best water filters for college students

Best Water Filters For College Students: A Guide For Parents

When I moved to college dorms, there were a couple of things that became obvious, and I didn’t realize them. I am not going to talk about all of them, but I would like to talk about one thing that I have actually missed and had to buy in a first few days – water filter.

I will tell you what benefits I have seen of using a filter at halls, and I would give you tips on selecting the best water filters for college students and freshmen.

The thing with me was that I have actually moved to a completely new country and unfortunately the quality of water wasn’t even near as good as back to where I had lived. I don’t want you to make the same mistake, and in this article, I will talk about what you can do as a parent and share some of my observations.

Why Getting a Filter Is a Good Idea?

Right off the bat, let me share with you one of the biggest benefits I have experienced that wasn’t quite apparent at first. You might be surprised when I say it wasn’t clean water, which is obviously a big one too.

Moving to the college dorm is a pretty big thing for everyone, and for some people, it might come with plenty of nerves and excitement at the same time. Now, think about it this way.

There are lots of events happening for freshmen when they are moving in; whether it is getting to know a new place or meeting new friends.

With such significant stress, the one can easily forget to keep himself hydrated – at least this was my case. I am that kind of a person who doesn’t drink a lot of water even normally, and now with everything being so hectic and new, it has been happening even more.

Bottom line:

Initially, I have purchased the filter because the water was tasting horrible, but eventually, I have realized that it actually helps me to keep myself hydrated.

Now, especially first days it with all the stress it is essential to keep your brain running and hydrated. But let me be honest, as a fresh student, you will be so busy first days that you won’t probably realize this and won’t be thinking to keep yourself hydrated.

I believe the reason why I have been drinking more water is, that I had a pitcher in my room and it was filled with water which made me unconsciously sip from it, whenever I was at home.

Keep reading to find out what to look at when selecting a filter for dorms.

Criteria When Selecting a Filter For Freshman

Let’s discuss what criteria the filter needs to meet for students. The thing is that dorms are quite specific. In general, rooms in dorms are tiny, and with all the stuff you are moving in, you don’t want anything more than essential.

Also, usually in halls, students are sharing a kitchen and bathroom with other mates, which would probably mean that students will keep the filter in their room unless they want to share it in a kitchen.

So, I have selected the following criteria that I have used when buying a unit, and I will go through each of them in more details.

  1. Capacity
  2. Lifespan
  3. Performance
  4. Overall build
  5. Where is access to water


What, I have found useful is to have a filter that would cover exactly my daily demand of water.

Let me explain:

I know about myself that I wouldn’t go to the kitchen or bathroom to fill the filter five times a day. So, the first thing I was looking for when selecting a filter was the capacity it can hold.

To be specific, I have been looking for a filter that can hold at least a daily required minimum. For those of you who are not sure it’s a minimum of 8 cups or about 0.5 gallons. Note that this is a minimum and I would advise going with roughly 10-12 cups capacity.

This ensures that you only need to fill the pitcher once per day, which for me, was morning. If I have finished the jug by the end of the day, I knew I have met a target.


Second, and none the less important criteria is – lifespan.

Pitcher filters aren’t exactly a greatest when it comes to the filter lifespan and let me explain why this is so important.

I know myself as a student I wasn’t really responsible at the beginning and what has happened is that I didn’t change cartridges often. To be correct, I think I didn’t change a cartridge despite knowing I should at all. I simply forgot to buy it, or I just wasn’t bothered.

The outcome of this is that chances are that as a freshman, you won’t be really concerned about replacing it or going to the shop to buy a replacement once the time has come.

Bottom line:

The advice for parents in this would be to look for a filter that has a longer lifespan. Ideally, I would encourage you to include a couple of replacement cartridges to make a life for your child easier.


You might be surprised that I have put performance third, but the fact is, that there are very few portable filters that have an absolutely outstanding performance, although I will include it in my selection, these could be pricey.

Overall Build

What I mean by this is the overall quality of the product, how it feels, and how durable it is. Now, most of the pitcher units don’t have the quality what I would like to see, but at the same time, I guess you get for what you are paying.

If you are buying a pitcher filter, I would definitely look if the used plastic is BPA-Free.

Access to Wateraccess to water

Now, this is quite an important one too as it will directly determine what type of filter you can purchase. I mean some dorms have en-suite rooms where you would have direct access to water. This might allow you to get a countertop filter that could be connected to the tap in the bathroom.

