Best Gravity Water Filters Guide 2017

Best Countertop Water Filters 2017 Big Berkey ImageGravity water filters are one of the most useful and convenient ways of filtering water for the needs of multiple people. Ideal for getting the cleanest water possible in your home, or as an ideal camping companion, the gravity water filter allows for water to be filtered by simply pouring it through the top, after which the force of gravity does the rest of the heavy work! Requiring no electricity or manual pumping and equipped with high-tech modern filtration system, these gravity water filters are capable of removing almost all harmful contaminants, including bacteria, protozoa, particulates, chemical contaminants, and more!

But how to find the ideal gravity filter for your needs? Depending on what type of water you’re trying to filter, how many people you want your filter to serve, and what your overall water usage needs are, you will want to know some important details and look out for the right features to get the countertop gravity water filter that best suits your needs.

Berkey Water Filters

Everything You Need To Know About Gravity Water Filters

In this in-depth review and comparison, we’re going to take a look at five of our favorite gravity countertop water filters on the market. This article is the second installment in our Best Gravity Water Filters series, with the first article Best Gravity Water Filters 2015 released in April of that year.

Keep reading to see our complete countertop water filter reviews. Or use the index below to jump right to whatever interests you most!

Main Index

Berkey BTX2-BB Travel
Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filter
2 Black Berkey Filter Elements
Up to 2 filter elements
1.5 Gallon Capacity
18" Tall in Use, 12" Tall in Transit
2.75 Gallon/Hour Flow Rate
Filter Element Lifetime 3,000 Gallons
Filters Any Freshwater Source
Buy on Amazon
Alexapure Pro
Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filter
1 Hybrid Ceramic Shell Filter Element
Up to 4 filter elements
2.5 Gallon Capacity
22.5" Tall in Use, 14" Tall in Transit
2.3 Gallon/Hour Flow Rate
Filter Element Lifetime 5,000 Gallons
Filters Any Freshwater Source
Buy on Amazon
Propur Big Countertop
Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filter
2 ProOne G2.0 7" Filter Elements
Up to 3 filter elements
2.75 Gallon Capacity
21.5" Tall in Use, 12" Tall in Transit
1.8 Gallon/Hour Flow Rate
Filter Element Lifetime 1,200 Gallons
Filters Any Freshwater Source
Buy on Amazon
Gravity Filter & Water Distiller
1 0.2 Micron Ceramic/Carbon Filter
Single Filter Element
3.5 Gallon Capacity
0.5 Gallon/Hour Flow Rate
Filter Element Lifetime "1,000+" Gallons
Filters Any Freshwater Source
Distills ANY Water Source
Buy on Amazon

#1 – Berkey Imperial Countertop Gravity Water Filter IMP6X2-BB Imperial Berkey Countertop Gravity Water Filter Unit

Berkey Water Filter

(Find the best deals and prices on Berkey Filters at the Berkey Website.)

Probably the premiere name in the world of countertop gravity water filters, Berkey has a huge line of gravity filters made to suit a variety of needs. While the sizes, shapes, and colors of different Berkey models varies, what stays consistent is their exceptional filtration quality. Berkey countertop gravity filter systems are equipped with removable filters which can be set up in different configurations to get the specific type of filtration you need.

For example, right out of the box, the Imperial Berkey is equipped with four filters of two different varieties: two Berkey “Black” filters and two fluoride filters. (Note: The Imperial Berkey we are linking to includes a bundle of 2 Black and 2 Fluoride Filters, however, different distributors offer different numbers and combinations of filter elements for the same Berkey models.) This is an ideal configuration for filtering your home water supply. For those who want even more comprehensive filtration, the Berkey Imperial can be equipped with up to 6 filter elements in total. Regardless of if you use water from the tap, a well, a catchment tank, a local water source, or even if you need to drink from flood waters or muddy puddles in an emergency, the Berkey has the filtration power to make your water not only potable but even delicious.

About the Filter Elements

Berkey Black FIlter Element and Fluoride Filters
Berkey Replacement Filter Elements

Generally, the combination of the Berkey Black and Fluroide/Arsenic filters is the ideal configuration for general purpose use. The Berkey Black filter does most of the heavy lifting, providing the main filtration element which is capable of removing >99.9% of bacteria, cysts, protozoa parasites, as well as tackling particularly tricky-to-remove viruses and other nasty microbes from your water. It also traps all particulates from dust and leaves to microscopic contaminants. Meanwhile, the fluoride and arsenic filters trap not only those specific compounds but also remove heavy metal ions from the water.

