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Whether you're trying to make the most of a s**t hits the fan (SHTF) scenario or you're simply looking to do some backcountry exploration, you don't have time to mess around with sketchy water sources. While wild waterways may appear clean, they are often teeming with bacteria and other dangerous contaminants. Taking sips of raw water is like playing Russian roulette with your health. According to the World Health Organization, contaminated water transmits many diseases, including diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.
Portable water filtration systems enable people to access clean drinking water anywhere on earth. These systems are a critical component of outdoor and disaster survival. Naturally, we were curious to see how Grayl Water Purifier Bottles compared to some of the other popular portable water purification systems.
What are Grayl Water Filtration Systems
Grayl water bottles are designed to convert dirty ground and plumbed water into safe, clean drinking water. These portable hydration systems are ideal for outdoor adventures, travel, survival, and even bug-out situations. They enable people to be self-sufficient even when there are no available modern amenities.
According to the company's website, Grayl water filtration systems were an idea that was birthed on a paper napkin inside a Seattle bar. It didn't take long for the idea to gain momentum. The concept even managed to raise $250,000 on Kickstarter.
Apparently, adventurists had been thirsting for an efficient water filtration system for some time. Founders Nancie Weston and Travis Merrigan are bonafide travelers. After trekking to several international destinations that lacked potable water, the couple sought out a solution for on-the-go hydration.
The following video was used as part of their Kickstarter campaign. This gives us an overview of Nancie's and Travis's motivation.
Grayl's mechanics are what set it apart from the competition. In many ways, the device resembles a traditional French press. The filter is pushed down like a plunger, causing harmful pathogens and particulates to be trapped in filter media. The entire process takes just seconds, and the results are undeniable.
While Grayl's bottles and cartridges are constructed of plastic, the company is adamant that their products are a preferable alternative to single-use water bottles. With proper care, the Grayl systems are capable of lasting a lifetime. The company even offers a cartridge recycling program for those that are looking to reduce their overall footprint. What's more, the company donates 1% of its profits to environmental charities and nonprofits.
While Grayl doesn't have an official tagline, many critics have labeled Grayl's products “the holy grail of water filtration.” After all, water is the foundation of life. Grayl has simplified the purification process for adventurers, preppers, and people in general.
Does the Grayl filter out viruses?
Each year, waterborne pathogens sicken and kill millions of people. These contaminants are found throughout the world. They are an all too common issue in developing countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source. Improved water sources include piped household water connections, public standpipes, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater collection systems.
Common water contaminants include viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts. These pathogens can cause anything from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to death. According to the World Health Organization, contaminated is responsible for 485,00 diarrhoeal deaths each year.
The filters are also proven to eliminate
- Particulates such as microplastics, sediment, and silt
- Chemicals like chlorine, benzene, and chloroform
- Heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and chromium
- Adverse smells and flavors
Fortunately, Grayl filters are capable of filtering out all waterborne viruses, chemicals, heavy metals, and microplastics. Grayl's impressive filter cartridges are said to eliminate 99.99% of the pathogens linked to rotavirus, norovirus, and hepatitis A. They kill 99.99999% of the bacteria that causes E. coli, salmonella, and dysentery. What's more, the cartridges eradiate 99.9% of the protozoa linked to giardia, cryptosporidium, and amoebae.
Since clean water is the foundation of survival, you'll want to bring your Grayl filter with you wherever clean, safe potable water cannot be found.
Of course, Grayl filters also exceed the United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Drinking Water Standards. In doing so, they give travelers and survivalists the confidence they need to push the boundaries.
How do you clean the filter?Grayl water filters and purifier cartridges may only be rinsed with clean water. Soap and other cleaning agents will damage the filter media. Therefore, you should never soak a cartridge in soapy water nor place it in the dishwasher.
On the other hand, the outer refill, inner press, and cap of the Grayl Geopresses and Ultralights can be washed by hand with clean, soapy water. With all that said, no Grayl components should be put into the dishwasher.
