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Berkey Water Filter Review: 3rd Party Laboratory Tests

Derek Hales

Written By: Derek Hales

Updated on:

Travel Berkey Hero Image
74 Purification
64 Filtration Speed
93 Build Quality
82 Usability
92 Maintenance
75 Overall Score
Tested With Scoring System 1.1

Best For

  • Large water reservoir tank – can hold up to 1.5 gallons
  • Exceptional metal build quality
  • Filters last a long time – 3,000 gallons per filter


  • Mediocre water filtration performance based on 3rd party laboratory data
  • More expensive – especially given the lackluster filter performance
  • Slow water filtration speed
  • Lengthy water filter setup and priming
  • The bulky body would take up significant space

Our Verdict

The Travel Berkey is a water filtration reservoir built from stainless steel. It’s capable of storing 1.5 gallons of filter water with a large water hopper on top. It contains two large Black Berkey filters that have a long filter life of up to 3,000 gallons per filter. It’s part of a series of Berkey filter systems that are designed to store large amounts of filter water.

Unfortunately, the water filtration performance left much to be desired. The results of our third-party lab testing showed that the Travel Berkey only reduced some harmful contaminants, but wasn’t able to completely remove them. The analysis showed dichloromethane, bromodichloromethane, uranium, lithium, cadmium, arsenic, and total THMs levels were all present in the water.

Type: Countertop Tank
Capacity: 1.5 Gallons
Filter Life: 6,000 Gallons ( 2 x 3,000 Gallon Filter Life )

In This Review
Purification Performance | Filters | Filtration Speed | Build Quality | Usability | Maintenance | Size | Specs | Product Evolution | Comparison | FAQs

Performance Summary

At Modern Castle we put water filters to the test.

We test 5 different factors that impact the performance, build quality, and usability of the water filter. Below is a complete list of our testing categories and their performance.

Test TypeTest Data
Health Risk Analysis73
Aesthetic Risk Analysis35
Filtration Speed0.7 cups/min
Build QualityExceptional
Filtration Cost$0.06/gal

Video Review

YouTube video

Purification Performance

To test water filters, we use a 3rd party laboratory (Simple Lab / Tap Score) to test filtered water. The lab provides a kit to collect water samples for testing. They conduct their analysis and provide detailed reports on the water’s impact on health, aesthetic, and plumbing.

Our review and assessments are based on the laboratory’s findings. For comparison, we also test unfiltered water from our kitchen sink.

Travel Berkey Faucet
Travel Berkey Faucet

The purification performance of the Travel Berkey is tied with 4th to last for the worst water filtration system we have tested to date.

Health Risk


Aesthetic Risk


Plumbing Risk


The comparison of the unfiltered vs. Travel Berkey filtered results helps us further see purification performance.

ContaminantsUnfiltered waterTravel BerkeyTravel Berkey Removed
Total THMs40.04 ppb0.78 ppb98%
Dibromochloromethane9.47 ppb0.29 ppb96.9%
Bromodichloromethane13.12 ppb0.33 ppb97.4%
Chloroform15.94 ppb0.0 ppb100%
Bromoform1.51 ppb0.16 ppb89.4%
Molybdenum0.0045 ppm0.00335 ppm25.5%
Uranium0.00314 ppm0.000172 ppm94.5%
Nickel000105 ppm0.000103 ppm99.9%
Chromium0.00898 ppm0.0 ppm100%
Selenium0.000406 ppm0.000406 ppm0%
Lead0.000508 ppm0.00 ppm100%
Copper0.581 ppm0.012 ppm97.9%
Strontium0.847 ppm0.0176 ppm97.9%
Nitrate0.311 ppm0.000103 ppm99.9%
Barium0.0865 ppm0.00153 ppm98.2%
Boron0.0925 ppm0.0 ppm100%
Zinc0.0147 ppm0.00173 ppm88.2%

Health Risk Analysis

Clean water is essential to healthy living and preventing the consumption of waterborne illnesses. Common health-related issues to unfiltered or contaminated waters are:

  • Kidney health
  • Liver health
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Immune systems
  • Gastrointestinal systems
  • Reproductive systems
  • Blood systems
  • Nervous systems
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Skeletal health
Travel Berkey Health Impact Materials (ppb)
Travel Berkey Health Impact Materials (ppb)

The Travel Berkey scored a 73 on the SimpleLab report, 10.7 points below our testing average of 83.7, making it the second worst health risk analysis score we have tested to date. The 3rd party health risk analysis showed unsafe levels of dichloromethane, bromodichloromethane, uranium, lithium, cadmium, arsenic, and total THMs. All of which can have serious health impacts.

