Grayl Bottles are great but for some, the size and cost are off-putting. But never fear, there are Grayl alternatives available!
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- Simple to use
- Good capacity
- Long filter lifespan
- Innovative design
- Can be used in multiple ways
If you’re looking for clean drinking water anywhere in the world, you can’t go far wrong with a Grayl bottle. They’re our favourite purifiers that we recommend over and over. But backpacking gear isn’t one size fits all and they’re not for everyone.
There is no denying that Grayl bottles are an expensive initial investment. They’re heavy and pretty bulky for the volume of water they hold. We’ve put together this list of the best Grayl alternatives, to help you find the portable water filter that best suits you (if you’re not already on team Grayl that is…)!
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Who Should Look for an Alternative to Grayl Bottles?
It’s not a secret that we at South East Asia Backpacker love Grayl bottles! We’ve extensively tested both the Grayl GeoPress and UltraPress bottles and written a comprehensive comparison of the two. We’ve used them on three different continents and saved thousands of dollars on bottled water.
But, as previously mentioned, Grayl bottles aren’t for everyone.
Grayl bottles might not be for you if:
- You’re looking for the cheapest water purification system
- You’re looking for the lightest water purification system
- You want a bottle with a big capacity
- You’re on the hunt for a bottle with cheap replacement filters
- Your spouse has just had an affair with the boss of the company…
The Best Grayl Alternatives
The Grayl alternatives in this list are all of the best quality. They purify your water, removing viruses as well as bacteria, protozoa, cysts and particulates, ensuring you have access to clean drinking water, no matter where you are in the world!
- Size – The 75cl Bottle from Water To Go is a staggering 138g! This makes it close to a third of the weight of a Grayl bottle. It’s close in size to Grayl’s UltraPress, standing 25cm tall with a circumference of 24cm. This makes it easier to pack in your travel bag or daypack. Another advantage is the capacity – it holds more than any of the Grayl bottles!
- Filter – Water To Go’s 75cl Bottle relies on a 3-in-1 filter to remove more than 99% of viruses, bacteria, chlorine and heavy metals from your water. The standard mechanical filter uses an electric charge to reduce the pore size and pull pathogens out of your water. The activated carbon filter absorbs chemicals, leaving your water clean and safe to drink. Each water filter lasts 200 litres before needing to be replaced but this will likely be less if you’re using water from really bad sources. If you purify only tap water, the filter will likely last a little longer. At the end of its life, the filter can be disposed of in an eco-friendly way. The plastic is all recyclable in your at-home recycling bin while the filter itself is compostable. New purifier cartridges can be bought from Water To Go and are very reasonably priced.
- Variety – Water To Go produce more than just the 75cl Bottle. Their Active Bottle range is built for cyclists and they fit easily into water bottle cages. The Sugarcane Bottles are made from sugarcane-derived plastic, so you can rest easy knowing your plastic water bottle hasn’t been made from dead dinosaurs!
- Short filter lifespan
- Bottles are hard to squeeze
- Size – The Lifesaver Liberty is a big bottle, very similar in size to the Grayl UltraPress. It also holds a similar amount of water – 400ml. This means you’ve got a very chunky bottle with a limited carry capacity, so you’ll need other bottles to decant clean water into. It weighs a similar amount to the UltraPress too, clocking in at 425g when empty.
- Filter – The Lifesaver filter is exceptional. It removes more than 99% of viruses, bacteria and cysts and has a lifespan of 2000 litres! The activated carbon filter should be replaced every 100 litres but this only affects the smell and taste of your water. As long as the main filter is still operating, water is still safe to drink even without an operational carbon filter.
- Pump Filter – The Lifesaver Liberty works differently to Grayl bottles. To purify water, you have two options; the first is to scoop water into the bottle and use the pump to force the water through the filters. The second option is to use the bottle as a traditional pump filter. The bottle houses a five-foot hose which can be dropped into a water source and used to draw water through the filter. You can screw the bottle to any wide-mouth water container (think Nalgene or Hydroflask), where clean water can be stored.
