Best Water Filters for Backpacking

Best Water Filters for Backpacking – 16 Top Options

If you want to stay healthy and feel good throughout your backpacking or camping journey, having the best water filter is key. The amount of harmful bacteria and protozoa in water found in nature is alarming and can be incredibly harmful if consumed. This article will help you stay safe and healthy while drinking water that is found out in nature and give you information so you can find the best water filters for backpacking. 

The Top 16 Best Water Filters for Backpacking

Preview
Most Efficient
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
Best Value
Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane for Endurance Sports, Camping and Backpacking, One Size, 8018006
Most Versatile
Sawyer Products SP131 Squeeze Water Filtration System w/ 3 Pouches (One 16-Oz, Two 32-Oz)
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter, Lightweight, Compact Design for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness, one Size (8019857)
Title
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane for Endurance Sports, Camping and Backpacking, One Size, 8018006
Sawyer Products SP131 Squeeze Water Filtration System w/ 3 Pouches (One 16-Oz, Two 32-Oz)
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter, Lightweight, Compact Design for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness, one Size (8019857)
Rating
-
-
-
Reviews
-
2,194 Reviews
-
1,230 Reviews
-
Brand
LifeStraw
Katadyn
Sawyer Products
Katadyn
Katadyn
Weight
0.1 Pounds
0.14 Pounds
0.2 Pounds
0.69 Pounds
0.7 Pounds
Dimensions
8.66 x 0.98 x 0.98 inches
4.25 x 3 x 10 inches
9.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
9 x 8 x 3 inches
3 x 3 x 6 inches
Material
Plastic
Synthetic
Plastic
Synthetic
Synthetic
Color
Blue
Unset
Black/Blue
Gray
Transparent
Price
Price not available
$37.17
$48.46
Price not available
$66.07
Prime Status
-
-
Most Efficient
Preview
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
Title
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
Rating
-
Reviews
-
Brand
LifeStraw
Weight
0.1 Pounds
Dimensions
8.66 x 0.98 x 0.98 inches
Material
Plastic
Color
Blue
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Button
Best Value
Preview
Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane for Endurance Sports, Camping and Backpacking, One Size, 8018006
Title
Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean Membrane for Endurance Sports, Camping and Backpacking, One Size, 8018006
Rating
Reviews
2,194 Reviews
Brand
Katadyn
Weight
0.14 Pounds
Dimensions
4.25 x 3 x 10 inches
Material
Synthetic
Color
Unset
Price
$37.17
Prime Status
Button
Most Versatile
Preview
Sawyer Products SP131 Squeeze Water Filtration System w/ 3 Pouches (One 16-Oz, Two 32-Oz)
Title
Sawyer Products SP131 Squeeze Water Filtration System w/ 3 Pouches (One 16-Oz, Two 32-Oz)
Rating
-
Reviews
-
Brand
Sawyer Products
Weight
0.2 Pounds
Dimensions
9.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
Material
Plastic
Color
Black/Blue
Price
$48.46
Prime Status
Button
Preview
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
Title
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
Rating
Reviews
1,230 Reviews
Brand
Katadyn
Weight
0.69 Pounds
Dimensions
9 x 8 x 3 inches
Material
Synthetic
Color
Gray
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Button
Preview
Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter, Lightweight, Compact Design for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness, one Size (8019857)
Title
Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter, Lightweight, Compact Design for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness, one Size (8019857)
Rating
-
Reviews
-
Brand
Katadyn
Weight
0.7 Pounds
Dimensions
3 x 3 x 6 inches
Material
Synthetic
Color
Transparent
Price
$66.07
Prime Status
Button

1. LifeStraw

LifeStraw is easy to use, cheap, and lightweight. It’s the perfect solution to emergency situations where you need to drink out of a puddle or source of water quickly. This “straw” is super lightweight making it easy to throw into your backpack before heading out on a hike. To use it, you need to get on the ground to such up water through the device or fill a water bottle with water and drink from that. This is not a good product for filtering liters of water for a group camping trip, but it works well for personal use. 

