If you love backpacking, camping, and trekking, you should look for the best portable water filter. When you go places, it might be hard to locate a clean water source, which can be a problem. We need to stay hydrated wherever we are. It is why it’s crucial to find a portable water filter that works and straightforwardly supplies us with clean, fresh water.
- Contaminants Removed: A filter should remove as many impurities from the water as possible and guarantee a safer and more pleasant drink. Hence, a portable water filter that eliminates as much as 99.99% of contaminants is better than a unit that only reduces them by 93%.
- Filter Lifespan: Nobody wants a single-use portable water filter, especially when outdoors. The filtration system must be reusable, allowing backpackers and campers to enjoy clean and safe water on the go for many years. A 5,000-gallon filter will always be a better choice than a 1,000-gallon unit.
- Ease of Use and Cleanup: A portable water filter must be effortless to use and hassle-free to clean. Otherwise, you will be better off buying bottled water. Straw-style portable water filters are the most suitable because their simple design affords maximum convenience on the go. Sadly, cleanup can be tedious if you are not careful with your choice.
However, it can be daunting to choose one without a clear idea on the top picks on the market. This guide is for you! Read for the top 11 picks, each with distinct features and qualities. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Top 11 Portable Water Filter Reviews
1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter was designed with emergencies and natural disasters in mind. It acts like a straw that you immerse into a source and drink. It incorporates the same innovative features in modern water filters like having no moving parts and requiring no batteries, but it also basically needs zero maintenance.
It is built to be sturdy, durable, light, and compact at only 2 ounces. It can be easily stowed away into a pocket or backpack without worrying too much about breaking the device.
This water filter uses a 0.2-micron filter that can remove 99.99 percent of bacteria, other parasites, and microplastic from water. The filtration membranes are made of hollow fiber that is chemical-free. Performance is on par with leading filtration systems, as it can transform dirty water to clear and filter bacteria that cause some of the most common illnesses from drinking filthy water.
It excellently eliminates pesticides along with all other harmful compounds. One cool feature of the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is its activated carbon capsule, which reduces chemical contents and toxic organic matter, thus improving the taste and eliminating bad odors.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter has no replaceable parts. It can filter up to 264 gallons of water (1,000 liters). It is equivalent to the average amount of water a person drinks in a year. After that, it will stop filtering, and you discard it. Backflushing it to clean the filter requires merely blowing water back out.
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter has a beautiful portable water filter bottle that houses a two-stage LifeStraw filter. This option lets you dunk the bottle in any water source and sip through the mouthpiece. It also gives you the convenience of storing clean water or sharing it with others.
2. Sawyer Products Water Filtration
Sawyer lets you experience the lightest and most compact system to use, literally. The Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System weighs in at only 2 ounces but delivers heavyweight performance.
Considered as one of the most compact filters available on the market, it is small enough to fit into the palm of your hand. But you’d be surprised by its performance, flexibility, and ease of use. It can even let you drink straight from a lake or stream by merely using a straw that comes with it, making it the perfect on-the-go water filter.
Its thick hollow fiber membranes with small inner diameters make them 75 percent stronger than other membranes and allow fast flow. It uses a top-notch 0.1-micron filter that removes 99.99% of all kinds of bacteria and protozoa. It is very convenient to use. Just fill your water bottle or the included reusable pouch, screw the filter to it, and start sipping. Its screen can be attached to most water bottles.
The MINI Water Filtration System lets you do a little bit of maintenance by using a cleaning syringe to backflush the filter. It is a neat feature for removing sediments from the screen and helps make the device last for a long time while maintaining its high flow rate. Sawyer claims that the filter can be back-washed continually to restore up to 98 percent of its flow rate.
3. Membrane Solutions Straw Water Filter
Outdoor adventurers and homeowners looking for dependable portable water treatment systems should stop their search and take a look at the Membrane Solutions Filter.
