10 Best Backpacking Water Filters 2020: Portable Purifiers

Backpacking is a real fun where an individual or a group of friends explore the beauty of the countryside by hiking, camping or riding on the mountain bikes. 

It is essential for you to keep yourself hydrated while exploring the land escapes or mountains. But it is not possible to carry multiple water containers with you to keep your drinking needs checked. The backpackers always prefer light carry bags with essential things stored to travel easily and comfortably. Therefore, to meet the daily water needs while traveling, it is necessary to have a backpacking water filter or purifier that will help you in drinking water from ponds, lakes, and water streams free from protozoa, bacteria, and viruses. 

But as there are different types of water filters available, therefore, it won’t be easy for you to easily select a particular one for you. For the best selection according to your needs, you must first know about different types of water filters available on the market for the backpackers.  

So, here in this article, you will find a list of best backpacking water filters. We have mixed up different types of water filters in the list to make the selection process more comfortable for you. Also, there is a buyer’s guide that covers various factors that need your consideration before purchasing a water filter/purifier.

Best Backpacking Water Filters (Comparison)

 Best Backpacking Water Filters 
Editor's ChoiceSawyer Products PointOne Squeeze Water Filter
  • Easy maintenance

  • Syringe filter cleaner

  • U shaped microtubes

Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
  • Cleaning capacity 1500 gallons

  • 1.7 liters/min flow rate

  • 0.2 microns hollow-fiber micro filter

Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter
  • EZ Clean membrane

  • 2.0 liters/min flow rate

  • Easy installation

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  • 4000 liters/filter

  • weighs only 2.0 ounces

  • 0.2 microns microfiltration membrane

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
  • 1000,000 gallons/year

  • 0.1 micron microfiltration membrane

  • Easy maintenance

Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter
  • 1 liter water/minute

  • 0.2 micron glass fiber filter

  • Comes with activated carbon

MSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter
  • 1 liter/minute

  • Easy-to-squeeze mechanism

  • EPA-approved

Aquamira – Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment Two Part Liquid
  • 1 bottle/30 gallons

  • Purifies water in 15 min

  • Easy installation

MSR Guardian Purifier
  • Self-cleaning technology

  • 2000 gallons/filter

  • 2.5 liters/min flow rate

SteriPen Ultra
  • 50 treatments/charging

  • OLED panel

  • Easy installation


1. Sawyer Products PointOne Squeeze Water Filter System – Overall Best for Personal Use

  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 Ounce 
  • Type: Bottle/Gravity Filter

More Features: Sawyer OnePoint water filter has a higher flow rate. It comes with an easy maintenance. Furthermore, it has a syringe filter cleaner for cleaning process.

Sawyer water filters for personal use

Sawyer PointOne Filter System is ideal for hikers who love to travel light. Don’t need to carry any pots and pans for boiling up contaminated stream water. Just screw the filter system on a pouch or bottle and press the container to enjoy a refreshing drink.

The push and pull cap will assist you in drinking water directly from the filter. Furthermore, the filter includes reusable 16, 32, and 64-ounce pouches, so you have the option of carrying the one which suits your journey. The filter can also be attached to two-liter water bottles. 

The filter system consists of U-shaped microtubes that trap more than 99% of bacteria. The water enters the PointOne filter through minute micro-pores which keeps the contamination at bay. To strengthen the cleaning process of water filter, 0.1-micron size of pores confine cysts such as E.coli, Vibrio cholera, and salmonella Typhi, etc.

On the other hand, tiny tubes and their large surface area introduce the quality of a higher flow rate, so you don’t need to carry any container to store water. The maintenance process of the filter is as easy as pie. As it comes with a syringe filter cleaner, the process of cleaning a water filter has never been this easy.

2. Platypus GravityWorks 4.0 Liter High Capacity Water Filter System –  Overall Best for Group Use

  • Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.8 x 5.8 inches
  • Weight: 11.5 Ounce 
  • Type: Gravity Filter

More Features: This water filter has a pretty good water flow. The cleaning capacity is up to 1500 gallons of water. It has a good filter life.

