Best Water Filter & Water Purifier Options for Camping, Hiking, & Backpacking

Anytime you head out on the trail one of your main concerns is making sure you have clean drinking water for the entirety of the trip. Depending on the terrain and the conditions that you are heading out into could greatly affect the type of water filter or purification system that you choose. Additionally, we recommend that you not only choose a primary water treatment method but also have a backup water treatment option. Depending on the type of water you will be encountering you may even want to pack a prefilter.

During the course of this post, we will outline the various types of water filter and water purifier options. For each of these options, we offer two or three of the most popular examples of each and talk about the pros and cons of each water treatment option, as well as the best circumstances to use each of these options. Then, at the end of this post, we will offer our recommendation and what we think will be the most well-rounded solution to suit most situations.

Table of Contents

This list outlines the various categories of water filters and water purifiers that we will discuss in order to help you determine the best water filter to fit your needs during your upcoming Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, Kayaking, or Canoeing (or any other trip that may require water purification) trip. At the end of this post, we will provide our recommendation for the best water filter and/or purifier based on our experiences.

Water Filter & Purifier Categories

Filters vs. Purifiers

To get things started, we will cover the differences between water filters and water purifiers. Water purifiers provide a higher level of defense and protection when attempting to drink water found in the backcountry. To clarify while both filters and purifiers offer protection from various microorganisms, a water filter is designed to remove waterborne protozoa and bacteria, but not viruses. Whereas, a water purifier is designed to remove protozoa, bacteria, and viruses.

Every water filter, and many water purifiers, include an internal element or cartridge with microscopic pores whose main function is to catch debris, protozoa, and bacteria. Many filters and purifiers also include activated carbon in their filtering elements because it is effective at removing unpleasant tastes from things like leaf tannins. Activated carbon also reduces contaminants like pesticides and other industrial chemicals.

Most water purifiers use chemicals (i.e. iodine) to kill viruses, which are far smaller than protozoa and bacteria, and because of this, they are too small for backpacking filters to catch. Until recently, UV light, chemical treatments, or boiling your water were required to deactivate viruses by scrambling their DNA. However, thanks to recent advancements in technology, you can now use physical purifiers to remove viruses, along with bacteria and protozoa.


Prefilters come in handy when you are traveling to a location where the water source has the possibility of being a bit murky and full of things such as glacial sediment, silty water, leaf debris, and/or mud stirred up by a rainstorm. While not typically a health concern, natural particles impact how easy water is to treat, how much field maintenance is required, and the lifespan of filter elements.

Simply put, a prefilter is an accessory that simply removes large particles from your water to improve the treatment process. Additionally, with some of the other water purifiers that you will read about below, a prefilter is either required or highly recommended.

Pros of a prefilter:

  • It helps maintain a pump filter’s flow rate, lessen cleaning chores and extend its element life.
  • It improves the effectiveness of chemical treatments.
  • It’s absolutely essential prior to using a UV purifier on nonclear water.

Cons of a prefilter:

  • Cannot fully filter the water to a safe, drinkable state.
  • Must be used in conjunction with a water filter or water purifier.
  • Takes up space and adds weight to your pack.


1 Micron 4″x8″ Singed Polyester Felt Filter Bag

MSRP: $9-$10

Weight: 3 oz

The fabric of this polyester felt filter bag is singed to prevent the breaking of fibers during filtering. While polyester felt is not always as easy to clean as mesh, it can still be cleaned for reuse. However, once these bags have been used to the point that they are beyond cleaning they are meant to be thrown away. Polyester has an excellent rating with water, vegetable oils from animals and plants, petro-oils, organic solvents, and micro-organisms. Polyester has a good rating with Alkalis, Organic acids, mineral acids, and oxidizing acids.

4 Inch Ring by 15 Inch Long Filter Socks 1 Micron – 3 Pack (1 Micron)

MSRP: $17-$18

Weight: 2-3 oz (7.9 oz for all 3)

This felt sock filter with a 4-inch diameter plastic ring can effectively remove a large number of solid particles contained in the liquid pollutants, solving a variety of filtration problems. Micron fibers felt filter bags provide excellent mechanical filtration, which helps reduce the amount of ammonia-producing organic matter by trapping debris. Solid construction and heavy-duty indentation stitching create strong and durable felt sock filters so they can be cleaned and reused numerous times.