It cannot filter viruses but can keep bacteria and protozoa from entering your body. This product is mostly used by people who go on quick trips and want to be prepared in case of emergencies or for fast and on-the-go filtration. It’s fairly durable because it’s a simple design and is easy to fit into your backpack for hiking or camping trips. There have been complaints about the time it takes to actually suck water through the straw, but for the price, it’s not too bad. 

Pros
  • Small and lightweight
  • Indefinite shelf life
  • Removes 99.9% of bacteria
  • Provides 250+ gallons
  • No chemical use
Cons
  • Must be submerges before drinking strats
  • Takes a while to get started
  • Difficult to clean
  • Zero storage

Sample Customer Review… I don’t travel anywhere without my LifeStraw. I’ve used my straw to drink from the sink everywhere in the world and I have never once gotten sick. I used it in India, China, Thailand, Brazil, Colombia, and all over the US. I also take it with me when I go hiking or camping, but I only use it in emergencies. The straw is the perfect size to fit anywhere- luggage, backpack, purse, etc. It’s easy to use and to clean. It takes a bit of time to fully dry out, but I just leave it open draining near the sink overnight before packing it up again. The first LifeStraw I got in 2017 recently got blocked up and stopped working. I tried to get it to work by doing a bunch of stuff I found on the internet, but it is probably done for. I bought a new one because it is 100% worth the price and has saved me on so many occasions. It has also really helped reduce my plastic consumption since I’ve been able to drink tap or boiled tap water in many places where I would have had to buy water bottles.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

2. Grayl Geopress Water Purifier 

Although not meant for ultralight adventures, this water bottle purifying system is an easy and simple way to get healthy water anywhere you are. Simply fill the outer bottle with your water and then insert the inner bottle slowly, like a french press. The water is then cleansed of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and other pollutants in a short amount of time. Take into account that this bottle is not good if you need to purify water for groups or your family because it can only do one bottle size at a time. 

It’s easy to use and there is no pumping necessary. You can purify the whole bottle full of water in just a few seconds. This water purifier is able to take extremely polluted water and make it drinkable. It’s great for traveling to other countries or regions where the water quality is questionable. Like mentioned before, it’s not super lightweight. Despite this, it is a bottle and can be brought when hiking or backpacking if you recognize the extra weight it will bring. The bottle comes in a variety of colors so you can choose the one you like the most!

Pros
  • Quick process
  • Great water quality
  • Easy to use
  • Sturdy design
Cons
  • Large amounts take long
  • Large and heavy
  • Cartridges do not last long

Sample Customer Review… I am truly impressed by the design of this water purifier. I have bought more than an average number of water purifiers over the last 20 years. None of those was built with as much deep understanding and concern for what a hiker/ adventurer requires. Indeed, it is larger than some may prefer. But the fact that it removes viruses, dirt, and chemical impurities is stunning. It has become a highly discussed item on wilderness forums. Personally, I have bought not one, but two of them. One for myself, and one for a friend, just in case. The price and quality are excellent.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

3. MSR AutoFlow XL

Able to filter 10L of water without any work from you, the MSR AutoFlow XL is perfect for large groups and basecamps. It can be difficult to filter water for multiple people in a reasonable amount of time with regular water filters, but with this extra-large product, it becomes a breeze. All you need to do is fill the bag with water, hang it, and let gravity do the rest. Other gravity filtration systems are good for group use, but this one really takes the cake for most suited for multi-person use. 

This water filter gets rid of bacteria and protozoa but cannot remove viruses or pollution of that sort. The bag itself is heavy duty and reinforced to be able to handle a large amount of water. You don’t need to worry too much about rips or tears and the bottom of the bag is extra sturdy in case you need to set it down on rocky or sharp surfaces. It helps that there are few components so that there’s not as much to forget and leave behind. Even though the system can hold a large amount of water, it doesn’t actually take up much space in a backpack. 

