Backpacking Water Filters for 2021

by Christine Howland | Last Updated: March 11, 2021

Water is essential for life. When you are exploring hidden or natural places, having access to clean drinking water is vital. For that, you must carry a portable backpacking water filter. The best backpacking water filters can remove viruses, germs, protozoa, and many types of bacteria.

Best Backpacking Water Filters

Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System

Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System

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The Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System is our high-end option for filtering dirty water. It can easily remove all the dirt, bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics and has a filtration size of 0.1 microns.

Features:

The Sawyer Squeeze does not have any moving or delicate parts. Hence, you do not have to worry about a broken filter, handle, or torn water pouch. You can use this versatile water filter with hydration bladders and also a gravity-fed system.

This water filter system contains small hollow fiber membranes and lets the water enter through tiny micro-pores. There are thick fiber walls, so the filter can backwash quickly and maintain up to 98% of the original flow rate.

Weighing about 0.2 pounds, the Sawyer Squeeze Filter has a compact size that can fit in your hand. The water filter system can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. It can eliminate 99.99999% of all types of bacteria, protozoa, and 100% of microplastics.

The reusable 0.1-micron water filter generates clean water from any water body. Fill up the squeeze pouch with water and attach the filter. After that, you can gulp down the water through the detachable flip-top cap. This built-in cap matches the typical water bottles with 28 mm threads.

The package includes two collapsible 32-ounce pouches, and you can roll them up. These pouches are reusable, BPA-free, durable, and you can squeeze them to drink clean water. You will get a set of Sawyer Inline Hydration Pack Adapters for filtering. Other accessories are a drinking straw and one black mesh durable storage bag.

Pros

  • It includes a lifetime warranty
  • You will receive a pair of 32-ounce collapsible pouches
  • It is easy to use and has an incredible flow rate
  • Perfect for backpacking and trails

Cons

  • The push/pull valve and cap features are missing.

SteriPEN ULT-MP-EF SterPen Ultra UV Water Purifier

SteriPEN ULT-MP-EF SterPen Ultra UV Water Purifier

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If you are looking for a water filtering system with a mix of modern technology, you can choose the SteriPEN ULT-MP-EF SterPen Ultra UV Water Purifier. It works with a USB charge which comes in the package.

Features:

This water filter system weighs less, and due to its handy design, you can carry it with ease. It is suitable for backpacking and long country tours for solo or two people. With an affordable price, it goes well with everyone’s budget.

This water filter can eliminate 99.9% of different types of bacteria in the water like cholera, E.coli., and salmonella. It is 99.9% effective against viruses and can remove Rotavirus, Hepatitis A, and also Norwalk. Like other typical water filters, this system can also filter out 99.9 % of all protozoa, including giardia and cryptosporidium.

With every single charge, this water filter system can filter up to fifty treatments. It can charge and discharge up to a total of 300 cycles. This system can purify a maximum of 15,000 liters of water.

The water filter system has a user-friendly and high-end OLED display. You can understand the OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display easily. Besides that, this system filters the water using the advanced Ultra method.

The display shows everything – water level, treatment, battery, or charge level. There is an 8,000-treatment lamp that can deliver about seven years of water purification. The package includes a USB rechargeable cable. You can charge this water filter through a solar panel, power outlet, wall socket, or computer.

Pros

  • The water filter has a three-year warranty
  • You will get a case and a USB charging cable
  • Perfect for up to two people and had a small design
  • It can also filter out many types of viruses

Cons

  • Their customer service is not up to the mark.

Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

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This water filter is the best choice you can use while going backpacking, hiking, and camping. It is a high-capacity water filtering system and is suitable for large groups. The water filter has two water reservoirs that store a large capacity of water.

Features

The Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System is so far the best backpacking water filter. This water filter can store a large amount of water. It comes with a replaceable cartridge that can filter 1,500 gallons of water. The flow rate of the filter is 1.75 liters per minute.

The water filtering system passes the EPA or NSF guidelines. It can remove 99.9% of protozoa and 99.9999% of bacteria from dirty water. The water filter doesn’t need pumping or stirring means you can enjoy the sight while gravity does all the rest of the work for you.

The Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System comes with two water storage bags. One bag is for dirty water, and the other is for clean or filtered drinking water. The capacity of each bag is four liters. Hence, you can always carry eight liters of water with you.