Chemical Water Purifiers

When exploring the different chemical water purifiers, the first decision you will be faced with is whether to go with tablets or liquid form. Next, you will have to decide if you want to go with the new kid on the block, chlorine dioxide (available in tablet and liquid form), or the age-old, tried-and-true iodine tablets.

The oldest and most commonly known version of chemical treatment is iodine tablets. Additionally, most people always think of them as giving the water a terrible taste and discoloring the water. Fortunately, these days iodine tablets no longer discolor and give water that gross taste that they used to, due to countering, taste-neutralizer tablets. On the flip side of the coin, it is not the only option anymore. These days many would consider chlorine dioxide tablets or drops a superior form of chemical water purification.

Basically, chemical water purifiers release chemicals (i.e. chlorine) that interact with and effectively destroy protozoa, bacteria, and viruses within the water. They typically consist of multiple parts and usually take half an hour to an hour to fully disinfect the water. You merely read the instructions to make sure you apply enough solution to the amount of water you are treating, and then, once applied you just wait the proper amount of time and enjoy your water.

Pros of chemical water purifiers:

  • Very lightweight and easy to use.
  • Relatively affordable.
  • Kills bacteria, protozoa, and some kill viruses (read the fine print)
  • Ultra-small and ultralight.
  • An excellent backup method to pack in case your main filter breaks.

Cons of chemical water purifiers:

  • Still unfiltered (could have contaminants).
  • Calculated finite number of uses.
  • Wait time before drinking is 30 minutes to 4 hours (icy cold water takes longer).
  • Iodine products impart a chemical taste (can be countered by taste-neutralizer tablets).
  • Iodine products are not effective against Cryptosporidium, though they work fine against other types of protozoa.
  • Iodine products can be a concern to pregnant women and people with a thyroid condition.


Aquamira – Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment Two Part Liquid (1 oz Droppers Bottles)

MSRP: $15

Weight: 3.5 oz

The technical information provided on Amazon by Aquamira:

“Chlorine dioxide is generated when the Aquamira Water Treatment comes in contact with water. Chlorine dioxide is iodine and chlorine free. The unique formula works by releasing nascent oxygen, a highly active form of oxygen, which is a strong oxidant and a powerful germicidal agent. Chlorine dioxide has been used by municipal water treatment plants to kill a variety of waterborne pathogens since the late 1940s. Unlike free chlorine (familiar as household bleach) or other halogen chemicals (such as iodine), chlorine dioxide does not create potentially harmful by-products.

Aquamira’s key benefits are clearly evident when compared to the other common portable water treatment chemicals such as iodine. Chlorine dioxide is a significantly stronger oxidant than iodine. Unlike iodine, chlorine dioxide eradicates protozoan cysts such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia which are responsible for over 80% of waterborne illnesses. Chlorine Dioxide does not discolor water, nor does it give water an unpleasant taste. In fact, chlorine dioxide is often used to improve the taste of water by neutralizing unpleasant flavors.”

Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets With PA Plus – Two 50 count Bottles

MSRP: $8

Weight: 2 oz

The technical information provided on Amazon by Potable Aqua:

“Used and trusted by military and emergency organizations worldwide, Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets With PA Plus disinfect contaminated drinking water in any situation. Included are two types of tablets: Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets to make water bacteriologically suitable to drink, and PA Plus tablets to neutralize the after-taste and color in the water. It only takes two germicidal water purification tablets and two PA plus tablets to disinfect one quart (one liter) of water. These portable water treatment tablets are effective against bacteria and Giardia lamblia.”


UV Light Water Purifiers

Ultraviolet Light has proven to be an effective form of water purification that neutralizes bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Once you have clean water, you simply grab one of these pen-style devices, push a button, and stir. When the UV light turns off (60 seconds or so) you stop stirring and you will have treated all the water inside a bottle.

However, there are a few shortcomings of UV light water purifiers. The primary drawback is that it must be used with clear water since it does not remove any particulates or organic matter. So, UV light purification is best used in conjunction with a microfilter or prefilter. Additionally, while UV purification is relatively fast, it is not ideal for processing large quantities of water. Finally, UV light water treatment options tend to be on the more expensive side of water purifiers and depend on batteries, which have the potential to run out of power and cause a failure in the field.