Pros
  • Long-lasting design
  • Holds a lot of water
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Flow rate is okay
  • Can not be frozen
  • Requires maintenance

Sample Customer Review… Excellent water filter. After timing how long it takes for it to filter a liter it comes pretty close to the 1.5-minute claim in the description. Very lightweight and compact. They should label it as a kitchen sink because of how fast it filters and how great it is for cleaning dishes, pots, and pans. The filtered water is crisp, clear, and tastes like bottled water. Overall this is an excellent piece of gear that I will bring on every trip.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

4. Platypus GravityWorks Filter System 

This water filtration system is at the top of our list because it’s easy to use, fast, and durable. If you are needing to filter enough water for a group or family, this system works great because it comes in both 4L and 6L sizes. Both bags are clearly labeled as clean and dirty. You simply fill and hang the dirty bag above the clean one and connect it with the hoses. It should filter about 1L of water a minute and works to remove protozoa and bacteria. 

For people who don’t want to bother with pumping and it’s incredibly simple to work. A downside to this water filter is that it does weigh more than others on the market. But if you plan to set up a base camp where you will be in the same place for a while or if you need to filter water for a larger group of people, the upsides outweigh the negatives. This water filter can also double as a mini shower or hand washing station which is great for groups and children. 

Overall, anyone can use this water filter because it’s just gravity. You don’t need to waste time pumping your water and it works fast. When using this device, you can also pour water into pots, water bottles, and even create a faucet. It’s highly rated on this list because of its versatility and easy use. 

Pros
  • Perfect for groups
  • Quicks filtration
  • Conveniently hands-free
  • Handles large amount of water
Cons
  • More expensive than most
  • Heavyweight
  • Can not be used in shallow sources
  • Clogs up with heavy remains

Sample Customer Review… I purchased this for a long backpacking trip along the Colorado Trail. Prior to this, I’ve used tablets and the MSR pump to purify my water. I cannot tell you how fast and efficient this system works. The pump this replaced was tedious to use and took a long time and muscle power to pump enough water to fill up a few Nalgenes. This system is nearly effortless and uses gravity instead of forced pumps to push the water through the filter. Keeping it clean is really easy as well as the process of backflushing the filter couldn’t be easier. Finally, one last benefit of this is after you filter a full reservoir, you can fill it up again and carry unfiltered water with you. This is very beneficial in areas where water sources are scarce. Once you’re getting low on clean water, you just hook it back up and filter more. It essentially doubles your carrying capacity since you can filter on demand.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

5. Katadyn BeFree 

Sale
Katadyn BeFree 
2,194 Reviews

If you want an instant water filtration system that is easy to use and great for on-the-go, this is a smart option for you. Although soft bottles don’t have a great reputation in terms of durability, the filter and cap can be used on other soft bottles as well. In simple terms, this water filter is used by filling the soft bottle with water and then squeezing it through the cap and into your mouth, a pot, or wherever. These are very popular with distance trail runners because it is so fast and easy. 

Another positive of this product is the weight. This filtration system is extremely lightweight, you’ll barely even notice it while on a run or hike. It is collapsible, so when you have emptied the bottle you can fit it into basically any pocket, bag, or tight space. Like mentioned before, a major downside to this product is the soft bottle not being able to handle constant use and breaking. This tends to happen with other soft bottles as well but there is a reason runners and hikers still use them. 

Pros
  • Compact design
  • Affordable price
  • Amazing flow rate
  • Ultralight and collapsible
Cons
  • Microfilter does not last long
  • Soft durability
  • Lacks reliability

Sample Customer Review… I first used a BeFree during an ultramarathon around Mt. St. Helens (volcano in Washington state). I beat several other competitors purely based on how well my BeFree performed. I truly believe the BeFree is the fastest and easiest water filter out there. The way I use it, you unscrew the top from the soft flask, dip the flask into a stream or pond, screw the top back on, and drink. The flow is incredibly fast thanks to the large filter. I can have 1L of water ready to go in under 10 seconds. I frequently filled the flask (10 secs), squeezed the filtered water into other flasks (30-40 secs to empty), refilled the BeFree (10 secs), and was on my way. This compares to other filters which are incredibly slow to filter. So what took me 1 minute to stop and grab enough water for 20 miles of running, other people had to plop down on the side of the stream and filter water into their bottles for easily 10-15 minutes. The filter can be cleaned by running it underwater. You can also get replacement filters without the bottle to save cost. The filtering seems good, transforming muddy, silty water into clear, tasty water with the removal of most microorganisms. I trust it with my life. Highly recommended.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

6. Sawyer Squeeze 

The Sawyer Squeeze is a personal water filtration system that is versatile but also compact. This product comes with different attachments that allow for gravity and inline use. It also comes with pouches and a cleaning plunger. Because of all the ways you can use this, it’s great for all kinds of different situations. Most people fill the pouches with water and then squeeze them through the filter and drink that water. There have been complaints about the pouches wearing down quickly, which is common for similar products on the market as well. 

