7 Best Gravity Water Filters of 2020 – Reviews & Buyer Guides

For pure, clean water in places where there’s no electricity, a gravity water filter is a great option. But if you’re not sure what to look for, the array of models on the market can be bewildering.

Here we take a look at some of the best gravity water filters out there right now. We’ll review the pros and cons, and give you the information you need to make the right choice.

OUR TOP PICK
Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System
Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System

  • Generous 2.25-gallon capacity
  • The two main purification elements will treat 6,000 gallons between them
  • Comes with fluoride filters as standard

 

The Best gravity water filter on the Market of 2020

1. Propur Traveler Countertop Gravity Water Filter System

Propur Traveler Countertop Gravity Water Filter System

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Propur’s water filter will remove substances including microplastics, lead, chlorine and fluoride.

On the spectrum of gravity water filters, this is at the compact end. It will hold up to 1.6 gallons, so it’s best for use by one person. It stands 18.5 inches tall and has a diameter of 7.5 inches – so it will fit neatly even in small kitchens. And its modest dimensions also mean it nice and portable.

It’s made of polished 304 stainless steel, so it’s smart enough to stay on display at home. It’s also robust enough to withstand use in the great outdoors. And it won’t rust if you get caught in the rain.

We have, though, heard that the knob used to lift the lid is a weak point in the design. Don’t be tempted to over-tighten it – you may find it snaps off.

The filters are designed to last for around six months, or 300-400 gallons. The precise time will depend on how contaminated your water source is. They’re effective not only with tap water, but rainwater and water from lakes, streams and rivers.

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that this is a system designed for everyday use. As with most gravity systems, if the filters dry out, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria.

In this case, the filters are infused with silver to help inhibit bacteria, but we still wouldn’t take any chances. So if you’ve gone a while without using it, make sure you clean the system thoroughly and replace the filters.

Remember too that the rate of filtration will depend on the level of water in the top canister. The more water that’s in there, the faster it will filter. Keeping the filters saturated will allow them to work faster too.

You’ll need to flush the filters through before drawing your first glass of water for drinking. And check the spigot too. We’ve heard a few complaints that it isn’t as clean as it could be. That can affect flavor and odor.

If that’s an issue, contact customer services. They’re generally very responsive and will help troubleshoot any problems.

Pros:

  • Compact design that’s great for small spaces and camping
  • Filters infused with silver to inhibit bacteria growth
  • Can be used to filter tap water, rainwater or water from rivers and lakes

Cons

  • Watch out for the knob on the lid of the upper canister – it’s been known to snap off
  • We’ve heard complaints about the spigot needing a clean.

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2. Travel Berkey Gravity Water Filter

Travel Berkey Gravity Water Filter

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Another compact filter, the Travel Berkey is as neat and portable as its name suggests. Its capacity is slightly less than the Propur model, at 1.5 gallons, but it has the same small footprint. If you’re looking for a system that’s efficient in its use of space, this is a good option.

The design consists of two stainless steel canisters, one on top of the other. A spigot at the bottom releases the water.

The package includes two Black Berkey purification elements. These are extremely long-lasting, treating up to 6,000 gallons of water before needing to be replaced.

They will remove 99.99 percent of any viruses or pathogenic bacteria that are present. They’ll also capture protozoa like cryptosporidium and giardia, which can cause nasty stomach upsets if ingested. And heavy metals such as lead, chromium, and mercury will be extracted too.

This system won’t, though, filter fluoride as standard. If that’s a concern for you, you can purchase additional filter elements. These will hang below the main filters.

The filters are independently tested so you can be confident they’re effective.

As with other gravity filters, filtration speed depends on the distance the water travels. It will work quickest when the top canister is full. And if you have room and want to speed things up further, you can add extra elements.

The spigot at the bottom is made of plastic, so it’s not as robust as some. A replacement stainless steel version is available. It may be worth spending the extra money for a more resilient system.

