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Water is unique everywhere, with unique challenges presented to overcome. Almost everyone can benefit from some kind of filter, but the question is what kind? I’m going to go over a few of the common reasons why someone might need one, as well as the different types and budget considerations to think over when purchasing, before diving into a comprehensive list of the best water filters that the market has to offer.
Read our in-depth water filter reviews. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s my top picks without much context:
In a Rush?
These are our top choices:
Click the link to check the price on Amazon.com.
- Best water filter pitcher: ZeroWater, 10 Cup Round Pitcher
- Whole house: Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000-Gallon
- Water bottle: JTTVO Water Bottle with Filter Straw
- Under sink: Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000-Gallon
- Countertop: Brita Extra Large UltraMax
- Portable (for camping, backpacking, hiking): JTTVO Water Bottle
- For well water (lead, fluoride, iron): Express Water Heavy Metal Filtration System
- For RV: Clearsource Premium RV System
- Shower: Aquasana Deluxe Shower
How we conducted the test:
We got a team of evaluators and tried a number of products from different brands to see which will give peak performances according to specific purposes. We also logged in the number of hours that we spent in testing the models.
42 PRODUCTS TESTED
Top Choices on the Market
Best Water Filter Reviews – (Updated List)
1. Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000-Gallon Whole House Water Filter, System + Pro Install Kit
Top Overall; Whole House, Under Sink
Rhino's unique upflow, dual tank design
- Includes filtration tank, pre- and post-filter, fittings, supports, and shut-off valves
- Removes 97% of chlorine from regular tap water
- Removes lead, mercury
- Removes organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and VOCs and other Industrial solvents
- Water is good for drinking, cooking
- Great for hair and skin
Whole Home: It is actually surprisingly difficult to find a unit that cleans the entire water flow into a home, to every tap. The Aquasana ‘Rhino’ (as it is referred to in some of the descriptions) doubles down on that by being a very thorough, high quality, and quality assured unit in that circumstance.
Long Lasting: The Rhino is rated for 1 million gallons, or about 10 years of continuous use on average. This makes it quite an incredible value for the price. While there is a cheaper option for 6 years (600, 000 gallons), I do not recommend it as the price gap is small enough that you are losing quite a lot of value in the long term, unless you know for whatever reason that you are only sticking around a home for exactly 6 years.
Thorough: Design makes the chamber quite thorough at removing contaminants, particular chemical ones and especially chlorine. This removes 97% of chlorine and is particularly proud of its ability to reduce the amount of airborne chlorine that is often released with steam from hot showers, improving overall air quality in your home.
Options: The Rhino has a number of upgrade options that are quite worth it, in particular the descaler system and UV filtration unit (which increases bacterial filtration). These add ons are quite expensive however (the descaler alone more than doubles the price), and not strictly necessary based on your natural water quality without processing.
2. Express Water Heavy Metal Whole House Filter
FOR WELL WATER
3 stage: sediment, KDF, Carbon block
Clear 1st Stage Housing: Easy way to see when you need a change
100,000 gallons or 6-12 months
- Removes the following: Chlorine, Iron, Rust, Lead, Pesticides, Mercury, Dirt, Sand, Viruses, Fungi, Sulfur, Insecticides, Chloramine, Silt, Turbidity, Aluminum, Copper, Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC), Herbicides, Cadmium, Copper, Hydrogen Sulfate, Nickel, Chromium, Cloudiness, and Odors
- 1 year warranty
- 3 stage whole house unit
- High flow design; can supply up to 0.25 gallons per second
- Great for hair and skin
Price: As mentioned above, whole home units are hard to come by, and especially at this price range. While not as good as the Rhino, it is also nearly half the price, which makes it a tempting option in its own right, even though they are not as long lasting.
Easy Exchange: They are easy to find, get to, remove, and replace, which is an excellent feature to look for in any large filtration system, which often have to sacrifice their accessibility for the limitations of something that needs such complex installation.