This water filter is lightweight and perfect to bring on backpacking, hiking, and camping trips where you want to drink clean water quickly and easily. The attachments can be easy to lose and the pouches have been known to break easily, but the versatility and simplicity of this product may override those negatives for some people. It’s important to know what you plan to use your water filter for and if the answer to that question is running or backpacking, this is a fantastic choice. 

Pros
  • Compact design
  • Small and lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Afforadable price
  • Lifetime guarantee
Cons
  • Constant squeezing
  • Squeeze bags do not last forever
  • Not designed for large groups

Sample Customer Review… Great so far. I have used it a couple of times on day hikes so that I didn’t have to carry so much water, and it has thus far been super easy to use, and best of all, doesn’t alter the flavor of the water at all, which is fantastic. It is extremely light and compact, and the bags have been fine for me so far. I haven’t had to squeeze the bags very hard to get water through the filter, so I am not very concerned with the bags bursting, they seem up to the task and have been fine so far. UPDATE 3 YEARS LATER: I love this filter. I take it on every hike, even day hikes so that I don’t have to carry so much water at the beginning. I have taken this on over 40 hikes and camping trips. I have mostly used the middle-sized bag and it has held up great. It has finally started showing some wear in some spots right around the opening that fold every time I use it, but it hasn’t leaked yet. All 3 bags work great, and the filter still works like new. I have never gotten sick off the water and have filled up at pretty much any trickle along the trail. It is so awesome to have water that isn’t flavored by the filter. I have since bought one of the smaller Sawyer filters, and many friends have bought them too. I’ll never go back to other methods.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

7. Katadyn Hiker

If you’re looking for something inexpensive and dependable then look into the Katadyn Hiker. Unlike the Katadyn BeFree, the Katadyn Hiker is used with a pump, resulting in a weight of 11 ounces. There is no need to worry about attaching because the Hiker attaches to all hydration bladders and wide mouth Nalgene bottles. In the matter of 42 seconds, this filter is able to remove the smallest bacteria, protozoa, and particulates at 0.2 microns in size.

The Hiker can handle turbid waters just as well as clear waters. With the help of a pre-filter, the filter’s lifespan increases because large contaminants are removed before reaching the main filter. The main filter can handle 1150 liters before needing to be replaced. Although this pump has a reputation of tiny pieces breaking off, it’s ability to connect to hydration reservoirs with 0.25 inch tubes makes up for it.

Pros
  • Easy to pump
  • Affordable price
  • Easy to clean
  • Amazing water quality
  • Consistent
Cons
  • Not the most durable design
  • Filter needs changed when clogged

Sample Customer Review… Went on a backpacking trip with 2 friends. I had this filter, one had the water bottle with the internal filter, one had the gravity feed bags you fill and runs through a filter. By the end of the trip, they were all going to get this Katadyn filter. The taste of the water is perfect. Through all other filters, you could still taste the river. This was better or as good as bottled water. It was also very nice to be able to attach the fill hose to my water bladder and fill it up. Both of my friends were borrowing my filter and gave up on theirs.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

8. Katadyn Hiker Pro 

As far as hand pumps go, this is one of the reliable and trustworthy ones on the market. As with all water filters, there are positives and negatives. This filter is great for the backcountry in North America because it filters out bacteria and protozoans. It features a long tube that can easily get into smaller and difficult to reach spaces. This is handy when dealing with some of the small nooks and crevices common when fetching water. 