Pros of ultraviolent light water purifiers:

  • Sterilizes bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.
  • Allows you to drink the water right away.
  • Requires minimal effort and works quickly.
  • No element cleaning and replacement are ever needed.
  • Lightweight, very convenient, and fast.

Cons of ultraviolent light water purifiers:

  • Clear, prefiltered water required for UV treatment (water can not be dirty/murky).
  • Requires batteries and could potentially fail in the field.
  • UV light water purifiers tend to be more expensive than other options.
  • Multiple treatments are required to produce large quantities (only purifies what is in the bottle).


SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Personal Water Purifier for Camping, Backpacking, Emergency Preparedness, and Travel

MSRP: $95

Weight: 3.2oz

The technical information provided on Amazon by Steripen:

“The Adventurer Opti Water Purifier uses a revolutionary optical eye to sense the water. The patent-pending technology provides safe use and the standard insulating sleeve around the UV lamp allows purification in even the coldest of waters. Fast, light, easy and effective, the provides the ultimate protection from waterborne illnesses. UV purification works as the ultraviolet energy emitted by the light is absorbed by the cells of the microbe, preventing cell enzymes from ‘reading’ its DNA. Without intact DNA, microbes can’t reproduce to make you sick. The process is simple but effective, destroying over 99.9 percent of harmful microorganisms. Great for camping, hiking and backpacking. Easy to use 1 button operation; LED light quickly indicates when ready to purify, then place the pen like lamp in clear water and stir until indicator light turns green. Dirty water should be pre filtered until clear prior to treatment. The UV lamp provides up to 8,000 one liter treatments. Device works with containers with minimum 1.75 in. diameter opening (i.e. Nalgene wide-mouth bottles). Low power indicator lets you know when batteries need replacing. Automatic shut off when treatment is complete. Includes black neoprene case with belt loop and 2 non-rechargeable CR123 batteries and instructions.”

CrazyCap 2.0 UV Water Purifier & Self Cleaning Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle – Turns Any Water Source Into Clean Drinkable Water – Perfect for Hiking Camping Travel and Survival

MSRP: $70

Weight: 12.6oz

Here is some of the technical information that can be found on the CrazyCap website:

CrazyCap is the result of years of research, testing and development in partnership with leading labs around the world. The result? Independent tests prove it makes any debris-free water 100% safe to drink. CrazyCap uses advanced deep UV LED to sterilize water in as little as 60 seconds. As the deep UV light enters the microbial cell, it destroys the nucleic acids. Without this active core, cells are no longer viable.

  • Destroys viruses, bacteria, pathogens and microorganisms
  • Rechargeable cap means no batteries to lose or replace
  • 500k use life provides up to 1.7 million ounces of drinking water

Simply fill your bottle with water from any debris-free source. As long as the water is transparent (so light can pass through it), you’re good to go. Screw on your CrazyCap and gently double tap the on button to purify your water.

Drink confidently.

The CrazyCap is perfect for the trail, travel, or keeping your water bottle clean at the gym.”

Gravity & Inline Water Filters

Gravity filters are typically preferred among couples and small groups because they make it possible to process larger quantities of water by leveraging the power of gravity. By design, a large water reservoir, known as “the dirty bag,” is filled and hung from a tree. From the dirty bag, a hose leads down to a filter and the hose from the filter leads down to what is known as “the clean bag.” For these setups, a single-stage filter (like the ones in squeeze filters) is typically used.

The primary difference between a gravity filter and an inline filter is simply that inline filters have no concept of a “clean bag.” Instead, you would drink directly from the hose that would feed into the clean bag of the gravity filter.

Pros of gravity and inline water filters:

  • Gravity does the work for you.
  • You can easily process large quantities of water for multiple people.
  • The filtering element or cartridge is replaceable.

Cons of gravity and inline water filters:

  • At times, finding a place to hang reservoirs can be difficult.
  • The treatment process is slower than pumping.
  • Seeps and shallow water sources can make it challenging to fill a reservoir.
  • Field cleaning of the filtering element is required.


Waterdrop Gravity Water Filter Straw, Portable Water Purifier Survival for Camping, Hiking, Backpacking and Emergency Preparedness, Blue

MSRP: $35

Weight: 4.64oz

Here is some of the technical information that can be found on the Waterdrop website:

“Waterdrop water filter straw adopts a 0.1-micron hollow fiber membrane, could effectively reduce harmful substances and bacteria in water. The adoption of high-grade coconut shell activated carbon fiber improves odor and taste, ensures water safety and delivers better drinking experience.