Platypus water filter with 4 liter capacity

Want to go on a family vacation and don’t know how to maintain an adequate supply of fresh water, then this Platypus GravityWorks Filter System can produce almost 4 liters of energizing water. Just fill the dirty water reservoir and attach it with clean water bag utilizing one of the hoses supplied with the filter.

No need for any pumping system, as the gravity will handle all the squeezing required to collect water. Just hang the dirty water bag above the clean water storage pouch on a tree or a boulder and let the gravity do its magic. Furthermore, you can get clean water for cooking and washing in 2.5 minutes due to its 1.75 liter/minute flow rate.

You won’t need to throw out the replaceable filter cartridge anytime soon as it can remove pollutants up to 1500 gallons of water due to its 0.2 microns hollow-fiber micro filter and has the approval of NSF. 

We know that you don’t like to carry a lot of luggage when you are traveling in a remote area. Its universal bottle adapter can fit directly into any container. Consequently, you can leave most parts of the filter system in your house. By just spending a few bucks, you can get your hands on GravityWorks Carbon Element which is quite effective in removing odor and disgusting flavors from the water. 

3. Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter – Best for Fast and Light Missions

  • Dimensions: 4.2 x 3 x 10 inches
  • Weight: 2.3 Ounce 
  • Type: Bottle Filter

More Features: Katadyn comes with a good flow of water. It has an easy installation and maintenance. The slim and sleek design occupies less space in your backpack.

Katadyn water filter for travelling

Looking for a water filter which can fit into any place without creating a fuss, just pick the Katadyn BeFree Water Filter when you are shopping for all the essentials for your trekking trip. The filter system fits into any pocket of the bag, vest or purse you designate for it.

Days, when you used to waste your breath on squeezing or pumping for a single drop of clean water, are gone. Just scoop the contaminated water in 1.0L Hydrapak flask and let EZ-Clean Membrane do all the work. 

The 0.1-micron water filter removes all the particles from 1000 liters of water which may harm your health. Don’t need to waste hours cleaning the filter. Just shake or swish the membrane, and it will be ready for the next batch of water. By removing Giardia & Cryptosporidium, the filter has been able to fulfill every EPA standard.

Katadyn knows about the hygiene of the mouthpiece. Stay clean drink nozzle is the part of the filter system so you can drink water without worrying about any kind of bacteria.  To summarize, the Katadyn BeFree Water filter gives you clean and fresh water whenever you require it because of its 2.0 liter/minute flow rate.

4. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – Best for Emergency Backup

  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Weight: 2.0 Ounce 
  • Type: Straw Filter

More Features: It’s an affordable mini water filter that purifies 99.9% contaminations from water along with bad odor and taste. You can purify up to 4000 liters with one filter.

lifeStraw water filter for emergency

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is ideal for an emergency or short trip to nearby hills. Its direct water-to-mouth technology lets you suck the water directly from the source without worrying about any parasites. In other words, you will be able to get debris-free water in seconds. Just weighing 2.0 ounce, you will not even feel the weight of the filter in your backpack.

The 0.2-micron microfiltration membrane is capable enough to battle 99.9 percent of contamination residing in the natural water source. Moreover, it has the capacity of handling more than 4000 liters or 1000 gallons of water. To clean the filter, you just need to blow on it a few times.

For a long trip, you can utilize this water filter system as a backup. Sometimes an accident happens, and you may run out of your water source. Just place the straw-like filter into the nearby lake and kneel to quench your thirst through the filter.

LifeStraw Personal Filter has been known for making the water taste better. In other words, the filter system provides you with fresh water from the murkiest water source you can find. So, never forget to go on to your next trip to biking treks without this water filter.

5. Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System – Most Compact Backpacking Water Filter

  • Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 2.0 Ounce 
  • Type: Bottle/Straw Filter

More Features: This mini water filtration system is super easy to install and maintain. It can filter up to 1000,000 gallons of water/filter.