Heavy Duty: If the Rhino specialized in reducing chemical contaminants, the Express Water Whole House specializes in reducing heavy metals. If your water is lightly chemically treated but has a lot of heavy metals and sediment in it (especially common with well water), this is the perfect model, and may even beat the Rhino out for that circumstance.
Water Filter Life: While not as impressive as a 10 year unit, a 6 months to 1 year (100, 000 gallon) life is nothing to sneeze at for something which cleans your entire home and has to deal with water hogs like showers.
Efficient: The Express Water is designed to clean water quickly, thoroughly, and reduce waste. It produces about a quarter of a gallon of water per second at between 40 and 80 psi, or about 15 gallons per minute. While a bit lower than the faucet average of 20 GPM, it is still impressive for a 3 stage filtration system to produce that much water that quickly.
3. Brita Extra Large 18 Cup UltraMax Water Filter
Styrene methyl methacrylate copolymer
Has a spigot that makes pouring easy
- Reduces chlorine (taste and odor), copper, mercury, zinc and cadmium impurities found in tap water
- Can replace 300 standard 16.9 ounce water bottles
- Easy-fill flip top lid
- You can add fruit on water for flavor
- BPA Free
- Size: This is pretty much the ideal size for unit of this type. It is large enough to avoid constant refilling, holding 1.13 gallons (18 cups of water). This is enough for one person for two days, or two people for a day, which is about perfect. If you need more than that per day it is probably better to get a fixed unit. While it has a satisfyingly large tank size, it is also small enough to fit in most standard refrigerators, keeping cool water on tap any time.
- Design: Overall design is sleek and trim, with an easy to use and wide spigot for quick filling of glasses at the flip of the nozzle. It is also unobtrusive enough to fit most kitchen designs, coming in white or black colors for countertop use instead of refrigerated use. Flip top lid is easy to fill in either situation.
- Filters: The primary issue is the size. They are rated for only 40 gallons, or a little over a month of use if you only fill it up once per day. There are mixed testimonies about whether the longer lasting ones also fit this model, but the fact remains that the default unit and the replacement cartridges are disappointingly short lasting and the cost will add up quickly over time. Additionally it is merely adequate, removing several common mineral contaminants but missing a lot of smaller chemical ones, so keep that in mind; this is more of a ‘light duty’ unit than might be needed for areas with extremely dirty water.
4. ZeroWater, 10 Cup Round Pitcher with Free Water Quality Meter Water Filter
Water filter pitcher
activated carbon infused micron cloth, oxidation reduction alloy, ion exchange array, non-woven membrane
Pour Through Water Certified to Reduce Both Lead and Chromium
10 cup volume
- Five stage water filtration
- NSF certified
- Removes 99.6% of total dissolved solids
- Certified BPA-free by LG Chem
Filtration System: The 5 stage unit is the standout feature of this pitcher style product. The 5 stages is roughly equivalent to a reverse osmosis system in terms of how thorough it is. Perfect for extremely contaminated water from any source, and guaranteed to remove 99.6% of all dissolved solids. As a bonus it is compatible with most other pitchers, so can easily be swapped to a pitcher of your choice at a whim.
Included TDS Reader: Easily see for yourself the before and after of purifying the water of all contaminants. Especially good with lead and other heavy metals.
Compact: Included pitcher is small and easy to carry, but holds 10 cups of water (enough for one person for a day on a single fill). It’s the perfect travel companion for dodgy hotel stays or traveling to some foreign countries where the water really isn’t up to snuff.
Filter Life: They are extremely short lived, with some reporting a slow as a 10 gallon threshold before needing to be replaced. That’s as little as a week of function before replacement, which adds up fast. This makes it a literal life saver in certain circumstances where the water is clearly hazardous to drink, but not very well suited to most domestic purposes. You’re better off getting a fixed unit for home if your water is dirty enough to need cleaning of this quality on a day to day basis.
