Basin and Range Field Test: The GRAYL Water Filtration Cup

Portable GRAYL Water Filtration System adaptable for all conditions & comes with its own bottle.

With a market full of new wave water filters that integrate water filtration systems directly into the drinking vessel, outdoor enthusiasts have less and less reason to carry traditional standalone water filters anymore. Add to this growing list of integrated water filters with the recently introduced GRAYL Water Filtration Cup.  Today on Topline, we field test the GRAYL and give you the beta on this new Seattle based player in the market.

Grayl’s system does have a different form factor than other “filter & bottle in 1’s” out there. Their design makes use of a double-walled bottle that’s similar to a coffee french-press. Instead of pressing your coffee grounds though a simple mesh filter, the GRAYL filters out pathogens and impurities through a replaceable filter system contained in the base of the inner press, and all you have to do is push the inner cup down inside of the outer cup to get the job done. The water passes through the filter and it’s safe to drink once the inner cup is pressed fully down and filled with water. There’s no sucking, pumping or UV-exposure necessary.

GRAYL’s filtration technology uses a three-layer filter called the G3+ which uses an electro-adsorption process that’s built up from an ion-charged mesh matrix. This mesh serves as a pathogen magnet, pulling bacteria, protozoa and viruses out of the water.  All the while, the traditional carbon layer pulls out metals, chemicals, odors and flavors to give the water a clean taste.  Last the anti-microbial layer inhibits bacteria, mold, fungus and mildew growth between uses.

For those who crave the little details, here’s the breakdown of effectiveness based on which filter you attach.

  • Tap – ($15): designed for use at home, which removes chemicals and particles from tap water, making it taste great, averaging $0.10 per liter.
  • Trail – ($20): which removes everything the Tap filter does, along with 99.99% of bacteria, and 99.94% of protozoan cysts (like Giardia and Cryptosporidium), averaging $0.13 per liter.
  • Travel – ($40): which removes everything the Trail filter does, but goes up to 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.999% of protozoan cysts, and additionally removes 99.999% of viruses, averaging $0.26 per liter.

Basin & Range Field Test

Before we broke into the GRAYL, we were immediately taken by their minimalist and creative paper based packaging. There are no plastics used in the packaging and the all-cardboard housing is constructed to fit the GRAYL like a glove. The “un-boxing” takes on the tone of discovery as you make your way into it.

Once we got our hands on the GRAYL, it was easy to see the evidence of their attention to detail. From the removable water filters to the stainless mouthpiece, you can tell some heavy engineering was put in by the design team. The inner system and cap pieces are made from 18/8 stainless steel (chemical leaching free), while food grade silicone seals the BPA-free plastic filter shell.

There’s not much to using GRAYL’s water filtration system.  They’re not kidding when they advertise it to feel like your french-press style coffee maker.  It really is as simple as plunging the inner cup down into the outer silicone ‘drinking vessel.’  We used the GRAYL in a variety of conditions – from everyday tap water to stream water from Colorado’s front range for the tougher test.  The GRAYL excelled in each scenario – successfully removing any unpleasant tap water tastes from our kitchen sink sourced water as well as keeping us dysentery free on local hikes.  It’s functionality delivered as promised.  After a quick scoop of stream water and 20-30 seconds of plunging, the water was ready to drink – regardless of initial quality.

Coming from a history of using a traditional standalone ceramic filters, GRAYL’s system stood out to me in several ways.  First there was the sensation of the time saved by not going through multiple preparation steps.  Gone were the tricky minutes spent sourcing a water pool with just the right depth to properly float the hose intake.  Also gone were the long pumping sessions spent gingerly pulling in water into the hose to not disturb the inlet, while the output spittled clean water into the Nalgene.  Granted – it always worked, but it was always pitifully slow.  With the GRAYL, there was maybe 20 seconds of steady plunging before you were ready to drink.  That’s it.  There’s no unpacking or repacking with the GRAYL – it already serves as your water bottle.  Lastly, there’s minimal cleanup required. Whereas, with my old ceramic filter, I needed to watch it for multiple signs of uncleanliness that if left unattended to, would put the user at risk.