoroughly researched before purchasing to ensure you get a  filter that does what it is supposed to do.  

How do you Properly use a Water Filter Straw?

Many water filter straws need to be primed first. All this means is that one end of the straw needs to sit in a water source until the filter becomes saturated. After priming, simply draw water through the mouthpiece to drink. 

Some straws also require the filter to be backflushed with clean water after every use to keep it as clean as possible and to prolong the filter’s life span. 

Don’t get Caught Thirsty

In a survival situation, the worst thing you can do is to ignore your need for clean, pure water.  Without an adequate supply of filtered water, your body will soon begin to suffer from the effects of dehydration, degrading your ability to function at the peak levels needed in an emergency.  This can quickly put you into more trouble and endanger those who may be depending on you.

I recommend that everyone have the means to filter water in their bug-out bags, their three-day packs, a get home bag, and somewhere in the house.  Ideally, each member of your family will have a personal filtration system, and a larger system should be kept ready in the home for an emergency.

I hope that this article and the information it contains will help prompt you to re-think your emergency water preparations.  If you have comments or questions about this article, please use the comment area below to respond.  We love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. 

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.