So far, I think the best prepackaged mix is Chiliman chili mix from faribault foods (or something like that). This recipe won Terlingua twice in a row several years ago. It has a lot of cumin and nice chilli flavor, but it's not bitter, or so hot it makes you sweat. Very earthy intense and profound flavor. My only issue is that I would use twice as much mix as the recipe calls for with the given amount of meat and beans.
I just got wick fowler, mexene and morton's, so I'm planning on making a lot of chili and seeing if they are better than chiliman. I'll let you know my conclusions.
There is a Chow blind taste test on this. The filtered cheap vodka tastes better than unfiltered, but not as good as the good stuff.
Assuming this works at all, Brita is a very expensive filter, unless you are picking them up for next to nothing at a garage sale, which is not uncommon in SoCal. As stated in other posts below, assuming you want to filer more than a couple handles, the cheap solution to making cheap vodka taste more expensive is to google "activated charcoal [your zip code]" and buy a pound or so to mix with several gallons of the lowest priced swill that is on special at the local chain grocery store.
My personal experience is that if you put unfiltered crap in a top shelf bottle, no one notices the difference. In fact, people will drink the Popov swill from the Ketel One bottle, and go out of their way to tell you how much they appreciate the host serving such tasty expensive vodka instead of that typical swill they see at all the frat parties. I just smile and say that I like to live life to the fullest, and she should come upstairs to see this new game I got for my ps3.