Travel Berkey Health Impact Materials (ppm)
Travel Berkey Health Impact Materials (ppm)

Berkey does offer an add-on Fluoride filter that can be attached to each individual filter. This would help reduce the Fluoride levels displayed in the graph above.

Travel Berkey Health Impact Materials (ppm)
Travel Berkey Health Impact Materials (ppm)

You can view the complete laboratory report and analysis of the unfiltered water and the Travel Berkey here.


Aesthetic Risk Analysis

Aesthetic is all about how the water tastes and feels. These factors won’t impact your health, but can be important based on personal preference.

The Travel Berkey had one of the worst scores we have tested to date on aesthetic properties with a score of 35. This is 23.3 points below the testing average of 58.3 for aesthetic properties. The report showed high levels of sodium in the sample, which could give the filtered water a salty taste.

Travel Berkey Aesthetic Impact Materials (ppm)
Travel Berkey Aesthetic Impact Materials (ppm)

Additionally, the report identified magnesium, total dissolved solids, and pH levels as a likely source of taste. All of these metrics are at higher levels than average, which can lead the water to taste more bitter, according to TapScore.

Travel Berkey pH Comparison
Travel Berkey pH Comparison

Plumbing Risk Analysis

Plumbing performance is a non-factor in most cases. Because the water coming from the Travel Berkey is not running through the pipes in your home, it will have little to no impact on your plumbing.

Travel Berkey Alkalinity Graph
Travel Berkey Alkalinity Graph

The plumbing report showed normal levels for items that would normally have an impact on pipes and plumbing. For corrosivity and scaling, the only outlier was CSMR, which measured at 0.68. According to the laboratory:

“CSMR itself does not have any direct health effects, however high values for CSMR can indicate the potential for galvanic corrosion, which can lead to the release of lead into drinking water.”

– SimpleLab
Travel Berkey CSMR Graph
Travel Berkey CSMR


According to the manufacturer, the Black Berkey Filter can stop a wide range of harmful waterborne contaminants.

According to their website, the filter addresses “trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, VOCs, petroleum products, perfluorinated chemicals, rust, silt, sediment and even radiologicals.”

Travel Berkey Black Berkey Filters

Black Berkey Filter – These filters are a patented design by Berkey. The Travel Berkey takes two of these filters.

Note – be careful with the black metal on the exterior, we found it to be a bit on the fragile side

Berkey Fluoride Filter Add On

Berkey Fluoride Water Filter – These filters reduce the amount of fluoride present in your filtered water. These are additional add-on filters that need to be purchased separately.


Filtration Speed

The Travel Berkey is not a water purification system that filters water with speed. During our testing we found the filtration speed slower than average (which in itself isn’t all that fast either).

Travel Berkey Speed

0.70 cups/min

Average Speed

0.92 cups/min

The Berkey filters at a rate of 0.70 cups per minute.


Build Quality Test

The Travel Berkey sets itself apart from the water filters we have tested to date with its build quality. Constructed out of aluminum, this takes a different approach than most water filters, which are made out of plastic.

Travel Berkey Filter Attach Point

The hopper and water reservoir come in two pieces, both made out of metal. The metal has a strong feel and will likely not crack / dent from repeated daily use.

PartBuild Quality
Water TankExcellent


While the name “Travel Berkey” might suggest it’s small, compact, and easy to move, it is anything but that. This is a large water filter that does not have mobility in its design. It’s bulky, tall, and heavy when fully assembled with water in the bottom tank. It can break down by separating the hopper and clean water reservoir, but you will need to empty it to do so.

Travel Berkey Sideview

It would be difficult to fit in a refrigerator due to its size when fully assembled. It would be best used by being placed on a countertop, however, the water will not be chilled.



Assembling the Travel Berkey was simple and easy and took no more than 5 mins.

Unfortunately, priming the 2 Black Berkey filters and getting them ready for use took longer than any other water purification system we have tested to date. Each filter needs to be sealed up against a faucet for water to flow through the pores. The issue we faced during testing was creating that perfect seal that allowed the water to only push its way through the filter. 

The tan rubber seal shown in the instructions did not work well creating the seal.

Travel Berkey Tan Seal

The blue rubber funnel provided also did not create a proper seal on the kitchen faucet. It was only after we moved it over to the regular faucet head without buttons and spray features that it created the proper seal.

