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Berkey vs Katadyn: Which one is the best for 2021?

By Austin Armstrong April 21, 2021

Berkey vs Katadyn: Which one is the best for 2021?


When comparing water filtration systems, the consumer has a number of variables to consider. On this page, we focus on two companies: Berkey, and Katadyn. Berkey makes a line of gravity-fed water purification systems, which all use the same design and filter. They mostly differ only in price and size, i.e. the bigger the system, the more it costs. Katadyn is a Swiss company that makes a line of on-the-spot filter systems. By on-the-spot, we simply mean that these products are portable, and are intended for use in locations where the user is uncertain of the water quality (such as when outdoors, for example). 

Berkey vs. Katadyn: Which product cleans water better?

To evaluate both systems, we had to choose a product from each company. For Berkey, we chose the Big Berkey (although it doesn’t really matter since all of their systems use the same design and filter). For Katadyn, the website provides a search feature that enables shoppers to sort products based on their needs. The search options we chose to favor were:

  • Serves 5 people
  • Daily usage
  • (Relatively) clean water source (e.g. municipal water supply)
  • For home use
  • Filters: Microorganisms, bad taste, and chemicals

These are the qualities that would give us the best apples-to-apples comparison with Berkey. However, this search yielded no results. We changed the use requirement to three people, but still no results. Finally, we excluded “chemicals” from our list of filtered contaminants. One match came back: The Katadyn Combi Filter. This is the filter we chose to compare Berkey to. 

One added feature of the Combi filter is portability; it is made for outdoor adventures. It also comes with an attachment for home fixtures. Because it is designed for outdoor activity, it can even be used in situations where water is cloudy or dirty, although such water can cause it to clog.

Filtration Efficiency (%)


Contaminant The Water Machine Katadyn Combi Filter
Flouride 99.9
Bacteria 99.9999 n/a**
Coliform and e-Coli 99.9
Viruses 99.999
Lead 99.9
Arsenic 99.9
Iron 99.9
Mercury 99.9 n/a
Chlorine 99.9*
Trihalomethanes (THMs) 99.8*
Chloramines 99.9* n/a
Pharmaceuticals 99.9*
Acetaminophen 99.9 n/a
Ibuprofen 99.9
Naproxen 99.9
Atenolol -
Carbamazepine 99.9
Meprobamate -
Phenytoin -
Trimethoprim 99.9
10 other drugs 99.9 n/a
Petroleum Contaminants 99.9*
Benzine -
Ethylbenzene -
VOCs 99.9* ***
Methylcyclohexane-Methane 99.9* n/a
P-Dichlorobenzene -
Tetrachloroethylene -
Bisphenol-A 99.9
4-para-Nonylphenol 99.9
Pesticides 99.9*
Endrin -
Carbon Tetrachloride -
Atrazine 99.9
Simazine -
Linuron -
Metolachlor -
Heavy Metals 99.1
Aluminum 99 n/a
Antimony 99.9
Barium 80


Beryllium 99.9
Bismuth 99.9 n/a
Cadmium 99.7
Cobalt 95 n/a
Chromium 99.9 n/a
Chromium-6 99.85
Copper 99.9
Iron 99.9 n/a
Molybdenum 90 n/a
Nickel 99.9 n/a
Vanadium 87.5 n/a
Zinc 99.9
Uranium 97 n/a
Gross Alpha Emitter 98.7 n/a

n/a - Manufacturer provided no percentage for what portion was removed

* Berkey reduced chemicals in these categories to undetectable levels. Although some of them were specifically tested for, none were found.

** Katadyn claims that it is “effective” at removing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. While it does not provide data, it does claim to remove any pathogen larger than 0.2 microns, which includes all known bacteria, protozoans, and microbial cysts, but few viruses. 

Without offering specific percentages of each removed contaminant, we have only the company’s word to back up their claims of the Combi filter’s effectiveness. Some of the listed contaminants were on Katadyn’s website as a “filtered contaminant”, and some were not. Yet without a percentage, we have no way of knowing what the company means by “filtered”. Katadyn also boasts being “effective” at removing “chemicals” and “bad taste”. The site offers no information about what these terms mean, or in what way the Combi is “effective”. 

Katadyn makes filters. Berkey makes water purification systems. So there is really no comparison here; one product is in a higher class. Berkey’s charcoal filter removes virtually all of the dangerous chemicals in your water, as well as pathogens. 

Berkey wins the filter efficiency comparison. And it is not close.

Models and Costs

Cost Comparison: Berkey vs. Katadyn

Next, we compare the costs of these two systems. To get started, here is some cost information from the companies’ websites:


Big Berkey Water Filter 278.00
Replacement Filters 120.00


Katadyn Combi Filter 222.82
Replacement Charcoal Filter 19.00

How long do these two products’ filters last? It’s right here:

Berkey dual filter 6000 Gallons (approx. 11 years)*
Katadyn Combi Filter (Charcoal Replacement)

105.7 Gallons (approx. 10 weeks)*

* assumes that owner(s) use 1.5 gallons/day

When you purchase a Berkey product, it comes with a pair of charcoal filters that each produce 3000 gallons of purified water before you need to replace them. They’re meant to be used and replaced in pairs, so you will get about 6000 gallons before you need to buy a new pair. That’s 11 years of purification! Although the ceramic Combi Filter will last for more than twice as long, the replaceable carbon filter inside is only good for about 105 gallons before it must be replaced. So you will need to purchase several to equal the longevity of Berkey.

