The Best Portable Water Filters and Purifiers For Backpackers

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Okay, you have a nice tent, managed to pick a perfect portable grill capable of making the best food possible, and your backpack has lots of room to pack enough gear and supplies for a nice, long outdoor adventure. You’re set to go, almost. For anyone planning to spend more than a day or two in the wild, carrying enough water simply isn’t an option. Our daily water needs are so high that it’s just impossible to carry enough water with you, in a backpack. Sure, you can fill your cooler with water and other beverages, but even if you pick the biggest one around, you’ll hardly manage to bring enough. Instead of carrying hectoliters of water, it’s better to just find a nice portable water filter or purifier.

Sure, you can just drink water straight from the source, but that’s like wanting to get sick. Although most water sources (especially those hidden deep in the woods or high up in the mountains) are safe to drink from, there’s always a chance to catch some nasty bacteria or something else that can ruin your adventure in seconds. Boling water could save you but that takes time, and you have to carry a portable stove with you. Instead, just get a quality water filter, and you’ll be able to quickly and easily purify water and won’t worry about getting nasty diarrhea just when you least need it (and when it comes to it, there’s never the right time for diarrhea). Stay with us and discover the best water filters and purifiers for your outdoor adventuring.

Platypus GravityWorks

The Platypus GravityWorks is a water filtration system that’s easy to use, is compact, and it doesn’t ask for constant maintenance. The system works by placing one bag above the one where clean water should be stored, connecting the two bags with the filtration system, filling up the first one with water and waiting for the gravity to do its thing. Water goes from the first bag into the filter, and then it gets transferred to the second bag. The only thing you should remember is to always place the bag that should store clean water below the one with dirty water.

In just a couple of minutes, the process will be finished and you’ll have perfect clean water to use. Even better, this filter can store up to 8 liters of water so you can purify enough water to last you a couple of days in just a couple of minutes. This is especially handy if you’re going to an area not known for having lots of springs or other types of water sources. So, just fill the first bag, connect it to the seconds, clean water bag, and wait for the process to finish. Repeat this couple of times and you’ll have enough water for two days. The only shortcoming with the Platypus GravityWorks is the fact the system doesn’t treat viruses, but this shouldn’t worry you unless you plan to visit other countries.

Pros:

  • Easy To Use
  • Can Store Up To 8 Liters Of Water
  • Lightweight
  • Filtration Process Is Very Fast

Cons:

  • Doesn’t Treat For Viruses
  • Expensive
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Katadyn Pocket Filter

Unlike the Platypus GravityWorks, the Katadyn Pocket Filter is a rugged and pretty big water filter that can be used for many years without the need for a replacement. The filter is really big, and quite heavy, especially when compared to the previous entry on the list. Instead of using gravity, the Katadyn Pocket Filter uses a manual pump to clean water. You have to manually filter the water, but the process isn’t long and won’t take much time.

The filter is capable of treating most bacteria and is enough for most trips, except if you’re going abroad. You can break it down completely in order to clean and disinfect it, and since all parts are made out of metal and tough plastic there’s a slim chance you’ll break anything. Even if that happens, the manufacturer offers replacement parts. There are two filters inside the Katadyn Pocket Filter. The first one is made out of ceramic, and that’s the main one. It will last for years, but after a couple of years, it should be replaced. The other filter is used for treating microbes and it should be replaced more often. The problem is that replacement filters are expensive, but if you want an excellent portable water filter that will last for many years, be ready to shell a bit more money on replacement filters.

Pros:

  • Rugged and Tough
  • Easy To Use
  • Can Be Completely Broken Down For Cleaning

Cons:

  • Filters Are Expensive
  • There’s No Option To Store Extra Water, You’ll Need Your Own Extra Bags
Check the Price

LifeStraw Go

If you plan on traveling light, maybe having a big filtration system, or one that can store lots of extra water isn’t the best choice. Instead of carrying a bulky filtration system, you can instead use a water bottle with the water filter attached to it, like the LifeStraw Go.

