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The Best Water Filter for Travelers: the GRAYL

I searched review sites for hours trying to find the perfect water filter for travelers. I bought it. Didn’t like it. Went through the process again and finally found the perfect solution: the GRAYL Water Filter.

The first attempt.

My first water filter was the LifeStraw. It was cheap, simple, and I liked their mission. I took the LifeStraw with me for a month in Africa and I never used it for two reasons:
1.) I expected it to be a chore to drink through a massive filter.
2.)  I didn’t have a container the straw would fit. It was too large to fit into any water bottle I could buy there.

The competitors.

There was another group with me that was better prepared. They had Nalgene containers with wide-openings. They took water from the hose and used battery-powered ultra-violet lights to kill any deadly microscopic creatures. I have a few issues with this option though:
1.) It took 2 minutes of stirring.
2.) It was battery-powered. Access to water is not something I want to leave to batteries. The batteries and anything charging them is one more point of failure.
3.) There was still sediment at the bottom. They may have brought a separate filter for sediment or tried transfering between containers and dumping the residue, but I don’t want to lug around a science kit just to take a drink.

The final solution.

This is where the GRAYL comes in. I got back determined to find something better and that’s exactly what I did. Battery-free, the GRAYL works similar to a French press. You fill the outer container with water then press the inner container down. The water is pushed through the filter at the bottom of the inner container and fills the roughly half liter bottle up in 30 seconds flat. There’s different levels of filters, but the travel filter should be able to handle whatever you can throw at it (viruses, bacteria, protozoa, heavy metals, chemicals, and sediment) except for salt water. It also just looks amazing. They say the stainless steel version wouldn’t look out of place in a boardroom, but the semi-transparent version suits the engineer in me much better. I can watch the elegant simplicity of the water hitting the bottom filter and pouring through ready to drink.

I’ve used the GRAYL to filter tap water in Thailand for going on five months now and have never had a problem with it. I should probably replace the filter before too long as I have noticed a slightly slower filter time. Check out a video of it in action:

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