All Grayl components are made from durable BPA-free, food-grade plastics. Meanwhile, the cartridges are made from patented filtration materials, including triple-charged mesh and coconut shell-based activated carbon. The filter media is reinforced with anti-microbial agents. Therefore, there is no risk of mold, mildew, or bacteria growth.
How to use the Grayl GeopressThe Grayl Geopress Purifier Bottle turns raw H20 into perfectly suitable drinking water. The device consists of an outer refill, a Topogrip, a Geopress drink cap, an inner press, a Simplevent, and Softpress Pads. Below, you find instructions on how to filter water with the Geopress.
To start, disconnect the outer refill and inner press. You may need to rotate one or both of the parts as you pull them apart. Once the two pieces are disconnected, fill the outer refill with water. The H20 you garner can be from a stream, leak, or even a bathroom sink.
Now, reinstall the inner press. First, secure it on the outer refill. Then, twist the SimpleVent cap half of a turn to allow some of the air to escape. Push your thumbs into the Softpress pads located on both sides of the Simplevent. Use your body to push the plunger down with steady force.
The non-slip base should prevent the Geopress from sliding. Grayl recommends that users place their water bottles on the ground or on a surface that is no more than 20 inches from the ground. This is the fastest and most method of using the Grayl system, as it requires the littlest amount of force.
All Grayl filtration systems provide 24 ounces of clean, safe drinking water in roughly 8 seconds. The G3+ filter technology utilizes electroabsorption to trap water contaminants. Other impurities, including sediment, metals, and chemicals, are caught by the activated carbon filter.
Have a look at this video about the Geopress.
How long does a Grayl filter last?The lifespan of a Grayl purifier cartridge varies depending on the quality of the water it filters If you are constantly filtering water with high levels of silt and sediment, you will shorten the lifespan of your filter.
Additional Information According to the Company
We wrote to Grayl about filtering untreated water (think "lake" and "river") vs treated water (think "municipal"), and they agreed that exceptionally dirty water will decrease the lifespan of a cartridge, causing the flow rate to slow down prematurely.
Therefore, like with any filter intended for use in the outdoors, they recommend folks always find the cleanest, least silty water to purify (maybe even pre-filter if sediment is visible) to help extend the cartridge lifespan.
The statistics that they provide are the intended lifespan, but knowing users will sometimes be treating municipal water that potentially contains more heavy metals/chemicals, and sometimes users will be treating gunky lake water, the ultimate through-put of a cartridge depends on the quality of the water.
Stay tuned for more information on how you can extend the life-span of your Grayl filter!
Grayl vs the Competition
Grayl vs LifeStrawIn recent years, we've seen all sorts of unique solutions pop onto the outdoor market. One of the more curiosity-peaking products has to be the LifeStraw (see our review here). The Lifestraw is a compact personal water filtration system that was built with survivalists, athletes, and outdoor enthusiasts in mind.
It consists of a membrane-based microfilter that can be inserted directly into a freshwater source or attached to a proprietary Lifestraw bladder for on-the-go hydration. The filter is said to eliminate 99.999% of bacteria, parasites, and particulates. Once filtered, water should be clear, tasteless, and odorless.
LifeStraw's small size and low weight (it's only 2 ounces) make it an excellent survival tool. Since it doesn't have a shelf life, it's the perfect addition to a bug-out bag. LifeStraw microfilters are capable of purifying 1,000 gallons of water, or enough drinking water for five years. Meanwhile, the LifeStraw activated carbon filters last for up to 26 gallons (100 liters) of water.
A single filter system, which can be used with several proprietary accessories, costs just $19.95. The company also has a complete line of filtered water bottles, including the LifeStraw Play, the LifeStraw Go, and the LifeStraw Flex. The LifeStraw Flex is a collapsible squeeze bottle with a built-in filtration system. Meanwhile, the LifeStraw Pro is an advanced water bottle and filter combo. Finally, the LifeStraw Play is a filtered water bottle that's made for children.