If you were to primarily use your Imperial Berkey for at-home use where your only concern was cleaning up the tap water, areas with added fluoride, a particularly difficult to remove element, will find the the PF-2 fluoride and arsenic filters to remove undesirable additives while preserving the general taste of the water. In contrast, if you use it outdoors to filter water from a stream or well, you could likely get by without any particular noticeable change by using only the Berkey Black filter elements.

But, in general, I would recommend the full Monty. Drinking water filtered through our Imperial Berkey with the configuration of 2 PF-2 fluoride/2 Black filters leaves tap water tasting as delicious as we’ve ever had it. Generally, we leave our Imperial Berkey on the counter and fill it up regularly as out main source of drinking and cooking water. The 4.5 gallon capacity does a great job of accommodating this by providing enough space not to need constant refilling throughout the day.

Imperial Berkey Info Diagram with 4 Filters Gravity COuntertop filter systemIn terms of longevity, the Berkey does a pretty good job. The PF-2 Fluoride/Arsenic filters are rated for 1,000 gallons of use or 1 year. The Black Berkey filters last much longer, up to 6000 gallons, but periodic cleaning (wiping the element and flushing it) is recommended for maximum lifespan. With the Imperial Berkey, you need to replace the Fluoride/Arsenic filters about every 222 refills, while the Black Berkey elements will last up to 1,333 refills! With a full replacement set of 2 Black/2 Fluoride elements only costing about $140, overall this is a pretty good bargain and very respectable filter lifetime.

We have never felt the need to beef up our Imperial Berkey’s filtration so we have never experimented with using more than 4 filters, despite the fact it can accommodate up to 6 filter elements.

The list of everything the Berkey filter elements have been tested for is way too long to list here. For a comprehensive list, see this page on the Berkey website which includes detailed information on the Black Filter elements. For more information on the PF-2 Fluoride/Arsenic filter, see this page from the Berkey website.

The Imperial Berkey IMP6X2-BB Disassembled with Two Black Berkey Filter ElementsBerkey filters have the neat feature of being compatible with many other types of countertop gravity filters, from within the Berkey brand and with other brands. One draw back of the Berkey Black filters, however, is the fact that they must be primed before first use or after extended periods of not being used. Priming requires a sink or hose which affixes to the Black Berkey filter element. For those without power or running water, priming a Black Berkey off grid is slightly more of a challenge, but certainly not a deal-breaker. Berkey offers a manual, hand-operated Black Berkey Priming Pump, specifically for this purpose.

A previous version of this article mentioned that priming the Black Berkey filters might be a challenge off-grid, but the folks at Berkey offered us these helpful tips:

  1.  While the flow rate will be much slower to start, in reality the Black Berkey elements can be used without priming them first.
  2. The Black Berkey elements can be primed using a Berkey Sport Bottle.
  3. Without submerging the element stems, they can be soaked in a bucket of water for several hours.
  4. The Black Berkey Primer can be used to prime the elements.

Using the Imperial Berkey IMP6X2-BB Water Filtration System Everyday

IMP6X2-BB Imperial Berkey Countertop GravitY water Filter In Two Halves on SideWhen it is time to refill the Imperial Berkey, we don’t have to wait long to get some drinking water. It takes a little bit for water to get moving through the gravity filter system if it is allowed to run dry, but the Imperial Berkey excels at getting filtered water out quickly. Some gravity filter systems take a long time and suffer from poor flow rate, but the Imperial Berkey’s ability to filter up to 5 gallons of water per hour is actually quite impressive. The Berkey website claims that when properly configured, the Imperial Berkey can provide water for as many as 200-400 people a day in an emergency situation, but serves the need of 4-8 people for normal everyday usage.

Definitely more than enough for the water needs of your average household. The flow rate is dependent on the type of filters installed. The Black Berkey filters seem to filter water much faster, with the Arsenic/Fluoride filter slowing down the process a bit. From the Berkey website: “[c]onfigured with 6 Black Berkey® Purification Elements, the Imperial Berkey® System can produce up to 16.5 gallons (62.5 liters) of purified water per hour.”