One other area of potential weakness is the connection of the filters to the filter element. They’re prone to coming loose, particularly when the system is moved.

If that happens, you’ll find yourself having to mop up leaks. And water you think has been filtered may instead have found its way through joints not completely filled by glue. If you need to move the system, take the filters out first.

Pros:

  • Compact footprint, ideal for small spaces
  • Long-lasting purification elements will filter up to 6,000 gallons of water
  • Additional elements can be added if needed to speed up filtration

Cons:

  • Filters are prone to coming loose
  • The plastic spigot isn’t as robust as we’d like.

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3. LifeStraw Mission Gravity Water Purification System

LifeStraw Mission Gravity Water Purification System

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If you’re looking for a lightweight filter that’s great for outdoor use, LifeStaw’s purification system is well worth a look.

In this case, the water is held in a bag rather than a rigid container. That means it’s great for traveling – simply roll it up for storage. It also comes with a stuff sack to keep it clean and dry.

It’s available in a choice of two different sizes – 1.3 or 3.1 gallons. There’s a wide mouth to make it easy to fill. And there are markers at the sides so you know how much water you have left.

The bag is BPA-free, so you won’t need to worry about leaching into your water. It’s rolled over at the top to seal it, and there’s a handy carrying strap. Use this to hang the bag from a stand, tree or bush to allow the water to filter down.

At the bottom of the bag, there’s a tube that feeds the water into the filter. This uses pores just 0.02 microns in size to filter out impurities. It will remove virtually all bacteria, protozoa and viruses, turning stream or lake water into water that’s safe to drink.

The filter will treat 4,755 gallons before needing to be replaced. And it has a healthy flow rate too, filtering water at between nine and twelve liters per hour. Just make sure that it’s hung nice and high to achieve that.

The package comes with four additional pre-screen filters to allow for changes on-site. These will extract most sediment before the water reaches the main filter.

This is a simple and very effective system, but there are still a couple of things to be aware of.

The first is that the valves have been known to leak. If you’re hanging the water bag overnight, remove the hose before you turn in for the night.

The second is that once the main filter has reached the end of its life, you won’t be able to replace it. You’ll need to replace the whole unit, bag included.

These minor niggles aside, this is a great system for use outdoors and in emergencies.

Pros:

  • Soft-sided filter bag makes this lightweight and portable
  • Eliminates virtually all bacteria, protozoa and viruses
  • Comes with four extra pre-screen filters for easy on-site maintenance

Cons:

  • Valves are prone to minor leaking
  • Not possible to replace the main filter – when it’s done, it’s done.

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4. Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Gravity Water Filter System Our Top Pick 

Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Gravity Water Filter System

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If you need a larger filter to sit on your countertop, check out the best-selling Big Berkey. This comes with two filter elements, each of which will handle up to 3,000 gallons of water.

In this case, the package also includes two additional fluoride elements as well. Each of these attaches to the stem of the black purification element and can treat up to 1,000 gallons.

The system will remove parasites, cysts, and bacteria, as well as reducing nitrates, nitrites, mercury, and lead. And it will tackle harmful chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and organic solvents too.

The construction here is polished 304 stainless steel. It looks smart enough to stay on display at all times in your kitchen.

It has a diameter of 8.5 inches – still modest in terms of its countertop footprint – and stands 19.25 inches high. You’ll need to watch out for wall cupboards or shelves when deciding where to position it. These loftier dimensions mean it will hold 2.25 gallons.

The speed of filtration is around 7 gallons per hour. As with other gravity systems, you’ll find it works fastest when the upper container is full.

You’ll also find it slows down as the filter becomes older. Re-priming the filters with the rubber washers included in the package can help speed things up again.

Although larger than other systems, it’s not as difficult to carry from place to place as you might imagine. The upper container is designed to fit inside the lower one for a more compact and portable unit.

