Best Gravity Water Filters of 2021
Most of us know by now that “clean” drinking water isn’t quite as clean as it seems. The EPA regulates more than 80 contaminants that pose a health risk – but these chemicals, metals and plastics can legally still be in our water in trace amounts.
What’s more, there are many emerging contaminants that aren’t regulated at all.
If you’re inclined towards choosing a gravity filter to treat your water, I’m here to help you find a system that’s best suited to your needs.
With 100,000 monthly readers and articles published by the likes of WQP Magazine and Sawyer Products, I make all aspects of water filtration my business.
In this guide, I’ll be sharing:
Table of Contents
🥇 Best Gravity Water Filter
⭐️ Best Gravity Water Filter Reviews 2021
The Big Berkey is one of the most popular countertop gravity fed water filters available today. While it’s priced around $50 to $100 higher than its competitors, you pay for the reputation of the brand supplying the product – Big Berkey has a long history of high quality countertop filters.
You can pay a slightly reduced cost to buy the Big Berkey with two filters, known as Black Berkey Elements, or $110 extra for four filters. While increasing the number of filters in the chamber won’t improve the quality of filtration, it’ll speed up the filtration process, doubling the filtration speed and the total lifespan of each filter, which only has to put in half the effort each time.
The Black Berkey filter elements in the Big Berkey can reduce an impressive number of contaminants in water, including chemicals like chlorine, pesticides, VOCs and herbicides; parasites, cysts, viruses and bacteria; and heavy metals and nitrates like lead and mercury.
The system is capable of all this without removing the healthy minerals from water, such as calcium and magnesium.
Being a countertop system, the Big Berkey requires no installation or connection to your water line. You just set it up on your counter, remove the packaging, clip the filters in place and add your water.
Maintenance is easy, too – just remove the old Black Berkey filters and clip the new ones in their place, and rinse out the water tank from time to time.
Read the full review: Big Berkey Review
The Propur is a 2.75-gallon countertop gravity filter system that comes with two 7-inch filter elements. Requiring no electricity to work, this filter is ideal for using in all circumstances, including in emergencies.
Its NSF-certified G2.0 filters remove chemicals and contaminants from drinking water, including herbicides, pesticides, fluoride, chlorine, bacteria, chloramines, pharmaceuticals and many more. Healthy minerals like calcium are left in water to improve taste.
Even if you use the Propur regularly on a daily basis, the filters are set to last for 12 months, which is pretty good for a countertop water filter. They’re infused with silver, too, which inhibits bacterial growth, ensuring that they only take away harmful contaminants, and don’t add more.
The filters are made up of granular activated carbon, which uses adsorption to trap contaminants in the filter media. All materials in the Propur are BPA-free and food-grade to prevent leaching.
Being easily portable, you can take the Propur on camping trips, to a vacation home, or even to your office at work. You only need a countertop to set it up and get it started. When you’re using the filters for the first time, it’s advised that you throw away your first batch of water, to get rid of any aftertaste.
The Alexapure is a stainless steel gravity fed water filtration system with a 5,000 gallon filter capacity. It removes more than 99.9% of 200+ contaminants, including bacteria, lead, viruses, cysts, fluoride, and TCP.
To use the Alexapure, you simply pour water into the top chamber, wait for it to filter through to the bottom chamber, then turn on the dispenser to fill your glass or bottle. Because it doesn’t need electricity to work, you can use the Alexapure in all situations, even if your power is out.
The Alexapure can hold up to 8.5 litres (or 2.25 gallons) of water at a time, which is enough to provide water for an average sized family. The filter cartridges themselves are easy to install and don’t require priming, which is handy if you want to get started with your system straight away. You can also add an additional three filters for a faster filtration performance.
With a stainless steel construction, the Alexapure is built to last and low-maintenance to use. You only need to remember to change the filters every 5,00 gallons, or roughly every 12 months. They have a carbon block design, and when they need changing, water will take much longer to filter through the media. You can buy replacement filters from the manufacturer online.
The Aquapail is an outdoor gravity water filtration system with a total filter lifespan of 1,100 gallons. With a strong, durable outer case, the Aquapail is ideal for taking with you on camping trips or to your vacation home. While it isn’t the most compact filtration option, it can be taken apart for transportation and has the added benefit of being sturdy enough to withstand all conditions.
You can trust the Aquapail in emergency situations, as this filter doesn’t only remove a handful of contaminants – it eliminates virtually all harmful contaminants from a water source. It takes minutes to filter the likes of bacteria, viruses, cysts and heavy metals, ensuring that waterborne microbes are removed, making water safe to drink.