Berkey Countertop Gravity Water Filter Stainless Steel StandIn terms of durability and build quality, the Imperial Berkey is built like a tank. Made from high quality stainless steel, it doesn’t impart any flavor to the water it filters or holds, even if you leave water in it for extended periods. Berkey’s quality engineering really shines with the Imperial, which is brilliantly easy to use to the point of being self-explanatory. It is important to note that the Imperial is a very large countertop gravity filter, weighing around 13 pounds when empty and standing 26″ tall when fully assembled and in use.

Our Berkey actually stands at a full 32″ in height on out contertop, since we use a stainless steel stand which is about 6″ tall. Certainly pretty big, so make sure you have the space for it, or opt for a smaller model. Also, we don’t recommend trying to handle the Imperial Berkey when full, as it can weigh nearly 50lbs. When disassembled, the upper chamber slides into the lower one for a single unit which is 17″ tall, much easier to tote around. Always empty and disassemble the Imperial Berkey for easy transport.

Red Dye Filtration Test

The Red Dye Test is both a useful way to make sure your Berkey Black Filter elements are working properly and also an impressive demonstration of their filtering abilities. The manufacturer recommends testing your Black Berkey filter elements by adding red food coloring into water in the upper chamber and looking for red coloring in the filtered water that gravity carries into the lower chamber. In a functional Berkey gravity filter, the red coloring should be completely eliminated.

Check out this brief video from Berkey about the Red Dye Test to learn more and see a Berkey countertop gravity filter in action.

The Pros of Priming

Although the additional step of priming might seem like something of an added hassle, this is actually very much a feature and not at all a drawback. While the benefits of priming might not be immediately obvious, we were lucky enough to touch base with Dave Shepherd at New Millennium Concepts (the company behind the Berkey filters,) who shared with us this very interesting information about the Berkey’s priming feature:

Boy Dispensing Water From Berkey Countertop Gravity Water Filter“We consider priming a pro and not a con. It is a major requirement that the filter elements can handle real-world scenarios. While some filter elements require long-term storage in water and must be replaced if they dry out completely, Black Berkey® Purification Elements can be reprimed. The benefit is that in an emergency situation, the user does not need to pamper the filter elements, or be worried they could stop working and lead to potential exposure to contaminated sources. … Other systems that do not require priming indicate that if the filter ever dries fully then the filter is rendered useless. Not so with the Black Berkey Purification Elements. This is a major disavdavantage to other systems that do not require priming.”

This is a very important fact to consider if you are weighing the pros and cons of a system with priming versus without. The more you know!

Manufacturer Direct Deals

Berkey often offers exceptional deals on their products at their official website. Take advantage of discounted stock, frequent sales, and exceptional customer support by working directly with the manufacturer and cutting out the middle man.

Complete Review of Berkey

For much more on Berkey filters, read our comprehensive review of the Big Berkey, Travel Berkey, and Imperial Berkey.

#2 – Berkey BTX2-BB Travel Gravity Countertop Water Filter (~$230)

The Berkey BTX2-BB Travel Gravity Water Filter Disassembled

Info chart for the Berkey BTX2-BB Travel Gravity Water FilterIn many ways, the Berkey BTX2-BB Travel is a scaled-down version of our #1 pick for best gravity water filter. With the same high quality stainless steel construction and Berkey engineering, the BTX2-BB wins all of the accolades we awarded our #1 pick.

It also makes use of the same Berkey filtration elements. However, whereas the Berkey Imperial offered the ability to use up to 6 filter elements, the Berkey Travel only offers the ability to use up to two filter elements. Out of the box, the Berkey Travel is equipped with two of the powerful general-purpose Berkey Black Filter Elements, an ideal configuration for tackling water sourced from non-potable outdoors locations like rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds.

Having only two filter elements cuts the size and cost of the Berkey Travel compared to its big brother the Imperial. Fortunately this downsizing does little to diminish the high-quality filtration on offer. Equipped with two Berkey Black filters, the Travel is capable of removing >99.9% of bacteria, cysts, protozoa, parasites, and other nasty microorganisms. The filters are capable of removing a huge range of pollutants and chemicals, including things like pesticides, organic solvents, nitrites, lead, mercury, and much more.