A common complaint with this pump is the weight. It’s fairly heavy and not as easy to bring along on backpacking adventures as some other options. It features activated carbon in the core that greatly helps reduce bad tastes and smells that are common with water filtration. The design is great because you can filter the water into any container you desire. Overall, this water filter is a trusted classic that does a great job. 

Pros
  • Affordable price
  • Great for shallow sources
  • Lightweight
  • Reliable
Cons
  • Clogs up with residue
  • Uses energy for filtration

Sample Customer Review… Amazing! I used this pump for the first time on a recent hike. I’ve never needed to pump/filter water before and was a little skeptical about using it, both from an efficiency and safety perspective, but brought this pump out of an abundance of caution. I couldn’t be happier! We found ourselves in a situation where our group was dangerously low on water and needed to refill multiple water bladders. I was among the few sent to get water because I had the pump. Another member of our group also had a pump of similar size and professed capability. When we reached the stream and began to fill the bladders and Nalgene bottles sent with us, I found that I was easily pumping out 3 Liters of filtered/potable water to every 1 of from the other pump.

This pump is small and lightweight, but highly effective and efficient. I won’t hike without it!

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

9. Potable Aqua Purification Tablets 

This tablet can kill bacteria, protozoa, and viruses while coming in a small, lightweight package. This product is not deemed safe for long-term use, so should only be used as a backup method. If you are in a pinch and your main water filtration system has failed, pop one of these tablets into your water and it will be purified in about half an hour. Two steps are needed for these tablets to perform properly and the wait time is longer than some others, so be aware that you won’t have purified water right away. 

Like most other similar products on the market, this tablet will leave some taste in the water that isn’t the most pleasant. It also won’t be able to remove particles and sediment so beware before drinking. The price tag is reasonable and the packaging is fairly durable and small. These tablets are great to have in your backpack for emergencies. 

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to pack
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Not for long-term use
  • Terrible taste
  • Lower value for chemical treatments

Sample Customer Review… I love these tablets. They are portable to carry around and easy to use. 2 tablets to a Liter (32 fl oz) of water, or 1 tablet to 500mL (~16fl oz) of water. These were bought because the initial potable aqua treatment tablets I bought from Dick’s Sporting goods were running low. These are perfect to use during the winter where water will freeze in my filtration system and becomes a hassle to use. They are also nice to carry around in small kits, especially on vacations where you are limited in space and weight as to what you can bring with you. They’ll also breeze through TSA without causing any issues. Just a friendly warning to those who decide to purchase these: Water Purification tablets are made with Iodine, therefore after you use these tablets in untreated water, it’ll turn the water into a light yellowish-brown color. Don’t fret, because it’s the natural reaction Iodine takes in water. Also, your water might taste funny/weird, it’s most likely the taste of the iodine if you did it correctly. I’d recommend you drop a tablet in a bottle filled with regular sink water, have a couple of sips, and get used to the taste of it before you start using it out in the field or even for emergency uses.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

10. Aquatabs

This is an option that’s great for those conserving space and counting every ounce. These tabs are pre-packaged and, when added to water, eliminate protozoa, bacteria, and viruses. They are an easy and simple method to get fairly clean drinking water quickly. But because these are tabs, they are not able to filter out physical particles. So if you know the water where you are going will have physical particles in it, this is probably not the best option for you. 

These tabs have also been known to have a chemical taste to them. Some people describe it as chlorine. If you are sensitive to this type of taste you should look into other water filtration options. With all this said, if you are packing with weight and space in mind, this is one of the smallest products you can bring to make your water safe to drink on the go. 

Pros
  • Light and easy to pack
  • Affordable price
  • Kills viruses
  • Dependable
Cons
  • Takes 40 minutes
  • Only purifies 0.75 liters of water

Sample Customer Review… I purchased these to add to my emergency supplies. The more options for water treatment/purification, the better. Unfortunately, I haven’t had to use them yet. The product did arrive on time and well packaged. Five-year shelf life.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

11. MSR Guardian Purifier 

This water purifier is truly a tried and true product that has an incredible reputation with a price tag to match. It is a hand pump filter that can work in almost every weather condition. It’s a favorite amongst those that travel to different countries that have questionable water. The MSR Guardian is pretty big to carry around so if space and weight are an issue, you might want to think twice before purchasing. It’s also more work than some of the others because it requires pumping by hand. 