The LifeStraw Go is an extremely simple water filtration system. All you have to do is to fill up the bottle, attach the lid (which contains the filter), and take a sip, The system comes with a straw attached to the filter, so you’ll always drink clean water. This bottle filter is capable of removing dirt and other small particles. On top of that, the filter is capable of treating organisms down to 0.2 microns in diameter meaning you won’t drink water polluted with giardia and E. coli.

Now, the problem is that you can’t store extra water and that you’ll have to fill up the bottle every time it gets emptied, and that will happen frequently. Also, the filter requires regular replacement, but it is cheap to buy unlike the one used in the Katadyn Pocket Filter. The bottle comes with a small carabiner so you can attach it to your backpack. The best thing about this kind of water filter is the fact you don’t have to wait for the water to get treated, just fill the bottle and drink.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • No Need To Wait For Filtration Process To Finish
  • Extremely Easy To Use

Cons:

  • Small Bottle
  • You Must Refill It Often
  • No Option to Store Extra Water
Check the Price

Katadyn BeFree

As the previous filter from the list, the Katadyn BeFree is an excellent water purifying solution for those who are constantly on the go and who don’t want to carry a large and bulky water filter. This bottle filter is great to use when you’re constantly on the move since all you have to do is to fill up the bottle, attach the lid and drink. There’s no waiting for the filtration process to finish, but you only have 20 ounces of water, a humble amount for those who want to clean the water, store it, and use for days.

Instead, you only have one bottle worth of water. On the other hand, the filter is great at treating dirt and bacteria, and by using the Katadyn BeFree you are safe and won’t accidentally drink impure water. This filter, as the last one, can prove especially handle for fishers since they can spend a whole day in a boat on water meaning water is all around them so they don’t really need a system capable of storing extra water for later use. Aside from being your main water filtration system, the Katadyn BeFree and similar solutions can be used as a backup, for daily hikes outside the main camp, when you can’t carry your main filtration device.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Extremely Portable
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Humble Capacity
  • No Water Storing Option
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SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier

SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier is a UV light-based water filter. Instead of featuring a mechanical filter that keeps dirt and bacteria inside it, keeping water pure on the other side, this thing works quite different. The SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier uses UV light to treat bacteria and viruses. This is done by dipping the purifier inside a glass or a bottle, and then turning it on and letting UV light to do its thing. In just a couple of minutes, water is clean of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. By using a UV-based filter you will be certain that all germs are squashed.

On the other hand, these water filters use special lithium photo 123 batteries that are expensive to buy and that won’t last long. Instead of making you worry about replacement batteries since the SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier is powered by a rechargeable battery. You can recharge it with any USB charger, and the battery can offer up to 50 treatments before it dies.

This isn’t really usable when you’re on a long adventure, but is perfect if you have a clean stream near your camp. Another downside of the SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier (and all other UV-based water filters) is the fact that they can’t remove dirt and other small particles, so you have to find a clean water source otherwise you’ll be drinking water that doesn’t contain bacteria and viruses but that does contain dirt and other impurities.

Pros:

  • Kills All Microbes
  • Extremely Easy To Use

Cons:

  • The Battery Is Quick To Die
  • Doesn’t Filter Dirt And Other Small Particles And Impurities
Check the Price

LifeStraw Mission High-Volume Gravity-Fed Water Purifier

The LifeStraw Mission High-Volume Gravity-Fed Water Purifier (they really couldn’t pick a longer name) is another gravity filter. You have your dirty water bag, which you fill with unfiltered water and then attach the filter system. After that just wait for the process to finish. Since the system doesn’t come with the clean water bag, you have to find a bottle to store clean water in. But on the other hand, the filter hose possess a tap so you can control when you want to sip clean water.