Importantly, the Berkey Travel cannot be equipped with the PF-2 Arsenic/Fluoride filters, so it cannot be made to filter fluoride. The Berkey PF-2 filters must be used in conjunction with an equal number of Black Berkey filters, and PF-2 Arsenic/Fluoride filters are not designed to be used independently.

Sized For Portability – Camping & Outdoors Water Filter Companion

Berkey Travel Countertop Gravity Water FilterSo how much smaller is the Berkey Travel? When in use, it measures 18″ in height, a full 8″ shorter than the Berkey Imperial. Empty, it weighs a modest 6.5 pounds. However, its storage capacity is only 1.5 gallons, definitely a bit on the small side. Thankfully the Berkey Travel has a great flow-rate, like all Black Berkey Filters, offering up to 2.75 gallons per hour at maximum filtration flow rate. According to Berkey, this is ideal for the daily needs of about 3-5 people, although in an emergency situation the Berkey Travel can be configured to provide for 33-66 people a day.

Equipped with the standard configuration of two Black Berkey filter elements, the filter lifetime is a very impressive 6,000 gallons, or around 4,000 refills of the Berkey Travel’s compact 1.5 gallon capacity.

The Berkey Travel does a great job of living up to its name. It is an ideal companion on a camping trip, or a must-pack in your boat or RV. In an emergency, the Berkey Travel could literally save dozens of lives. But even for plain old every day use, the Berkey Travel comes in handy to make your water as delicious and tasty as can be or reducing your need to pack a huge amount of water on your camping trip. Instead of lugging gallons of water down the trail, the Berkey Travel can provide water for your whole camping party and collapse down about 12″ in height.

Berkey Filters tend to have excellent sales and great deals including options like their discounted Scratch & Dent models which have minor cosmetic flaws but are still completely functional. Check out the Berkey Filters website to see what kind of savings are available.

#3 – Alexapure Pro Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filtration System (~$184)

Alexapure Pro Stainless Steel Countertop Gravity Water Filter

Alexpure Pro Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filter Sitting On Kitchen CountertopAlthough a little known brand, our testing of the Alexapure Countertop Gravity Water Filter has revealed it to be a great buy – and a bargain. With a sub-$200 price tag, it offers some exceptional filtration quality that stacks up to our top picks. Not only that, Alexapure’s filter elements are 100% Made in the USA.

Able to be equipped with up to 4 filters, the Alexapure advertises its ability to filter from “any freshwater source.” This means that it’s suited for making water potable from rivers, streams, ponds, even stagnant puddles. It can also seriously spruce up the taste of your tap water, removing weird flavors, odors, and discoloration. All the water we drink through our Alexapure tastes delicious.

Filtration Testing

Alexapure Pro Gravity Filter element
Alexapure Gravity Filter Replacement Element

The Alexapure filter elements are described by the manufacturer as “unprecedented, super-filtration power of an all-new gravity block core with a hybrid ceramic shell.” Capable of removing >99.99% of bacteria, cysts, protozoa, and other microbes, as well as tackling chemical contaminants, particulates, volatile organic contaminants, heavy-metals, fluoride, and more.

It does a great job of stacking up to our #1 and #2 picks in taste testing. We’ve tested putting exceptionally dirty, brown, muddy water in all of the gravity filters in this review, and ultimately the Alexapure and the Berkey were indistinguishable in a blind taste test.

The Alexapure has been independently assessed by Envirotek Laboraties, Inc.

In terms of supply and capacity, the Alexapure holds 2.5 gallons of unfiltered “raw” water, and 2.5 gallons of filtered water for a total of 5 gallon capacity. Standing at 22.5″ in height, the Alexapure is fairly tall but conservatively sized for a countertop gravity water filter of its capacity.

Filter Lifetime & Flow Rates


Although the Alexapure can be equipped with up to 4 filter elements, it ships with only one element installed out of the box. The filter elements are rated for a respectable 5,000 gallons of usage and cost roughly $100 on Amazon. Installing multiple filter elements works to beef up the filtration and also shares the load among the filters, improving filter lifetime.

