Gravity water filters are typically stand-alone filtration systems that use gravity to filter water for drinking. Water is fed through the top of the filter, then gravity pulls the water down through the filter. These water filtration devices have a spout at the bottom for dispensing water. Gravity water filters aren’t just used in a home or office—they can be used for camping, backpacking, and emergencies to remove impurities from water and make it safer and healthier to drink.
Finding a high-quality gravity water filter is important because it removes contaminants, like glyphosate, that potentially increase the risk of health issues. They can also remove contaminants that make drinking water just plain taste bad. Ahead, discover what makes these gravity water filters among the best and find out what to look for so you can make the right purchase for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Big Berkey Water Filter
- RUNNER-UP: Waterdrop King Tank Gravity Water Filter System
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Zen Water Vitality Gravity Water Filter
- BEST FOR ALKALINE WATER: Santevia Gravity Water System
- BEST PORTABLE: LifeStraw Flex With Gravity Bag
- BEST FOR BACKPACKING: Waterdrop Portable Water Filter Straw With Bag
- BEST FOR CAMPING: Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System
- BEST FOR EMERGENCIES: LifeStraw Flex Multi-Function Water Filter
- ALSO CONSIDER: Alexapure Pro Stainless Steel Water Filtration System
How We Chose the Best Gravity Water Filters
To find the best gravity water filters, we looked at more than 20 products, taking into consideration each product’s size, material, ease of use, filter life, what contaminants it filtered, and price to narrow potential options. Then we conducted extensive product research to determine which gravity water filters customers loved and what features they valued most. We also looked at filters that were suited for particular types of water, such as those that contain fluoride or chlorine, and filters that alkanized water. The most useful and diverse set of features, together with overwhelmingly positive reviews from customers, helped us to distill many products down to this final list.
Our Top Picks
The following are our top picks for the best gravity water filters, including those for alkaline water, camping, emergencies, and backpacking.
The Big Berkey water filter is made of stainless steel and filters out more than 200 contaminants including heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceutical waste, rust, and sediment. The Berkey website also sells fluoride filters as an option, which can be added to this system along with the original filters to filter out up to 97 percent of fluoride from your drinking water.
As is, this stainless steel water purifier comes with two carbon filters, which are made of high-grade coconut shells along with a proprietary blend of five additional materials. Berkey recommends changing out the filters every 3,000 gallons (or 6,000 gallons for two filters), depending on the quality of the water being filtered. Filters removing a higher level of contaminants, such as sediment, may need to be changed more often.
The system weighs about 7 pounds when empty, making it relatively easy to take on vacation or for use in an RV. When full, the system holds 2.25 gallons and weighs 25.76 pounds. Thanks to its convenient size (not too large or too small), its stainless steel construction, and its high-grade carbon filter, the Big Berkey water filter can easily suit a variety of homes and uses.
- Drinking water capacity: 2.25 gallons
- Filter material: Carbon-based with a proprietary blend of 5 other materials
- Dimensions: 8.5 inches in diameter and 21 inches tall (19.25 inches tall if no knob is installed)
- Third-party labs tested filters and found that they exceed American National Standards Institute (ANSI) protocol
- 1 long-lasting filter requires changes every 3,000 gallons
- Optional add-on filters for fluoride allow consumers to target specific needs
- More expensive than comparable products
- Cannot see water level from the outside
Get the Big Berkey gravity water filter at Amazon or Berkey Filters.
Holding the same amount of water as our top pick but less expensive and with National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification, the Waterdrop King Tank gravity water filter system is also made of stainless steel. It comes with a fluoride filter, and its carbon filter removes contaminants such as heavy metals, sediment, rust, and chlorine from drinking water.
The Waterdrop filter system also comes with a nonslip stand to make dispensing water from the system easier, as it will elevate the system from the countertop and make it simple to place a glass underneath.
Its NSF certification means that the product meets minimal lead requirements—less than 0.25 percent—so that lead will not leach into the water from the product. It also comes with a water-level measure so you can see from the outside the amount of water left in the system. Its copper spigot not only minimizes the number of plastic components but also ensures greater durability.
- Drinking water capacity: 2.25 gallons
- Filter material: Coconut-activated carbon and resin
- Dimensions: 8.5 inches in diameter (plus 4-inch spigot) and 20.4 inches tall (included stand is 8.5 inches long by 5.9 inches wide)
- Includes a convenient nonslip stand so a cup easily fits under spigot
- 2 carbon filters last for 6,000 gallons
- A visible water-level measure allows you to see how much water is left
- Comes with fluoride filters to further decrease contaminants
- Does not provide a full list of exact contaminants filtered on website
Get the Waterdrop King gravity water filter at Amazon or Waterdrop.
