Whether you’re spending the week hiking in the backcountry or planning on spending a few months country-hopping and experiencing new cultures, having access to clean drinking water is extremely important.
Drinking unfiltered water can bring about a whole host of different health issues and, if you’ve ever drunk ‘raw’ water, you’ll know that it can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. In some cases, drinking unfiltered water can even be fatal.
If you’ve only heard of the dangers of drinking unfiltered water, we’re here to help you keep it that way! In this article, you’ll find a review of the best backpack friendly water filters available on the market, as well as a handy buying guide.
Regardless of budget or preference, we’ll help you find the best water treatment for you.
In a hurry? Check out our top pick:
If you’re pressed for time, the Geopress Water Purifier is a favorite in the backpacking world! Besides being known for its sleek style and lightweight design, it’s packed with plenty of features that ensure your water will be filtered and clean to drink, regardless of source.
Here’s what sets it apart from other models:
- Quick to use, it works like this: you fill the bottle with dirty water, twist the cap ½ to allow air to vent during the filtration process, and then use your body weight to push down and gently press on the soft pads either side of the lid. Requiring no tubes or fiddly parts, it’s as easy as that.
- The cartridge can be used 350 times before needing to be replaced and will remove 99.99% of viruses (rotavirus, norovirus, hepatitis A) 99.9999% of bacteria (E.Coli, salmonella, dysentery), and 99.9% of protozoa (Giardia, cryptosporidium, amoebae).
- It has been independently tested by a certified laboratory to meet NSF Protocol 43 & 53 for pathogen and chemical removal and meets the EPA Guide Standard and Protocol. In other words, you can trust it to filter your water.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Requiring no setup time or the use of pumps or batteries, the GRAYL Geopress 24oz Water Filter Bottle is one of the most convenient and easy to use water filters on the market.
Whether you’re backpacking all over the world or spending the week hiking with friends, this water bottle will make all kinds of water sources safe and clean to drink from.
It has a large capacity of 710ml (or 24oz) and can filter your water in as little at 8 seconds. It requires no pumps, hoses, chemicals, or batteries and is ready to be used as soon as you take it out of its packaging, and the filter can last for up to 350 uses before needing to be replaced.
Making water treatment easy as can be, all you’ll need to do is fill the bottle with water taken from any source, carefully twist the cap halfway to allow air to vent while the water undergoes filtration, and then use your body weight on the SoftPress Comfort Pads to begin the purification process. It’s as simple as that!
During the filtration process, it will remove at least 99% of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.
The filter has been carefully built into the water bottle design, making it a hit in the backpacking community because it’s so lightweight to travel with and requires no chemicals or extra fiddly tubes to have to carry around.
- Filters water in as quickly as 8 seconds and require only your body weight
- GRAYL will donate 1% of each purchase towards the preservation and restoration of the environment
- The bottle design is convenient and ideal for backpackers
- The filter cartridge will have to be replaced after 350 uses
Award-winning and portable, the LifeStraw Water Filter is an ideal choice for backpackers who prefer to pack light, or for those who want an extra filter at their disposal in case of emergency.
The LifeStraw is, you guessed it, a straw! It can filter up to 1000 gallons of contaminated water without any iodine, chlorine, or other types of chemicals, and does not require any batteries or additional parts.
An alternative to bulkier water filters, it weighs just 2oz and offers ultimate portability for backpackers, and comes in a sealed bag for safe storing. When you need to use it, just take it out of its bag, place it directly into the source of water, and begin to suck it through the straw.
As you drink, the microfiltration membrane present on the inside of the straw will begin the filtration process. The membrane contains pores that are 0.2 microns in size and, as dirty water enters on one side, all of the bacteria, parasites, and microplastics will be trapped because they are larger than the pores.
Therefore, only clean water will pass through the filter as you drink.
Though it might not be the first choice for everyone, this innovative straw removes at least 99% of bacteria and parasites and surpasses EPA filter standards. If you’re a backpacker, you’d be making a smart choice to keep one of these in your bag.
- An excellent alternative to bulkier water filters
- Can filter up to 1000 gallons of water
- Filters the water immediately as you drink, and requires no chemicals
- Not overly durable and can break if dropped
Ensuring optimum efficacy, the Waterdrop Gravity Water Filter is one of the leading ‘gravity filters’ on the market. It can provide up to 100,000 gallons of safe drinking water and quench your thirst instantly.
Utilizing a four-stage filtration process, this water filtration system effectively removes contaminants (from big particles to very little particles) in order to ensure the safety of the water.
