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12 Best Water Filter Reviews 2021 | What You Need to Know

by Carl Jensen

Plumber, Welder, Contractor

> 2 min read

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 filtration system types and budget considerations to think over when purchasing, before diving into a comprehensive list of the best water filter products that the market has to offer.

Read our in-depth water filter reviews. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s my top water filters without much context:

Top Choices on the Market

How Do I Pick the Right One For Your Needs?

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.

Type


There are three basic types of water filters: pitcher, portable, and fixed units.

1. Pitchers

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.

2. Portable

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.

3. Fixed

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.

Budget


There are water filters 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.

Construction


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 to replace the filter 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 replace the filter.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why You Need a Water Filter at Home

People can drink tap water. They can also buy bottled water at the store. So, why do you need a water filter system at home? In short, because it’s healthier for you and it saves money!

If you read water filter reviews to find the right product, you’ll notice consumers saying how affordable their systems are.No matter what type of filtration equipment you buy, it will probably be cheaper than buying plastic bottles of water each week or month. If you aren’t buying water now, you’re probably drinking tap water. But why?

Tap water usually tastes terrible. It can also contain harmful particles and even bacteria and viruses. Most of the time, municipal water is downright gross—even if it’s within specs for what your city or county says is safe. If nothing else, you’ve probably noticed that your tap water smells like chlorine.

That’s because the city treats it—to neutralize the contaminants and help make it “healthier.” Right. We’ve already established that water filters at home are cheaper than bottled water. And your resulting H2O will probably taste better than the tap.

But by filtering your water at home, you can also skip drinking out of plastic bottles—which is better for the environment and your health.

2. What are its advantages?

1

The fact that the water tastes better!

If the flavor is a priority for you, whether you like drinking water or not, then filtration could help improve your hydration experience every day.

2

You won’t see a lot of buildup or limescale in your sink, shower, cup, or hair and skin.

With a whole-house system or at least an under-sink one, you can run fresher water that doesn’t leave mineral deposits or make your skin feel chalky.

3

Drinking cleaner water can also support your health. 

Of course, if you’re on a hiking trail or camping in the woods, safe water is clearly the goal. But even if you’re a city dweller who’s just not sure about water quality, water filters give you peace of mind.

4

Filtration can make water smell better, taste better, look better, and even hydrate your body better.

You can avoid too much fluoride, excess lead, and potentially toxic chlorine by filtering your water.

So, depending on the type of filtration you select, you could be:

  • Improving the flavor of your water
  • Balancing the pH of your H2O
  • Removing pathogens and viruses
  • Lowering VOCs
  • Preventing your body from working too hard to filter its hydration
  • Lessening your impact on your local wastewater treatment facility
  • Saving money on staying hydrated
  • Avoiding the ingestion of plastic particles via water packaging

3. What are water filter types?

No matter what your needs, there’s a water filter to fit! Here are the different types and what each one offers.

1

Whole House

If you’re looking for a water filter for home, a whole-house option might be the perfect fit. Whole-house filters tie into your plumbing, usually in the basement (or wherever you can cut the pipes to fit it).

These are permanent filtration setups that usually require very little maintenance. You might need to change a filter every six months or so, but some can go as long as two years.

2

Under Sink Water Filter

Under sink water filter systems are convenient because they install quickly. You can find different types of filtration in these units, from reverse osmosis to a simple activated carbon filter to improve the taste of your tap water.

Under-sink units can have water storage reservoirs, but they’re not included with every unit. Some have their own faucets to install, too.

3

Countertop Water Filter

A countertop water filtration system is an excellent solution if you’re renting a house or want to travel with clean water.

These systems are often gravity-fed, but they can use power, too. Many require a specific type of faucet because you must attach the hoses to your existing sink. Others are pour-and-filter, where you fill an urn and gravity does the filtering.

4

Water Filter Pitcher

Pitcher filters are popular for people who don’t drink a lot of water—or those who want it cold. Some people also use pitchers to pre-filter their water before running it through a more intense filtration process.

Pitchers are portable and handy, but you can expect to change the filters often—and you’ll need to refill each day at least.