Sawyer compact backpack water filter

Need a water filter for your children so they can have a clean water supply during their next camping trip, then this Sawyer Mini Filter is the ideal choice for you. Anyone can utilize this easy-to-handle Sawyer Mini Filter System. Besides, the lightweight, quality and compact size of the filter allows it to fit easily into your hand. 

As it comes with a 16-ounce squeeze pouch, you just need to screw the filter on the mouth of the bag and let it show its magic. If you don’t prefer pouches, then secure it on containers such as water bottles. Drink up the cleanest water you can get, thanks to the efficient system of the filter.

The filter system also includes straw which makes it easy for you to drink from any source. Whether it is a plastic bottle or tin can, there will be no problem in reaching the water. On another hand, if you don’t like to carry bulky water containers then just utilize a straw for drinking directly from the water source. 

With the capacity to filter up to 100,000 gallons, 0.1-micron U-shaped hollow fiber microtubes only allow water molecules to enter the system. No place for bacteria and parasites inside the filter. To clean it, you just need a plastic syringe to remove debris from the filter. The syringe is included in the package. 

6. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter – Best Pump Filter

  • Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 11 Ounce 
  • Type: Pump Filter 

More Features: Katadyn microfilter is an affordable pump filter. It comes with an easy maintenance. The filter protector of this microfilter is removable.

Katadyn best pump filter

Have you just started taking an interest in hiking and don’t know which water filter to select for your trip? Don’t think twice while selecting Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Filter. 

You will be able to filter 1 liter of water in less than a minute due to its easy-to-use pumping system. Unlike other filters that come with a pumping system, Katadyn Hiker does not require you to put too much effort. Just place one end of the hose in the nearby water source and fasten the other end on the container. The hose ends also include filters to capture sediments. With few pumps, you will be able to produce clean water from the dirtiest water source you can find. 

0.2-micron glass fiber filter can remove bacteria such as giardia, salmonella, and cryptosporidium, etc. with ease. The pleated design of the filter increases the surface area which assists in capturing tiniest pollutants present in water.  Furthermore, the cartridge comes with a removable filter protector, so you don’t need to purchase a new glass fiber filter after a few uses. 

To improve the taste of water, the filter system uses activated carbon. The activated carbon will also get rid of any odor so you can enjoy your drink without holding your breath. 

7. MSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter – Pocket-Sized Pump Filter

  • Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 2.4 inches
  • Weight: 5.2 Ounce 
  • Type: Pump Filter

More Features: MSR compact water filter comes in convenient size that can be put into the pocket while travelling. It has an EPA-approved technology.

MSR Trailshot compact pump filter

Love to go for long walks in the secluded forest behind your house every morning. Then MSR TrailShot Filter is here to solve all your problems regarding clean water. 

The small size of the filter system allows it to fit in your trouser pocket. Just attach the tube with filter and place it in the stream or lake. Squeeze the filter to make water enter the water filter. It is up to you whether you drink directly from the filter or store it in a container. You don’t have to lie down on the ground to reach any water source.

The convenient system of the filter makes it easy to access 1 liter of clean water in a minute. No need to waste too much energy on getting refreshing water due to it easy to squeeze mechanism. In other words, you will be able to fill your containers with clean water in a few minutes.

EPA approved hollow fiber technology removes any particle which can make it difficult for you to plan future trips. Without relying on chemicals such as iodine and chlorine, the filter has the capacity for handling 2000 gallons of water without requiring any replacement. To increase the life of the filter, the TrailShot tubes consist of pre-filters that obliterate larger particles.

8. Aquamira – Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment Two Part Liquid – Best Chemical Treatment

  • Dimensions: 4 x 2 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 3.0 Ounce 
  • Type: Chemical Purifier

More Features: Aquamira comes with chlorine dioxide water treatment. It’s easy to maintain. The slim and sleek design occupies less space.

Aquamira water filter for chemical treatment

Planning a trip to an area whose quality of tap water is suspicious. Want to connect with nature but believe in the extinction of disinfecting water source. Aquamira Water Treatment will solve all your problems. 

