Water Purifier Comparison: The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO and The Berkeys

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water purifier comparisonThe saying “two is one, one is none” is common in military and survival circles, and for good reason. The principle is especially true when considering water purification, as most people can function effectively for weeks with little food while they require water in greater and more frequent quantities.

Today’s water purifier comparison includes two filters that are appropriate for the home or car. They are a bit large for normal backpack carry, though they could be hand carried for some distance if necessary.

The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO

I snatched up a Sawyer Point ZeroTWO for just over $100 and so far I am impressed. The filter is simple, although it requires a five-gallon bucket to work as designed. The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO kit includes a drill bit that can be used (without a drill) to attach the filter to the bucket (see below.)

Sawyer with Bucket
Photo by Sawyer

The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO uses gravity to purify water. Users need only fill the five-gallon bucket with collected water, then unhook the filter from the bucket and hold it above a second container. The bucket of “dirty” water will obviously need to be placed on a shelf, or, in the wilderness, attached to a tree or improvised platform to allow gravity to do its work.

Also included in the kit is a syringe that is used to “clean” the working mechanisms of the filter. The instructions are well written and this system could be set up “on the fly.”

For the price, this filter is outstanding, and Sawyer advertises it is good for 100,000 gallons! The manufacturer states that the Point ZeroTWO “offers the same level of protection against bacteria and protozoa, and is the first portable filtration device that removes the virus mechanically. It has a removal rate of 0.02 micron absolute with a record rate of 5.5 log (99.9997%), the highest level of filtration available today. This small and light kit filter can provide up to 170 liters of drinking water per day for a hospital, camp, etc..” (This is presumably in comparison to the PointONE specs.)

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Berkey
Photo by Berkey

The Berkeys

Berkey’s counter-top filters, like the Big Berkey pictured here, are constructed of highly-polished stainless steel and come standard with two purifications elements. Two additional purification elements can be added (for just over $100.) The basic two-filter Big Berkey costs around $250. It can filter 3.5-7 gallons of water per hour, depending on configuration, up to a total of 6,000 gallons.

In addition to aesthetic and durable construction, the Berkey systems are powerful enough to remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, and parasites. They can even remove harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, radon 222, and trihalmethanes. They can reduce nitrates, nitrites, and metals such as lead and mercury. Berkey states that “this system is so powerful, it can remove food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs.”

Comparative Pros and Cons, and Strategy

Berkey Systems are certainly  more durable and powerful, with a price tag that reflects such. They are not easily transported by hand, and extra purification elements are necessary beyond 6,000 gallons of water filtered.

Sawyer’s Point ZeroTWO, like the Berkey, is a bit bulky to move by hand once attached to a bucket, and can filter 100,000 gallons. They are not as powerful, though the drinking water is clean and can sustain life. These filters are not as durable as the Berkeys, and will require gentle handling in a wilderness environment to avoid damaging them. They are not overly fragile, but survival living can be rugged and care should be taken.

Ideally, I would like to have several gallons of tap water stored, perhaps in a closet or the garage, a Berkey on the countertop, and a Sawyer ZeroPointTWO waiting with my other gear. Cost (as always) is a factor, but the possession of multiple solutions brings invaluable peace-of-mind because “two is one, and one is none.”

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I'm the original Survival Mom and for more than 11 years, I've been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more with my commonsense prepping advice.

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11 thoughts on “Water Purifier Comparison: The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO and The Berkeys”

  1. A simple forest vs trees comment regarding water sources and storage…

    For people bugging in (my Wife’s health and a very elderly infirm Mother makes this choice for me)…I rarely if ever see this mentioned…Maybe it’s so obvious there’s no need…But, then again…FYI and consideration…

    One obvious but overlooked source of fresh water everyone already has is the 30-50 gallon water heater tank we all have in the basement or utility closet…If the city water stops flowing or becomes contaminated or unsafe, shut off the main inlet to the house to avoid contamination and drain down the tank…The 30-50 gallons of water in your heater used for drinking and food prep only will last a few days, long enough to locate or setup another means of sustained supply…

    I also bought two of those large bathtub storage bags I’ll fill immediately upon warning of an incident…Or, just fill the tub and treat as any raw water, boil or run it thru your Berkey, etc…

    And if you have a hot tub/spa…Same process as any raw, untreated water…

    Don’t forget these on hand water sources…

  2. The Berkey filters do not need to be replaced after 6,000 gallons. You can use them again and again simply by cleaning them, and cleaning is easily accomplished with a non-abrasive cleaning pad and water.