Connects to water bags or water bottles to filter water for drinking. No need for the extra syringe to backwash. It eliminates cumbersome fittings and saves space, bringing you pure water with the greatest convenience and comfort.

The filter straw could fulfill all your outdoor water demands, is a nice option for hiking water filter, camping water filter and travel water filter.

With small frame but large filtration capacity, the portable water filter straw can provide up to 100,000 gallons of safe drinking water.”

Simply fill your bottle with water from any debris-free source. As long as the water is transparent (so light can pass through it), you’re good to go. Screw on your CrazyCap and gently double tap the on button to purify your water.

Drink confidently.

The CrazyCap is perfect for the trail, travel, or keeping your water bottle clean at the gym.”

Sawyer Products One-Gallon Gravity Water Filtration System

MSRP: $40

Weight: 8.8oz

The technical information provided by Sawyer:

“A lightweight, robust solution for filtering large quantities of water, Sawyer’s Gravity System with Dual-Threaded MINI filter is ideal for backpacking, backcountry camping, and emergency preparedness. Available in two models, the 1-Gallon Gravity System (SP160) comes with one bag and a MINI, while the 1-Gallon Dual Bladder Gravity System (SP2160) comes with two bags (one for dirty water, one for clean) and a MINI. The Sawyer dual-threaded MINI water filter weighs just 2 ounces, fits in the palm of your hand, and is rated to 0.1 micron absolute filtration — removing 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli, and removing 99.9999% of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium). The MINI also filters out 100% of microplastics. With threads on both sides, you can screw the flip top cap onto the MINI for easy on/off functionality while filtering. Convenient and easily packable, this single- and dual-bag gravity system doesn’t require any pumping and is perfect for camping, hunting, fishing, scouting, disaster relief, and emergency preparedness kits, as well as on adventure travel excursions where potable tap and bottled water are not easily carried or safe to drink. The 1-gallon bladders feature a wide mouth cap that allows for fast and easy filling, as well as a convenient carry handle.”

LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag – Removes Lead, Bacteria, Parasites and Chemicals Blue, 1 gal

MSRP: $42

Weight: 6.9oz

The technical information provided by LifeStraw:

“Life Straw flex with Gravity bag is a powerful 2-stage water Filter that provides safe drinking water in any environment. It removes Bacteria, parasites, and micro plastics while reducing lead and chemicals. It can be used in 4 ways: with the included 1-gallon Gravity bag, as a personal straw, attached to a hydration pack, or with a plastic water bottle. It exceeds us EPA and NSF standards for safe drinking water. The hollow fiber membrane is good for 2, 000 liters (500 Gal), while the replaceable carbon Filter lasts 100 liters (25 Gal).”


Squeeze Filters

These tend to be the most common type of filter found in people’s packs. Due to their affordable nature, being lightweight, ease of use, and effectiveness at quickly treating water, squeeze filters tend to be a favorite among hikers and backpackers. Processing speed depends on how quickly the “dirty” squeeze bag can be filled and how easily the user can squeeze water through the filter. By design, squeeze filters are single-stage filters that are good for removing bacteria and protozoa. However, their primary drawback is that they do not remove viruses.

In an ideal scenario, squeeze filters are best used with clear water sources that are low in particulates and suspended organic matter. Although, we have personally used these filters plenty of times to rid our water source of many various size particles, simply due to necessity. This kind of use just requires a bit more frequent backflushing, either by shaking the filter with water in it and then pouring that water out or by using a cleaning syringe. You can easily tell when the filter needs to be backflushed because the flow rate is considerably reduced and much more force is required to move water through the filtering element.

Pros of squeeze filters:

  • Lightweight, affordable, and effective
  • Compact and versatile
  • Treatment is easy and water is quickly drinkable.
  • The filter element or cartridge is almost always replaceable.
  • Some double as a gravity filter or straw-style filter.
  • On average, lighter, smaller and cost less than pump and gravity filters.

Cons of squeeze filters:

  • Water quantity is limited by the reservoir, flask, or bottle size.
  • Field cleaning of the filtering element is required.
  • Does not remove viruses from water.


Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane for Endurance Sports, Camping and Backpacking

MSRP: $45

Weight: 2.25oz

The technical information provided by Katadyn:

“With the Katadyn befree water filtration system, you no longer have to worry about where your next drink will come from. Just fill up the flask and let the ez-clean membrane do the work. Gently squeeze the flask for instant refreshment. Maintain the ez-clean membrane quickly and easily for longer life and more enjoyment. Simply fill the flask with water, attach the cover and Shake free the debris. Or, remove the Filter from the flask and swish in any lake, River or stream. And when you’re ready to hit the road, the collapsible flask packs small to fit into tight spaces. Just smash, stash and go!.Hydrapak soft flask is longer lasting, rugged, high-tech, flexible, bpa-freeno backflushing and no clumsy tools. Simple Shake or swish the ez-clean membrane in the water and be on your way0.1 micron hollow fiber technologyfor solo usesuitable for cloudy waterlightweight and portableflow rate: 2 liter per minutetested to 1000 L, depending on water qualitywt. 2.3 oz (63g)size: 10.0 x 4.25 x 3.0 in (25.4 x 10.8 x 7.7 cm).”

Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System

MSRP: $40

Weight: 3.2oz

The technical information provided by Sawyer:

“Ideal for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, emergency prep, or traveling abroad, Sawyer’s Squeeze Water Filter ensures access to clean water in the backcountry or anywhere in the world. Rated to 0.1 micron absolute filtration, the Squeeze Filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria such as salmonella, cholera, leptospirosis, and e. Coli, and removes 99. 9999% of all protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium (independent testing laboratory Hydration, LLC.; microbiological report S05-03). The Squeeze Filter also filters out 100% of microplastics. To use, simply fill up the reusable pouch (included on most models) at any water source, screw the filter onto the pouch, and drink directly from the filter or squeeze water into a water bottle. The Squeeze Filter is backed by a manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty. Sawyer individually tests each and every Squeeze Filter three times to performance standards before packaging. The Squeeze Filter comes in a range of models to fit your needs. The SP129 Personal System comes with two 32-ounce, BPA-free water pouches, while the SP131 Personal comes with three BPA-free water pouches (two 32-ounce, one 16-ounce) for more versatile water storage. The SP137 Hydration Kit includes inline adapters for hydration pack bladders (sold separately), plus one 16-ounce pouch and a straw for drinking directly from the source. Great for emergencies, backcountry treks with a large group, or overseas mission trips, the All-in-One System is fully loaded with a 32-ounce pouch, faucet adapter, and adapters for attaching the filter to a 5-gallon bucket (sold separately). The SP181 can create clean, filtered water for a group that can yield up to 540 gallons of clean water per day from any freshwater source.”

Pump Water Filters & Purifiers

Water pumps come in the form of both filters and purifiers. Which as you probably already guessed means that the filters will only filter out bacteria and protozoa. However, there are microfilters, which effectively and physically remove particles, protozoa, and bacteria down to 0.2 microns in size, including giardia, salmonella, cryptosporidia, and others. However, purifiers will indeed also filter viruses out of the water. So, why would you not always just pick a pump water purifier over a pump water filter? Purifiers will often have a slower flow rate and will likely take more effort to pump the water. In addition, pump mechanisms and flow rates differ between each water pump. So, make sure you take the time to read and compare the specifications for each. For example,

Pump water filters and pump water purifiers are fairly straightforward to use. To start, there is a hose that is placed into the water source. Most have a prefilter at the end of the hose to remove particulates and other organic matter. Then, they have a hand pump that forces water through the filtering or purifying agent. This agent will need to be cleaned periodically, but once it is worn out it can typically be replaced. Furthermore, while pumping water does require a bit more elbow grease to operate, water filters and purifiers tend to filter water quickly and can work well for both couples and individuals, which makes it one of the more versatile options.

Pros of pump water filters and purifiers:

  • You can process precisely the amount of water you need.
  • Water can be pulled from seeps and shallow water sources.
  • The internal element or cartridge is replaceable.

Cons of pump water filters and purifiers:

  • Pumping can be a chore, especially at the end of the element’s lifespan.
  • Field cleaning of the element is required.
  • Weight and bulk are greater than other treatment methods.


Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter, Lightweight, Compact Design for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness

MSRP: $73

Weight: 11.2oz

The technical information provided by Katadyn:

“Carrying gallons of water isn’t necessary when you have reliable water sources and are carrying this durable 11-ounce water Micro Filter in your backpack. A quick stop at a River or stream with the pump-action Katadyn hiker Pro water Micro Filter lets you continue on your trek with hydration packs and water bottles full of clean, clear drinking water. This field-cleanable Filter protector screen extends the life of the cartridge in challenging conditions the 0.2 micron glass-fiber Filter media is designed for high output with little effort. It connects directly to your hydration pack with 1/4 inch drink tubes and water bottles. Transparent design allows you to see the filtration working.”


MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier Pump for Backcountry, Global Travel, and Emergency Preparedness

MSRP: $350

Weight: 2.19lbs

The technical information provided by MSR:

“The MSR Guardian Water Purifier Pump was originally designed for the U.S. Military, who turned to MSR’s advanced water filtration technology to keep troops safe and healthy in every remote corner of the globe. Six years of research and development went into engineering the pump purifier, which removes viruses (such as norovirus, rotavirus, hepatitis A), bacteria (such as E. coli. Shigella, salmonella, cholera), protozoa (such as giardia, cryptosporidium, amoebae), and sediment from contaminated water sources anywhere on earth. It meets the strict NSF protocol P248 testing standard for the U.S. Military, using medical-grade fibers to provide protection from the tiniest microbiological waterborne threats. Designed to be fast, simple, and safe, it pumps at a rapid 2.5 liters per minute, has a long-lasting advanced filter that treats up to 10,000 liters of water, and withstands freezing temperatures, drops, heavy use, and harsh environments. A self-cleaning mechanism ensures reliability, flushing contaminants in the filter back into the source, so there is no backflushing or scrubbing cartridges to maintain flow. The MSR Guardian Water Purifier Pump is ideal for wilderness, backcountry use, expeditions, global travel, and emergency preparedness.”


Bottle & Straw Water Filters

Bottle and straw filters are great for trips where you know you are going to either be surrounded by water or you are going to cross water sources abundantly. For example, maybe you know that the trail follows a river for all or a majority of the trip, or perhaps you know that you will cross a particular water source multiple times per day throughout the trip. These types of water filters are ideal for these scenarios because they provide water on demand by drinking from the water source or the ability to fill small reservoirs with water.

The built-in filtering element for this range of filters is usually the same single-stage, hollow fiber filters used in squeeze, gravity, and inline water filtering systems. You would usually use this by sucking water through a straw that has been screwed onto the top of a bottle or by submerging the “dirty” end into the water source itself. This differs from other water treatment because most other water treatment solutions involve filtering the water into a secondary, clean water storage container instead of filtering the water in real-time. As you may assume, these types of filters are normally ideal for a single individual.

Pros of bottle and straw water filters:

  • Treatment is easy and water is quickly drinkable.
  • The element or cartridge is replaceable.
  • On average, lighter and cost less than pump and gravity filters.

Cons of bottle and straw water filters:

  • Water quantity is limited by bottle size.
  • Field cleaning of the element is required.
  • Water is only available when you are at a water source.
  • Generally only a 1-person treatment option.
  • Not all models have replaceable elements.


LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness

MSRP: $15

Weight: 1.62 oz | 46 g

The technical information provided by LifeStraw:

“Removes 99.999999% of bacteria (including E.coli, Salmonella), 99.999% of parasites (including Giardia and Cryptosporidium), 99.999% of microplastics, dirt, sand and cloudiness. Ultralight and durable, the LifeStraw weighs less than 2 ounces (46 g) so you can pack it anywhere. Long-lasting membrane microfilter lasts up to 1,000 gallons (4,000 L) of water – enough drinking water to last an individual for over 5 years! Be prepared with the ultimate survival tool, the LifeStraw has an unlimited shelf life and has been tested all over the globe to face the harshest conditions.

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

MSRP: $20

Weight: 100 grams

The technical information provided by Sawyer:

“Our lightest and most versatile personal water filtration system, the Sawyer MINI weighs just 2 ounces, fits in the palm of your hand, and provides 0.1 micron absolute filtration — removing 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli, removing 99.9999% of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), and removing 100% of microplastics.

Attach the easy-to-use MINI to the included drinking pouch, use the included straw to drink directly from a water source, connect it to hydration pack tubing, or screw it onto standard disposable water and soda bottles.