The first filter removes contaminants such as stone and leaves, the hollow fiber membrane will intercept bacteria, the activated carbon fiber will improve the taste and the post polyester membrane will remove rust, sediment, and other contaminants.
Offering plenty of versatility, you can use it with water bags or connect to water bottles to filter water to drink. Both ends can be disassembled and connected to water bags and water bottles to offer you clean drinking water, as well as the option of sharing with friends.
- Effectively removes 99% of harmful bacteria and other substances
- The coconut shell activated carbon fiber helps to rid the water of any unpleasant tastes or smells
- Its innovative superwash design doesn’t need an additional syringe to backwash, making it more portable and easy to travel with
- The bulkiness might be an issue for some backpackers
Combining efficiency with simple handling, enjoy clean drinking water wherever you go with the Katadyn Vario Water Filter.
Ensuring optimum efficacy, the technology used consists of three filter levels: a glass fiber filter that will help to filter away leaves and waterborne bacteria, a ceramic pre-filter that can be adjusted in intensity depending on the murkiness of the water, and active charcoal that will eradicate nasty odors and bad tastes.
Not only that, but the bottle design is durable and can withstand a few knocks and drops with no impact on its performance. It even comes with a cleaning pad and deluxe carry bag so that you can store it inside your backpack and keep it separated from your other belongings.
A standout feature that we like about the Vario Water Filter is that it offers two modes.
The first is a ‘faster flow mode’ which gives you the option of speeding up the filtration process if you were very thirsty.
The second is a ‘longer life mode’ which is able to preserve the life of the water during the filtration process in order to provide you with clean drinking water for longer periods of time.
It’s a reliable and durable choice for backpacking or even hiking.
- Glass fiber filter for optimum taste and removal of bacteria
- Features a ‘faster flow mode’ to help you get hydrated quickly
- Durable design suitable for backpackers
- Requires the use of tubes which may be unsuitable for backpackers focused on space-saving
Best Backpacking Water Filter Buying Guide
What kind of filter do you want, and what is your budget?
This is a good starting point. Depending on the type of filter and the reputability of the manufacturer, prices will vary from affordable to expensive.
However, generally speaking, chemical filters tend to be the most affordable option, while UV filters tend to be a little pricier.
As a backpacker, you’re going to want to keep weight to a minimum!
In general, water filters are designed to be small and lightweight, though some are heavier than others. Even though more lightweight water filters are less strenuous to carry, heavier filters are likely to be more durable.
All in all, though, whichever filter you choose isn’t going to take up too much room as they’re designed to be compact and portable.
The best backpacking filters should be able to get rid of dangerous microorganisms present in the water, whether you’re taking water from a muddy puddle or sparkling stream. Low-quality filters are often unable to effectively remove bacteria and dirt from the water, which can leave you at risk of getting sick.
Your water filter should also be able to rid the water of any unpleasant tastes or odors, the last thing you want is to drink water that tastes bad!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of water filters?
There’s quite a vast amount of water filter designs on the market. Here’s a quick breakdown:
These are one of the most common types of filters and are the easiest way to get clean water from any source.
All you have to do is fill the bag with water, hang it from a tree (or anything else you can find) and allow gravity to do the work for you. Instead of ‘pumping’ the water, the dirty water will instead flow downwards through the filter and into a separate area for drinking.
They’re also able to hold the highest volume of water, so they’re a great choice for group backpackers.
Upon hearing the words, ‘water filter’ you’ll probably envision a pump, which is considered to be the original water filter design. Though this style has been overshadowed by newer designs, a pump filter is still a reliable choice to consider.
It works by pumping water from the source through a hose tube into a microscopic filter, cleaned and then delivered through another hose tube into a clean drinking water bag. These are most ideal for backpackers who only need to filter a liter or so of water, as they best suited to shallow water sources.
Looking for convenience? A bottle water filter is probably going to be the best option for you. These kinds of filters attach themselves to the spout of your bottle and will, quite literally, filter the water as you drink it.
These are super versatile, and also give you the option of not only immediately drinking the water but also filling up separate bottles so that you have more water at hand later on during the day or your hike. As they’re so quick and easy to use, these are a popular choice for long-distance backpackers.
Straw filters are a great way to keep your backpack to a minimum.
Allowing you to drink directly from the water source, as you suck the water in through the straw, these type of filters will clean the water before you ingest it, and are an ideal choice for those that like to pack as light as possible,
Which is better, a water filter, or a water purifier?
In effect, a water filter and a water purifier are essentially the same.
The only difference between the two is that a water purifier is able to rid the water of viruses, while water filters usually cannot.