When you are out backpacking, the most vital thing you’ll need is an adequate water supply. It is possible to carry sufficient, yet this can mount up in weight, and you may run out faster than you anticipate.
While you can find water sources, there are reasons you shouldn’t drink from these before you sterilize them.
Boiling is often a way to do this, yet you may not be in the ideal place or conditions to be starting a fire.
In our reviews, we look at the best backpacking water filters you can find, so no matter where you are, as long as you can find water, you can have a refreshing drink.
- Why You Need a Good Water Filtration System for Backpacking
- Top Water Filtration System for Backpacking Reviews
- 1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
- 2. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System
- 3. Survivor Filter PRO – Virus and Heavy Metal Tested 0.01 Micron Water Filter for Camping, Hiking, and Emergency. 3 Stages – 2 Cleanable 100,000L Membranes and a Carbon Filter for Family Preparedness
- 4. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter
- 5. Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System
- Water Filtration System For Backpacking Buying Guide
- Final Verdict
Why You Need a Good Water Filtration System for Backpacking
It doesn’t matter if you are a backpacker, birdwatcher, runner, kayaker, or anyone who likes to venture out into the great outdoors.
Water is the most essential commodity, and you will need water treatment from dirty water sources.
You will have two choices when you are off the main track for any amount of time, and that will find a water source, or you can carry some with you.
However, to a degree, neither is convenient, and that is where water filters and purifiers come in to offer a lightweight option to carry with you for your outdoor adventure.
Viruses and parasites live in streams, rivers, and lakes, and these are the key areas you’ll depend on to remain hydrated.
Common bacteria are giardia, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps. (Find the Best Lightweight Hiking Backpack)
You can find many individuals who think fresh snow doesn’t need filtering or where it runs into streams. However, wild animals and other humans are in the same predicament and can frequent such areas or ones further upstream.
Contamination can rise now that exploring the outdoors is more popular than ever. Once you see the best backpacker water filters, you have excellent options for treating water ready for your camp.
Or if this isn’t the issue, you can find solutions that offer great filtration so you can drink directly from the water source.
Top Water Filtration System for Backpacking Reviews
1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
The LifeStraw, Personal Water filter is the ideal accompanying water filter any person should have with them on the trail or when venturing away from home.
The device is incredibly light at 2 oz. so it is perfect for dropping in any backpack or aid kit in case of emergencies.
The award-winning device can filter up to 1,000 gallons of water and doesn’t need to use iodine, chlorine, or any other chemical treatment to do so.
Water is safe to drink as it removes 99.9% of waterborne bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. The purification system filters to 0.2 microns, which easily surpasses EPA filter standards for this best backpacking water filter.
- Excellent filtration
- Requires no chemicals
- It fits in any sized bag
- Great ease of use
- You need to lay down as you drink
- It can’t be used to top up water bottles
With a guide price of less than $13. The LifeStraw best portable water purifier is one of the most affordable lifesaving filter or purifier devices and no less capable than the Lifestraw flex.
It may be inconvenient to use by laying down, or you can scoop up a cup of water and drink from that. That aside, it has been rigorously tested and is the best water filters for backpacking and personal use.
2. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System
The Sawyer Squeeze Mini is among the lightest and compact water filters you can find on the market for backpacking trips.
The Mini attaches to the included bag or compatible water bottle, where you then squeeze filtered water into your mouth or when topping up your water bottle.
The Mini can also double as a straw, thus offering more versatility over a bottle. The weight 2 oz doesn’t add much and is a small price for drinking water. The filter life is 1000,000 gallons and can filter down to 0.1 microns.
- High-performance filters
- Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria
- Can connect to some compatible water bottles
- It can be used with a squeeze pouch
- Can be prone to clogging
- Needs force to get water through the filter
With a guide price of just below $20, the Sawyer Mini is a good option for any hiker or camper who may face a lack of water. When coupled with a compatible water bottle, you can scoop up enough water and take it with you.
The back-flush plunger needs carrying with you if you need to clean on the trail and stop the fine filter clogging.
3. Survivor Filter PRO – Virus and Heavy Metal Tested 0.01 Micron Water Filter for Camping, Hiking, and Emergency. 3 Stages – 2 Cleanable 100,000L Membranes and a Carbon Filter for Family Preparedness
If you need to treat large quantities of water, then the Survivor Filter pump filter may be the hand pump water purification system for you. It does weigh in heavier than most other options at 10.9 oz.
It has a filter capacity of 100,000 liters with the ultrafilter, and a carbon filter offers 2,000 liters. The water purification system can also cleanse 1 liter per minute through the 0.01-micron filter and leaves no after taste.
- Efficient time to filter water
- Clears more than protozoa and bacteria – cleans heavy metals
- It makes a great camp water filter
- Additional filters affordable and available
- Not as easy to use as some
- Plastic case not durable
With a guide of just under $65, you are venturing toward camping water filters, yet if there are several of you hiking, it delivers enough liters of water to fill water bottles and have a good drink to remain hydrated.
It could be one of the best hand pump filters thanks to the two changeable filters.
4. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter
The Katadyn Hiker costs more than the Katadyn BeFree, yet it caters to a different group.
Unlike the Katadyn BeFree, you have a reliable pump filter among the best sellers. The pump-action draws up water as you pump it into drinking bottles or containers.
It best works with wide-mouthed bottles and comes with a fitting for water bladders. It weighs in at 11 ounces and is heavier than many options, yet it can clean 200 gallons of water depending on the water source before you need to replace the cartridge.
When the filter clogs, the manufacturer recommends you change it, and the new cartridge filters cost close to what the water filter pump does.
- Water pumping is quick
- Easy rinse and clean filter
- Rugged construction
- Clears aftertaste with active carbon filter
- You will need to change the filter if it clogs
- Hand pump, not the most durable
With a guide of just under $70, it is for the more serious backpacker or camper who knows they need large amounts of water. If you’re a casual hiker, you could be better with the Katadyn BeFree.
However, if you are backpacking for extended periods or need something with a reasonable flow rate. The Katadyn Hiker could be at the top of these types of best backpacking water filters to get rid of bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants such as heavy metals.
5. Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System
The Sawyer Squeeze is the big brother to the Sawyer Mini and does perform as you’d expect.
You can use the Sawyer Squeeze water filter with a compatible water bottle and drink direct, or you can use a small water pouch to force the water through the pre-filter into your water bottles.
The Sawyer Squeeze delivers a fast flow rate and doesn’t skimp on filtration. It offers hollow fiber filtrations rates of removing 99.99999% of bacteria and protozoa giardia, cryptosporidium, salmonella, cholera, and E. coli
- Great flow rates of many water filter or purifier
- Versatile & can be used multiple ways
- Filters rated at 100,000 gallons
- Squeeze bags can be weak
- Not ideal for large groups
With a guide of just below $30, you get a decent amount of water treatment performance from this backpacking water filter to deliver clean water.
The Sawyer Squeeze has various ways to work, and you get plenty of parts in the kit. Like others here, it manages all this without chemical treatments or UV light to deliver clean water.
Water Filtration System For Backpacking Buying Guide
When you want the best water filter, there are things to think about because there are so many types of water filters.
The primary concern is any backpacking water filters you select can offer the right water treatment levels to eliminate bacteria and viruses.
Most natural water sources contain microscopic organisms, and the majority of water filters of 2020 are designed to remove bacteria and protozoa including giardia and cryptosporidium, effectively.
Finer-grained filters that we tend to call water purifiers are often needed to remove these in international waters or remove chemical purification like chlorine dioxide and ultraviolet light.
Here’s a quick look at what you need to know.
Squeeze Water Filters
Single-stage filters are suitable for removing bacteria and protozoa, although not viruses. Best used with clear water sources low in particulates to prevent clogs. Processing speed depends on the dirty bottle size connected to the filter as well as the pressure.
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System and Katadyn BeFree 1 Liter Water Filter Systems good examples.
Gravity water filters can process larger quantities of water using gravity. The gravity filter dirty bag hangs with a hose into the water filter. The output flows to another hose reservoir or the “clean bag.”
Examples of these Gravity filters are:
- Platypus GravityWorks 4 Liter Water Filter System
- Katadyn BeFree 3 Liter Gravity Water Filter System
- Sawyer 1 Gallon Gravity Filter System works with inline filter
Bottle and Straw Water Filters
Bottle and straw filters comprise a single-stage, hollow fiber filter where the hiker sucks water from a bottle or water source.
You may see these in use where there is lots of water around. Good examples of these are:
- Lifestraw Flex Water Bottle Filter or the Lifestraw Water Filter
Pump Water Filters and Purifiers
Pump water filters filter out bacteria and protozoa, and they can remove viruses. Most often, with hand pumps, you force water through filters into secondary storage. It would help if you had effort, and they can be harder to use when filters begin to block. Most have a pre-filter to prevent this, which you can wash off.
Some examples are:
- MSR Guardian Water Purifier
- Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter
Chemical water purifiers can be found in tablet or liquid form. The best chemical is chlorine dioxide, and has no taste or color and kills bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.
Individuals and not groups use chemical purification because it can take 15 minutes to 4 hours to purify a liter of water with Aquamira Water drops. While lightweight, it is expensive per liter compared to methods seen here. Hikers carry chlorine dioxide just in case and can include:
- Katadyn Micropur Water Purification Tablets
- Aquamira Water Treatment Drops
UV Light Purification
UV light purifiers are effective for water purification and neutralizing bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. They are best used with clear water as they can’t remove particulates. It is quick, though not suitable for processing large quantities.
It also depends on working batteries such as the Steripen Ultra
In testing, we ruled out all chemicals and gravity as these take too long if you are on a day hike. When you are desperate for a drink, there is nothing faster than the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness.
Many hikers complain of laying down, yet scoop up a cup of water, and you can sit down and drink as if using any straw. It offers high-performance bacteria cleaning and is very affordable.
It can efficiently perform with many larger units and without less effort. You can also find it lasts as long as filters that are larger and more costly.
Read more: Best Hiking Gear for Beginners