If you've ever fallen foul of dirty water, you'll know exactly how valuable a quality portable water filter truly is. If you've not, then congratulations, but it's time to get your filtration system sorted before you do. The dangers of dirty water are widely recognized — harmful germs and pathogens can cause serious illnesses — and as outdoorsmen, proper hydration key to our safety on the trail. We need to know that the water we're drinking is clean and safe.
Unless you're built like the Hulk or just plain love suffering, then you're not going to want to haul all the water you need for multiple days on a hike. Remember, every liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds, and with hikers needing at least a liter of water every 2 hours, this starts to rack up quickly. Instead, take one of these portable water filters next time you're out thru-hiking or headed to the campsite with your family. That way, you'll have all the clean drinking water you need without the excess weight.
LifeStraw Peak Series Straw
If you've heard of any water filters, you've most likely heard of LifeStraw. While the original straw is still arguably the most popular water filter on the market, the Peak Series represents a smoother, sleeker, more user-friendly design. Weighing in at just over 2 ounces, this straw fits neatly into your hiking pack and allows you to drink directly from lakes, rivers, or streams.
If you want to drink on the go, this filter screws onto some water bottles, or you can simply attach a hose to drink from your container. This filter is designed to handle up to 4,000 liters of water, removing sediment, microplastics, cloudiness, parasites, and bacteria.
Portable filters move water through a filtration medium in several different ways: via pumps, squeezing, sucking, or even gravity. Typically, a filter system is designed to be used in only one way, but the Sawyer PointOne water filter is our favorite due to the fact that it can be used both as a personal filter — which you drink directly through — or as a pump that allows you to dispense filtered water directly into a separate container.
This two-in-one versatility, paired with excellent filtration that removes more than 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa, as well as 100% of microplastic contaminants, makes the Sawyer PointOne our top recommendation for most people.
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
The Sawyer Mini is similar to the PointOne in functionality and filtering capabilities, but this pocket-friendly filtration system has two key advantages. Firstly, you can use the pouch instead of a water bottle, so you can effectively kill two birds with one stone.
If you're moving as part of a group, the Sawyer Mini allows you to fill the pouch and filter easily into a container — just squeeze the bag and push the water through — so that each individual doesn't require their own filter. The filter itself provides all of the same benefits as the Sawyer PointOne, so you can be sure of having clean and safe drinking water no matter where you are.
Grayl Geopress 24 fl oz
The Grayl Geopress works almost like a French press: Fill it up, attach, and press the filter down, and within just 8 seconds, the filtration cartridge will have removed nearly 100% of contaminants from particulate matter to waterborne pathogens.
You’re ready to slake your thirst safely. The Grayl is a great piece of kit for globetrotters who can fill their bottle in a remote region of the world and drink safely instead of spending all of their time hunting down bottled water.
MSR MiniWorks EX Water Filter
The MSR MiniWorks EX looks and works a little like a traditional water pump. This filter is one of the fasted backpacking filters on the market, with the ability to filter up to a liter of water each minute. As you pump, the ceramic and carbon element effectively removes sediment and microplastics, as well as protozoa and bacteria, from the water.
This is a little larger than most other backpacking filters on this list, but if you're looking for a group filter, then this is quick and effective. The real magic, though, is that the MiniWorks EX can be screwed onto a standard top, or onto MSR's water carrier bags, for easy refills.
LifeStraw Family Survival Water Purifier
For a more stationary camping water filter setup, a gravity-powered unit like the LifeStraw Family Survival Water Purifier is a great choice for delivering higher volumes of clean water for several people. The LifeStraw Family Survival Water Purifier is both a filter and purifier, removing more than 99.99% of bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, along with solid particulate contaminants.
The filter lifespan is rated to 18,000 liters or 4,755 gallons ± with a flow rate of 9-12 liters per hour — the filtration medium needs replacing, so the aptly named LifeStraw Family gravity purifier can provide a family of four with enough water for up to three years. That’s a good thing to have in an emergency situation, so it’s certainly good enough for camping trips.
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