An Alexapure countertop system equipped with 2 filter elements would not need replacement until after 10,000 gallons, whereas one equipped with 4 elements could last a full 20,000 gallons before requiring replacement. With its basic configuration with a single filter element, the Alexapure can filter about 250 of its 2.5-gallon refills. In order to achieve maximum filter lifetime, it may be necessary to occasionally clean off the filter elements with water and a non-abrasive pad. This is typical of these types of filter elements. If you notice a reduction in flow rate, try cleaning the element. If this does work, it may indicate it is nearing time for replacement.

Looking Inside Alexapure Gravity FilterOne downside of the Alexapure is its comparatively low flow rate of 2.3 gallons per hour. This is about .4 gallons slower than the Berkey Travel, and a full 2.7 gallons slower than the Berkey Imperial. While only marginally slower than the Berkey Travel, in practice the difference seems more substantial than these numbers suggest. It definitely does not fill the lower reservoir in an hour – maybe three quarters. We are using the manufacturer’s advertised specs for these numbers, so it is possible our Alexapure actually has slower flow rate. In any case, even after extensive use (it is typical of a gravity filter system to be slow during the first usage as the filter element(s) get saturated) the Alexapure’s flow rate has remained rather slow. However, it is not slower than some of the other gravity filters we tested which did not make this list.

If you’re looking to save some money but still have a great high quality countertop gravity filter system, the Alexapure is definitely a top-notch pick. It might not be as robust, feature rich, or huge as the Imperial Berkey we named #1, but it is also substantially cheaper, and capable of getting the job done admirably. Most importantly: the water looks and tastes delicious!

#4 – Propur Big Stainless Steel Countertop Gravity Water Filter (~$260)

Propur Stainless Steel Gravity Water Filter

Propur Stainless Steel Countertop Gravity Water FilterLike our #3 pick, the Propur Big with ProOne G2 Filtration comes from a relatively unknown brand. However, their quality product has stacked up with the best. Constructed from high quality durable stainless steel and equipped out of the box with two of Propur’s silver-infused G2 filter elements, capable of tackling a range of contaminants from microbes to additives like fluoride.

With a pricetag floating around $250, the Propur is a bit pricier than our #3 pick, yet it is important to point out that its includes two filter elements to the Alexapure’s single included element. A 2-element Alexapure would raise the price an additional $100, putting it on roughly an even price point with the Propur.

Putting up a solid performance in all of our testing and always producing some deliciously clean water, the Propur Big has earned itself a solid #4 spot on this list, despite a few concerns about its filter elements’ longevity.

Putting the Propur Water Filtration System to the Test

Propur ProOne G2.0 7
Propur ProOne G2.0 7″ Gravity Filtration Element

The Propur’s G2 filtration elements come backed up with quite a bit of testing, conducted by the same Envirotek Labs which tested the Alexapure. Available through the Propur website are four reports on the Propur’s filtration: Chemical Reduction Test, Microbiological Reduction Test, Microcystin Reduction Test, and Mineral Test Report.

These reports lend strong scientific claims to the Propur’s capabilities. It is effective at reducing >99.9% of bacteria, eliminating potentially harmful contaminants like cysts and parasites, traps particulates, filters heavy metals, and even gets rid of additives such as fluoride. Overall, we commend the ProOne G2.0 filtration elements as doing a pretty fantastic job of filtration.

In our muddy water test where we compared all gravity filter systems in this review in a blind taste test after filtering them with some nasty murky water, the Propur was one of the models which was indistinguishable in blind taste testing from our #1 pick.

Propur Countertop Gravity Water FilterAlthough the filtration quality is great, one area where the Propur falls somewhat short is in filter lifetime. The ProOne G2.0 7″ Filter Elements are only rated for 1,200 gallons or 12 months of use. This is substantially less than the Alexapure’s 5,000 gallon capacity, or the Berkey Black elements 6,000 gallon capacity.

Equipped with the standard two filter elements as it arrives out of the box, the Propur Big can filter 2,400 gallons of water before needing a replacement element, or 872 refills of the Propur Big’s 2.75 gallon capacity. If desired, the Propur Big has space for an additional filter element, for a total of three.