You can hang the two bags to a tree branch, and then the bags will start to filter out the water. While hanging these bags, carefully place them as the body is plastic. The entire water filter is quite durable and will last for a long time.

The package has two 4-liter water reservoirs, water hoses, hollow-fiber microfilter, shutoff pin, and one storage bag.

Pros

  • The water filter filters the water in an instant
  • It is the perfect pick for group backpacking trips
  • The bag stores a large quantity of water
  • Best backpacking water filter

Cons

  • The water filter is quite bulky
  • It might be a bit difficult to carry it with water in the bag

MSR HyperFlow Microfilter Compact Backpacking Water Filter

MSR HyperFlow Microfilter Compact Backpacking Water Filter

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The MSR HyperFlow Microfilter Compact Backpacking Water Filter is a lightweight, small, and quick water pumping filter. It is the ideal choice for people who want a fast water filter that weighs less.

Features

This MSR backpacking water filter uses hollow fiber technology with a mix of advanced engineering to clean water. It is easy to use, which makes your trip much smoother. The pore size of the water filter is 0.2-micron.

MSR HyperFlow Microfilter Compact Backpacking Water Filter is excellent for multi-day backpacking tours due to its small size, simple design, and less maintenance. Besides, it comes with a smart pre-filter which extends the working span of the water filter.

The filtration or flow rate of the water filter is three plus liters per minute. It comes with a fast connecting bottle adaptor. Using the bottle adaptor, you can connect the water filter to other MSR hydration products, including wide-mouth bottles.

You can clean the MSR HyperFlow Microfilter Compact Backpacking Water Filter without using professional tools for constant use. The cartridge can filter up to 1000 liters. The water filter needs twenty strokes for one liter of water.

Moreover, it can eliminate various types of bacteria like salmonella, cholera, E. coli, and other common bacteria present in the water. The device is effective against several types of protozoa like cryptosporidium and Giardia. You can drink clean water that is free from particulates like mud, microplastics, and dirt. The purifier even filters out particulates.

Pros

  • It can pump more than three liters in a minute with ease
  • The water filter has a high flow rate
  • Convenient to use
  • It comes with a water bottle adopter
  • Full lifetime warranty

Cons

  • A few issues about the pumping of the water

You might also like the round up article on the best budget backpacks for hiking.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

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This award-winning water filter is an essential tool for backpacking. It is compact, ultralight, and good enough for emergencies. With a capacity to filter up to 4,000 liters, it stands as the best water filter for a single person.

Features

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is the best ultralight backpacking water filter. It is compact, fits in hand, easy to use, and weighs only two ounces. Even though it does not have water storage capacity or power to pump the water into another bottle, it is good enough for emergency use.

To drink safe and clean water, you can use the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter like a straw. All you have to do is open both the caps at each end. Now, drop one of the openings into the water body and start drinking from the other end.

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is the perfect substitute for heavy water filters, and it passes EPA water filter standards. We recommend this as a backup water filter because it comes in handy for emergencies when your other water filters fail.

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is capable of filtering up to 1000 gallons of water or 4,000 liters. It can filter water for over five years. The water filter dimensions are 9 x 1 x 1 inch.

To our surprise, there are no parts that might lose, break down, or stop working. The water filter is a simple filter with a natural design whose main motive is to provide clean water. It comes with a sealed storage bag in which you can store the portable water filter.

Pros

  • Portable and easy to use
  • To filter the water, it uses advanced pores membrane technology
  • Unique design and eye-catchy color
  • It removes 99.9% of bacteria, microplastics, and parasites

Cons

  • The water filter needs to be empty before storing to prevent a clog

Katadyn Hiker Microfilter

Katadyn Hiker Microfilter

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The Katadyn Hiker Microfilter is the best portable water filter that is excellent for backpacking and other recreational activities. The easy-to-use and carry water filter comes with an 11-ounce water capacity.

Features

The Katadyn Hiker Microfilter comes with a simple yet effective design. It is good enough for beginner backpackers, intermediate, and even professional backpackers. It is the ultimate choice for people who prioritize speed with the best quality and clean drinking water. The setting up time of the water filter is less than 30 seconds.