The Aquapail can be used with well water, stream water, or any other non-saltwater source. The system needs only gravity to filter the water, so you don’t need to be in a location where you can connect it up to your water supply and electricity – you just need to have access to water.
Setting the Aquapail up is simple – you simply put the unit together, attach the filters in place and you’re good to go. The only slight negative of the Aquapail is that its filters have a shorter lifespan than other countertop filters, but they work harder than most in that time.
The Zen Water Systems filter is a clear water purification system that removes bacteria, contaminants, chemicals and other impurities from water. At just under $100, this system is a great option for smaller budgets – and you won’t get a poorer quality for paying less, either.
With a clear container for checking how much water you have, the system has 5 functions: it filters, purifies, alkalizes, mineralizes and preserves drinking water. It doesn’t need electricity or plumbing, so set-up and maintenance is easy. Its BPA-free design ensures no contaminants are added to water after the filtration process.
When water is added to the Zen Water Systems filter, first, it passes through a granulated activated carbon filter that traps contaminants like chlorine. It then moves through an ionic exchange resin, which softens water, and infrared ceramic balls, which give water a more pleasant alkaline taste. Finally, water passes through silica sand and mineral stones, which reintroduce healthy minerals to the water.
The unique thing about this filter is that it doesn’t just filter contaminants out of water; it also softens it and adds healthy minerals. But it doesn’t have an NSF certification, so you’ll have to take the manufacturer’s word for it.
The Sawyer water filter is a 1 gallon gravity filter system with a 0.1 micron inline filter, weighing just 2 ounces. Ideal for backpacking, camping, or just keeping on hand for emergencies, this hanging water filter is completely portable and very simple to use.
You can use the Sawyer gravity water filter to fill water bottles, hydration packs, or a simple glass with water. It has been independently tested to remove more than 99.9% of all bacteria and protozoa, including salmonella, E. coli, giardia and cryptosporidium. You can use the filter anywhere, providing you position it properly, which will help gravity do its thing.
The system works by using two bladders: a “dirty water” bladder and a “clean water” bladder. You add dirty water to the top bladder, and it trickles down the tube separating the two bags, where it is filtered, before dripping into the “clean water” bladder. A heads up here – some users have mentioned that while the filters are incredibly high quality, the bags could have been made a little better, and the connections may leak somewhat.
You can clean and reuse the Sawyer filter cartridge again and again without having to buy a replacement. It’s designed to last a long time, and as an added bonus, when water flow starts to diminish, performing a filter backwash will help restore it to 98% of its original efficiency.
The Platypus is a 4.0 liter hanging gravity filter system that meets all NSF guidelines for the removal of more than 99.9% of bacteria and 99.9% protozoa, including E. coli, cholera and salmonella.
There’s no pumping or other repetitive maintenance required to use the Platypus filter. You simply hang the system from a tree and add your water, then leave it to filter from one bag to another, ready for drinking, cooking and washing. You can take the Platypus on camping trips or simply store it in your home for emergency use.
The simple design of the Platypus makes it easy to put together for use. It features two 4-liter reservoirs – one for holding dirty water and one for holding clean, filtered water. The reservoirs are connected by a hose, and there are a couple of extra useful features like a shutoff clamp and a sack for storage.
Inside the Platypus is a GravityWorks filter, which removes bacteria and protozoa, and has a lifespan of around 1,500 liters. There’s also a GravityWorks carbon element, which includes odors, flavors and organic compounds. Note that despite slightly misleading advertising, this element is sold separately at an additional cost.
The LifeStraw hanging gravity filter removes more than 99.9% of pathogenic bacteria, protozoa and microplastics. With a carbon filter capsule that improves water taste and reduces lead, chlorine and other chemicals, this gravity filter meets NSF Standard 53 for reduction of lead and other heavy metals – but it doesn’t appear to be NSF certified, only tested by the manufacturer against NSF guidelines.
You can get a good amount of use out of the LifeStraw before its filter components need replacing. The hollow fiber membrane, which removes the bacteria, microplastics and protozoa, has a 500 gallon lifespan, while the carbon filter capsule lasts for 26.4 gallons. You can buy replacement parts online.
The LifeStraw system is a little different in design to other hanging gravity fed water filters. It doesn’t have two separate bags connected by a tube – it just has one bag and a tube, which has the filter at the very end. This means you can use it as a personal straw filter, which is ideal if you want to conveniently drink from the filter while you’re hiking.
You can also use the LifeStraw as an in-line filter with the majority of hydration packs, or attach it to your water bottle to fill while you’re taking a break. The system packs light, and, compared to other hanging water filters, it works impressively quickly to filter water.