In terms of dimensions, the Propur Big is 21.5″ inches tall, an inch shorter than the Alexapure, but has an oddly wide diameter at 9.25″, making it nearly as wide as the 10″ diameter Imperial Berkey which has nearly twice the capacity. The Alexapure, in comparison, has a diameter of about 8.75″. Overall, the Propur Big looks nice in our kitchen and sits comfortably on the countertop without issue, and collapses nicely for transport down to just 12″ tall. If portability is a concern, visit our #2 pick, the Berkey Travel.

Flow Troubles

Propur Gravity Water Filter SpigotSetting up the ProPur Big is something of an endeavor. The “priming” process takes approximately 48 hours to complete, until which you cannot use it. After conditioning, flow rate is initially slow, but never improves much. Overall, the Propur Big has a pretty mediocre flow rate, with it taking around 5 hours to fill up the Propur Big’s 2.75 gallon capacity. We would estimate the flow rate to be something like 1.8 gallons per hour, a pretty significant drop from the Berkey Imperial’s 2.75 gallons per hour. This is noticeable: it is a slow gravity filter. We use our own estimates because flow rate is not mentioned in Propur’s advertising, perhaps because they are aware of its relatively slow performance.

Not only that, there seem to be some common concerns about the reliability of the Propur’s flow rate. We have noticed this ourselves, and seen many reports of it in reviews and on forums across the web. The Propur only really achieves maximum flow rate when the unit is very near full. As the water level goes down, so does the flow rate. This means that, unless you don’t mind filling it up all the time, your Propur is gradually getting slower as it filters.

Still Not Bad A Bad Countertop Water Filter

Propur Countertop Gravity Filter Models
The range of different Propur sizes and models

Despite these flow rate frustrations, the Propur is still a great unit and performs some fantastic filtration, leaving water clean and delicious. It provides exceptional filtration and has a reasonable price point, although the relatively low filtration lifetime might leave you replacing filters more often, the quality of the filtration will remain high with proper maintenance. With a pair of replacement filters running around $140 for about 2,400 gallons of lifetime, it is definitely a bit steep compared to some options, but for those with the budget, the quality of filtration is superb when the filters are within their lifetime. Be sure to clean them off with a non-abrasive cloth and a rinse to maximize lifetime.

Propur offers several other sizes (pictured right.) We’ve been focused on the Propur Big, which is the one we’ve had a chance to review in our own kitchen. This range of sizes is rather unusual from a brand of countertop gravity water filters, and provides a great chance to get the size which best suits you and whatever you household (or campsite, or boat, or R.V. or…) needs!

#5 – Emergency Survival Water Distiller and Gravity Water Filter Combination GRAVI-STIL (~$300)

GRAVI-STIL Gravity Water Filter and Distiller

GRAVI-STIL Distilling WaterThis combination still and gravity filter, the so-called “GRAVI-STIL” is quite a unique product. In some ways, you might say it doesn’t belong on this list, but we think it does! Incorporating a high quality gravity filtration system with an emergy water distiller, this is one of very few products on the market capable of rendering water completely potable from literally any source.

Salt water stops the best filtration systems in their tracks. Yet with a distiller, you can evaporate any water, even the dirtiest sea water, into something clean and drinkable. A truly remarkable asset for anyone whose nearest water source happens to be brackish or sea water, the GRAVI-STIL could be easily worth its weight in gold should an emergency strike.

The Gravity-Powered Ceramic Water Filter

Replacement gravity filtration element for GRAVI-STILThe gravity filtration element in the GRAVI-STIL is comprised of a 10 micron pre-filter for removing debris and particulates and a 0.2 micron silver impregnated ceramic element as the main filter. This is ideal for removing bacteria, cysts, and parasites, with the antibacterial action of the silver combined with the microscopic pore size smaller than many bacteria.

Unfortunately, the flow rate is low, and the filter lifetime is lacking. The GRAVI-STIL’s gravity filter produces just 1/2 gallon per hour, and the filter is advertised with a “1000+ filter lifetime.” Although this is quite a low lifetime, the filter elements make up for it with bargain pricing: a new filter element is only about $20. So, although the filter lifetime might be a fourth of its competitors, the replacement filter’s price point is as well.

We could not locate any independent testing of the filter’s capabilities, as it does not appear to be provided by the manufacturer. They state that it is an activated carbon and ceramic filter element, but little other information is provided. In our taste testing, water from the GRAVI-STIL tastes good, although the filtration quality is definitely discernibly less than other filters on this list.