It comes with a 0.2-micron glass fiber filter, and it gives a high outcome using little action. The filter comes with activated carbon in the core, which enriches the taste of the water. Besides, it also decreases the rate of chemicals in the drinking water.

You can drink the water from any contaminated water source after filtering from this filter. The Katadyn Hiker Microfilter gives safe and clean drinking water in every condition. You do not have to backflush every time as this is one of the water filters with low maintenance.

The Katadyn Hiker Microfilter can filter the water quickly, and the flow rate of the water filter is one liter per minute. You can replace the water filter cartridges as you wish. The total dimensions of the water filter are 9 x 8 x 3 inches.

The Katadyn Hiker Microfilter comes with two types of adaptors. You can use one for the water bladder and the other adaptor for water bottles. The bottle adaptor of the water filter matches with the broad mouth Nalgene bottle.

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Affordable water filter
  • It comes with a 0.2-micron glass-fiber filter
  • The water filter is compatible and fits well with hydration bladders

Cons

  • The water filter can be more durable

You might also like the round up article on the best lightweight hiking shirt.

Waterdrop Personal Water Filter

Waterdrop Personal Water Filter

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The Waterdrop Personal Water Filter is famous due to its four-stage filtration. It can filter water bodies that have large dirty particles to water sources that have small bacteria. The versatile water filter is good enough to use for outdoor activities.

Features

This water filter uses a similar reverse osmosis method to clean the water, making it the best backpacking reverse osmosis water filter. It comes with a pair of filter straws which you can use to connect with other water bags or bottles.

The Waterdrop Personal Water Filter uses four-stage filtration to provide you the clean and safe drinking water. The first membrane is the pre-filter fabric which extracts pollutants like leaves, stones, and others.

The hollow fiber membrane, which is the second stage, removes 99.9% of bacteria. The hollow fiber is 0.1-micron in size and eliminates harmful materials in water. In the third stage, the activated carbon fiber reduces the odor and increases the water taste. The carbon fiber filter is a combination of Japanese technology and high-grade coconut shell activation.

The fourth stage, which is the post polyester membrane, eliminates impurities like rust, micro particulates, and many more. You can open both ends of the water filter to connect them with water bottles or bags. Even though it looks like a small and portable water filter, it can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water.

The water filter comes with a creative super-wash design and does not need syringe backwashing. It removes excess fittings and saves up more space. All these features make the water filter and bag more versatile, convenient, and safe.

Pros

  • Four filtration stages
  • 99.999% efficiency in removing protozoa and bacteria
  • Great value for money
  • It comes with two durable filter straws

Cons

  • When the carbon filters are full of impurities, they will produce awful odors

MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier

MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier

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The MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier is an ideal pick if you want a filter that can remove viruses quickly. It can survive even in harsh and extreme conditions. The equipment also uses hollow fiber technology to filter the water.

Features

MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier can remove viruses in a flash, making it the best backpacking water filter for viruses. The water filtering device can eradicate harmful viruses such as Norwalk, rotavirus, hepatitis A, and many other viruses. The device eliminates every type of protozoa, bacteria, and even particulates like mud, microplastics, and dirt.

Moreover, it is a military standard water purifier that you can use to drink from any water source. The MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier passes the NSF protocol P248 testing standard of the U.S. military. It uses medical level fibers that protect you even from the small waterborne dangers.

It does not need filter scrubbing and backflushing. The water filtering device features a self-cleaning function. With 10% of each stroke, the device automatically back flushes, all thanks to the self-cleaning feature. This aspect pumps down the fatigue and lowers maintenance and care.

You can pair the water filter with a Nalgene bottle, making it easier to drink the water due to its wide mouth. With a flow rate of 2.5 liters for one minute, it is one of the best fastest water filters so far.

The water filter can filter up to 10,000 liters of water. It tolerates frosting, falls, and good enough for constant use in severe environments. All these things make the MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier the best pick for international destinations.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • It can remove viruses in an instant
  • Military standard water purifier
  • The filter has a self-cleaning mechanism

Cons

  • Over tightening of the filter causes water to leak

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Advantages Of Buying A Water Filter 

Here are a few benefits that you will get for buying a backpacking water filter.