Chlorine not only kills bacteria but also targets viruses that most of the water filter ignore. Furthermore, chlorine prevents any recontamination of the open water source. 

You can utilize Aquamira Water Treatment while being blindfolded. The treatment includes two bottles labeled as part A and parts B. Just add seven drops of solution from each bottle into the cap which is the part of the package. Wait for 5 minutes and then mix the solution into 1 liter of water. You will enjoy a thirst-quenching glass of water in less than 15 minutes. 

The bottles have enough drops to purify 30 gallons of water. You can utilize it to remove contamination from the larger water source. Moreover, you can purchase the product for a hiking trip where there is a risk that your filter may break.  If you are not planning any outdoor adventure any time soon, then don’t need to worry about the expiry date of the product. Aquamira can sit on your lonely shelf for more than five years.

9. MSR Guardian Purifier  – Most Reliable Hand Pump

  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Weight: 2.0 Ounce 
  • Type: Straw Filter

More Features: This water purifier comes with easy maintenance. It’s a lightweight hand pump for easy mobility. MSR Guardian water filter has an advanced self-cleaning technology.

MSR Guardian hand pump water filter

Love to go to places where normal people find living conditions equal to hell. MSR Guardian Purifier will ensure that you will never regret your decision of visiting a location due to the fear of suffering from a mysterious disease.

Ideal for a visit to developing countries, MSR Purifier can work perfectly in any condition whether it is in the middle of the Sahara Desert or the Arctic. The purifier has the ability to remove bacteria as well as viruses unlike several of the water filters.  

The filter system can supply 2.5 liters of freshwater in a minute. Moreover, you don’t need to replace any filters before it has successfully clean 2000 gallons or 10,000 liters of water. 

The filter doesn’t require any pampering. The self-cleaning technology cleans any debris after every stroke. In other words, you don’t have to backflush or scrub the filters anymore.

The purifier is a bit heavy and expensive for shorter trips. It is only suitable for individuals who go on trips on a regular basis. The purifier may seem like a luxury for individuals who go on a vacation once a year. Moreover, it is not easy to carry the equipment around with you.

10. SteriPen Ultra – Best UV Water Purifier

  • Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Weight: 4.8 Ounce 
  • Type: UV Purifier

More Features: It’s the best ultra violet water purifier. It provides you with 50 treatments in one charge. This water purifier has a rechargeable battery.

Steripen water purifier

Need to get rid of irritating thirst immediately and can’t wait for sluggish water filters to purify the water. Just place the SteriPen Ultra inside the mouth of water and let it put the other water filters to shame. In 90 seconds, you will have an energizing glass of water in your hand.

SteriPen will use UV rays to destroy more than 99 percent of bacteria and viruses present in the water. Moreover, it also prevents pollutants from reproducing. Protozoa do not even have a chance to stand against the UV rays of SteriPen.

The filter system can fit into any size of the opening of the water bottle. Understanding OLED display is not rocket science. It informs you about when the filter needs to be recharged and whether the water is clean enough to be gulped down. Moreover, you can easily recharge it by connecting to a computer or solar panel. 

SteriPen can perform 50 treatments in one charge. To summarize, a single battery can treat 15,000 liters of water.  SteriPen may be easy to use, but it can’t treat the large murky source of water. On the other hand, its battery operating feature makes it unsuitable for long trips. 

Buyer’s Guide

Before purchasing your best backpacking water filter, it is quite necessary to learn about the difference between water filtration and water purification. Also, it is essential to know about different types of backpacking water filters and purifiers to make your selection process easier. 

But from where you can find all this information? 

Therefore, to make things easier for you, we are here with a buyer’s guide to help you know about different water filters and purifiers. Also, you will be able to know about the different factors that you should consider before purchasing a particular water filter. 

Difference between Water Filtration and Water Purification

We have added both the water filtration and purification units in the below list. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the difference between the two. 

There is no prominent difference between these two, and that’s why these terms confuse many people. But if we focus on a difference, then water filters have the ability to remove bacteria and protozoa whereas water purifiers filter viruses as well. 