The At-Home Water Distiller

The real benefit of having the GRAVI-STIL is its distiller. While you can get a better standalone countertop gravity water filter, the combination is unique, and having a water distiller at all is a pretty unique thing. Not to mention an immensely useful one. The GRAVI-STIL can produce 8-10 cups per hour at full steam. That’s a little over half a gallon of water an hour – purified from any source, be it the dirtiest puddle you can find, the great blue ocean herself, or a brackish pond.

By far the best way to get a feel for the GRAVI-STIL and its distillation process is to see a demonstration of it in action. Watch the YouTube clip below, produced by manufacturer SHTFandGO, to see how the GRAVI-STIL comes together.


Our Water Filter Review & Testing Methods

Testing Methods GraphicOur primary testing method has been real-world assessment and everyday use testing. We have been evaluating each of these filters for six months or more, using them daily and comparing them to each other. Filters were assembled, primed, flushed, tested for extended periods, disassembled, had filters replaced, and were tested and evaluated for durability and ease of use. The gravity filter systems included on this list are not all of the filters that were evaluated, only those chosen as the best.

The primary qualifier was a blind taste test with five tasters participating. Muddy water from a puddle was filtered through the top 4 filters in this review (the GRAVI-STIL system did not participate in the taste test,) plus three additional competitors. The 4 winners, included in this comparison, were indistinguishable from each other after filtering the muddy water, containing no color, odor, or bad flavor.

Who Needs A Countertop Water Filter?

Young woman drinks water filtered through gravity filtration systemThe gravity water filter is a vital tool for generating enough potable water for groups or families. Unlike small personal filters or temporary camping filtration systems, the gravity water filter is designed for the long haul. Capable of filtering thousands of gallons from virtually any fresh water source, quality gravity water filter systems can be relied upon for fresh, filtered water for drinking or cooking for years at a time.

Gravity filtration systems rely entire on gravity (some models have optional manual pumps to assist in increasing the flow rate if necessary, for example in an emergency situation.) This makes them ideal to have around in emergency situations, or while camping or just enjoying the great outdoors. In an emergency, gravity water filter systems can be configured to provide filtered water for the needs of entire communities and can become a vital and literally life-saving tool.

But a gravity water filter does not need an emergency to become a useful investment. If you want to improve the taste and quality of your home water, whether you draw from a tap, rely on catchment, well water, or even local streams and ponds, a gravity water filter on your home’s kitchen countertop can make your water delicious and healthier, removing both funky tastes and odors and potentially harmful contaminants.

Whether you use it to open up completely new water sources that previously wouldn’t have been potable, rely on it everyday to make your tap taste delicious, or just have one or two stashed away should an emergency strike, a quality gravity water filter is something everyone can make use of.

Preparing and Maintaing Your Countertop Water Filter

Various sizes of countertop gravity Berkey water filters in stainless steelTo get the most from your gravity water filter system, it will require some initial preparation and occasional maintenance. Typically this takes the form of an initial “priming.” The priming process takes place as the filter elements become saturated with water. In some gravity filter systems, this process can take multiple days to complete. Other systems require pressure assisted priming, such as Berkey Black filter elements. These elements connect to a hose or faucet for rapid priming that only takes a few seconds or minutes at maximum.

After priming, flush the system with a few gallons of water before using the filtered water.

The interior of your water filter system should be flushed with water and wiped out. Treat it as you would wash a normal stainless steel kitchen item. However, always use care to ensure no soap is allowed to touch the filter elements. Contaminating the filter elements with soap will ruin them and require replacement.

Periodic cleaning of the filter elements in certain types of gravity filters can help improve longevity and ensure maximum filter lifetime. You may clean the exterior of the filter elements by removing them and gently wiping them with a non-abrasive cloth. You may rinse them with cold water. Do not use hot water, and do not use soap or any type of cleaning agent.

The most common sign of a filter approaching the end of its lifetime is a reduction in flow rate. If your gravity filter system begins slowing down noticeably, try washing off the filer elements. If after washing the flow rate does not improve, it likely indicates that the filter element is approaching the end of its useful lifetime and will require a replacement. Try marking the dates when you replace filters and estimate your average water usage to predict when you’ll need to replace filters so you can order them in advance.