Like LifeStraw, this filtered straw device offers unimaginable water contaminant reduction rates. It empowers campers, anglers, backpackers, and other adventurers to travel to remote locations and explore nature.
I can connect the filter to a squeeze bottle and never worry about dehydrating myself again. Campers can fetch water from the river or lake, pour the liquid into a plastic or canvas bag, and connect this product to create an improvised gravity water filter. Of course, drinking water from any source is a cinch because this device works quickly.
Water-borne diseases are the least of my worries because this product’s five-stage filtration mechanism guarantees a 99.99999% reduction of water contaminants. The water I drink will be free of silt, sediment, and solid particles. Tiny organisms, chlorine odor and taste, and harmful substances will never bother a camper’s water drinking.
Its 0.1-micron membrane captures the tiniest substances and microorganisms, while its polypropylene fibers and coconut shell-activated carbon work to absorb unwanted molecules and compounds.
Surprisingly, its ultra-fine semipermeable membrane does not impair the water filter’s flow rate. It can still deliver about 19 ounces of safe, clean, and pleasant-tasting water per minute. And the filter can process 1,320 gallons of “dirty” water before it heads to the garbage disposal system.
4. The Survivor Filter PRO
The Survivor Filter PRO uses a triple filtration system with a 0.01-micron filter that removes bacteria, parasites, chemicals, heavy metals, and even viruses. The company claims it is the best independently tested filtration level available on the market, and backs it up with an impeccable consumer satisfaction rating, including every online portable water purifier review.
The Survivor Filter PRO was tested to remove 99.99 percent of bacteria and protozoa (Parasites, Giardia, Cryptosporidium), 99.99 percent of the virus Phi X-174, and 99.5 percent removal of Lead and Mercury. These numbers place the Survivor Filter PRO on top of the competition along with an unmatched ability to remove heavy metal compounds. The company says its carbon filtration is 20 times more efficient than the ones on the market and even dares you to ask for copies of its test results.
Sure enough, the performance of the Survivor Filter PRO does not disappoint. Its flow rate is super-fast at 17 oz per minute, making this water filter perfect for the whole family.
Interestingly, the Survivor Filter PRO shell is made from ABS material (the same material used on helicopter blades and car bumpers). The filter is made of long-lasting medical-grade Polysulfone. You can expect a very tough, durable device that should last for a long time when taken care of.
The Survivor Filter PRO is simple enough to use. You can use it for drinking directly from a water source, using its attached cup or any portable hydration pack. This water filter is not as lightweight and compact as some of the competition but is considerably light and compact and remains an option for travel or emergency. It is also one of the few water filters on the market capable of filtering viruses using its 3-stage filtration technology.
5. Katadyn Vario Water Filter
Portable water filtration reviews garner a high score for the Katadyn Vario Water Filter, which performs very well and offers one of the fastest water filtration available on the market. Use this filter to avoid drinking contaminated water again.
This water filter is a joy to use with its ergonomic handle and silky-smooth operation. You’d be surprised at how quickly the pump filter can crank out clean water. The Katadyn Vario was designed with convenience in mind. Using dual-piston technology, it can pump up to 1 liter per minute. Because of its high flow rate, we recommend it for backcountry family or group travel.
In addition to a high flow rate, the Katadyn Vario Water Filter offers a nice feature of setting filtration speed; a fast option that relies solely on the first glass fiber filtration and a slower speed option that uses a ceramic disc as a prefilter, thereby extending the lifespan of the unit. Even at the slow setting, the water filter can still pump out 1 liter of clean water in just 47 seconds, which is impressive. It features a replaceable carbon filter that reduces harmful chemicals and eliminates bad taste and odor.
This water filter can filter up to 2,000 liters of water before needing filter replacement, which is very good compared to other filters in its class. Besides the well-designed pump handle, the Vario seems to be a well-built and durable pump.