Now, it is time to discuss different types of water filters and purifiers.

Pump Water Filters and Purifiers

As we all know that water filters remove protozoa and bacteria from water and the water purifiers also treat viruses along with bacteria and protozoa. So, these pump filters and purifiers also work on the same principle. 

Pump water filters and purifiers are not new; they have been used in the past and still they are very effective. But after the introduction of gravity and bottle filters, these pump filters have slightly lost their value. 

They feature a hand pump through which water reaches the filter from one source and then filters out into another storage container. The one hose sucks the water with the help of a hand pump and filters the water. On the other side, the second hose helps the filtered water to move into a clean water container for drinking or using.   

These pump water filters effectively remove the contaminants in no time but require elbow grease for smooth operation. But these filters require some regular maintenance. The cartridge used requires some regular cleaning to get the best output water. 

The best examples of pump water filters and purifiers are Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter and MSR Guardian Water Purifier. 

Gravity Filters

Gravity filters are best for treating a large amount of water. These filters are best for camping and hiking when you are with a group of people. 

These filters don’t use any pumping system to filter the water. Instead of this, gravity shows its power to filter the water. 

Gravity Water Filter

If we take an example of the Platypus GravityWorks water filtration system, then it offers the fastest and easiest way of cleaning the dirty water. It can clean 4 liters of dirty water at a time in less than 2.5 minutes. 

These types of gravity filters are quite easy to use. All you need is to fill the dirty water into the dirty bag and hang it at some height. The water then flows downward through the hose into the filter and then collected into a clean reservoir for drinking. But keep in mind that you should hang the dirty water container up than the clean water reservoir to let the gravity works.   

But many hikers and campers don’t prefer these gravity filters as you have to carry a lot of stuff to filter the water in the backcountry. Also, it is not easy every time to get a place to hang the dirty water container. 

So, if carrying all the stuff like hoses, dirty bag, filtration unit, and the clean water reservoir is hard for you, then you can go for pump filters, straw filters, and even the chemical treatments are quite effective in making the water drinkable. 

Bottle Filters and Purifiers 

These bottled water filters are best for backpackers as they are versatile. You cannot only drink water straight from the bottle, but you can also store the filtered water into another container for future use. 

The single-stage hollow fiber filter is used by the bottle filters. This filter is commonly used by gravity, inline, and squeeze water filters. They are light in weight, and that’s why many hikers and cyclists prefer these bottle filters and purifiers. 

But their filtration rate is not great. You have to wait for a little time to get your filtered water out. In comparison, various pump filters filter the water at a higher rate. Other than this, you can’t say that gravity models require some efforts to filter the water when you have this bottle filter or purifier. 

Chemical Water Purifiers

Chemical water treatment is either done with the help of tablets or drops. Both these things are quite effective in purifying your water. Many people carry tablets or drops for a safer side to use them as a secondary option to filter and purify water. These chemical water purifiers take around 30 minutes to a couple of hours to purify water. 

The best chemical ingredient that many people prefer is Chlorine dioxide. Take an example of Aquamira chlorine dioxide drops where you only need to add drops into the dirty water to make it pure. Also, the best thing about this chlorine dioxide is that it has no taste and no color. You can freely add chlorine dioxide into the water without worrying about the chemical taste or color. 

Other than chlorine dioxide, you can also use the Potable Aqua Iodine tablet that is the most prevalent chemical water purification system. But one drawback of these tablets is that you have to drink the water with a chemical taste. 

Straw Filters     

Straw filters are also handy and common between hikers, mountain bike riders, and long-distance backpackers. The best thing about these straw filters is that you can directly suck the water from ponds, lakes, and water streams. There is no need to carry water with you or make some efforts like the other water filters and purifiers. Also, they are light in weight and less expensive as compared to the gravity and pump filters. But these straws are not for everyone as you can’t store water with the help of them. Also, it is risky to only depend on the straw filter when you are miles away from your home. 

Ultraviolet Water Purifiers

The last type of water filters and purifiers include UV water purifiers. They use ultraviolet rays to remove viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. It is quite an effective way of treating water to make it safe for drinking. 

