- Very portable and convenient for outdoor activities
- Provides clean water with 3-stage filtration system
- Simple to draw water from the pump due to the decent flow rate
Portable water filters are essential when camping, hiking, trekking, or backpacking. As much as water from a stream, river, or lake might seem clear and fresh, taking a sip can put you at great risk of ingesting all kinds of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other toxins. Having a portable filter with you when you are out there in the wilderness can save you from taking such risks.
With a portable filter, you can be able to filter water from all the natural sources thereby giving you access to clean, drinkable water. The Survivor Filter Pro is one such filter. It’s a portable filter pump and it stands out more compared to its competitors because of its very effective 3-stage filtration system.
It’s able to remove contaminants down to 0.01 microns which is the highest level for any type of portable filter on the market today – most can only remove contaminants down to 0.2 microns. Its flow rate is fairly fast too and it also has other advantages like a compact and lightweight design.
Overall, it has received really good reviews from many users and today we’ll be looking at it to see how well it performs including its pros and cons, and what most of these users think about it. Here is our comprehensive review of it.
The Survivor Filter Pro 3-stage filtration system is made up of a sediment filter, followed by an activated carbon filter and then a membrane ultrafilter. These three filter media combined are highly efficient at removing contaminants – they clear out nearly all threats you are likely to encounter in natural water sources in the backcountry or wilderness.
In the first stage is the sediment pre-filter which is actually an ultra-filter with a micron rating of 0.1. It’s 1.5-inch long and 1-inch in diameter and connects directly to the inlet hose.
Its work is to prevent sediment and other large particulates from entering into the inlet hose and the main filter unit which can ultimately damage the pump seals and even prematurely clog up the other filters. Its 0.1-micron pores also act as a barrier that helps block different kinds of bacteria, protozoa, and algae right from the first point of entry.
From the pre-filter module, water goes through the inlet hose and enters the Survivor Pro activated carbon filter which is the second stage of the filtration process. The carbon module is roughly 0.5-inches long and 1-inch in diameter and it clips right into the base of the Survivor Filter Pro’s ultra-filter module inside the unit.
The granular activated carbon encapsulated in a BPA-free ABS housing is made from burnt food-grade coconut shells and provides a highly porous surface area that naturally attracts and absorbs chemicals, some heavy metals, as well as other impurities present in the water.
When the water passes over the carbon’s surface, the contaminants are drawn into the small pores where they get trapped leaving clean water to go through into the next stage. The filter is able to effectively remove 99.5% of mercury, 93% of lead, and up to 87% of cadmium. It also very effectively gets rid of bad tastes and odor caused by chemicals in the water.
The third and final stage of filtration is the membrane ultra-filter which is located inside the Survivor Filter Pro’s main unit and it’s equally completely encapsulated in a BPA-free ABS housing. The filter itself is a medical-grade fiber membrane that’s capable of trapping contaminants that are as small as 0.01 microns which basically covers even microorganisms.
According to independent tests, this ultra-filter can remove virtually all the viruses (99.99%) from the water including Phi-X174, rotavirus, and norovirus. It can as well remove 99.9% of bacteria (salmonella, E. coli, and S. aureus) and also 99.9% of protozoa (Giardia, amoeba, and cryptosporidium).
From the ultra-filter, the filtered water then passes through the outlet hose and into the included ABS cup or any other container of your choosing. Its quality is impressive as many users reported. They mentioned that it’s clean and tastes clean and fresh with no bad smell whatsoever.
The 0.01-micron ultra-filter, in particular, makes the Survivor Filter Pro really efficient at filtering out contaminants as it massively reduces the chemicals, heavy metals, and microorganisms from the water, more than other similar portable water filters.
It’s especially highly effective at removing viruses and protozoa which vary in size from around 20 to 400 nanometers – the smallest virus is 2 times larger than the pores of the membrane which is 0.01 microns or 10 nanometers. Its closest competitors have a rating of 0.2-microns (20 nanometers) which means the pores are 20 times larger.
