Posted by Katie Sharp // May 15, 2024

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Filter, Sip, Repeat: My GRAYL Travel Companion


I recently found myself drinking water of indeterminable source from a stranger in an Uber. Hold on, it’s not as gross as it sounds. See, I was parched. Truly, truly parched. Like unslakable thirst parched. Stuck in heavy traffic on my way to Cape Town International Airport (CPT), I realized I’d made a big mistake. I had purposely left the Airbnb without filling my water bottle.

My logic was simple: since CPT was less than 30 minutes away, I could always get more water after reaching my gate. I certainly didn’t want to reach the security line and wind up either a) chugging to finish my water while avoiding awkward eye contact with impatient airport security or b) forgetting to drink it and risking permanent separation from my new travel buddy. My new travel companion, you see, is a filter bottle: GRAYL’s 16.9oz UltraPress® – Nature and its accompanying purifier cartridge, to be specific.

What I didn’t know before leaving for the airport was the way devastating weekend traffic could build up in Cape Town with seemingly no end. My Uber driver and I were stuck at a crawl in nearly 80º weather. The car windows were down, and the AC was decidedly not on. I quickly regretted my choice to leave without water. Upon asking, I learned that although the driver didn’t have any of those small, sometimes-offered-by-Uber-drivers backseat water bottles in stock, he was kind enough to offer me some water from his own one-liter bottle. Why not, I thought and poured some of his bottle into mine. While I’m not usually the type of person to slurp from a stranger’s water bottle, I knew my filter had my back. Throughout my vacation leading up to that moment, I had already become well acquainted with the bottle’s main selling point: want for clean water and GRAYL will provide.

For the duration of my two-week trip, I purified my drinking water of potential waterborne pathogens like bacteria and viruses, including E. Coli, Dysentery-causing Shigella, and norovirus; as well as environmental pollutants like heavy metals and microplastics. What’s a little backwash compared to all that?

The GRAYL filtration technology is cool, and the instructions are easy to follow. Whenever I had water of questionable potability, I only needed to separate the larger outer cup from the inner press, fill that outer cup with water, then push the vented inner press down into the cup to fill the inner press with potable water, which the lid and spout screws onto. The first time I used the bottle, I learned that it’s a lot easier to push the filter down if you open the cap to really vent the bottle and let air in. I practiced with clean tap water before I left but had no issue when it came to filtering the real deal. I found it easiest to place the bottle on the floor or a counter and then lean my full weight on the bottle to speed up the process. The bottle has a rubberized bottom to keep it in place when filtering, but I had a friend who had an easier time with it—he could use just arm strength without setting it down.

Apart from my backseat quick filter, I also used my bottle for tap water although it was, according to my research, generally safe in Cape Town. But after a case of traveler’s stomach, I decided to be extra safe and filter anyway. I avoid using unnecessary plastic where I can, so I was keen to filter tap water rather than to rely solely on grocery store plastic bottles. In terms of taste, the water that I drank from my bottle was always crisp and tasted as good as any restaurant’s bottled water I had on the trip.

My GRAYL system also came in handy on day trip adventures: at the beach where we used water from the beach showers, as well as on a steep hike to the top of Table Mountain via the Platteklip Gorge where I topped up from a trickling mountainside stream.

Besides the practicality of it, I also enjoyed the feeling of drinking water I purified myself, and I felt some pride when fielding my friends’ questions like “What about pesticides? Microplastics? Amoebas?” And letting them know that “Yup, those too” get filtered out.

The UltraPress® Purifier Cartridge is also a winner for its longevity. It’s good for three years from first use, or 300 cycles, so I didn’t have to worry about switching out my filter or carrying an extra cartridge around with me. I was able to use the same filter for the entire duration of my trip, and I will still be able to use it for many more to come.

I had an amazing trip, and while I didn’t have any survival situations or bush camping that would have required heating water or cooking with an even heavier duty model like GRAYL’s new 24oz GeoPress® Ti Purifier, the sheer convenience and peace of mind UltraPress brought me made staying hydrated that much easier. It ensured access to as much potable water as I needed, keeping me safe, hydrated, and worry-free… in one word, flourishing.

Katie Sharp
About the Author

Katie Sharp

Katie is an Account Manager at Williams Helde who enjoys rock climbing, open water swimming, and freediving in her spare time. A lover of both mountains and the sea, she recently relocated to Seattle from Dusseldorf, after years of living abroad in France and Germany.