- Long-life filter
- Interesting design
- Can be complicated
- Size – While the Rapid Pure Purifier+ filter can be used with any wide-mouth bottle or any container at a push, the standard bottle that’s included is essentially the same size as Grayl’s UltraPress. However, the entire system is about half the weight, clocking in at just over 200g. The capacity is much greater too. The bottle holds a litre of water!
- Filter – The Rapid Pure Purifier+ filter works by sucking water through it. Simply fill the bottle with dirty water, attach the lid and filter and you’re set. Water passes through the filter and up the straw. It’s simple to use but this filtration method makes it very difficult to get clean water for anything other than drinking as you can’t force water through the filter without sucking it. The filter lasts around 280 litres before it needs replacing.
- Metal Bottle – Rapid Pure also produce an insulated metal bottle with the same filter if that’s more your thing!
- Good capacity
- Works with any wide-mouth bottle
- Have to suck water through the filter
- Cannot be used to get clean water for cooking etc
Other Grayl Bottle Alternatives
If you’re looking for a slightly different way of purifying your water, then these other Grayl alternatives are worth looking into.
- Not A Bottle – Unlike other purifiers on this list, the Steripen Adventurer Opti isn’t a bottle. It’s a small device that blasts your water with UV light, killing or rendering inert any waterborne pathogens. To use it, you’ll need a wide-mouth bottle to fill with water. Once full, activate the Steripen and swish it through the water for 60-90 seconds. After that time, a light will appear on the device to tell you your water is safe to drink.
- Packable – The Steripen Adventurer Opti fits comfortably into your pocket, so you’ll easily find room for it in your backpack. It’s also lightweight at just a sliver over 100g!
- Bulb and Batteries – The UV bulb on the Adventurer Opti lasts 8000 uses before needing to be replaced. If your device is registered with Steripen, then they will replace the bulb after 8000 uses! The batteries tend to last somewhere between 50-80 uses depending on how much water you clean at a time. Each Steripen comes with two batteries but they’re not rechargeable, so you’ll need to replace them when they run out. You can get rechargeable batteries that will fit the Steripen.
- Doesn't suffer the same wear and tear as a filter
- Needs batteries
- Can be fragile
- Tablets – Water purification tablets work by dropping them into water and waiting for them to do their thing. They contain chemicals which kill off any nasties, leaving your water safe to drink. The time you have to wait depends on the tablets themselves, how much water you’re cleaning and the quality of the water – but it’s usually between 30 minutes and an hour.
- Cheap – Water purification tablets are one of the cheapest ways of cleaning water – expect each litre of safe drinking water to cost pennies rather than dollars.
- Downsides – The real downside of purification tablets is that they only kill off nasties. They don’t remove anything from the water, so you’ll still be drinking whatever detritus you scooped up from the water source. They also take some time to work, so you need to plan ahead. Finally, tablets can affect the taste of your water but if you ask me, a slight chlorine tinge is better than the squits! 💩
- Super lightweight
- Easy to pack and use
- Limited uses
- Can take a while to clean your water
- Can affect the taste of your water
Grayl Alternatives – A Round-Up
While Grayl produce some of our favourite filtered water bottles, they are costly and there are alternatives out there.
Water To Go produce a range of interesting bottles that compete with Grayl and are slightly easier to fit into your bag. Plus, Water To Go Bottles are much more budget-friendly. The Lifesaver Liberty is similar in size to Grayl’s UltraPress but it offers a different method of purification and has some additional qualities like being able to use it as an inline filter. The Rapid Pure Purifier+ filter is lightweight and versatile. It can be used with any wide-mouth bottle and is very simple to use.
The other alternatives we’ve discussed, the Steripen and Water Purification Tablets, offer a completely different way of getting clean water but are both effective and tend to be much cheaper in the short term. If your trip is a few weeks or months long, you’ll likely get away with these smaller water-cleaning solutions. But if you’re travelling for an extended period, it’s hard to beat a filtered water bottle!
Do you have a favourite Grayl alternative we’ve not mentioned? Let us know in the comments!