One of the many upsides to this product is its self-cleaning ability. It constantly back flushes by itself in order to keep maintenance low. This purifier is made to last years and withstands some rough conditions. Its durability makes it stand out from some other water filters mentioned on this list. The only major downsides are weight and price. But if you don’t mind splurging for a high-quality water purifier that will last a long time, it’s worth it. 

Pros
  • Minimal of maintenance required
  • Quick process
  • Self-cleaning
  • Filtrates viruses
  • Military standard quality
  • Pre-filter is included
Cons
  • Highly expensive
  • Extremely heavy and large

Sample Customer Review… This is by far the best purchase I’ve made out of all of the purchases I’ve made in buying adventure gear at places like REI, Cabelas, and Amazon. I’ve taken the Guardian on all of my backpacking trips for the past 2 summers. I also regularly take it for car camping, hiking, canoeing, fishing, etc. This is one of my top 5 favorite adventure gear items that I own and take it everywhere I go. I don’t know what I would do without it. I plan on taking it to Europe this summer as well. I was initially hesitant in making this purchase due to the price being $350, but have never looked back. I can honestly say it is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. If you are on the verge of making a decision like I was at the time, I definitely (100%) think you should purchase it. You will not regret it. If you spread the cost over the 5-10yr lifespan of the product, then it is extremely easy to justify the cost. It is by far better than a life straw and other pumps out there. This is the best water purifier on the market for these reasons: it is the fastest for pumping water, the easiest to use, will filter through dirt, and filters the most contaminants (besides chemicals) vs. other filters on the market. For those reasons, I without a doubt recommend this! 5 stars!

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

12. MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter

The MSR MiniWorks EX is a great water filter for you if you are hiking near areas with lots of cloudy looking or algae-infested water sources. The filter screws onto Nalgene bottles with wide mouths, soft canteens, and then works as a pump. If you hate the squeeze style pumps and do not mind carrying a 17 ounce pump while on your hike, then the MiniWorks is perfect.

The MiniWorks comes with a pre-filter, a ceramic filter, and a charcoal filter. All responsible for removing large solids, microorganisms, and odors and tastes. The filter is able to cleanse 1 liter of water per minute and can last for 2000 gallons. Replacement filters are available to purchase.

Pros
  • Stays durable after time
  • Reliable
  • Handle is Ergonomic
  • Compatible with Nalgene tops
Cons
  • Bulky
  • Pricey
  • Slow pump
  • Heavy

Sample Customer Review… This water filter was amazing. The water we filtered with this tasted amazing and had no foul smell of any kind. The construction of the filter its self is great. The pump handle feels sturdy and not cheap and flimsy. I was able to operate this pump one-handed to get a video of me using it. The effort required to push water through the filter was minimal in my situation and filled my 1000 mL Nalgene bottle several times with absolutely no problems at all. I also never got sick from drinking the water. All in all.. this water filter has become a valuable piece of gear for my kit and I will never go on adventures without it again.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

13. Aquamarine Water Treatment Drops 

One of the simplest and easiest options to filter water is these water treatment drops. They are lightweight, easy to use, and reliable. These crops won’t filter out particles of dirt and debris, but they will kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Unlike other similar products on the market, these drops are not harmful to consume on a regular basis. They are great for camping or backpacking with groups or family because they’re so fast and reliable. It’s also a great idea to keep these in your backpack for any hike just in case you need an unexpected water purifier. 

These drops are often carried as a backup in case their main water filtration device fails for some reason. Some people have mentioned that there is a slight taste to these drops but it’s a very small price to pay for clean and healthy water. They are also affordable so keeping them on hand at all times isn’t a difficult thing to do. 