As you can see in this next video (below), the LifeStraw and Grayl systems fair well when they are stacked up against each other. Both systems are capable of converting visually dirty H2O into clear, tasteless, odorless liquid. Both devices are also capable of replacing one-time-use water bottles in ordinary circumstances. What's more, both bottles can be used during backwoods adventures and survival circumstances.
While the Grayl water bottle is expensive, many people still prefer the versatility of its filtration system. After all, the spout enables you to share and transfer water. On the other hand, LifeStraw products are only suitable for individual use. If you're looking for a portable water filter system for sharing, Grayl is your best bet. Just be prepared to cover the cost of replacement filters, which can be a little steep compared to the alternatives.
Grayl vs. Survivor Filter
The Survivor Filter is a popular alternative to the Grayl Geopress. Both companies claim that their products are capable of removing 99.99% of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. Both filters also feature active carbon filters that remove trace chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, flavors, and odors. Both filters have been subjected to third-party lab testing and are thoroughly proven to exceed the EPA’s drinking water standards. Both products are also made from BPA-free ABS (ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). They’re rugged enough to handle extreme conditions and rough handling.
With that said, the products’ specs vary greatly. Survivor Filter DOES offer a Bottle Filter; however it doesn't appear to me that this is where the company's primary focus is. As far as apples to apples is concerned however, Survivor Filter states that their Bottle Filter's capacity is 100 gal (with 575 refills) for filtering municipal tap water, and slightly less when filtering untreated water from places like streams, rivers, lakes, etc (25 gallons with 145 refills). Meanwhile, compare that with the Grayl Geopress with its built-in filter. As you read above, the Geopress is good for 350 refills (aka cycles) or 65 gallons of water. It has a flow rate of 5 liters per minute.
Now, we don't want to count out the Survival Filter Pro, which is a portable pump with a removable cup. The Survivor Filter Pro’s three filters also need to be replaced periodically. With the carbon filter good for 528 gallons and the pre-filter and ultra-filter good for 26,417, the Pro reigns supreme when it comes to longevity. It also has a faster flow rate, as it offers approximately 17 ounces of filtered water per minute.
Both models are similar in size. The Pro measures 3.2-by-2-by-6.5 inches and weighs 12.8 ounces. Meanwhile, the Geopress measures 10.4 inches tall and 3.4 inches in diameter. It weighs 15.9 ounces. The Geopress retails for $89.95.
Meanwhile, Grayl replacement cartridges retail for $29.95. With the main units retailing for $65.00 (check price here) and each individual replacement filter retailing for $14.95 (check price here), it's safe to say that the Survivor Filter is the cheaper of the two. Survivor also makes a filtration bottle that is similar to the Geopress. However, it simply does not offer the same level of filtration as the Geopress or the Pro.
Because Survivor Filter includes a few different types of filtration, we are devoting an entire review to their products.
Grayl vs SawyerSawyer is yet another company that makes portable water filters and purifiers (check their product store on Amazon here). Their Mini Filter is a small, versatile personal water filtration system that, according to the company's website, removes 99.99999% of all bacteria and protozoa and 100% of microplastics. Sawyer also makes two different water bottle purifiers, including the Select S1 and the Select S3.
The Select S1 consists of a foam filter that removes bacteria, protozoa, chemicals, and pesticides. Meanwhile, the Select S3 consists of a foam filter that removes heavy metals, viruses, bacteria, protozoa, chemicals, and pesticides. Both are proven to improve the taste, odor, and overall quality of water from a variety of sources.
The S1 is good for approximately 1,600 uses. Meanwhile, the S3 is good for roughly 400 uses. Just like the Geopress, you can drink directly from the Sawyer filter or pour the water in another container. Both containers are capable of filtering 20 ounces of water at a time.
- Chemicals down to 0.5 parts per billion
- Pesticides down to 0.01 parts per billion
- Heavy metals down to 0.5 parts per billion
Both Grayl filtration devices use ion exchange and ultra-powdered activated carbon to remove waterborne pathogens and filter out particulates, including chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, flavors, and odors. A single cartridge lasts 300 cycles. Of course, both products exceed the National Science Foundation and American National Standards Institutes (NSF/ANSI) standards 42 and 53.