This effective filtration capability makes the Survivor Filter Pro ideal for cleaning water from streams, rivers, and lakes or water that you suspect might have microbial contaminants like during disasters. For instance, during flooding disasters, sewage can easily contaminate the water which can be a huge virus risk.
You can use it too to filter chlorinated city tap water as it’s able to clear out most of the chlorine and chemical taste and smell from the water leaving it rather palatable.
Flow Rate and Ease of Use
The flow rate of theSurvivor Filter Pro is pretty decent and this is particularly due to the fact that it utilizes a pump system rather than a straw system like in other portable filters where you have to suck through a straw to draw up water through the filter.
With the pump, the unit is able to deliver around 0.5 liters (or 17 ounces) of clean water per minute which is actually quite fast considering it has a rating of 0.01 microns. The Sawyer Mini, for instance, which uses either a straw or a squeeze pouch to draw water, filters at a rate of around 0.18 liters (6 ounces) per minute yet it only has a 0.1-micron rating.
The Survivor Filter Pro is generally good enough for solo use or a couple and perhaps even for small groups or families of 2 to 4 people. The pump system makes it relatively easy to use because it takes little effort to pull and push the plunger.
Some reported though that it feels a bit stiff at first but after a few pumps it gets easier, plus the pumping mechanism comes pre-lubed, so it doesn’t put up much resistance – it’s a lot easier to use than sucking through a straw which requires more drawing power in order to get a steady water flow which can be a tedious and exhausting process, especially if you are parched.
Even the Survivor Filter Pro can be a little tedious though if you have to pump 8 to 9 times a day to fill multiple 16-ounces water bottles or when the carbon filter wears out. However, if you have two people pumping and another one guiding the clean water into the bottles, then it’s a lot easier to operate.
Moreover, the inlet hose is one meter long which allows you to conveniently access water sources that might be a bit far or hard to reach in a safe way like where there are soft edges.
You need to fully submerge the pre-filter (connected to the inlet hose tip) into the water for best results (not partially) – to prevent it from getting submerged into the mud, Survivor Filter has attached floaters on the inlet hose, right above the pre-filter – they are useful little devices that allow the pre-filter to get fully submerged (enough to pump water properly) while at the same time helping keep it from falling to the muddy bottom of the water source which could clog it.
The outlet hose, on the other hand, has a handy little clip that allows you to attach it to the provided cup, bottle, or any other container or hydration bladder to make filing easier. However, there were those that claimed that it doesn’t attach securely. It sometimes falls off or the outlet hose itself can occasionally come out. Only a few users reported having such an issue though, so it’s not really a widespread problem.
Filter Lifespan and Replacement
The other advantage of the Survivor Filter Pro is that its filters have a relatively long lifespan and as such, they won’t need frequent changing. The ultra-filters (pre-filter and the membrane ultra-filter) have a filtration capacity of 100,000 liters each which is much higher than most other portable water filters out there, except for Sawyer filters as they have a larger capacity at around 4 times that. These ultra-filters can last for more than 10 years.
The carbon filter, likewise, has a decent 2,000-liter (528 gallons) filtration capacity. It can go a whole year if used by one person under normal conditions which is more than the average 6 months you get from other carbon filters out there. However, if used often to clean water that’s severely contaminated with chemicals, then it will reach its max capacity faster and you would have to change it much sooner.
The UF filters may not last that long either when used often to clean severely dirty water. Replacement filters are readily available for all three stages and you can directly get them from the Survivor Filter website or Amazon. They are small, lightweight, and affordable – the membrane UF and the carbon filter, for instance, go for around $12.95 on Amazon while the pre-filter modules are around $6.95 each. All of them can be purchased separately and can be changed easily.
The problem is that there’s no indicator to let you know when the carbon or the UF filters need replacement. The only way to know this is when it gets tough to pump the water which is not really reliable because clogging of the pre-filter can also make pumping harder.
The filters can get clogged very easily, especially the pre-filter – there were many complaints that it clogs up fast which causes the water flow rate to drop significantly.
It works using a spool/reel of microtubes that make up the intake nozzle and they get easily clogged when submerged in muddy water or water that has lots of debris hence slowing down the water flow to the point that’s difficult to pump. However, you can backflush it with clean water to unclog it. The company has even included a backwashing syringe system to make the process easier.