The key thing to be aware of with this filter is that it’s designed to be used daily. If you go on holiday, either take it with you or ask a friend to babysit it. If the filters dry out, bacteria will grow in them. You may find that the system you expected to purify your water is actually adding contaminants.

You’ll also need to do some regular maintenance to get the best results. Take it apart and give it a good clean with soap and water once a month. That will help to avoid any issues with rust spots.

Pros:

  • Generous 2.25-gallon capacity
  • The two main purification elements will treat 6,000 gallons between them
  • Comes with fluoride filters as standard

Cons:

  • Needs to be used every day or the filters will grow bacteria
  • Regular maintenance is needed for the best results.

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5. Doulton W9361122 Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filter System

Doulton W9361122 Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filter System

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Doulton’s W9361122 is another filter system that passes water between two stainless steel canisters. It has a spigot at the bottom and will hold up to 2.25 gallons of water.

It’s about the same size as the Big Berkey, 8.5-inch in diameter and around 20 inches tall. The stainless steel is lovely quality, and polished to a high shine that will look great in your kitchen.

The upper container has holes for two 7-inch ceramic filters. Unlike the Big Berkey, which can accommodate four, that’s the maximum with this system.

The water passes through three stages in the ceramic candle filters. The carbon block core will capture particles down to 0.9 microns, including bacteria, cysts, and organic compounds. It will also reduce chlorine levels, improving the taste and smell of city water.

The filters contain silver to prevent bacteria growth. And they can be cleaned to make them last longer before needing to be replaced.

The ceramic filters won’t tackle fluoride, but you can buy compatible fluoride filters if you wish. These screw onto the outside of the ceramic filters.

The system will take four to five hours to treat 2.25 gallons of water. That means constant use will give you around 10 gallons of filtered water per day.

If you’re using a lot of water, you may want to drill a small hole in the lid. Otherwise, the seal between the two containers creates a vacuum. That will slow down the flow from the spigot, and it may even stop entirely. Alternatively, you can lift and tilt the top container to get the water flowing again.

Assembly is straightforward. Expect the whole job to take about ten minutes. You won’t need any tools. There are some helpful videos on the manufacturers’ website to walk you through the process.

The spigot that comes with this as standard is made of plastic. There’s a metal version you can choose to buy separately if you want something likely to last longer.

Pros:

  • Ceramic filters remove particles 0.9 microns and larger
  • High-quality stainless steel construction
  • Filters contain silver to inhibit the growth of bacteria

Cons:

  • Flow rate is sometimes slow
  • The plastic spigot isn’t particularly robust.

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6. Platypus Gravity Water Filter System

Platypus Gravity Water Filter System

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The Platypus gravity water filter is designed for use outdoors. It uses two clear, BPA-free bags to hold dirty and filtered water. Each of them holds just over a gallon.

In addition to the bags, the kit includes a hollow fiber microfilter, a shut-off valve, hoses, and a storage sack. The whole thing is lightweight, compact and portable, making it a great choice for camping trips or emergency use.

The filter cartridge will treat up to 1,500 gallons before needing to be changed. There are portable filters with longer lives out there – but they can’t all be replaced. With this system, you can buy a new filter and you’re ready to go again.

The filter is effective too, removing virtually all bacteria and protozoa. And it’s been independently tested to give you the reassurance that it really works.

There are a simple air purging and back-flushing system that can easily be done in the field. The process takes just four seconds. It allows you to keep the system clean and working effectively, even in inhospitable environments.

Having two bags does mean you’ll need somewhere to hang both of them. A tree is ideal, as long as you can reach the lower branches.

The system works surprisingly quickly. It will filter a full gallon of water in about two and a half minutes.

Replacement hose kits are available, and if you want, you can also buy a carbon element. This installs after the gravity filter to further improve the flavor and smell of the water.