I am saying might because the tap in the en-suite bathroom could be non-standard, which would mean that you won’t be able to connect a filter without the adapter.

In other cases, if your freshman is sharing kitchen and bathrooms, it would be best to go with the pitcher.

So, these are my criteria to check when I was looking for a filter for my halls room.

In the following chapter I have narrowed the whole range to a couple of products that fit into my range of criteria. Keep reading to find out.

My Top Picks

Zero Water

You might be surprised that in this article you won’t find Brita. This has a couple of reasons which you can read here.

Zero Water has made it to the list because it has much better performance compared to its competitors and also it ticks all the boxes I have said earlier.

Based on your needs you can select pitcher of different sizes starting from 6 up to 40 cups. I like that range, and I think you agree with me that it is nice to have an option.

This pitcher also comes with TDS meter, which is nice, but useless as it is not able to show the quality of water. You can read more about this in my other article about water testing.

Now, the thing with Zero Water pitcher is that they don’t tell you how long their cartridges last, but users have reported about a month or two based on how often you use a filter. This is the only drawback I have found with this product.

The overall build quality leaves a good impression too I really like to see the metal part of a pitcher.

This product is available to buy on Amazon – click here to check it out.

You will be able to find additional cartridges here (Amazon link).

Alternatively, what left a good impression in me is a 40 cup version of Zero Water. This would be great to leave in a kitchen and also it is made of glass which I would always prefer over the plastic.

You can check out 40 cup Zero Water on Amazon too.


Aquagear is a slightly more expensive alternative however, it ticks all boxes too. What I love about this pitcher is that it is fully recyclable and company is actually supporting a charity.

With every purchase, they build water treatment stations in Africa, and I think this is awesome.

I have written a complete review on this pitcher because I think it deserves the attention and you can read it here.

In terms of our checkboxes.

Aquagear comes with only one size, which is 8 cups, it is a shame that there are no more options, but the capacity is good enough.

The cartridge lasts about 150 gallons which in pitcher filters world is a lot. This would be especially appreciated by forgetful students.

The performance of this pitcher filter is one of the greatest amongst pitcher filters and the good news is that it also removes fluoride.

Given the performance and lifespan I think it is a good pitcher to have at dorms. You can get Aquagear on Amazon.

PS: Don’t forget to add additional cartridges to the basket.

Big Berkey

Straight from the beginning I will tell you that Big Berkey is an expensive filter and I don’t think it is a necessity for college dorms.

However, the filter falls under all of our categories, so I have shortlisted it too.

Let’s start with capacity.

There is a family of Berkey filters and the smallest starts on the capacity of 1.5 gallons. Similarly, to Zero Water, it is big enough to be left in a kitchen for everyone who shares the flat, which leads me to a second point – lifespan.

Berkey has an impressive lifespan of 6,000 gallons. This is a HUGE number in a filtration world, and it is likely that the filter would last the whole year if taking proper care of it.

Now, I am saying that because Berkey actually requires you to take care of it. I mean if you spend a couple of hundreds on buying new filter you wouldn’t want to throw it to the bin in a year.

By taking care, I mean, regular cleaning and checks. The filter is made of stainless steel, which means is durable and last, but not least chambers are nested for more comfortable transportation.

This filter would be not only an excellent option for dorms but also if you have an RV or frequently travel with family.

You can check out Big Berkey on Amazon.

TIP: Some users reported that spigot is not exactly the best, so, if you decide to go for this filter, I will get an additional metal spigot with it.

Home Master

I have selected Home Master countertop filter as the last option not because of the performance, but because it is not exactly suitable for halls unless used in the kitchen and connected to a tap or alternatively in en-suite room.

However, Home Master is one of my favorite companies. From experience, I know that they have excellent customer service, and overall quality of products is just spot on.

This countertop unit is one of my favorites as it offers incredible performance, and the filter lasts impressively 500 gallons. This will ensure that filter last long enough to

As I said, the only thing is that it has to be connected to the faucet, but I am sure some people will prefer this option.

You can read find the full review of Home Master and the guide for countertop filters here.

To check out Home Master on Amazon – click here.

Final Words

This is pretty much it, and at the end, I just wanted to wish you a stress-free moving into dorms and wish good luck for upcoming students years. Hope you have found a lot of value in this article.

To make moving into dorms as easy as possible, read this article with checklist of everything you need to bring.

As always, I would like to encourage you to reach out to me with any questions through the comments section below, and I will be straight on.

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