You just switch it from the tip of the inlet hose to that of the outlet hose and then pump to flush clean freshwater through it in the reverse direction for about a minute or 2 – this flushes out the microtubes, removing particles that caused the clogging and thereby getting the water flowing fast again. The membrane UF and the carbon filter modules can be backflushed too to clear the pores clogged by debris.
Besides backflushing, the whole unit can be cleaned regularly and it’s not a challenging process at all. Survivor Filter provides a guide that takes you through the process of disassembling it which is pretty straightforward and takes less than 5 minutes.
Once you have the individual parts separated, they are easy to clean, and again the company provides a video as well as instructions to guide you through the process. You wash the filter base, inlet hose, and the outlet hose in warm soapy water, and then you place them on a paper towel and let them dry.
From there, you dip the pre-filter and the ultra-filter membrane in vinegar and warm water. You then soak the activated carbon filter in warm water (it cannot be placed in vinegar) and let the three filters soak for roughly 10 to 15 minutes. After that, you remove them from their baths and rinse the pre-filter and the ultra-filter in warm water to get rid of any remaining vinegar, then place all three of them on a paper towel and let them dry completely.
The instructions as well recommend placing the ultra-filters and the hoses in vinegar for a few minutes before rinsing them and also occasionally ensuring the plunger is oiled or lubed.
Once all the components are thoroughly rinsed and dried, you just put them back together and perform the backwashing process. After this, you need to disassemble the unit again, dry the pump components, and then reassemble them together and set the unit into the provided storage container. You can then place it in a bug-out bag or gear back for use when you are in the wilderness again and clean water isn’t otherwise accessible.
For best results and to make it last longer, the whole unit should be cleaned thoroughly after the end of each multi-day trip.
Note though that you can use the Survivor Filter Pro at various temperatures except freezing conditions like during winter because the hollow fiber membranes can get damaged if left to freeze – the water inside the membrane will expand after use and form holes in the filter hence damaging it. It’s not the best option for winter survival.
Design and Build Quality
The Survivor Filter Pro has a functional and innovative design. Except for the hoses, the floater, and the outlet hose clip, the entire unit including the three filters, main body, and the plunger & its handle has a rugged nice camo-green color that blends perfectly in the wild.
The main unit houses both the carbon filter and the membrane ultra-filter – the small manual pump is positioned on the left-hand side inside the unit with its handle and the shaft outside. The hoses (inlet and outlet) and the pre-filter attach and detach easily from the main unit. A clear plastic cup is also provided and it acts as a protective case – it covers the upper two-third portion of the filter, protecting it from damage when not in use.
The entire unit measures 6.5 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 2 inches deep, and weighs only 11.5 ounces. It’s not quite as compact and lightweight as most other portable water filters but it’s no bigger than a regular water bottle either, so it can easily fit in almost any pocket of a backpack.
The company has also included a protective microfiber zippered pouch that makes carrying everything simple. All the separate components (main unit, hoses, and the pre-filter) fit nicely in the small pouch which you can easily put in your backpack’s pocket – on one side of the pouch there’s equally a small fabric loop where you can attach a carabiner to hang it from your backpack or gear pack.
When it comes to the build quality, the Survivor Filter Pro isn’t badly off. Many found it to be relatively sturdy and durable despite that nearly everything is plastic.
The shell/body, the filters’ housing, and the pump handle are all made of a rugged BPA-free ABS plastic material which seems pretty solid and durable. It’s the same plastic used in applications such as bumpers of cars. Durability might be an issue for the fact it’s still plastic but it’s sturdy and provided you don’t step on the delicate parts, the unit should be able to last for a fairly long period – the shell is capable of withstanding pressures of up to 250 pounds.
The only part that might not be so durable is the pump handle. It has metal reinforcement inside it which goes all the way into its base and even a little bit outward but it doesn’t fully continue all the way to the tip hence that top part feels slightly flimsy due to the plastic. There were those that reported that it sometimes wobbles back and forth a bit when the handle is fully extended.