5

Faucet Filter

Faucet filters take a bit of time to install, but then you have conveniently filtered water any time you turn on the tap. Of course, you can switch it off, too, for filling the sink to wash dishes or for watering the plants.

Sink compatibility is key here, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right faucet if you’re choosing an adaptor to filter your water.

6

Water Filter Bottle

Water filter bottles are popular with travelers and really anyone who drinks a lot of water while they’re away from home.

You can fill your bottle at any tap (and sometimes even in nature) and know that you’re sipping safe water. These types don’t usually have higher-level filtration, though. Read labels carefully if you plan to hike or save these bottles for emergencies.

7

Backpacking

Backpacking water filters are often heavier duty than bottle filter options. These packable water purification systems take filtration seriously, and that means protection against protozoa, viruses, bacteria, and all kinds of contaminants.

Backpacking filters can come in handheld versions, pump types, and even straws.

4. What is Filtered Water?

Filtered water refers to any water that has passed through a form of filtration.

So, what does that mean?

In general, filtered water undergoes at least one stage of filtration, but more likely multiple. Filters catch particles and hold them back as water passes through. The result is cleaner water that has fewer contaminants, including elements that affect the flavor of your H2O.

Filtered water may still contain some minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other elements. It all depends on the type of filtration and the size of particle that can pass through.

5. Which is better -Filtered Water vs. Tap Water

Tap water is what comes from your pipes, of course. But what’s in tap water—and how is it different than filtered water?

Tap water can contain things like fluoride, minerals, sediment, and chlorine. In fact, many municipalities treat the community water supply with chlorine to “clean” it—and fluoride for the purported health benefits.

Many tap water sources involve hard water that doesn’t taste good to drink. Calcium and magnesium are often the heavy elements that make water “hard.” Filtered water, however, removes many of those things: fluoride, minerals, soil, chlorine, and more.

Related: Shower Heads List | Brita | EHM Pitcher

6. How Do Filters Work?

Water filters claim to remove all types of contaminants and particles, even down to .0001 microns—and that’s super small!

But how do filters work?

Well, it depends on the type of filter. But in general, filters are physical ‘screens’ that block larger particles from passing through. A semi-permeable membrane lets water go through—and particles of contaminants stay behind.

Filters can contain things like:

  • Activated carbon granules/activated carbon—these filter toxins out and attract heavy metals, and they can also contain wood or coconut shells
  • Reverse osmosis filtration uses filters with small pores to get the most particles out
  • Ultraviolet light (UV) filters kill microorganisms through light rather than physical filtration
  • Ion exchange (IX) filters remove particles from the water based on their ionization
  • Physical filters have small holes, but they resemble fabric material and can appear visibly dirty when clogged

Some filters rely on gravity to pass the water through each membrane. But some—like reverse osmosis filters—apply pressure to complete the process. If you choose a gravity-fed filtration system, the water will trickle through the unit accordingly. But with a reverse osmosis unit, it will pump water through the system.

Related: Pool Vacuum Reviews

7. How Often Should You Change or Replace Your Filter?

Most drinking water filtration systems have filters that require changing pretty often. But by often, we mean about every six months.

Some products—like pitcher filters—will need to be changed more often. Their smaller capacity means you run through a lot of water—and thus, need clean filters sooner. But some systems—like reverse osmosis equipment—can go two years without needing a filter change.

In general, though? You won’t have to put much effort into replacing your water filters. A quick check-in once every two or three months is usually enough.

Best Water Filter Reviews – (Updated List 2021)

1. Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System -  Overall

FEATURES

  • Great for hair and skin
  • Includes filtration tank, pre- and post-filter, fittings, supports, and shut-off valves
  • Removes organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, and VOCs and other Industrial solvents
  • Removes lead, mercury, and chlorine from tap water which can be a good drinking water

PROS

01

Great for Whole Home

The Aquasana ‘Rhino’ (as it is referred to in some of the descriptions) Filtration System doubles down on that by being a very thorough, high quality, and quality assured water filter in that circumstance.

02

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.

03

Thorough removal of contaminants

Design makes the chamber quite thorough at removing contaminants, particular chemical ones and especially chlorine.