The Miniwell is an ultra-light hanging gravity filter that can filter up to 2000 liters of water. As a great choice for hiking, fishing, camping, travel, or simply keeping in the car for emergency use, this gravity water filter eliminates the need for bottled water and provides a much more convenient, space-saving and lightweight solution.
With 0.1 ultrafiltration membranes, the Miniwell has a flow rate of 600 ml per minute, helping to provide you with clean water faster. You can attach the straw to your own water bottle for personal use, or use it to fill multiple drinking glasses for your family. The lifespan of the filter can be extended with regular backwashing.
The Miniwell doesn’t come with its own bag or container, and this gives more flexibility with what you can do with it. One option is to attach it to a disposable plastic bag to create your own DIY filtration systems. You could also attach the Miniwell to a bucket for a more solid, sturdy version of the same concept.
There’s not much information regarding exactly what the Miniwell filters out of water, but it’s designed for use on spring water that isn’t too heavily contaminated. Users have reported that the filter doesn’t work well on water with a high sediment level, but is great for removing bacteria and other microbes from natural water sources.
The Katadyn is a 0.1 micron fast-flow hanging gravity water filter. Costing slightly more than the average price of a hanging water filter, this filter has a sturdier design and construction that’s intended to give you more overall use out of the system.
To filter water on the go, just fill up the Katadyn’s flask and let gravity do the work. Water will flow through the filter membrane, which removes contaminants and organisms, including more than 99.9% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa. To get more use out of the filter, you can fill the flask with water, attach the cover and give it a shake to free the debris – no backwashing required.
The Katadyn system has a collapsible flask, making it easy to fit the system into tight spaces in backpacks or coat pockets. With lightweight material, it’s a great tool to have to hand when you’re hiking or camping, either alone or with friends. It’s powerful enough to be used on water that’s cloudy with sediment, and lasts up to 1000 L, depending on water quality.
All materials used in the Katadyn are BPA-free, and no chemicals are used to filter water. The system has a relatively fast flow rate, so you won’t need to wait for hours on end for a drink when you’re thirsty.
🧾 Gravity Water Filter Buyer’s Guide
What is a gravity water filter?
Gravity water filters don’t rely on water pressure to push water through a filter. Instead, they use gravity – hence their name – to slowly filter water and gradually remove contaminants. This often means that a gravity fed water filter can do a much more thorough job of filtering water, by giving it longer exposure to filter media.
How does a gravity water filter work?
A gravity filter is usually made up of two chambers, one on top of the other. You pour water into the upper filter, and this water travels through a filter into the lower chamber using the pulling force of gravity alone. The lower chamber generally has a small dispenser, which you can switch on to release clean water into a drinking glass.
Types of gravity fed water filter systems
There are two main types of gravity fed water filter systems: countertop and hanging. Their main differences are covered below.
A countertop gravity fed water filter sits on a surface, such as a kitchen countertop, and is often made from stainless steel. The best countertop gravity water filters come in a range of different sizes, and the larger filters are capable of filtering several gallons of water at a time.
Hanging gravity water filters use the same concept as countertop filters, but are designed to hang from a height. They tend to be a lot smaller than countertop water filters, and look a bit like hospital IV bags – though they’re much more innocent than that!
You can fill a hanging gravity filter with water from a lake or stream while on a hike or camping trip, and it will use the force of gravity to filter the water as it flows down the tube towards the cap you drink from. They tend to be a lot cheaper than countertop gravity filters, but aren’t intended for daily use, and are generally less durable because of the materials they’re made from.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Gravity Water Filters
Perhaps the best thing about a gravity filter is that it doesn’t rely on electricity to run. You don’t even need to connect it up to a water line – as long as you have a water supply, you’re guaranteed to have a reserve of clean water to drink from. If you ever experienced a situation where your home had no power or running water, you’d still have your water filter to drink from.
There is virtually no installation involved with a gravity water filter. All that’s required is some basic putting-together of the different components that make up the system. Some filters need to be primed before use, which means running a batch of water through them to remove any lingering tastes or odors, but this only takes a few minutes to do. Setup of a gravity water filter is a lot faster than installing a filter that needs to be connected to a water line.
With a gravity water filter, all you need to keep up with is filter changes. You’ll know when your filters need changing, because it’ll take double as long for your water to be ready for drinking. Most of these filtration systems only require you change the filters once every 6 to 12 months, so that sort of maintenance is infrequent.
You should also clean your gravity water filter from time to time, but this tends to be quick and simple, with most filters being made from stainless steel.