And if you want to, you can get rid of the clean water bag altogether. An adaptor is available to attach beneath the filter so that you can pour clean water directly into a bottle.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind with this one. The first is that it won’t filter out viruses. If you’re camping in an area where that’s a concern, you’ll need to use a second chemical treatment.

We’d also prefer it if the outlets were in the center of the bags. Instead, they’re located in a corner, which makes it that little bit harder to empty the bags completely.

These are minor drawbacks, though, for a lightweight and flexible system.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy and fast to clean
  • Filter and hoses can be replaced

Cons:

  • Doesn’t remove viruses
  • The position of the outlets makes it tricky to completely empty the bags.

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7. Miniwell Gravity Water Filter

Miniwell Gravity Water Filter

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Miniwell’s gravity water filter is another one that’s great for hiking and camping.

The system here is comprised of a bag for unfiltered water, a pocket-sized filter, a hose, hose clip and bottle. The water bottle is collapsible, so it’s easy to carry. There’s also a clever one-meter tree strap that allows you to suspend the bag from a tree trunk.

And if you prefer, you can swap the water bottle for a connector that will filter into a bucket. The two systems are priced separately, so you’ll need to pick the one that best suits your needs.

The filter has a lifespan of 440 gallons. It will filter out any particles a tenth of a micron or bigger. That includes bacteria, protozoa, and suspended solids. But like the Platypus model, if your source water may contain viruses, you’ll need to use chemical treatment too.

The filter can be replaced when it’s at the end of its life. You’ll know when it’s the time because the water will stop flowing through.

This is simple to use, but there are a couple of niggles.

We’d like it if the device that closes the top of the filter bag was a little less clunky. You may find it takes a bit of effort to get it onto the bag when it’s full.

And if your source water has a lot of sediment, this system may struggle. If possible, wait for the cloudiness to settle before drawing your water.

All in all, this is great for use outdoors, anywhere you don’t need to worry about filtering out viruses.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Filter can be replaced at the end of its life
  • Choose between models that filter into a bottle or bucket

Cons:

  • Doesn’t filter out viruses
  • Will struggle with high levels of sediment.

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Buying guide

Still not sure about your final choice? Let us help you decide with our guide to some features to look for.

Indoor or outdoor use?

Do you want a filter to use daily in your kitchen? Or something to take with you when you go hiking or camping?

If you’re going to be using your system every day, countertop filters are a great choice. They have plenty of capacity and are resilient enough to withstand daily use. Look for models with metal spigots to avoid plastic flavors in your water. They’ll last longer too.

If, on the other hand, you want a filter for use outdoors, something lightweight and portable is a must. Filter systems that use soft-sided bags are great. They can be rolled up small and weigh very little.

What contaminants do you need to filter out?

Next, think about the kinds of pollutants you need to remove. The filters on this list will handle different substances, so check carefully before you choose.

If you’re looking to remove fluoride, you’ll need a system that includes a specific fluoride filter. Some models include this as standard, and in others, they can be fitted as optional extras.

Not all filters will handle viruses either. If you’re somewhere they may be present, look for filters that state specifically that they will remove them.

What about capacity?

Finally, consider how much water you need your system to filter – and how quickly. If you’re looking for a system for household use, generally the bigger the better. But check the dimensions to make sure it will fit in your kitchen.

Remember too that a couple of gallons of water will be heavy. Look for models with carrying handles to make the task of filling the canister easier.

If you’re living alone, a compact filter could be a good option. They’ll take up less room and your filtered water won’t be sitting around for ages before it’s used.

Let’s go shopping!

That brings us to the end of our reviews of the best gravity water filters out there. We hope you’re now closer to choosing the system that meets your needs.

Our favorite is the Big Berkey BK4X2. Its generous capacity and long-life filters make it a winner. And it comes with fluoride filters as standard too. Just make sure you use it every day to keep those filters wet and prevent bacteria growth.

Whichever option you choose, a gravity filter means pure water that doesn’t rely on electricity. That makes it a great investment for you and your family.

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