CONS

01

Installation

If you do not have the basic skills of plumbing and installation of drinking water filters like these, you would need to hire a professional to do it.

2. Express Water Heavy Metal Whole House Water Filter - Best Whole House Filter

FEATURES

  • Great for hair and skin
  • High flow design; can supply up to 0.25 gallons per second
  • Removes organic chemicals like lead, mercury, chlorine, and VOCs and other solvents
  • 3 stage whole house unit
  • 1 year warranty

PROS

01

Less expenses

As mentioned above, whole home water filters 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.

02

Easy Exchange

They are easy to find, get to, remove, and replace, which is an excellent feature for water filters 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.

03

Heavy Duty

If the Rhino specialized in reducing chemical contaminants, the Express Water Whole House specializes in reducing heavy metals.

CONS

01

Pressure Drop

A noticeable pressure drop is experienced in the line. Line should also be checked to see if there are some leaks in the pipes. Check the sizes to see if you need to buy additional fittings.

3. Aquagear - Water Filter Pitcher- For Drinking - Best Filter Pitcher

FEATURES

  • Removes 2000% more contaminants than Brita
  • Premium Design
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • BPA Free
  • Reduces chlorine (taste and odor), copper, mercury, zinc and cadmium impurities found in tap water

PROS

01

Ideal Size

While it has a satisfyingly large tank size, it is also small enough to fit in most standard refrigerators, keeping cool drinking water on tap any time.

02

Good Design

Overall design is sleek and trim, which is easy to use for quick filling of drinking water glasses at the flip of the nozzle

CONS

01

Small Capacity

The primary issue is the size. There are mixed testimonies about whether the longer lasting ones also fit this model but the company claims that the triple capacity will last longer than the competition.

4. Big Berkey BK4X2 - Countertop Water Filtration - Countertop

FEATURES

  • Eliminates Parasites, Viruses, Cysts And Pathogenic Bacteria
  • Separates Harmful Chemicals Such As Herbicides, Pesticides, VOCs, And Other Organic Solvents
  • Remove Food Coloring

PROS

01

Large Capacity

The Berkey Gravity fed filtration system 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).

02

Thorough Process

They are rated to remove everything from bacteria and cysts to chemicals to parasites, VOCs, and radons, completely purifying the water. 

03

Sturdy

Entire filtration 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.

CONS

01

Taste

This filtration system does not filter water to a tasteless, odorless pure water as described. But compared to other water filters, it is still one of those on top of my list.

5. iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage Superb Taste High Capacity - Under Sink

FEATURES

  • Alkaline Remineralization 
  • Capacity Of 75gal Per Day
  • Easy Installation With Design That Fits Perfectly Under A Standard Kitchen Sink
  • Restores Minerals And Makes A Balanced Alkalinity Which Is Beneficial To Health

PROS

01

Multi-stage filtration technology 

The 6 stage filtration system is the standout feature of this water filter. The 5 stages is roughly equivalent to a reverse osmosis system in terms of how thorough it is.

02

Reintroduction of minerals

The remineralization of calcium and Magnesium (Ca+ and Mg+) are reintroduced and provides you the water that you are seeking when you go for a clenching glass.

03

Passed tests

This product has passed rigorous tests before being launched to consumers. It is our recommendation for under sink use.

CONS

01

Heavy unit

The iSpring unit is relatively heavy. It can be harder for some who will do their installation themselves.

6. Brita 20 Ounce Premium - Double Wall Insulated Stainless Steel - Filtered Bottle  

FEATURES

  • For Hiking, Travelling, Backpacking, Running, Climbing, Survival, Camping
  • Leak proof
  • Outdoor bottle
  • Improve the flavor of already drinkable water

PROS

01

Removal of small contaminants

This bottled water filter is perfect for removing even the most elusive bacteria. It can replace up to 1800 single plastic bottles each year. It can ideally last for up to 40 gallons or every two months. 

02

Cheap 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.

03

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.

CONS

01

Need to be constantly cleaned

Some users say that after some use, mold starts to grow on mouth piece. This can be prevented with constant use and cleaning. But for those who want a simple get-and-go bottle, this can be a hassle for you.

