Grayl Geopress Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Super easy to use, fast filtration, durable design, amazing water quality
Cons: Bulky and heavier design, can't purify large quantities of water quickly, low cartridge lifespan
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The GEOPRESS impresses us with its ability to turn the most polluted sources into potable water. Filtering 750 mL of water in under 20 seconds, it stands out as one of the fastest and easiest water purification systems out there. It is built as a bottle with a purification system built-in. While it's not our first choice as a backpacking purifier because of its heavier weight and bulkier design, it is our favorite for traveling abroad where you don't want to buy a huge number of plastic bottles.
Grayl claims that this water purifier is fit to clean water from places all over the world. Unlike regular filtration systems, it goes beyond removing just bacteria, protozoa, and particulates. It can also remove heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic in addition to viruses and microplastics. Essentially, this covers most water pollutants that you'd find in some of the most questionable sources in all the world. The purification cartridges supersede EPA standards, offering reliable water purification for anywhere in the world. So, with these claims, we decided to put the GEOPRESS to the test.
The water basin that surrounds the town of Ouray in Colorado is severely polluted by heavy metals, including arsenic and cadmium. The waters flow yellow, with no signs of life as the water is acidified from both natural and human-made influences. When we saw this, we thought, what a better place to test a purifier that claims it can clean water from anywhere in the world?!
Scooping up the water, it reflected a disgusting hue of yellow, indicating that the water in our bottle was indeed polluted with heavy metals. We thought that this color would stick around, and the loss of the color would be a great indicator that the cartridge could suck up the metals with its ion exchange and activated charcoal technology.
As we started to press, we saw that the once yellow water was being pumped out as clear. To our surprise, when we finished the purification process, the water smelled better, the color was gone, and we drank some. It tasted clear and delicious. While this river is not our first choice as a great source for water, it sure did prove a task for this system to filter. We are happy to report that water quality is amazing and unmatched when it comes to this system. We'd recommend it just for what Grayl advertises. This makes it the best option out there when it comes to heavy pollution.
Durability and Maintenance
The bottle is manufactured from a heavy and durable plastic material that stood up to our basic durability tests. We toted it around on the outside of a backpack while traveling in Canada, threw it inside our backpack, and even dropped it, completely full, from different heights. We tried to break it, but it, alas, withstood our physical tests.
Reliability is of enormous importance, especially when traveling in places where questionable water is flowing through the taps, and you want to ensure your water is of good quality. From our preliminary tests, we think that the infrastructure of this bottle is pretty sound. The exterior bottle has a thicker plastic, while the internal container is made of thinner plastic. Our only worry would be this plastic breaking under extenuating circumstances. Another potential concern is the seal of the bottle. The integrity of the design is hinged on that seam remaining intact. While we didn't see any signs of this being an issue, and we haven't read about that online either, it's something to think about.
Maintenance is also simple with this system. The cartridge is deemed to last 350 presses (or 65 gallons/250 L). If the press time significantly decreases, it's time to replace it. This is quite a short lifespan for a cartridge. If you're traveling a lot, this might be a recurring expense to consider. Another big qualm is that there is no cleaning option. They simply say to take it off and rinse it off. In turbid water, be sure to prefilter.
Grayl claims a bottle treatment time of about 8 seconds. We performed three different tests, pushing down on the bottle with steady force and we found treatment (with tap water) to be around 18 seconds on average. While this isn't as fast as the claimed time, it's still super fast to get water into a bottle that can be drunk easily after filtration.
When treating water in murkier or high sediment sources, this treatment time decreased significantly. Especially turbid water sources exist in many areas of the world. While this isn't a deal-breaker, it's good to know that you'll have to put more muscle into filtration with these sources.
Weight and Packability
When we first got the package, we were surprised at the size of this bottle. It's bigger than a 1-liter Nalgene bottle and weighs about 19.4 ounces, which is pretty big. At first glance, we said, "We'd never use this for backpacking, it is way too big!". However, when looking at the online reviews, we learned that many people are doing just that. When we started using it, we also understood why some people dealt with a bulkier and heavier bottle as a trade-off for convenience and ease of use.
That said, this is definitely not our first choice for backpacking adventures; however, its use isn't completely negated in this setting. Most people need to carry a water bottle while backpacking anyway, and while this is larger and heavier than the typical bottle, it offers both a filter and a bottle in one system. In addition to backpacking, it has better use while traveling. It has a nice carabiner clip so it can either be clipped onto a backpack (if you don't mind a bottle swinging around) or it can fit into a larger and more forgiving water bottle sleeve. Since it is watertight (it doesn't leak), you can also put it inside a backpack, upside down or on its side. For those that want an ultralight setup and are limited in space, we don't recommend this bottle.
Overall, this bottle is heavy and isn't very packable, earning it a lower score in this category. It's not our top choice for backpacking, but if you don't mind carrying the extra weight, it sure does make water purification easy on-trail. We recommend it for use while living or traveling in countries where water purification is necessary since it is so easy to use.
Ease of Setup
This is an easy to use water purification system. There are no complex parts or pieces, and no steps that you need to memorize.
Simply, find a water source. Turn on a spigot, a tap, find a puddle, river, or lake. The bottle has a smaller bottle with the purification cartridge nested inside the larger outer bottle. Pull this bottle out. This does require a bit of muscle because of the seals, but rotating the cylinders in opposite directions helps with this process.
Next, fill up the outer bottle. Shallow puddles and tall banks are the hardest water sources to gather from. You must be able to reach your water source. Collect your water. Then, find a surface that you can press the filtration unit down on. Ideally, this is an even surface.
If you can't find one, put your backpack down, and use that as a flatter surface. Next, reinsert the interior bottle insider the outer bottle. Put the lid on, open the vent (by rotating the top of the drinking spout), and get ready to press. Overall, the set-up is pretty simple.
Ease of Filtration
Other Grayl products have been much harder to press than the GEOPRESS, but we are happy with how easy this system is to use in most cases. As mentioned, turbid water is harder to press through the purifier.
The large bottle has an increased surface area that allows water to flow easily through the purification cartridge. To filter the water, simply place the meat of your palms on the rubberized press grips along the top of the cap. Using the weight of your body (to avoid pressing with your arms) with either straight or partially bent arms, press down on the system. When the internal bottle has been completely pushed down you're done! Now it's time to drink 750 mL of water…in just 18 seconds (in our tests).
This costs enough that you want to be sure it fits your needs (for most folks, international travel) before buying. It offers versatility and reliable water quality anywhere you might go. It's important to consider that the cartridge life is much lower than many other filtration systems, so be prepared to drop some cash when it comes time to replace the cartridge (after ~350 uses), which is much shorter than the average filter life. On a price per liter spectrum, this is one of the most expensive products per liter value over time. Some might find the value worth it, given its so easy to use and makes polluted water completely accessible.
Is travel to far off lands with questionable water sources on your horizon? The Grayl GEOPRESS provides a purification solution that is unmatched by any product on the market. While heavier and bulker in design, it's quick and easy use makes 750 mL of water in under 20 seconds. It's fit to be used anywhere in the world, removing all contaminants including heavy metals, microplastics, chemicals, and biotic organisms. If you're going to choose a filter that you can trust all over the world, this is our top recommendation.
— Amber King