The filter is made out of one 80 micron pre-filter that stops dirt and other small particles to enter the hose, and the 0.02-micron main filter that treats bacteria, protozoa and viruses. This makes the LifeStraw Mission High-Volume Gravity-Fed Water Purifier and excellent all-around solution that can be used all over the world since it is capable of treating viruses. The bag comes in two sizes – 5 liters and 12 liters – which is a solid capacity and great for camping. Just hang the bag to a tree or a tent, fill it up with water and then used it every time you want a drink. The filter is very durable and it can treat almost 5,000 gallons of water meaning you will use this water filter for years before it wears out. It is easy to use and come with a stuff sack for easy transport and is capable of cleaning up to 12 liters of water per hour.

Pros:

  • Large Storage Bag
  • Easy To Use
  • Stops almost all Bacteria, Protozoa and Viruses
  • Simple to Maintain
  • Huge Filtration Capacity

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t Come With Clean Water Bag
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Survivor Filter PRO

Survivor Filter PRO utilizes a pump to treat dirty water. Just put the straw into a water source, and then pump the water through the filter. You can pump water into the cup (supplied with the filter), pump it into your own bottle, or into a portable hydration pack (also part of the package). This system features a 0.01 micron water purifier filter, capable of stopping almost all viruses and bacteria, and is also quite good at removing heavy metals from the water (99.5% of Mercury and 93% Lead), which is a nice bonus especially because these days more and more water sources are tainted with heavy metals.

The Survivor Filter PRO is one of the best water filters around since it features excellent filtration system, is capable of filtering heavy metals, and has a more than solid 500ml flow rate. In other words, it is capable of treating up to 500ml of water every minute, making it pretty fast and excellent to use in group adventures. The system is made out of three filters in total – the pre-filter and internal filter can treat up to 100,000 liters (yep, one hundred thousand) before needing to be replaced, while the carbon filter has to be replaced after 2,000 liters, which is not so bad. With the Survivor Filter PRO, you’ll receive a lifetime warranty and replacement filters are relatively affordable to buy.

Pros:

  • Easy To Use
  • Great Flow Rate
  • Amazing Filtering Capacity (Up To 100,000 Liters)
  • It Is Capable Of Removing Heavy Metals

Cons:

  • A Bit Bulky
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Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System

The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System is a small and portable water filter that’s incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is to attach the filter to the bottle, fill it with water and then squeeze the bottle in order to drink straight from it or to pour it into another bottle. The system features 0.01 micron capable of filtering up to 99.99 percent of all bacteria and protozoa, but on the other hand, it isn’t capable of filtering viruses, which can be a downside if you’re planning a trip abroad.

The system comes with a couple of collapsible pouches to store extra water ((16-, 32-, and 64-ounce pouches) meaning you can filter extra water for later use. The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System comes with a lifetime warranty and a filter capable of treating up to 1,000,000 gallons of water, which is crazy good. If you want a cheap, durable, and easy to use the water filter, the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System is a perfect choice that will last you for years.

Pros:

  • Easy To Use
  • Comes With Extra Pouches For Storing Clean Water

Cons:

  • Isn’t Capable Of Filtering Viruses
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MSR Guardian Purifier

The MSR Guardian Purifier is the most expensive filter on our water filters list, but it comes with a plethora of features and is really rugged and durable. The flow rate is amazing – the filter is capable of treating one liter of water in less than a minute, making the MSR Guardian Purifier a superb choice for group outdoor adventures.

The filter can remove almost all bacteria, protozoa and viruses so you can take it with you all around the world. The filter can be especially handy if you plan on visiting countries with really poor water quality since it can filter water fast enough for a whole family to have enough. The filter is pump-based so you need to pump the water through its filtration system. The best part is that you don’t have to clean the filter, ever, since it comes with a self-cleaning mechanism (the pump cleans the filter with every stroke), great for those who just want a water filter that doesn’t require maintenance. The MSR Guardian Purifier comes with a filter capable of treating up to 10,000 liters. Not really much when compared with other filters from our water filters list, but great if we take into account its capability for stop almost all bacteria and viruses. The filter is large and heavy, but the best choice for ones who want to have the best possible water when they visit the outdoors.

Pros:

  • Excellent Flow Rate
  • Great Filter Capabilities
  • Simple To Use

Cons:

  • A Bit Large
  • Expensive
Check the Price
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