Travel Berkey Blue Priming Funnel


During testing, we found that placing the Travel Berkey completely assembled in a permanent spot, and then filling it worked best. It has no handles and the top hopper is not secured to the bottom. Once you start to fill the top with water, move with caution as the system becomes uncomfortable to handle.

In The Box

  • Travel Berkey
  • Berkey Faucet and seals
  • 2 Black Berkey filters
  • Instructions and documentation
Travel Berkey Black Berkey Unboxed


The Travel Berkey has an estimated yearly maintenance cost of $20. A new Berkey filter costs $166 and lasts for 3,000 gallons. That comes out to a cost of $0.06 / per gallon, which is considerably less than the average cost per gallon of $0.21 / per gallon, based on all of our tests to date.

The following are the major maintenance tasks for the Travel Berkey.

TaskDescriptionEst. Annual Cost
FilterReplace every 3,000 gallons$20
Water TankWash as needed$0
Clean Water ReservoirWash as needed$0
Fluoride Filters (Add-on)1,000 gallons per pair or 1 year$99 (Add-on)

Size & Dimensions

Clean Water Reservoir Capacity1.5 gal
Water Tank Capacity1 gal
Weight6 lbs.


The following table details the product specifications according to the manufacturer.

TypeCountertop Tank
Weight6 lbs.
Clean Water Tank Capacity1.5 gal
Water Reservoir Capacity1 gal
FiltersCarbon, Coconut Shells
Warranty1 year
PriceCheck Price

Product Evolution

The Travel Berkey is part of a series of Berkey filter systems that increase in size—totaling 5 different Berkey water system sizes. The Travel Berkey is the smallest one, only serving 1-3 people. The largest is the Crown Berkey, which is recommended for 6-10 people.

Each Berkey filter uses the same Black Berkey filters that come in the Travel Berkey. Depending on the size of the system, it has the option to add more filters to help improve the filter speed. The Crown Berkey can fit up to 8 Black Berkey filters.

Each filter system does come with the option to add fluoride filters that attach directly to the Black Berkey filters.

How does the Travel Berkey compare?

Below is a complete list of our water filter tests and critical product data compared side by side to the average based on all of our water filter tests to date.

Test TypeTest DataAvg. Data
Health Risk Analysis7383
Aesthetic Risk Analysis3555
Filtration Speed0.7 cups/min0.92 cups/min
Build QualityExceptionalExcellent
Filtration Cost$0.06/gal$0.21/gal
Clean Water Tank Capacity1.5 gal0.77 gal
Water Reservoir Capacity1 gal0.75 gal
TypeCountertop TankWater Pitcher

The Travel Berkey certainly stands out in build quality, clean water reservoir, and filtration cost as a top competitor. However, the performance is not competitive with other products we have tested. In my opinion, the purification performance is the most important factor when searching for a water purification system. Given the Berkey’s mediocre purification performance, it’s one that’s hard to recommend.

Other Water Pitchers to Consider

AquaTru Classic

AquaTru Classic RO

The AquaTru Classic is a countertop reverse osmosis system.

This is best used for a countertop system. It has a detachable clean water reservoir that can be placed on a fridge shelf. The RO system has a long filter life and received excellent purification performance.

Waterdrop pitcher


The Waterdrop is a 10-cup water pitcher.

Based on the laboratory data, the Waterdrop has the best filtration performance of any pitcher filter we’ve tested to date.. It removes 100% of the most dangerous contaminants in the water, including all uranium and chloroform.


How long does the Travel Berkey take to filter?

On Berkey’s website, they state that the Travel Berkey can filter up to 2.75 gallons per hour. We observed / measured the Travel Berkey closely achieving that metric at 0.7 cups/min, which translates to 2.625 gallons per hour

How do you store the Travel Berkey when on vacation?

Conveniently, the Travel Berkey is easy to remove water from the system. Since the hopper and reservoir can be easily detached, all that is needed is to empty both containers.

Can you travel with the Travel Berkey?

While it is in the name, our opinion is that the system is bulky and not travel-friendly. However, when the system is disassembled, you could transport it with you. To be fair, the Travel Berkey is more “travel friendly” compared to most other Berkey filter products.

Can you drink rainwater with Berkey water filters?

You should use extreme caution when drinking any water that is not from a local government-treated source. While water filters are designed to remove contaminants, always be aware that additional elements and waterborne bacteria may be present in that water source.

About Derek Hales

Derek HalesDerek Hales is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He has been featured in Fast Company, Reader's Digest, Business Insider,, She Knows, and other major publications. Derek has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University. Hales has been testing and reviewing products for the home since 2014.

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