  3. We love our Berkey. But neither of these deals with hard minerals. I will occasionally soak the spigot in vinegar to clean off the calcium deposits, rinse out the containers with vinegar & a little scrubbing, and it is possible to gently scrub the outside of the filters to remove the calcium.
    When we visited family in a city without hardwarter I was amazed at how much faster their Berkey filtered than mine, then realized it must be time for a clean out again.
    The other one sounds nice also.
    We tried the survival still but were not happy with it, so we will just keep on with the Berkey.
    Best wishes for clean water.

  4. Berkey’s are not allowed in California, but there is a simple solution. You can purchase the guts of the system from the “InternetPrepper”, they will ship to CA. Then simply install in a 2-bucket system. Video’s are available on You Tube. No, I am not affiliated with the company, nor have I done business with them.

  5. I’ve been using a Sawyer Mini, backpacking, through some very rough treatment and water conditions, and it has held up really, really well. When it clogs, usually because of sediment, the backwash procedure cleans it out and it is pretty much as good as new. I’ve taken to doing the backwash after every three days of use. It just takes a few minutes. The Sawyer MINI does not have the flowthrough output that the PoinZeroTwo has, but wow… for $20, it just beats all competition. It is inexpensive enough to have one or two as backups.

  6. Do all water filters have this limitation?:

    In the directions for the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System it says not to use the unit if it freezes.

    I tried asking the company about this but received no response.

    Is this just when there is water in the filter, or even when it’s bone dry?

    Such a hangup could make this a worthless bit of equipment if a simple freeze disables it. Wouldn’t you say?

  7. I thought of you, The Reluctant Prepper, when I read this:

    Official Berkey Response to Toledo Ohio Algae Bloom
    Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:55

    “Based upon the above Internet research, Black Berkey™ element microbe and
    organic chemical removal test data and the information provided by the EPA in
    their reference material cited above; these all suggest that Berkey® water
    purification systems should be extremely effective at removing and reducing
    contaminates resulting from the current algae bloom.”….

    [I’d post the URL but those don’t seem to be making it through moderation.]

    1. The Berkey removes almost everything from water, including fluoride which most water filters don’t… I’m pretty sure iron would be no problem for it.

  8. Just thought I’d post a quick reply to the person who asked about the Sawyer Mini vs. freezing. Even though the question was posted some time ago, on the chance that it may help someone, here is my understanding, as for the Sawyer Mini and freezing: before you first use the filter – say it’s stored in your bugout kit & it gets below freezing – it’ll be fine, as long as it’s never been used. Once it’s been used, it takes a long time to dry completely, and of course there are a thousand variables here, but it’s safer to assume that the filter still has some moisture in it,no matter what. If it is then allowed to freeze, the filter membrane/media will be destroyed by the freezing, expanding water. This doesn’t make it “useless” in a survival situation (although obviously, it would be nice to not have to worry about it), because there are many easy ways to keep something so small (and vital) from freezing. As an Army medic, when we went out on patrol, I would take my IV fluids and hand them out to some of the guys, so they could put them inside their jackets, keeping them warm (ish, anyway) and ready to use. I think the mini is an outstanding value, and a good filter by any measure, and they’re so small that it wouldn’t be too big a deal to have to carry it somewhere warm. All of that said, I think you’re going to run into the same stipulation with any filter that uses this type of media. I don’t know how the ceramic filters work, but maybe that’s a better option for you. Personally, the small size, ruggedness, and a price that enables me to have a couple spares on hand, makes it worth it to me to just make sure it never freezes after its first use. And, I realize it sounds like I work for Sawyer – I do not, nor do I have any affiliation with them. When I come across products that I really like, I want to share that experience, because I’ve saved a lot of money & even more frustration by reading reviews before I buy anything. Anyway – that’s my understanding with this particular issue. Be alert and be safe –

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