Pros
  • Very afforadable
  • Removes pathogens
  • Small and lightweight
  • Dependable
Cons
  • Does not completely remove bad tasates
  • Involves chemical treatment
  • Takes a while to kill off crypto

Sample Customer Review… I used these while backpacking for a couple of weeks in the Sierras and they’re awesome! You have to wait five minutes before adding the mixed drops to the water and I actually liked that. It gave me a chance to just sit and enjoy the stream or lake where I was gathering water. Purifying water just became part of the rhythm of the day. The taste is barely perceptible and adds just a hint of tartness to the water. I’ve used a Sawyer filter previously, but I like the drops better in that, I knew they’d always work and they have no issues with plugging up or the bag breaking (both of which have happened in the past with the Sawyer). Drinking water straight from a clean source will always be the most enjoyable but there aren’t many sources on the main trails that are totally trustworthy so these drops are my go-to now.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

14. LifeStraw Flex 

Versatility is what originally drew us to this product. You can use it as a regular LifeStraw and drink your water straight from the pond or used it in line with the soft bottle. Although soft bottles have a reputation of breaking easily, this one seems to be thicker than others. That being said, soft bottles will never last as long as regular bottles. The LifeStraw Flex’s soft bottle is easily collapsible and can fit into pockets, bags, and holders of all kinds. 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get water through the filtration system itself. It’s branded as a straw but it’s challenging to get the water through. This forces a process that should take only a few seconds to take a lot longer. But with the inexpensive price point, it can be overlooked by some. 

Pros
  • Affordable price
  • Resourceful
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Bottle tends to leak
  • Hard to drink from
  • Poor flow rate

Sample Customer Review… This is the PERFECT combination of a water container/bottle and filter. After all, LifeStraw is the leader in emergency, portable water filters, but who wants to have to stick their face in that little puddle or stream to get a drink through the straw all the time. With this little accessory you just fill up the collapsible bottle, screw on the filter and cap and you have clean filtered water without laying on the ground. And it’s so lightweight that packing it empty is no problem at all. Takes up no room at all in your pack and weighs NOTHING. I bought 2, one for me AND the wife.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

15. CrazyCap

CrazyCap
1,709 Reviews

With a lightweight design and UV light technology, this bottle can purify water with the touch of a button. This is a water bottle that has a cap with a UV light that turns on when you touch the lid. It is able to get rid of bacteria and viruses while all you have to do is sit back and watch. You simply fill the water bottle, close the cap, and then touch the lid with your finger. The UV light will go on to purify your water in about a minute. 

Although this is one of the most simple water filters out there, it isn’t able to filter particles because it is just light. You also are only able to purify one 17oz bottle at a time. This isn’t the best option if you want to filter water for multiple people at once or need larger amounts of water at once. 

CrazyCap is great for personal use and can be brought along pretty much everywhere. Backpackers and hikers could use this product because it’s lightweight and doesn’t take up much space. Just make sure you know the type of water you will need to filter and how much of it you will need before purchasing this item. 

Pros
  • Requires the touch of a button
  • Charges fast and lasts long
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Only for small bottles
  • Can not filter out particulates

Sample Customer Review… I bought two of these for world travel where water isn’t always drinkable. I just spent a week in Southern, rural Mexico purifying water from bathroom sinks, questionable faucets, and even outdoor taps meant to wash feet. If I felt worried, I just ran the light twice. None of us got sick at all. It was so nice because we didn’t have to hope to find bottled water (which is not easy in rural areas). I LOVE this bottle! It was also great to have unlimited water we could get from the tap for washing fruit and vegetables. We travel more than half the year, and I hate relying on buying water. It’s wasteful and just a pain. It’s hard to find bottled water in the countryside in South Korea or the middle of the mountains in Europe. This will be with me everywhere I go! We charged the bottles once during the trip because we could. The batteries last a long time.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

16. SteriPen Ultra

Just like a magic wand, this SteriPen uses ultraviolet rays to neutralize viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. The device is USB rechargeable, which means you will need to have access to a power source if you plan to be camping or hiking for extended periods of time. It can purify up to 32oz of water in a minute and a half. Many people love this product because it’s quick and small. You can purify multiple cups or bottles of water in a short amount of time. 

All you do is dip it into some container of water and swirl it around until a light indicates that the water is purified, normally around 90 seconds. A downside to this device is that it doesn’t filter out physical particles and settlement. If you plan to have dirt and pieces of material in your water that needs to be filtered out, this isn’t the product for you. But people who bring this on trips and want to filter their water quickly, love it. Some individuals have complained of this product glitching and causing problems on long trips. If you have the ability to go back to a power source to get the product back to work if it does glitch, it’s a great and simple option. 