5. JTTVO Water Bottle with Filter Straw
Water bottle for camping, backpacking, hiking
Hollow fiber membrane system, activated carbon
BPA FREE tritan bottle , tough, 5-yr shelf life
1500 L (396 Gallons) or 6 months of continuous use
- For Hiking,Travelling, Backpacking, Running, Climbing, Survival, Camping
- Leak proof
- Outdoor bottle
- Improve the flavor of already drinkable water
- Make water found in nature safe to drink
Filter: They up to .01 microns, perfect for removing even the most elusive bacteria (as some can be as small as .2 microns on one side). This bottle was designed to be used in 3rd world countries without safe drinking water or easy access to bottled water and it shows. It is long lasting (1500 Liters, roughly 400 gallons or 6 months of regular use) as well as thorough and compact, and is easy to change.
Warranty: A 5 year warranty and satisfaction guarantee means you can be assured of the lifetime of your bottle and have ready access to replacements if anything bad happens.
Price: The bottle is extraordinarily cheap (no more expensive than any other high quality sport bottle), and so it is easy to replace or buy extras.
Leak Proof: a must on hikes and other treks, the bottle is leak proof and spill proof so you don’t need to worry about unintentionally wasting precious water.
Finicky Filter: You need to blow into the straw regularly to keep it clear and constantly make sure to clean it when possible. It’s also pretty easy to ruin, as something as simple as soapy water may render it unusable. Take care with it. This is a small downside given the cost, but could be disastrous if it’s ruined while you’re not in a position to replace it.
6. Clearsource Premium RV Water Filter System
5 micron 2.5 x 10 inch first stage; .5 micron 2.5 x 10 inch second stage
Easy setup between your water source and connection to RV
1500 L (396 Gallons) or 6 months of continuous use
- TrailerLife Magazine's "Essential Equipment For RV Camping"
- Rugged, industry-exclusive
- Stainless steel fittings
- First stage removes sediments
- Second stage removes chlorine, volatile organic compounds, cysts, giardia, and other contaminants
RV Specialized: RVs are one of the living arrangements with the biggest need for a product like this. You never know what you’ll find next or how contaminated wherever you set up is. However, finding RV compatible is fairly difficult, or at least there aren’t a lot of options. Existing at all is a reason to praise the Clearsource.
Easy Install: The Clearsource hooks up via two simple connectors for water in and water out, which is perfect for the get up and go lifestyle of RVing, where getting set up or dismantling any hook ups you have quickly is important to get to the next destination or avoid having to pay extra parking fees.
Process: Two stage first gets anything below 5 microns (most heavy metals and sediment) and then removes everything below .5 microns (most bacteria and anything larger, like chemical contaminants). This makes water from any source taste good and be assured safe.
Price: It is incredibly cheap for what it is and how relatively niche of a product it represents. Affordable on pretty much any budget, and a great investment for both beginner and veteran RVers.
Low GPM: The gallons per minute (or GPM) this produces is only 6.5, making it very low flow. In most cases it might be recommended to disconnect it or hold off on connecting it before you shower (the main reason you want a slightly higher GPM) and then hooking it up after, but that makes it a bit of a pain to use, since you essentially have to choose between a very unsatisfying shower or getting dirty again hooking up an external unit afterward.
7. Aquasana Deluxe Shower with Water Filter
AquaSorb HX Coconut shell carbon and copper zinc mix
Easy setup between your water source and connection to RV
10,000 gallons or six months
- Reduces chlorine, lead, mercury, iron, hydrogen sulfide, pesticides, herbicides, and other volatile organic compounds
- Clean kids and pets with ease
- Attached 5 foot shower wand
- Improves air quality
- Enhances water pH
Long Life: The Aquasana Deluxe Shower system is rated for the units to last about six months or 10, 000 gallons. As a bonus they are easy to replace, coming off with a single twist and replacing the new one just as easily.