Since these water purifiers go directly into the non-filtered water, therefore, it is necessary to dip it into clear water. Also, these purifiers are not capable of eliminating organic matter. Other than this, a UV water purifier needs batteries to continue working. Therefore, you must have to keep batteries with you when going outdoors. 

As, we have discussed all the types of water filters and purifiers, so it is time to look into various factors that need your consideration before purchasing your ideal backpacking water filter according to your needs. 

Factors to consider before purchasing backpacking water filters

Filter Life

The life span of a cartridge that your filter uses is the most important thing to consider. Many people don’t focus on filter life, thus spend more money on replacing the cartridges. So, it is crucial to consider this factor. 

But different types of water filters feature different cartridges having a different life span. Here we take an example of Sawyer Squeeze which can treat up to 1 million gallons of water without a need of replacing the cartridges. Also, the best thing about the Sawyer Squeeze is that the company hasn’t worked in making the replacement cartridges for it. See, how much trust they have on their product. 

But other than the Sawyer Squeeze some water filters have a life span of 15000 liters of water whereas some filter cartridges need replacement just before reaching 1000 liters. 

Here, it is important to note that some water filters and purifiers are less expensive and their cartridges also come with a shorter life span. So, these filters will make you pay more in the long run as compared to those filters that are expensive but have a great cartridge life span. Therefore, it is necessary to go for the right filter by keeping this thing in mind.     

Weight of the product

Backpackers always prefer compact and lightweight water filters and purification units so that they can easily fit inside their bags without making the bags heavier. There are many filtration units that are light in weight, but there are also some effective systems that are bulky and heavier. So, it depends on you how much weight of a filter you can easily afford in your bag. 

If we talk about the lightest option, then it is the chemical water purifiers that come in both the droplets and tablets. These drops or tablets weigh nothing; also they will take very less space in the pockets of your bags. Aquamira chlorine dioxide droplets only weigh 3 ounces whereas Potable Aqua Iodine tablets then they come weighing 6 ounces in case of the neutralizer tablets. Also, if we talk about filters, then the Sawyer Squeeze water filter is only 3.2 ounces. Also, Katadyn BeFree Water Filter, LifeStraw Water filter, and SteriPen Ultra are of 2.3, 2, and 4.8 ounces respectively.      

Pump and gravity filters carry more weight than the other types of filters and purifiers. Also, they take more space in the bags. If you are traveling with a group of people and you have multiple bags along with you, then you can go for these filter types. Platypus GravityWorks filter and the MSR Guardian are the perfect examples of heavy filter systems. 

But there are some filters that are neither heavier nor lightest. 

Flow Rate

Before purchasing a particular model or type of water filter, the flow rate is also important to consider. The flow rate of the filter always matters no matter whether you are purchasing a unit that works at homes or looking for a backpacking water filter. 

Different filter models offer different flow rates. Some produce a good amount of filtered water in less time whereas some are not efficient enough to produce an adequate amount of water in a minute. 

MS Guardian filter and purifier top the list as it can deliver 2.5 liters of water in a minute. Other than this, gravity filters like Platypus GravityWorks can fill a clean container up to 1.75 liters in one minute. There are also different filters that offer a slower flow rate than others. But it is better to go for a filter system that can filter out water in a large amount and in less time. 

Also, if we talk about chemical treatments, then there are different chemicals that can purify water between 15 and 30 minutes. 

But here one thing you should keep in mind is that most of the time, the flow rate fails to match the listed number by the manufacturers. So, it is necessary to make sure that whether your chosen product can offer you the same flow rate as its written. 

Pore Size

Pore size is measured in micron that refers to how effective your filter cartridge is to block the particles present in the flowing or still water. Different filters and purifiers come with different pore sizes, so it is always better to go for a filter that features smaller and tiny openings. Protozoa and bacteria can be easily blocked with the help of 0.1 or 0.2-micron pore size. But to prevent viruses, you must have a unit that can both filter and purify water such as the MSR Guardian.  

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