Pros
  • Quick process
  • Small and lightweight
  • Counteracts viruses
  • Convenient
Cons
  • Will not work with dreary water
  • Requires batteries
  • High cost

Sample Customer Review… I’ve had mine for a couple of years and it has worked flawlessly on numerous backpacking trips. I love that it has a battery level indicator and a display that tells you if the sterilization was a success or not. Also, love that it can be recharged with a USB cable. I always take a USB power pack with me too, so recharging is simple. I had an older version of Steripen that used AA batteries and it had inconsistent failures with no indications of battery life. This newer model is much more reliable and worth the higher price tag.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

Buying Guide: Things to Consider When Purchasing the Best Water Filters for Backpacking

Price

If looking for the lowest price possible, Chemical Treatments are the way to go. Different filters can be anywhere from inexpensive to extremely expensive depending on the make and model. Lastly, UV water purifiers will always be more on the expensive side. Even though the price of some products may be low, the costs of replacement items may add up over time. The following recommendations were made after reviewing the cost per 100L and the price per 100L for refillable filters. Those with the best budget are Katadyn BeFree, Sawyer Squeeze, and Aquamarine Water Treatment Drops. Those with the best value are Crazy Cap, Sawyer Squeeze, Platypus GravityWorks, and MSR Guardian Purifier.

Water Quality

Just because a water filter will make water safe to drink does not mean it will always taste good. Water filters should be able to get rid of all tastes and odors. Filters and purifiers have technology to remove viruses along with other water-borne pathogens. Unfortunately, filters usually do not remove viruses because they do not have a pore size that can. The three products with the best Water Quality Rating are Grayl Geopress, MSR Guardian Purifier, and Sawyer Squeeze.

Durability and Maintenance

The worst thing that could happen is ending up with a broken filter because you simply dropped it. Reliable filters are durable and long-lasting. The products that can be trusted the most are chemical treatments. This would include the Aquamarine Water Treatment Drops. If drops are not your favorite then the filters to look for are Katadyn BeFree, MSR Guardian, and Sawyer Squeeze.

Treatment Time

When we are thirsty we obviously want water the quickest way possible. All filters have different times because of the different ways in which they work. But which ones are the fastest? The Katadyn BeFree is a trail runner favorite because of its fast flow bite valve. Gathering water takes no time and the treatment happens instantly. When in squeeze mode, the Sawyer Squeeze can filter a liter of water in 40 seconds. With this product, consumers are receiving the best flow rate.

Weight and Packability

No one wants to carry around a ton of weight on their backs while trying to enjoy a hike. Fitting your filter comfortably in your bag while not adding too much weight is ideal. Lightweight water filters can save you up to around a pound, but heavier filters are the more durable option. The top 3 lightest and easiest to pack products are Katadyn BeFree, LifeStraw, and Aquamarine Water Treatment Drops.

Ease of Setup

Along with how long the water takes to filter, you also have to factor in the setup time. The fewer steps the better. This is where LifeStraw takes the cake. This filter requires you to drink straight from the water source. In second place comes Aquatabs. These simply require you to drop them in the water.

Ease of Filtration

Gathering and producing clean water should not be a hassle while trying to enjoy a hike. This is done multiple times a day and can get annoying quickly if the method is dreadful. Aquatabs, CrazyCap, and Platypus GravityWorks take the least amount of effort. Aquatabs and CrazyCap are completely hands free. There is no need to stop for too long for these products to do their job. Platypus GravityWorks is hands free once setup is complete. The filter can be laid any way possible and will still filter water quickly.

Conclusion 

After reading this list of top 14 and best water filters for backing, you have hopefully found an option that could work for you. It’s great to know where you will be traveling and what kind of water you might find. This will help you make the most educated and helpful choice for a backpacking water filter. The best water filters for backpacking are always the ones that give you what you need in the smallest package and with the easiest design.


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Written by Courtney Ludwig & Jenna Cooper

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