Construction: Chrome plated stainless steel and a flexible, 5 foot hose make this shower head good at its base job, if a bit basic.
Filtration: Shower head’s primary purpose is to reduce chlorine, which is bad for your skin and hair, and could help reduce symptoms of eczema or similar skin problems as well as improving the quality of your hair. It does a good job at this, and as an extension of that removes most other contaminants as well, though if you’re worried about bacteria it’s probably better not to drink the water.
Shower Head: Shower head is a good quality shower wand with 5 settings for various uses. Most of these are massage settings, allowing you to have your own home spa treatment with cleaner water than you normally shower with.
Filter Expense: They cost a little over half the price of the entire system, so replacement get very expensive over the life of the product.
Inconsistent Quality: Some point to some being defective or not properly removes chlorine, though this may be user error; testing pH and similar factors with strips is notoriously finicky for filtered water.
8. PUR DS1811Z Ultimate
Lead Reducing pitcher
30 gallons of filtration (1-2 months of normal use)
- Reduces 99% Lead & 22 other contaminants
- Sturdy design
- Sleek and slim profile
- WQA certified
Process: It removes 99% of heavy contaminants, including lead. While not rated for a wide range of contaminants (removing only 22 things, most heavy metals or other sediments), it is perfect for water that is mostly fine or has a narrow range of issues that need to be solved by a water pitcher.
Pitcher Size: Pitcher is sleek and has a slim profile, taking up about as much horizontal space as a jug of orange juice. While it obviously extends further backward into a fridge than that, it makes it easy to work around when arranging your fridge, and fits pretty much anywhere outside of it. Sturdy design makes it easy to place things on top as well, though that makes the top loading of the water a little more difficult.
Life: It is only rated to last for 40 gallons, or 1-2 months of use depending on your usage. This is significantly les than the average for this kind of pitcher (which usually rates between about 4 and 6 months per unit), and makes it far more expensive than it would appear on paper.
Lid: Unlike most pitchers of this type, you have to fully remove the lid to fill this model instead of flipping back a hinged lid and pouring the water in the top. This make sit more of a hassle to fill, especially if stored in a fridge.
9. Brita Tap Water Filter System
Brita faucet cartridge
Attaches to your standard faucet
Every 4 months
- Removes 60 contaminants such as 99% lead, chlorine (taste and odor), benzene
- Green and red light lets you know when it is working
- 1-click replacement
- 1 BPA free Brita faucet can provide up to 100 gallons of tap water
- 3 spray options
Easy Install: The Brita Tap Water unit screws on quickly and easily, with no tools required. You can get it hooked up in mere seconds by hand.
Process: It is good and screens out most chemical and mineral contaminants, including lead, benzene, and more up to 60 different contaminants. It also leaves a healthy level of fluoride intact, which means it doesn’t over clean your water. Finally, it is easy to change with a single click and there is a handy light indicator for when it needs changing.
Options: The system also provides three options for standard faucets. This lets you increase water flow and take strain off of the system when using it for purpose that don’t require cleaning.
Severe Model Disparity: This product has received a redesign of the course of its life. The original was subpar in most respects; there were severe quality control issues. This included leaking that was impossible to fix, not screwing on properly, indicator lights that failed to function, and more. The original also did not have the different spray modes. While the new version fixes these issues, the old models are still purchasable, and it is a particular risk if buying the product used or from 3rd party sellers.
10. Big Berkey Gravity-Fed
Black Berkey Purification
For outdoor recreation, emergency and survival situations
- Removes 99.999% of viruses and greater than 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria
- Reduces protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals
- Removes heavy metals (including arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium), pharmaceutical drugs (including caffeine, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Progesterone, Triclosan)
- No electricity, tools or plumbing required
Large Capacity: The Berkey Gravity fed unit has a range of tank sizes, up to 6 gallons. It’s meant to be able to store enough water for a few days in case of emergencies, long term stays in areas with no clean water (some 3rd world countries, remote cabins, and so on).