There are many different sizes of gravity water filter, from large countertop units for big families, to smaller units and portable systems that can be taken on your travels. You don’t need to compromise when shopping for gravity water filters – you can buy the filtration system that ideally suits your needs.
Because gravity water filters use gravity, and not the force of water pressure, to filter water, the filtration process takes longer. In most cases, it will only take a gravity water system a few minutes to filter water, but it still isn’t as immediate as a filter that’s connected to your water line. If you want instant access to drinking water, you won’t get it with a gravity water filter.
Although cleaning a gravity water filter is quick and simple, you’ll still need to do it very often to prevent recontamination. If you’re not prepared to commit some time to cleaning your system, it probably isn’t the right one for you.
To get filtered water from your gravity water filter, you need to first put in the unfiltered water yourself. Every time your water runs out, you’ll need to refill it. It’s not a lot of work, but if you have mobility issues, you may struggle to fill your filter up.
6 Considerations For Buying a Gravity Water Filter
Before buying a gravity water filter, consider the following:
The majority of gravity filters have the same lifespan: roughly 6 to 12 months. It’s common for filter media to be made from activated carbon, coconut shell carbon, or a similar product.
In terms of effectiveness, activated carbon media is one of the most popular filter materials and has a proven scientific process that makes a lot of sense. The average lifespan of a hanging gravity water filter is 500 gallons, so you’ll need to replace this more frequently, roughly every 1 to 2 months, depending on use.
Most gravity water filters remove chlorine from water at the bare minimum. There are many filtration systems that can do much more than this, removing bacteria, heavy metals, and chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. Some gravity fed filters can even soften water and add healthy minerals, but this isn’t a guaranteed feature of most.
Gravity water filters have a slower flow rate than other types of water filter by nature. Because they don’t have any pressure from a plumbing system pushing the water along, it takes them longer to filter water for drinking. You can expect a gravity water filter to take around 7 hours to filter between 4 and 7 gallons, depending on the number of filters included.
Hanging gravity water filters are, by design, a lot more portable than countertop water filters. They’re small and compact, and their bagged reservoir design means you can mold them somewhat to fit them into a space in your backpack. When they’re empty and not in use, you can simply fold them up and stash them away.
Countertop filters are still portable, but not to the level of a hanging filter. You can take them apart and slot the components inside one another to save space, but you’ll still need a substantial amount of room to store and carry them.
See Also: Our Top Choices for Best Portable Water Filter in 2021
While being small and portable is an advantage of a hanging gravity water filter, it does mean this type of filter has a reduced capacity. You can expect most hanging filters to have a 1 gallon capacity. Some countertop water filters, on the other hand, can hold up to 5 gallons of water, but obviously these much bulkier units wouldn’t be ideal for carrying around in your backpack on a camping trip. If you plan to exclusively use your water filter at home, a countertop gravity filter will be best. For taking a filter on camping trips, a hanging water filter is more suited to your needs.
The most common chamber material for a countertop water filter is stainless steel. This material prevents rusting and helps keep water fresh for longer.
Hanging gravity water filters are generally made out of plastic and silicone. It’s worth checking that a product is made from food grade, BPA free materials when plastic is involved, and the good news is, most hanging water filters are.
Frequently Asked Questions
9 times out of 10, no. If a filter does do this – and there are a couple that do – it’ll be advertised as one of its top benefits. Like most water filters, the majority of gravity water filters just remove contaminants from water. You’re better off buying a dedicated water softener if you want to remove limescale.
Neither is better than the other – but you may find that one type of gravity water filter is better suited to your needs. Think about whether you’ll get more use out of your filter at home or during trips away. For at home use, countertop water filters are the more practical option. For trips away, hanging water filters make a lot more sense.
You should notice that the filtration process slows down to the point where it may take double or triple the amount of time to filter your water than usual. You may also notice a change in the taste of your water.
When your filters stop working, there’s effectively no point in using them to clean your water, as they won’t do their job properly. If you’re filtering river water particularly, changing your filters and ensuring they’re working at their peak will help you to stay healthy.
It’s recommended that you give your countertop water filter a deep clean every 2 to 3 months. If your water has a high mineral content, and is depositing limescale on the inside of the holding tank, you should clean it more regularly. For hanging gravity water filters, wash everything and dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s instructions after using it on a trip. You can also rinse it out on your travels if you’re away from home for a long time.
If you’re going away for a while, or you just won’t be using your gravity water filter, drain the water out of your system and remove the filters. Allow them to air dry, then leave them in a dry and cool place until you plan to use your system again.
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