Others reported that theirs did break eventually after a short while. You have to exercise caution when pumping water to avoid damaging the mechanism, especially when putting extra pressure in order to push water through the filter system – pushing the handle down directly (vertically not at an angle) can help avoid damage. The pumping mechanism also needs to be re-oiled occasionally, otherwise, it gets quite stiff.
Setting up the System
Setting up the Survivor Filter Pro is straightforward as it comes completely assembled. All you have to do is to remove the cup and then attach the pre-filter and the hoses which is a simple process.
First, you attach the pre-filter to one end of the inlet hose and then attach the other end to the intake point which is located at the base of the Survivor Filter Pro itself. From there, you attach the outlet hose to the outlet point on the top part of the circular internal ultra-filter module which is near the pump handle.
Once everything is attached properly where they are supposed to, and you’re ready to get started, you fully submerge the hose-clad pre-filter module into your target water source. You have to ensure the two adjustable floating discs suspend the pre-filter above the bottom section of the water source where all the mud and sediment are located.
A fast-running or a deep source of freshwater is always a good option but in case you can’t find either or your target source water is really dirty, you can wrap the pre-filter with a cloth to help pre-filter the water before it actually reaches the cotton pre-filter – this will prevent clogging and help it last a bit longer.
Lastly, you attach the clip on the outlet hose to the included cup or any other suitable water container to collect the filtered water. You may want to grab a hydration pack or water bottle because the provided cup is small and only suitable for quick sips. It’s about 2-cups in size and doesn’t allow you to carry water on the go.
When everything is set and ready, the operation is simple. You just place the filter on a solid platform and then begin pumping the handle up and down a few times until the water starts to flow steadily on each downward thrust.
Before collecting any water for drinking, you need to prime the system by allowing some of the initial water to pass through the filters to blow out all residual carbon dust and other trapped contaminants. There will also be some air to pump out initially, so it will take several pumps before you begin seeing anything happening but once the air is replaced with the water, you get a steady flow of water with every downward stroke.
The filter unit needs to be fully stabilized before you start pumping. The ABS house doesn’t feature any protective footing hence it’s easily scraped and can slip when it’s placed on wet surfaces.
You as well have to take care when setting up your collection vessel because the outlet hose is a little short (just 19 inches long). Generally, you’ll need to place all of the components close to one another and within reach of your target water source.
If you don’t have easy access to the water source, the alternative option is to fill up a separate jar with the unfiltered water, then put the pre-filter module into it and filter from there – this way you won’t have to worry much about the pre-filter getting submerged into the mud.
The package comes with everything. The two main filters come housed in the main filter body covered by the clear ABS cup while the external pre-filter and the tubes plus the floaters and the clip come sealed in plastic bags. They are all kept nicely in the provided waterproof pouch.
We found the filtration capabilities of the Survivor Pro to be much better than most of its competitors. It’s able to perform a more thorough filtration and remove more contaminants including microbial contaminants (viruses, protozoa, and bacteria), chemicals, and some heavy metals.
It’s a great option if you are looking for a very effective portable water filter for outdoor use, especially if you are regularly out camping, hiking, or traveling in the backcountry. It’s ideal too for preparing for worst-case scenarios or emergency/disaster situations where you need quick access to clean, freshwater.
The flow rate is pretty impressive, and setup, operation, maintenance are all fairly simple. Moreover, the unit is backed by a limited lifetime warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee. The company’s customer service is responsive and reliable, so you can easily reach them in case of any manufacturing defects or queries you may have and you can get help.
Things we like
- Very portable and convenient for outdoor activities
- Provides clean water with 3-stage filtration system
- Simple to draw water from the pump due to the decent flow rate
- Remove effectively a large amount of viruses, bacteria, contaminants
- Long filter lifespan and large filtration capacity
- No assembly required and quick replacement process
- Includes protective zippered pouch for easy carrying
Things we don't like
- No indicator for filter replacement time
- May be clogged after a few months of use
- The pump handle is not sturdy enough for certain pressure
Historical Price Chart
This is one-year-history price chart of the Survivor Filter Pro Portable Water Filter Pump.
Note: This price chart is provided for reference purpose only.