While Sawyer and Grayl are quite similar on the surface, there are a few differences that you need to consider when choosing one over the other. Sawyer has a hard to beat price. Yet, the filters aren't capable of filtering out viruses. Therefore, they aren't the best option for individuals traveling to third world countries.
Furthermore, the Sawyer water filters aren't ideal for sharing. A lack of a pour spout means the only way to gulp down that freshly filtered waters are through the integrated straw.
On the other hand, the Grayl water filtration system is much more versatile. You can pour the filtered water into another vessel or drink directly from the spout. Unlike the Sawyer, the Grayl is capable of removing viruses. It also operates faster than the Sawyer, filtering water in no more than 20 seconds.
Of course, you're going to have to fork out more to keep this system up and running. Replacement cartridges cost between $24 and $29, compared to the $20 price tag of the Sawyer replacement filter.
Grayl Geopress vs UltralightAt first glance, it's difficult to find anomalies between the Grayl Geopress and Ultralight. The most obvious difference between these two portable water purifiers is size. The Geopress has a 24-ounce capacity. It is 10.4 inches high, 3.4 inches in diameter. What's more, weighs 15.9 ounces. On the other hand, the Ultralight has a 16-ounce capacity. It is 9.625 inches tall and 2.7 inches in diameter. Finally, it weighs 10.9 ounces. The smaller model's list price is $69.95. Meanwhile, the Geopress carries a price tag of $89.95.
Both models are capable of filtering out waterborne pathogens, including (taking a deep breath before rattling off this list!) rotavirus, hepatitis a, norovirus, giardiasis (which, from a personal friend's experience I can assure you is no fun at all), cryptosporidium, E. Coli (again, I know someone who had this infection, and was REALLY sick - seriously so), cholera, salmonella, and dysentery. Both can also eliminate microplastics, silt, and other particulates. The active carbon filters pull chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, flavors, and odors out of water.
The most significant difference between the two is the Grayl Geopress's screw -in top, which protects the spout from contamination and allows users to drink directly from the container.
Packing Grayl in a Bug-Out BagGrayl Geopresses and Ultralights are revered by preppers. For one, these pint-sized water filtering systems double as drinking vessels. What's more, the containers are relatively lightweight and compact. It doesn't matter if you're filling up from a rusty spigot or a dirty brook. You can trust that the Grayl will get rid of the vast majority of contaminants, leaving you with clear, crisp H20 that's perfectly suitable for sipping.
Of course, one of the biggest challenges of bug-out bags (aka "BOBs"), is maximizing portability. You need enough supplies to go off the grid for at least 72 hours. One of the most important requirements you need to satisfy is water filtration.
While Grayl's filtered water bottles don't allow you to keep a lot of water on hand, they do enable you to stop at a creek for a quick drink or even fill up containers for your base camp. Unlike most other bottle-based portable filters, you can pour water from the Grayl. As such, a single filter system can be shared among family or group members.
If you're still not sure about adding Grayl to your BOB, check out this Casual Preppers podcast, below. As you can see, the bottle is capable of removing even the smallest, most stubborn particulates from shallow rivers.
Essentially, the contents of this bag are designed to keep people safe, hydrated, and comfortable for 72 hours. The mindset behind this is that the first 72 hours are the most critical. Of course, a stand-alone Grayl bottle is a good start to any family's bug-out equipment.
Final ThoughtsWe hope you enjoyed our rundown of Grayl Water Filters. These innovative gadgets are an essential piece of many outdoor adventures or survival packs. The device's ability to render ordinary ground and tap water into perfectly safe drinking water seems like alchemy. Waterborne viruses, bacteria, and protozoa may be invisible, but they are very real threats.
Products like Grayl Geopresses enable people to stay hydrated even when they're off the beaten track. After all, potable water is often the one thing that separates the survivors from the departed.