Drinking filtered, cool mountain spring water is about as good as it gets. In addition to providing a satisfying drink, the advantages are many—including less weight to haul from the trailhead and a limitless supply of vital H2O along the way. The one potential pitfall, of course, is that chugging water from unknown sources is an excellent way to get sick from pathogens or other contaminants. The portable remedy: a sturdy and reliable water filter. They’re critical for streams, puddles, and virtually any water source where you just wouldn’t want to risk it. Over the years, I’ve used water filters when traveling through Colombia, Colorado, and California’s Sierra Nevada. In all of those places, they’ve kept me hydrated and healthy.
Some filters are pump-activated while others require sucking dirty water through a straw after it passes through a filter. The former is time-consuming and the latter makes my face pucker up like I’m sucking on a lemon as I struggle to get the water to pass through the purifier.
Enter the GeoPress by Grayl. This highly effective and user-friendly water filtration bottle fixes both problems by using a two-part system. Part one consists of an outer bottle that you fill with dirty water. Part two involves an inner bottle that you then plunge into the dirty water (coffee press-style) which then pushes the water through a filter that meets EPA requirements and is certified to meet or exceed NSF/ANSI 42 (taste and odor) and 53 (health effects) standards.
It will take some elbow grease to plunge the bottle down and require a handful of seconds for a full plunge. The result of your efforts in this chemical-free process is 99.9 percent protection from viruses, bacteria, protozoa, chemicals, heavy metals, and other particulates like microplastics. It also improves clarity and taste.
Grayl recommends the use of these bottles for everything from “sketchy spigots, hotel sinks, murky rivers, wells, or lakes.”
Replaceable filter cartridges cost about $25 and are super compact (about 3×3 inches)—a portable bargain for capturing pathogens like a magnet as water passes through activated carbon. You’ll want to replace these filters after either 350 plunges or when it takes more than 25 seconds to complete a plunge—or after three years. Whichever comes first.
In addition to providing safe water from sketchy sources, Grayl’s GeoPress bottles are also virtually indestructible. Made from polypropylene, they can withstand being dropped 10 feet onto concrete while filled.
Another advantage GeoPress bottles have over other filters is that once the inner filter bottle is plunged, the freshwater inside can be transferred to another receptacle, such as a Grayl Earthwell Camp stainless steel cup. Once transferred, you can add whatever electrolytes or other flavoring you like.
I used both the Ultralight Compact GeoPress (16 oz, $69.95) and standard GeoPress Purifier (24oz, $89.95) in the Sierra Nevada, dipping from the river and filtering it right on the bank. After a few practice runs, I found it worked best when I leaned my body over the bottle when plunging the inner bottle. It will take some seconds, but the filter does slowly descend. There’s actually some comfort in the fact that it doesn’t descend too fast.
Ultimately, the proof is in the bottle—clear, portable, refreshing water that kept me hydrated and healthy.