Process: They are rated to remove 99.99% of everything from heavy metals to chemicals to bacteria and protozoa, completely purifying the water. Note that this does remove all minerals, both good and bad, including fluoride, and the system does not reintroduce minerals at any point. Black units are rated of 10 years, while white ones are rated for a year, giving them a satisfyingly long life in either case.
Sturdy: Entire system is made of stainless steel and is very durable, making it great for long term storage in pretty much any conditions and can stand up to even somewhat rough transport on backroads and off road situations.
Taste: Many customers report a pervasive rubber taste, which is apparently due to the rubber stoppers used in this unit to hold the unit in place. Some have reported success with replacing the rubber stoppers with silicone ones, but it can be difficult to find them, and represents a design flaw in the unit in either case.
Final Verdict: Best Water Filter For You
Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000-Gallon
There are a few standout models on this list, depending on your needs. The Aquasana Rhino and Express Water are the options for whole home use and are both excellent. Of the pitcher style models, I’d have to favor the Brita model, and same for the point of use fixed unit.
All others are good in specific niches, but between the above three they should cover the majority of customers who don’t need something very specific (like an RV model or travel bottle).
Buying Guide: How Do I Pick the Right one For Me?
There’s a few things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost is what kind you need, and there are several types to choose from. Once you’ve figured that out, you need to judge them based on the quality of their parts, and finally how much you’re willing or able to spend.
There are three basic types: pitcher, portable, and fixed units.
Pitcher is a catch all for any type that is set to be mostly stationary and cleans water a batch at a time. These can range from smaller ones that cleans a certain amount at a time, be it a few cups or multiple gallons, and they need to be filled regularly as the water is used out of it.
Pitchers are great for a simple, cheap option in places where the water is mostly clean, but you want something a bit more cleaner for drinking to improve the taste of the water. They’re also nice because they can be kept in the fridge for cold water on demand.
Portable units are a lot like water filter pitchers in that they are made to clean water a batch at a time, but in this case the ‘batch’ is only a bottle’s worth of water. These are mostly intended for hikers, backpackers, and similar people who are traveling around without a guaranteed source of clean water, be it dubious free running water from a natural stream or staying in towns in parts of the world where drinking the water is dangerous.
Fixed units are anything you install in your home, from simple ones that just fit over your faucet and clean water as it runs through, to larger whole home units that clean your entire house’s water supply any time you turn the water on. These are the excellent option for people living somewhere the water is contaminated enough to make them worried about drinking it, with pollutants like chemical runoff, lead from the pipes, or even bacteria floating around in the water. They provide a lot of extra peace of mind, and even though they can be the most expensive option, will often pay for themselves in the long run when factoring in the cutting of the cost of buying bottled water to drink regularly.
There are products for every budget consideration out there, depending on what kind and how effective you need it to be. Prices of some products are low and in most cases you get what you pay for: more expense means more thorough, longer lasting, and better constructed models.
You want your system, like anything, to be made of durable, rugged materials. This goes doubly for portable models and fixed units. The former will be traveling a lot and can be expected to be subjected to a lot of abuse; dropping, banging, being flipped weird directions, etc.
The latter will be subject to less abuse, but can cause greater issues if broken. Anything form interrupting the flow of your plumbing or simply the hassle of replacing such an expensive product makes durable materials a huge plus with these units.
While nice for pitchers, their cheap expense makes it less of a consideration, especially since in some cases replacement units can cost almost as much as just buying a new pitcher outright.
In addition to basic construction, you want to pay attention to the product itself. They should be large (the larger the better) and thorough.
The larger a unit is, the longer it lasts before needing to be replaced.
Thoroughness indicates both how many stages of filtration there are (different products are needed to catch different kinds of contaminants, so be sure it takes out the specific issues with your water) and how small of a particle it allows to pass through. In general it that screens out anything above 1 micron is a good baseline, as that is enough to catch even the smallest common bacteria.
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