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With so many different water filters out there vying for a spot based on versatility, cost, and ease of use, it can be hard to make a choice as to which one to trust. The wide array of bargain filters out there has definitely led to many people that previously were hesitant to buy a filter for an emergency, to buy one or more. Note: a couple weeks ago we reviewed the larger Survivor Filter Pro here.
Companies like Survival Filter definitely came into being for the vast worldwide need for affordable ways to filter water. A $300 filter just isn’t an option for most of the world. Clean drinking water is essential to health.
Even those of us that grew up drinking a lot of untreated Spring or well water are still not immune to the effects of major containments. Those with compromised immune systems or that have always had treated water to drink can be even more sensitive to the nasty things that can be found in unfiltered waters or untreated waters.
Survivor Filter is a new kid on the block, offering bargain filters but still coming in at a higher cost than Lifestraw and others.
The filter offers 0.005 micron filtration that reliably gets rid of bacteria, protozoa, heavy metals, chlorine, dirt, and more. I had the opportunity to try out this filter and this is what I discovered.
Durable and rugged housing
One of the first things I noticed about Survivor Filter is that the housing is much beefier and sturdier than the Sawyer Mini or Lifestraws I have seen or purchased myself.
This means that I immediately felt like it would hold up better in the long term especially if you are on the trail. You can be a very careful person and still you might find yourself slipping or dropping your filter.
The color is meant to blend in which is a good thing if you are really concerned about taking cover. On the other hand for most situations, the green camo filter might be hard to see if you drop it. This can be easily overcome by using some bright tape or similar to make it more visible.
Survivor Filter does not claim to be able to filter the extreme amounts of water that Sawyer claims for its Mini. I like it when a filter has more believable numbers because it makes me think they are telling the truth based on real tests and not just making assumptions that sound good to the consumer on a budget.
It is so easy to pack too much weight. As someone that learned the hard way many years ago about packing things you don’t need I have to say that every ounce counts.
While water is your first line of survival, you do want a filter that is not weighing you down anymore than necessary. The Survivor Filter weighs a mere 3.5 ounces and the outside material is military grade ABS BPA free plastic.
Three Stage Filtration
Unlike some filters, Survivor Filter offers actual three-stage filtration so you get great tasting water you can trust to drink anytime and anywhere.
1. Cotton Pre Filter
The cotton prefilter helps keep out major debris from your main filter thus helping it last much longer. This doesn’t dangle down but is built right in and easy to remove for cleaning or replacement as needed.
2. “Ultra Filter” Internal Filter
This is the stage where any microbes, bacteria, or viruses are eliminated. The Ultrafilter can be removed and cleaned to provide you with up to 26,417 gallons of water. The other filters have to be cleaned or replaced more often.
3. Carbon Filter
Just because water might be safe to drink doesn’t always mean it is going to taste good and be without any musty or odd flavors. The last stage of filtration is the carbon filter which takes away flavors like those you might have experienced when filtering lake or boggy water.
The Carbon filter is only good for 264 gallons and the cotton filters have the same time frame. When you buy the Survival Filter you get 5 extra cotton filters but the carbon filter replacements must be purchased separately.
Since I am not a big fan of that musty taste in water, I would recommend anyone that is relying on this filter to get an extra carbon replacement. While it is not necessary ( you can drink the water from your filter just as long as the Ultra filter is functioning), it is nice to have.
Why make it any harder on yourself when you can have a replacement for under $15?
Testing It Out
To test this out, we took it to a small creek with a low volume due to lack of rain in the area. The first thing we noticed was that in places where water is just a trickle, this filter would be a challenge to use. Getting down and sucking water out of a stream where water is only an inch deep would be very uncomfortable and difficult where the ground is uneven and rocky.
When I tried out filling the bag, it was quickly apparent that filling a bag would not be possible without either scooping water up and getting a lot of sediment or catching water where there was a small drop using another small container and then pouring it into a bag.
In a survival situation you could also dig out a small spot in some streams and make a hole under a small fall and then fill from there but that all takes time and may be more difficult in some streams than others.
This has led me to realize the major limitations of this type of filter when dealing with a shallow low volume water source. Digging can stir up a lot of sediment so you will probably want to wait a few minutes before filling up that bag anyway.