This gravity water filtration system from Zen Water contains a unique five-stage filtration process that helps filter out contaminants such as pesticides, dirt, chlorine, and bacteria. The filtration process also helps alkanize water by adding minerals via mineral stones in the filter. In addition, the system magnetizes water with infrared balls in the filter, which creates ionized water.
Alkaline water has a more neutral pH and tends to contain minerals such as calcium and magnesium; ionized water has an electric charge, which some advocates claim may support bone health and blood pressure, among other potential health benefits, making it a popular form of home water filtration.
This system has multiple filter cartridges, but while a micro-ceramic filter can last up to 1,000 gallons, the mineral filter needs to be changed every 500 gallons. Although it is made of plastic, it is BPA-free. Still, for the capacity, price, and multistage filtration system, this product is a great value.
- Drinking water capacity: 2.5 gallons
- Filter material: Activated carbon, natural zeolite, far-infrared balls, silica sand, mineral sand, and ceramic
- Dimensions: 13 inches in diameter and 22 inches tall
- 5-stage mineral filter and micro-ceramic filter to capture a variety of contaminants
- Also available with 3.5-gallon and 5-gallon drinking water capacities
- Alkalizes water for those who want to ensure a neutral pH level
- Plastic construction may be less aesthetically appealing for some
- No list of specific contaminants that it filters on its website
Get the Zen Water gravity water filter at Amazon or Zen Water.
This water filtration system from Santevia holds about 2.6 gallons of filtered water and removes fluoride, lead, chlorine, vinyl chloride, and microplastics, among other contaminants, while adding trace minerals such as calcium and magnesium to help maintain the alkalinity of the water.
This system has been third-party tested by ALS Global in accordance with NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, and 401 for water quality and the reduction of chemicals and contaminants. It is made of BPA-free plastic, and its ceramic filter lasts up to a year while its main filter lasts 4 months. The mineral stones, on the other hand, only need to be replaced every 2 years.
- Drinking water capacity: 2.6 gallons
- Filter material: Ceramic, alumina, kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF), activated carbon, mineral stone balls, pH mineral balls, and silica
- Dimensions: 12 inches in diameter and 18 inches tall
- Alkalizes water to help maintain a neutral pH level
- Multistage filtration system to better ensure contaminant removal
- Third-party tested to better ensure a reliable filtration system
- Plastic construction may be less attractive to some
Get the Santevia gravity water filter at Amazon or Santevia.
This 1-gallon portable gravity water filter removes harmful bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella as well as parasites and microplastics, making it convenient for traveling, emergencies, and camping.
It can filter a gallon of water in just 10 minutes and weighs less than 7 ounces. It contains two filters: a membrane microfilter and an activated-carbon and ion-exchange filter. The membrane microfilter removes 99.9 percent of bacteria, parasites, microplastics, silt, and sand and lasts up to 500 gallons. The activated-carbon and ion-exchange filter reduces heavy metals and chlorine and lasts up to 26 gallons. It also comes with a handy clip and shoulder strap, which allow for carrying and hanging off of a tree, vehicle, or structure for easy gravity filtering.
The LifeStraw Flex with gravity bag water filter also meets NSF standards 42, 53, 401, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/NSF standard P231 for the removal of chlorine, lead, chemical contaminants, and bacteria and parasites. LifeStraw also provides a complete list of what contaminants the filter removes.
- Drinking water capacity: 1 gallon
- Filter material: Activated carbon and hollow membrane
- Dimensions: Bag is 10.6 inches wide by 18.7 inches tall; hose is 27.5 inches long; filter is 1.5 inches in diameter and 6.4 inches tall
- Weighs less than 7 ounces, making it very easy to transport
- Filters out harmful bacteria and microplastics
- Holds up to a gallon of water for filtering for multiple people
- Third-party tested to ensure that it meets recognized standards for drinking water
- Some users note that the filter is prone to clogging with regular use
Get the LifeStraw with gravity bag gravity water filter at Amazon, Target, REI, or LifeStraw.
With the capacity to filter 1.5 gallons of water on the trail, this Waterdrop model is a great gravity water filter for backpacking trips because it holds even more water than our portable option—a key feature for when water sources are far apart—and has two filters for bacteria and contaminants: hollow fiber membrane and activated carbon.
These two filters together help remove bacteria that may be found in natural water sources as well as organic compounds and dirt, sand, and debris. It also has a filtration rate of 0.18 gallons per minute, which is comparable to the countertop water filters on this list.
This filter has a long life, up to 1,400 gallons without backwashing, which makes it great for longer backpacking excursions. The system is also versatile; the filter doubles as a drinking straw, which can be attached to the included bag or used with the included water pouch for filtering smaller amounts of water.
