Grayl UltraPress Review (Updated: 2023)

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The Grayl UltraPress is a pull-and-push water purification bottle that removes 99.99% of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, making water safe to drink.

This bottle provides a clean drinking water solution to people who enjoy hiking off the beaten path, providing safety and peace of mind in locations where clean water isn’t a given.

grayl ultrapress filtered water bottle by stream

Our Rating 4.5/5

📝 System Specifications

Capacity500 ml
Weight354 grams
Height9.75 inches
Base diameter2.95 inches
Filter technologyUltra-powdered activated carbon, ion exchange
Flow Rate3 liters per minute
Filter Lifespan300 presses
Filter Shelf Life3 years
MaterialsFood-grade silicone, BPA-free polypropylene, food-grade plastic

💡 Features

Compact and Slim

The Grayl bottle fits easily in a cup holder or small backpack, and is lighter than other bottles on the market.

Replaceable Purifier Cartridge

When the purifier cartridge has reached the end of its lifespan, you can simply swap it out for a new one.

Durable Design

The UltraPress can withstand drops of up to 10 feet, while full of water, onto hard surfaces like concrete.

Speedy Performance

You can get access to clean water from the Grayl in a matter of seconds, which you can use for filling hydration reservoirs or drinking straight from the bottle.

drinking from grayl ultrapress

🚦 Performance

I’ve judged the performance of the Grayl UltraPress on how effectively it removes contaminants, and for how long. Based on these factors, the Grayl bottle offers high-quality, reliable performance.

The bottle contains an ultra powdered activated carbon filter. Your average activated carbon filter can’t be used to remove tiny contaminants like viruses, but powdered activated carbon has delivered excellent results for bacteria and virus removal in tests.

The Grayl UltraPress offers the performance that any keen hiker should be looking for. You can add contaminated water to this bottle with the peace of mind that the filter will remove the dangerous stuff. Not only can the Grayl UltraPress water filter remove more than 99.9% of waterborne pathogens like bacteria, viruses and protozoa with its purification process, but this purifier bottle can also filter particulates, chemicals, and heavy metals.

You get long-lasting performance from the Grayl UltraPress, too – the filter is designed to last for 300 uses, although this depends on the number of contaminants in your water source.

Related: Best water filter for backpacking

high performance water purifier bottle grayl ultrapress in backcountry

👌 Ease of Use

There are two parts to the Grayl purifier bottle: the actual bottle, and a separate piece (the lid) that houses the carbon filter.

Compared to some other hiking water purifiers, the Grayl is very easy to use. You don’t need to prepare the filter manually or wait several minutes for the filtration process to take place.

You simply fill the bottle with water and insert the filter into the bottle. This creates a plunging effect that forces the water into the filter, which removes the harmful contaminants. At this point, you should twist the cap at the top of the lid to vent air during the filtration process.

It takes less than 10 seconds to filter water in the Grayl UltrPress and requires virtually no effort. Once you’ve filtered the water, you can either drink straight from the nozzle on the bottle or pour the filtered water into your backpack’s hydration bladder. Being small, lightweight and compact, the Grayl makes a great addition to your long-distance hiking gear.

using grayl ultrapress to filter water from stream

📝 Filter Info

The Grayl UltraPress contains an electroadsorptive activated carbon purifier cartridge and ion exchange media with a lifespan of 40 gallons. When water enters the filter cartridge, the activated carbon absorbs aesthetic contaminants, while the ion exchange media binds microorganisms to the filter.

Activated carbon works by adsorbing contaminants in its media, so eventually, the filter will become so clogged with contaminants that it’ll be ineffective. The clearer the water you use in your filter, the longer it’ll last.