  1. The water filter removes the impurities and wild pollutants like dust, mud, stones, and leaves.
  2. They let you drink clean, refreshing, and dirt-free water.
  3. On the other hand, the backpacking water filters make the drinking water free from bacteria, protozoa, and sometimes viruses.
  4. Gravity water filters do not need too much effort and are perfect for groups.
  5. You can avoid bringing water from your home to your backpacking outing.
  6. Using the water filters, you can avoid buying tons of plastic bottles when you are going for a tour. Hence, you are reducing plastic usage, which helps in saving our mother nature.
  7. Besides, the water filters give you the taste of the water from various sources like ponds, lakes, waterfalls, streams, and more.

What Are The Things To Look At Before Buying The Backpacking Water Filter?  

1. Ease Of Use

Drinking water is an essential thing that people do many times a day. Even when you are backpacking in the backcountry or some other places, you need water to survive. Hence, it is necessary to have a water filter that is easy to use. When you have water filters that are hard to use, it might be frustrating for you. That is the reason why we always give priority to simple water filters.

2. Pore Size

In general, the pore size is the length of the small spaces or the openings in a filter. To measure pore size, you have to use a micron scale. When the pore is small in size, it can prevent even the tiniest particles. As per CDC guidelines, to remove protozoa, the pore size should be 1 micron or less. Bacteria, on the other hand, need 0.3-micron pore size. For blocking viruses, it needs to be about 0.02 micron. Many backpacking water filters on our list come with a pore size between 0.1 to 0.2 micron. Hence, they can wipe out bacteria and protozoa.

3. Quality and durability

Always select the water filters that use premium quality materials. If you choose low-quality water filters, there are high chances that they might stop filtering water in the middle of your tour. To avoid that kind of situation it is better to buy a good enough water filter that is quite durable. The more durability, the more it will last longer.

4. Filtering Viruses

It is rare for water filters to remove viruses. Mostly, the water filters can remove several types of protozoa, bacteria, and even micro-particles but not viruses. If you want to explore some less known places, it is better to pick the water filters that remove viruses. No one knows what kind of things water sources those hidden places have.

5. Flow Rate

The flow rate reveals at what speed the water filtering system can filter the water. You can measure it in terms of liters per minute. The water filters with 1.75 liters per minute flow rate can clean 4 liters of water within a few minutes. You have to remember that the straw and squeeze water filters do not have any flow rate because it depends on your suction power. When you are traveling in groups, it is better to choose the water filters with a high flow rate so that every member can have water. Moreover, they will save plenty of time.

6. Weight

The backpacking water filters are available in various sizes, shapes, and weights. Some are as light as a ball, and a few are too heavy to carry. The weight and heaviness of the water filtering system depend on the type of water filter. For example, the water filtering tablets weigh less than one ounce, while the gravity water filters weigh more than 6 ounces. We recommend that you choose the water filters that weigh between two to five ounces.

7. Type of water filter

The backpacking water filters are available in various types like pump water filters, gravity water filters, straw water filters, individual water filters, and many more. You can select the water filter as your wish considering a few things like the flow rate, maintenance, and more.

8. Filter Maintenance

The main motive of water filters is to eliminate the impurities or contaminants from the water. Hence, it makes sense that they need proper maintenance or cleaning to work properly. It is necessary to clean the built-up particles to use the water filter. In general, you can clean the gravity and straw water filters by backflushing the air or water. For some types of water filters, you need a back syringe to maintain them. We suggest that you buy the water filters with less maintenance which saves both your effort and time.

9. Cost

Of course, the money you are ready to spend on the water filter is of absolute priority. When you are stuck with less budget, you pick among the affordable water filters, which are quite good. More usage of technologies and quality materials will always improve the total price of the water filter. Hence, consider and make a list of what features are necessary for your backpacking journey. It is better to avoid spending on the features that you are never going to use.

Bottom Line 

We tested hundreds of backpacking water filters which are small, compact, and are good enough to use for backpacking or hiking. We took many water filters into the backpacking field to test them in various conditions and water bodies ranging from dirty ponds to clean water streams. And the above six products stand the best throughout our testing. But our top pick is Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System. It can hold a large amount of water, ticks the EPA or NSF guidelines, affordable, and good enough for versatile use.

We hope our list of the best backpacking water filters will help you in making the final decision. We highly recommend that you go with the water filter, whose features are identical to your requirement list.