- Drinking water capacity: 1.5 gallons
- Filter material: Hollow fiber membrane and activated carbon
- Dimensions: Gravity water bag is 8.8 inches wide by 16.7 inches tall; straw filter is 1.38 inches wide by 7.9 inches tall; collapsible water pouch is 5.7 inches wide by 10.7 inches tall
- Long filter life
- Connects to water bags or water bottles for versatile use
- 5-stage filtration system
- List of contaminants that it filters not readily available on website
Get the Waterdrop portable gravity water filter at Amazon or Waterdrop.
This 1.59-gallon portable gravity water filter for camping is great for groups and easy to transport, thanks to the included carrying case and a light weight of just 12.3 ounces. It also comes with both a clean and dirty water reservoir, so there’s no need to have an empty container ready to dispense the water.
It filters through 0.46 gallons of water per minute, removing 99.9 percent of bacteria, and lasts up to 1,500 liters before it needs to be changed. The microfilter has also been third-party tested to ensure that it meets EPA and NSF standards for the removal of bacteria and protozoa.
However, it’s important to note that this system does not filter chemicals since it does not contain an activated-carbon filter. Its hollow fiber membrane filter is not designed to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The company does offer a separate carbon filter for use with the Platypus water filter, however. Platypus sells a smaller 1-gallon (4-liter) gravity water filter as well.
- Drinking water capacity: 1.59 gallons (6 liters)
- Filter material: Hollow fiber membrane
- Dimensions: 10 inches wide by 19.5 inches tall
- Long filter life provides for many uses before a replacement is needed
- Clean and dirty water reservoirs, so no separate container is necessary
- Light weight makes it exceptionally easy to pack and carry
- Available in 1.59- and 1-gallon sizes
- Does not filter chemicals without an extra filter available for purchase
Get the Platypus gravity water filter at Amazon, REI, or Platypus.
This water bottle from LifeStraw comes with a built-in filter and backwash syringe (used to flush the filter clean) for an all-in-one device, making it handy for emergencies. As with other LifeStraw products, this filter removes 99.9 percent of bacteria, parasites, microplastics, heavy metals, chlorine, dirt, and sand.
The bottle is made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) laminated nylon and is BPA-free. The collapsible bottle itself weighs only 3.15 ounces, making it ideal for packing in emergency kits, keeping in a vehicle, or stowing in a backpack. There is an activated-carbon filter as well as a hollow fiber membrane; together they filter out both chemicals and bacteria.
Although this water bottle isn’t technically a gravity water filter, it attaches easily to gravity water filters, which allows it to be used with different systems for emergencies. The filter in the bottle is also removable and can be attached to hydration pack bladders or traditional water bottles, or even just drink straight from a natural water source.
- Drinking water capacity: 22 ounces
- Filter materials: Activated carbon and hollow fiber membrane
- Dimensions: 3.9 inches wide by 10.6 inches tall
- NSF-42 and NSF-53 compliant for the removal of lead, heavy metals, and chlorine
- Filters both bacteria and chemicals
- Lightweight and collapsible for quick storage and transport
- Activated-carbon filter needs to be changed after only 25 gallons
- Small size limits how many people can use it at 1 time
Get the LifeStraw multifunction gravity water filter at Amazon.
This stainless steel water purifier filters out over 200 contaminants, including lead, bacteria, VOCs, and pharmaceuticals. It also automatically filters fluoride without a separate filter. The system itself holds 2.25 gallons of drinking water and is designed for countertop use.
The Alexapure Pro uses a proprietary gravity block filter with a ceramic outer shell that needs to be changed every 200 gallons. The product is also made in the United States and requires minimal assembly. The manufacturer offers additional filters for purchase if you want to improve the filtration rate of the water.
- Drinking water capacity: 2.25 gallons
- Filter material: Proprietary gravity block with hybrid ceramic shell
- Dimensions: 8.25 inches in diameter and 21.5 inches tall
- Simple assembly takes only a few minutes
- Only 1 filter needed, but more can be used to speed filtration rate
- No separate filter required for fluoride
- Some users report that filtration can be slow
Get the Alexapure gravity water filter at Amazon or Alexapure.
What to Consider When Choosing a Gravity Water Filter
When considering a gravity water filtration system, there are a few key things to consider, among them the size, type, and contaminants removed.
There are a few types of water filters to choose from, including countertop options that are designed to sit out on a counter and portable gravity water filter options, which typically come in a bag often designed for camping, backpacking, or emergencies.
Different types of gravity water filters are also made of different materials. The material is important to consider for those who would prefer to avoid plastic or for those who would like a more lightweight material, such as plastic, for easy transporting or packing. For example, countertop gravity water filters are mostly made from stainless steel with some plastic options. On the other hand, bag water filters may be made from polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA), a chlorine-free polyvinyl chloride (PVC) alternative, or another plastic material such as polyethylene.