You’ll know when the filter is reaching the end of its lifespan because the press time – the amount of time it takes you to press the filter into the bottle – will increase. Once the press time hits 25 seconds, you should buy a new filter.

grayl ultrapress filter cartridge

🧫 Contaminants Removed

The Grayl UltraPress is an extra-smart water bottle that can remove an impressive range of contaminants. Most water bottles that use carbon filters can’t purify water in the same way that the Grayl filter can. Chemical removal is a given with carbon filters, but removing waterborne pathogens isn’t.

You can find a list of the contaminants removed by the Grayl water bottle below:

  • Viruses (including Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Hepatitis A) – 99.99%
  • Bacteria (including E. Coli, Salmonella, and Dysentry) – 99.9999%
  • Protozoa (including Cryptosporidium, Giardia and Amoebae) – 99.9%
  • Particulates (including sediment, microplastics and silt)
  • Heavy metals (including chromium, lead and arsenic)
  • Chemicals (including benzene, chlorine and chloroform)

🔧 Assembly & Maintenance

Assembling the bottle is easy because there are only two parts: the bottle and the lid (which is connected to the filter). Simply press the filter into the bottle and screw the lid in place.

The biggest maintenance task required for the Grayl UltraPress is filter changes. You should change the filter when the press time exceeds 25 seconds, or after three years. You can buy single packs of replacement filter cartridges online for about $25.

To reduce the frequency of filter changes, the manufacturer recommends pre-filtering dirty or cloudy water in a t-shirt before filling the bottle. This will remove sediment and dirt.

Even if you don’t use the Grayl UltraPress regularly, you should still change the filter after three years, when it reaches the end of its shelf life. Using the filter after this time may prove ineffective.

Aside from filter changes, you should clean the UltraPress after every time you use it. Cleaning involves performing a “dry press” – pressing the purifier into the empty bottle and getting rid of any excess water. Leave the filter for up to 4 days to dry thoroughly, which will prevent a buildup of odors and mildew while the filter is in storage.

All the other parts of the bottle can be hand-washed with warm, soapy water. To store the bottle for several months, assemble the bottle with the filter inside to create an air-tight seal.

grayl ultrapress water filter bottle parts

🔔 Pros & Cons

👍 What I Like

  • Very easy to use
  • No waiting around for water to filter
  • Small and compact – would fit in a small fishing pack pocket or gear bag
  • Purifier cartridge has a long 3-year shelf life
  • Can drink straight from the water bottle cap
  • Fast flow of clean water from the cap
  • Tested to meet EPA standards for microbiological water purifiers

👎 What I Don’t Like

  • Filter clogs easily if you use sediment-heavy, dirty water sources
  • There are only four muted colors to choose from
  • Quite expensive at nearly $100

✈️ How I Use My UltraPress

I make several backpacking trips to Latin America per year, and my UltraPress always comes with me. I’ll typically spend around a week backpacking off the grid, and I’ll use my UltraPress whenever I come across a source of water.

Closer to home, I spend many weekends hiking and camping in the backcountry in Colorado. Again, my UltraPress comes with me. I store it in my backpack pocket and use it whenever I can, and clean it out once I’m back home.

portable water bottle filter grayl ultrapress in backpack

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Water Can the Grayl UltraPress Purify?

The Grayl can produce purified water from almost any water source, but the filter can’t desalinate water, so you shouldn’t use it with saltwater. It’s best to use the cleanest water in the bottle – i.e. water from streams and rivers, rather than from lakes and ponds – to prevent fast clogging of the filter.

How Does the Grayl Prevent Cross-Contamination?

As long as you keep the spout cap firmly shut, the water inside the bottle won’t become contaminated from untreated water or other environmental elements.

Is the Grayl UltraPress BPA-Free?

Yes. The UltraPress is made from food-grade silicone, BPA-free plastic, and thermoplastic polymer.

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  • Brian Campbell
    Founder, Water Treatment Specialist

    Brian Campbell is a water treatment specialist and water expert based in Denver, Colorado. He's always been obsessed with water quality, and has spent years testing all kinds of treatment devices from simple pitchers and portable devices to complex whole home systems.

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