Rated up to 100,000 filtered gallons of water, the award-winning MINI is perfect for everything from camping with the kids to traveling abroad where tap and bottle water cannot be trusted to kitting out your emergency go bag.”

Our Recommendations

There were multiple factors that went into our decisions below. Namely, we considered weight, cost, and effectiveness. We also wanted to offer our suggestion not only for each level of filtration but also options that we feel are a “one size fits all” and could be used for various forms of outdoor activities where water filtration and/or purification is needed.


If you plan to go to an area that is going to have a lot of sand in the water, then we recommend having one of the prefilters mentioned above that filters down to 1 micron. This should help to remove the very fine silt that can still make its way through filters at times. However, if you are going to be in an area where you are mainly just worried about leaves, bits of bark, and other organic matter, then a common tactic is to cut the foot off of a pair of pantyhose and drape that over the dirty bag for your water filter or purifier while you are filling it up.

Here are our recommendations for this section:

4 Inch Ring by 15 Inch Long Filter Socks 1 Micron – 3 Pack (1 Micron)

Water Filter:

In general, water filters are going to serve the majority of your needs if you are out backpacking. This is because you typically go to remote areas or areas with higher elevations. So, almost always you will encounter water sources that have not been contaminated by other humans.

However, if you plan to venture into an area that has swampy areas or marshlands, then you will likely want to use a water purifier instead. Additionally, if you plan to go hiking or camping in an area that is not too far from civilization and has a chance of having chemical or viral contaminants, then you will need to go the water purifier route as well.

With that being said, we can attest that we have had very good luck just using the squeeze water filter below for the majority of our trips and never had an issue with bad water. We particularly like this one because of its flow rate and how easy it is to backflush the filtering element if it begins to get clogged from organic matter that was in the water.

Here is our recommendation for this section:

Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane for Endurance Sports, Camping and Backpacking

Water Purifier:

If purifying every drop of water that you drink makes you feel more comfortable and more confident, then by all means pack out some form of water purifier. When you feel at ease with your level of preparedness, then you are much more likely to have a better trip. However, in our opinion, there are many situations where you can do without one and just travel with a water filter. While we will never encourage you to try and do without one if you think there is a chance you may need one, we will encourage you to do your research on the area you are traveling to and determine if a purifier is necessary. The reasoning behind this is because purifiers tend to be heavier and take up more space in your pack. However, if you have the room, do not mind the additional weight, and prefer to have a purifier with you, then by all means pack one out.

In contrast, there are situations where a water purifier is required. If you are going to be around water sources that have been contaminated or water sources that are on low land that acts as the collection point for various feeds of water, then we highly recommend carrying a water purifier.

Here is our recommendation for this section:

Aquamira – Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment Two Part Liquid (1 oz Droppers Bottles)

Backup Water Treatment:

For this, we highly recommend something that is lightweight and inexpensive. You are also going to want something that can fully purify your water so that you are prepared for the worst-case scenario. In this case, we like to carry a chemical water treatment. Even if you do not have an actual prefilter, you always have some form of clothing with you that can be used to filter large particles out of the water and then use chemical water treatment to make it drinkable.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a backup water treatment when you venture out for multiple days. A very good example of why this is important is actually from the last time we were on a backpacking trip. One of the party members had just bought a brand new squeeze filter. It had never been used before this trip and they had never used this particular brand of squeeze filter. The very first time this party member tried to use it they squeezed too hard trying to get every drop of water out of the squeeze bag and ripped the bag right where the bag attaches to the screw top. We are not recommending that you pack out a backup water treatment hoping that you will have to use it. We are recommending it because we want you to be prepared regardless of the situation you end up experiencing.

Here is our recommendation for this section:

Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets With PA Plus – Two 50 count Bottles


There are various types of water filters and purifiers out there. Every one of them has a time and place that they are appropriate. You are the only person that knows your needs, your party’s needs, and the environment and conditions that you are walking into. So, make sure you take the time to do your research on the water conditions for the area you are traveling to. Then, choose the primary water treatment option that makes sense for your needs. Additionally, we highly recommend that you also carry a secondary/backup water treatment method. As far as determining the correct prefilter, water filter, and/or water purifier for your trip, we ultimately recommend going with whatever you feel is necessary and makes you feel the most confidence. At the end of the day, if you do not have clean water to drink, you will have a very unpleasant trip. So, we urge you to take a little extra time to do your due diligence and make a well-informed choice.


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