Not every gravity water filter removes all potential contaminants, which is why it’s essential to know which ones it does remove. For example, some filters remove glyphosate, the active component in herbicides such as Roundup, which may cause health problems, while others do not.
However, you can expect most systems to remove contaminants such as heavy metals, chlorine, and bacteria. These are common contaminants present in tap water and city water. Some systems require an additional filter to remove fluoride from tap water. The contaminants present in your water—which you can determine using a home water test kit or by having your water professionally tested—can help you determine the best gravity water filters for home use.
The manufacturer should have a complete list of contaminants that the system has been shown to remove on their website or available via email.
Size and Capacity
Gravity water filtration systems can range in size from just a few ounces—as in the case of emergency water filtration bottles—or several gallons. The largest filtration systems we looked at were about 2.5 gallons (40 eight-ounce cups), which is enough for the daily needs of a medium-size family, or about four to six people.
Most gravity water filtration systems are also designed for countertop use, except for those designed for camping, backpacking, and emergencies. While countertop systems generally can be transported, such as for day trips or hiking, portable systems, which often include collapsible bags, are more convenient to travel with due to their light weight and packability.
Every system also has a different filtration rate, which affects the flow of water and how quickly dirty water is filtered into clean water. Some systems, including the Alexapure Pro and the Big Berkey systems, even have an adjustable flow rate, which you can adjust by adding and removing filters from the reservoir. For example, the filtration rate can range from 0.03 gallons per minute (Big Berkey with four filters) to 0.46 gallons per minute (Platypus system).
The filtration rate is important because it determines how quickly you can have fresh water after filling up the reservoir, which matters even more so in an emergency or when you are using a portable water filter on the go.
Filter Medium and Lifespan
There are many different types of filter materials. The most common is activated carbon, which is most effective for removing chemicals such as pesticides, radon, and hydrogen sulfide, but it does not filter out fluoride. Activated-carbon filters generally last for 6 to 12 months. Of course, the longevity of the filter also depends on how contaminated the water is.
There’s also hollow fiber membrane, which is best for filtering out bacteria and is commonly used in camping or emergency water filtration systems. Hollow fiber membranes contain microscopic tubes that physically trap bacteria but not water. These filters tend to have a longer lifespan and can last for 500 gallons or more.
Ceramic is another material used to filter water. Ceramic gravity water filters work similarly to hollow fiber membrane filters in that they use tiny pores to filter out contaminants, including bacteria and sediment. Ceramic filters have a similar lifespan to carbon ones, depending on the filter quality and how dirty the water being filtered is.
Carbon, hollow fiber, and ceramic may all be used together in a filtration system to remove contaminants. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for when to change the filter to keep water clean.
The Advantages of Owning a Gravity Water Filter
A gravity water filter does not require electricity and is a simple way to filter water at home without purchasing purified water. It helps reduce waste from bottled water and allows families to avoid the contaminants that can be found in plastic bottled water, including microplastics and bacteria.
Gravity water filters are also versatile. While they are simple to use at home on countertops, they can also be taken camping, backpacking, or on road trips. Collapsible water bottles with a gravity filter can be used in emergency kits for the safe filtration of water.
Since gravity water filters can contain different types of filters, they also allow users to purchase the brand or filter that removes the specific contaminants in the water at home. Some gravity filtration systems can help alkalize or ionize water for potential health benefits. In short, a gravity water filter:
- Eliminates the need to buy bottled water
- Removes harmful contaminants without adding any
- Can help alkalinize or ionize water depending on the filter
Considering a gravity water filter for your home? You likely still have some questions about how these devices work and what kind of maintenance they require. Read on for some answers to these and other frequently asked questions.
Q. How do you use a gravity filter?
Using a gravity water filter is simple and does not require extra plumbing as it is a stand-alone device. For a countertop gravity water filter, simply pour water into the reservoir at the top and let it filter through. For a portable gravity water filter, such as those with bags or bottles, fill the bag or bottle from a natural water source, mount the bag higher than the filter, and then simply let the water filter through. For each style, you can dispense the water from a spigot into a glass or bottle.
Q. What kind of maintenance do you have to do on a gravity water filtration system?
Gravity water filters require two types of maintenance: changing the filters as often as necessary (which can range from a few months to a couple of years, depending on the filter type and material) and cleaning the water reservoir. You should clean your water reservoir about every month or as the manufacturer recommends, depending on how dirty the water is.
Q. What are the benefits of gravity filters?
With a gravity water filter, you have more control over the contaminants filtered out of your specific water thanks to filter options and the range of contaminants that these filters remove. Gravity water filtration systems also eliminate the need for bottled water, which can reduce your exposure to microplastics and prevent plastic from ending up in landfills and oceans.
Q. Will a gravity water filter soften water?
Most gravity water filtration systems will not soften water. However, some can help by adding extra minerals into the water, but they will not have quite the same effect as a water softener.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.