Time to do some math. How many replacement filters will you need for the Combi to equal the production of the Berkey product? Well, to get 6000 gallons of filtration from carbon filters that only last for 105.7 gallons each, you will need 57 filters! (6000/105.669 = 56.7811) Because one carbon filter comes standard with the Combi Filter, you will need to buy 56 more! Here’s the cost breakdown:

Katadyn Combi Filter 222.82
Replacement Charcoal Filters (56@ $19) $2799.60

By comparison, Berkey looks like this:

The Big Berkey (includes 1 set of filters) 278.00

So basically, when you purchase the Big Berkey and use
only the set of filters that comes standard with it, you will save a total of $1008.82 !! And remember, the quality of drinking water you get with Berkey is much greater. SO with Berkey, you’re not merely saving yourself a thousand dollars for the same amount of filtered water, you're enjoying a much higher quality of filtration!

Pros and Cons


Katadyn has indeed crafted an effective portable water filtration system. The Combi filter can purify water almost anywhere you go, except the open ocean. However, it falls short in helping you where you need it most - your home. Given its utility and features, it is affordable, costing $55 less than Berkey. However, to get the same use out of the product as Berkey throughout its life cycle, it will cost more than $1000 more. The conclusion here is simple: buy the Katadyn for traveling, but not for home use. 


Berkey’s Big Berkey system, like the other Berkey products, is a gravity-fed system that does not depend on electricity. It has a higher up-front cost than Katadyn, but only by $55. The real savings happens when you don’t have to spend money on replacement filters for the next 11 years. Berkey’s system is easy to use and has a simple design, although it does not travel so easily.

The best part about choosing Berkey is the quality of the drinking water. Berkey’s charcoal filter element reduces the quantities of most impurities to levels that are so low that they did not register on conventional tests. If you want to protect your family from contaminants and pathogens, Berkey is the clear choice.

Which product should I buy? Berkey, or Katadyn? 

Neither! Buy The Water Machine!

I know what you’re thinking: What is The Water Machine, and why are you bringing it into this comparison? That’s a fair question. Berkey is indeed superior to Katadyn for in-home filtration. In fact, Berkey outperforms just about every consumer-grade in-home system. However, The Water Machine offers a better product than Berkey. 

The Water Machine uses the same charcoal filter element that Berkey does. I don’t mean a similar design; I mean the same filter. It provides the same level of filtration, removing the same contaminants at the exact same percentages. And it has the same longevity! The pair of filters that come with The Water Machine will last for 6000 gallons, just like Berkey’s filter. 

So how exactly is The Water Machine a superior product? There are a few key areas to look at. Those areas are: Cost, Utility, and Taste. Let’s consider these one at a time:


Reviewing our cost numbers from earlier:


Big Berkey Water Filter $278.00

Replacement Filters   120.00


The Water Machine

The Water Machine $299.99

Replacement Filters     74.99

What stands out? Comparing the cost of these systems, The Water Machine costs slightly more. However, it holds 3 gallons of water, while Big Berkey holds 2.5 gallons. Other products in Berkey’s line hold more and cost more than The Water Machine. So The Water Machine is comparable in size and cost to Berkey’s other products. The real difference here is the cost of replacement filters.

The Water Machine charges $42 less per pair of filters than Berkey. However, if you are able to find four more customers for The Water Machine, the company will send you a free pair of replacement filters. Given The Water Machine’s amazing performance as a product, finding four customers during an 11-year period shouldn’t be too difficult.


Berkey and The Water Machine both use the same design: One tank sits on top of the other, and water drains through the filters into the lower tank. However, six of Berkey’s seven systems are made of metal, and the other is made of plastic. Meanwhile, The Water Machine is made of hammered glass. The glass design makes it easier to see the quality of the water inside. You will find it much easier to know when it is time to clean your system. And it will be easier to clean.


Whenever you store water in a plastic tank, it will eventually begin to taste like plastic. Most people who have purchased water in a plastic jug have experienced this problem. Similarly, a metal tank will cause the water it contains to develop a metallic taste. 

Because Berkey has chosen metal and plastic for it’s two options, unfortunately that means that the filtered water ends up sitting in one of these two kinds of tanks. But because The Water Machine is made of glass, the filtered water will always taste fresh. If you want fresh-tasting water, the choice is obvious! Choose The Water Machine!

The Water Machine is your Best Option for Pure Drinking Water, Bar None

The Water Machine purifies your water at the molecular level. It removes virtually all bacteria, and 99.999% of viruses. It does not require electricity to operate; that means you can use it in a crisis situation, when you’re desperate for clean water. It beats all of its in-home system competitors on filter performance, and features a glass design that preserves the water’s fresh taste and is easy to clean. Does the water filtration system that offers the highest quality of drinking water cost more than its competitors? As a matter of fact, no! When you factor in longevity, it’s the least expensive product on the market !!! 

Go to our product information page to learn more about this incredible system, and add it to your shopping cart. Just think: In another ten years, you will still be enjoying fresh-tasting, pure drinking water, without having to spend another dime. 

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