7. JTTVO Water Bottle with Filter for Tap 4 Stage for Backpacking

FEATURES

  • Removes harmful contaminants
  • Improves water taste and eliminates odor
  • 4-Stage Filtration System
  • BPA-Free
  • Built-in Compass on the top

PROS

01

Filtration

Medical-grade filtration makes JTTVO’s bottle combination the top choice for backpacking available. The filtered bottle removes chlorine in tap water, but it can also reduce chemicals, metals, and even protozoa.

The .01-micron membrane should definitely remove nearly everything. As an add-on , there’s medical-grade cottonantibacterial beads, and coconut shell activated carbon can really contain unwanted contaminants in the water. .Its multi-layer filtration makes the water safe for drinking. 

CONS

01

Straw use

Drinking through the straw can take a bit of effort, but it’s necessary since the filter is in the straw. If you have trouble with straws in general, this bottle might not be ideal.

8. Brita COMINHKR063772 White - Best for Faucet

FEATURES

  • 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 water
  • Attaches to your standard faucet and capacity of every 4 months

PROS

01

Thorough 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. 

02

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.

03

A lot of 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.

CONS

01

Severe Model Disparity

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.

9. Clearsource Ultra Pristine Water. Unparalleled Protection

FEATURES

  • TrailerLife Magazine's "Essential Equipment For RV Camping"
  • Rugged, industry-exclusive
  • First stage removes sediments
  • BPA FREE tritan bottle , tough, 5-year shelf life
  • Second stage removes chlorine, volatile organic compounds, cysts, giardia, and other contaminants

PROS

01

RV Specialized

RVs are one of the living arrangements with the biggest need for a water filter like this. You never know what you’ll find next or how contaminated wherever you set up is. 

02

Easy Install

The Clearsource filtration system hooks up via two simple connectors for water in and water out, which is perfect for the get up and go lifestyle of RVing.

03

Thorough 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).

CONS

01

Low GPM

The gallons of water 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.

10. Aquasana Shower Water Filter System w/ Handheld Massaging

FEATURES

  • Reduces chlorine, lead, mercury, iron, hydrogen sulfide, and other volatile organic compounds
  • Clean kids and pets with ease
  • Attached 5 foot shower wand
  • Improves air quality
  • Easy setup between your water source and connection to RV and capacity of 10,000 gallons of water or six months

PROS

01

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.

02

Durable Construction

Chrome plated stainless steel and a flexible, 5 foot hose make this shower head good at its base job, if a bit basic.

03

Reduces contaminants

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.

CONS

01

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.

11. ZeroWater 10 Cup Round Water Filter Pitcher, clear

FEATURES

  • Five stage water filtration
  • NSF certified
  • Removes 99.6% of total dissolved solids
  • Certified BPA-free by LG Chem
  • Pour Through Water Certified to Reduce Both Lead and Chromium with 10 cup volume

PROS

01

5 Stage System

The 5 stage unit is the standout feature of this pitcher style water filter. 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.

02

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.

03

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.

CONS

01

Short Life

These water filters 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.

12. PUR Ultimate 18-Cup Water Filter Dispenser with Lead Reduction Filter,

FEATURES

  • Reduces 99% Lead & 22 other contaminants
  • Sturdy design
  • Sleek and slim profile
  • WQA certified
  • Lead Reducing pitcher

PROS

01

Thorough 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.

02

Slim 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.

03

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.

CONS

01

Short Life

It is only rated to last for 40 gallons, or 1-2 months of use depending on your usage. This is significantly less 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.

Final Verdict

Aquasana 10-Year, 1,000,000-Gallon

There are a few standout models on this best water filter list, depending on your needs. The Aquasana Rhino and Express Water are the water filters 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 other water filters 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).

Carl Jensen

About the Author

Carl Jensen is a plumber with over 50 years of experience in the industry, as well as related jobs like underwater welding. He runs a successful plumbing practice in Tampa, Florida, and contributes his plumbing expertise to our DIY articles, and helps to fact check and consult on most of our other stuff to boot.

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