This Survival Filter is ideally to be used where there is deep enough water or at least a stream with enough drop to catch water and feel the canteen up quickly. Scooping water out of streams or low flow areas stirs up a lot of sediment that is not great for the filtration rate or overall lifespan of your filter.
If you were sheltering in place or had an extended camping situation you could also do some water catchment. This filter would work excellent when used in conjunction with a rain barrel.
Honestly, if you had a rain barrel at your house and this filter you could get by for a long time. Areas with lots of lakes and ponds would be another area where the survival filter would excel.
Using Gravity Instead Of A Pump
Pump filters are not for everyone. Working a small water pump can put a lot of stress on your hands. If you are already working hard or suffer from arthritis or other problems, then having a filter that operates using gravity or the suction of your mouth may be better.
Plenty of preppers have both styles on hand so they have more options depending on the situation. The Survivor Filter would be great for going out to explore from your base camp while leaving your main filter back at camp.
I would say that the Survivor Filter definitely lives up to their claim of a 7 ounce per minute flow rate. Of course this is going to vary some based on how much sediment is in your water source. If you can see a lot of sediment then let it settle out in a different container before using if you can or pour it through a clean cloth or something.
The Survivor Filter can take on sediment but it is always best to avoid it if you can so your flow rate is more acceptable and you don’t have to stop and clean your cotton filter as often.
7 ounces per minute is enough that you are going to always be able to drink water at a satisfying rate without feeling like water is such a chore.
If your flow rate starts being too slow then that is a sign that you need to clean your filter throughly and possibly try to find a clearer source of water.
I highly recommend getting the canteens made to work with this filter. Sure sucking up water like you do with a Lifestraw will get you out of a tight position but the canteen just has to be filled and then you can start drinking water through the top of the filter.
This also means you can fill up a few bags and keep on going down the trail which can be especially important when you are not sure where your next water point will be. Of course, this is dependent on being able to get the water in the canteen itself which as explained can be a challenge at low volume water sources.
If you are not used to the idea of always having to screw a filter on a water bottle you would want to be careful about carrying bags of unfiltered water. It is so easy to be on autopilot and just reach for that bottle and take a drink.
When you first get the canteen, make sure to wash it out well before the first use. There is a mild odor from manufacturing that will quickly go away. Any plastic water bottle is going to have that issue when new.
The plastic lip that covers the spout for drinking is hard to get off at first but loosens up after the first time or two. Knowing me I will probably lose the clear plastic cover anyway with use. It is handy that Survivor Filter includes carabiners on their canteens so you can attach them securely.
Alternative Interchangeable Containers
The Survivor Filter has a 28 mm threaded inlet that will work with most standard soda bottles so you do have options besides using their brand of canteen.
Let’s face it that chances that you won’t eventually tear a hole in any plastic pouch water canteen over time is small, especially in a survival situation. The toughest food grade plastic is still only able to take so much so being able to easily find a container to use is a nice feature.
For long-term use, I think that most straw type filters would get cumbersome to use. If you take Survival Filter for what it is though, it definitely is worth considering.
They have tried to make a budget-friendly filter and that does mean a lot of plastic nut at least Survivor Filter is using military grade plastic that can take an impact. While this is not going to be replacing my $250 Katadyn (read my review here!), it is a good buy for a filter in its class.
I do think it could definitely take more of an impact than a Lifestraw if it comes down to it. After hearing from some other readers about how their Lifestraws came apart or just couldn’t stand up to an impact, durability is one of my main concerns when it comes to these straw type filtration systems. At the same time, you are paying more for the extra housing.
The availability of inexpensive replacement filters on Amazon is very appealing.
How many other filters can you get that you can replace the main filter for less than $15?
Oh and remember that this filter is not bright blue like the Lifestraw so if you are concerned about visibility, take some steps to make the filter more visible like using colored tape.
I get that camo has its purpose but with Survivor Filter there is no color choices like with the Sawyer Mini. It may seem like a small thing but dropping and losing your water filter can be a big deal.
Author Bio: Samantha Biggers lives on the side of a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them.
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