Always consult the manual of your new gravity filter system before use. Follow the specified instructions to ensure proper use and to get the most from your investment. Every gravity filter system has minor differences, so it important to consult the documentation!

Other Water Filtration Options

Didn’t find what you were looking for on this list? Be sure to visit our previous year’s Best Gravity Filters 2015.

One excellent alternative or smaller-scale solution for getting the best water filter for your home use is a water filter pitcher. These convenient devices store and filter your home water supply. They can fit comfortably into the refrigerator to be kept chilled, and offer a range of features and some impressive filtration options. To explore water filter pitchers, read our Best Water Filter Pitchers Comparison & Reviews guide.

If you know you want a quality water filter but want something a bit more portable than what a countertop gravity system offers, check out our articles Best Portable Water Filters For Camping & Hiking or our Filtered Water Bottle Buyers Guide.

You can also always find the latest and greatest reviews on different filtration products in our Water Filters & Purifiers Reviews category.

Happy hunting! If you need any advice on which filtration system to pick up, please drop us a line in the comment and we’ll be happy to address any questions or concerns you might have!

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Find the best countertop gravity filtration system on the market with the help of our in-depth exploration of our top five options.

9 thoughts on “Best Gravity Water Filters Guide 2017”

    • Hi Carole,

      The Zen Water was named our #3 top pick back in 2015’s Best Gravity Filters. As a filter it does a good job. It also mineralizes your water, which can be useful in some places but unnecessary in others. As far as its claims of “alklaizing” water and other alternative health benefits, we are highly skeptical. However, as just a gravity countertop water filter, it does a pretty good job.

  1. Any particular reason why you specify the imperial version of the Berkey over the Big Berkey? I assume the only difference (if you plan to use just 4 filters) is volume? The Imperial is quite large for a kitchen countertop, so was planning on the Big Berkey. Assuming the only downside is filling it up twice as often, I would prefer this size. I already know it can produce clean water faster than we can drink it. Shame they have devised an auto fill option, so we can plum it in and never need to fill it.

    • Hey Dennis, thanks for your question.

      You are correct. The primary difference between the Imperial and Big Berkey is the size and the number of filter elements. This is generally true of all the Berkey models – since they all use the same type of filter elements, the main choice to make is what size you want and how many filters you need. There are only a few minor differences between each model.

      We selected the Imperial Berkey as our #1 pick because of its additional space and the flexibility offered by being able to use up to 6 filter elements, as opposed to 4 with the Big Berkey.

      I’d suggest going with whatever suits your and your households needs best. If space economy is important, you’ll definitely get great service from the Big Berkey or even smaller models.

  2. Excellent review. I’ve read some best reviews of Berkey water filters from USA. It’s sold through its Malaysia website Berkey Water Asia Store
    I recently bought one travel size Berkey and it was easy and portable to bring along my travel from hotels to remote work sites like oil rigs. My work colleagues love the great tasting water from the Berkey. I bought another counter top berkey water filter and it’s been efficient andeconomical. For me this is possibly the best gravity water purifier in Malaysia.

  3. This is a really thorough review of the systems. best i’ve seen yet so thank you! I see that you’ve linked to all the test result available online….have you ever tested any of these systems yourself? I ask because as i’ve read through all the blogs & forums regarding these gravity based systems, people have mentioned that Berkey may have falsified their test results, they won’t get NSF certification & their filters break quite frequently leaving you drinking unfiltered water. I also personally reached out to Propur about them not getting NSF 53 cert & they say that their in the processes of getting it but the team at NSF doesn’t support that. I’m getting frustrated trying to find one of these systems that i can trust so that’s why i was wondering if you or anyone else has every had the output water from any of these systems tested

    • Hi Leif,

      Thanks for your inquiry. Yes, we have had an opportunity to test these systems ourselves. We have spent a lot of time with the Berkey units in particular.

  4. Yes, I kind of have the same questions. Why the imperial or travel berkey over more common sizes like the big or royal berkey?

  5. This is a really thorough review of the systems I’ve seen yet so thank you!
    I purchased a Travel Berky last week from Amazon. I needed to watch a YouTube video to figure out how to set up, which took maybe 30 min to do. But after that, it’s perfect. The steel containers are sturdy and the filter really does clean the water better than any other system I have used.


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