6. The LifeStraw Family Water Purifier
The LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Gravity Powered Water Purifier is no slouch concerning water filters. It is an award-winning filtration system that is used by over 13,000,000 consumers worldwide.
It filters without having to pump or wait for chemicals to react. Yet it eliminates 99.99 percent of bacteria, 99 percent of protozoa and cysts, and most impressively, 99.9 percent of viruses, producing pure water in no time at all. It uses a gravity filter, so all you must do is pour water on it, and in an instant, you get fresh and clean water. It is also lightweight and compact.
The whole unit rolls up into a reservoir and is easy to store. It is truly one of the most reliable water purification systems for camping and hiking, and consumer reports and the company’s reputation can certainly attest to that.
Amazingly, the LifeStraw Family 1.0 can treat 18,000 liters of water before needing filter replacement. It means it can continuously produce safe water for four people for three years. It has a top-notch flow rate of a quarter per minute and can be used to supply for a small group. Not much maintenance is required, as the system does not have any moving parts.
The LifeStraw Family 1.0 is amongst the few filtration systems in the market that can give you and your family peace of mind whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally. You can be sure a vast majority of waterborne pathogens, including E-coli, Giardia, Salmonella, and even viruses, don’t stand a chance. It is a real-life saver and maybe the only purifying system your family needs
7. MSR MiniWorks EX Water Filter
When deciding which water filters for camping and other outdoor adventures to buy, one must always consider what kind of environment he or she plans to travel to and how frequent it will be. The MSR products mini water filtration is one of the best-selling water filters on the market and is designed to be a robust, heavy-duty, long-lasting, and field-maintainable, but still lightweight and compact unit.
It has a rock-solid construction that breaks into four parts that are easy to clean and maintain even on the field. It allows for a proper flow rate restoration without using tools. It is also effortless, with a nicely designed ergonomic pump handle.
These products are mini water filtration pumps at a respectable rate of 1 liter per minute with its innovative AirSpring Accumulator. They have a replaceable and durable ceramic filter that has a pore size of 0.2 microns that provides safe, taste-free water and removes 99.99 percent of particulates, bacteria, protozoa, and other waterborne pathogens. They have a replaceable carbon filter product that reduces chlorine, iodine, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals in the water, improving its taste and removing unpleasant odors.
The replaceable filters are rated to 2,000 liters of water, which is good. It equates to the amount of water an average person drinks in 2 years. The system weighs 1 pound and comes with a storage bag. It is compatible with most wide-mouth water bottles and hydration bladders. It has an excellent cartridge replacement indicator.
8. The Etekcity Straw Water Filter
The Etekcity Water Filter Straw Portable Water Filter was designed with the removal of harmful chemicals in mind. As a result, this water filtration system comes with an ion-exchange resin that removes chlorine, iron, THMs, and heavy ions. At the same time, it is aided by activated carbon that makes certain odors and bad taste are eliminated. This portable drinking water filter is perfect for those who want fresh and great-tasting water from every natural source.
The flow rate of this water filter product is at 400 ml per minute, and its high-capacity filter is rated to a respectable 1500 liters of water before replacement. That is equivalent to the amount of water an average person drinks in a year and a half time.
The Etekcity Water Filter Straw Portable Water Filter has an advanced 3-stage filtration process that uses a prefilter to get rid of large sediments. The 0.01 ceramic and carbon filters work their magic to remove all kinds of bacteria, chemicals, heavy metals, and other harmful contaminants.
This water filter product comes with gifts in the form of a foldable 480 ml water pouch that lets you squeeze to get desired flow rate, a 70 cm extension tube, an inlet mouthpiece filter device, a cleaning syringe and some PP cotton pads for long term maintenance
9. LifeStraw Bottle with Filter Straw
The LifeStraw Bottle with Filter Straw filters water instantly while drinking and is very convenient. They are great for all sorts of travel, such as camping, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking.
It uses the same award-winning hollow fiber membrane filter that filters 99.99 percent of waterborne pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, microplastics, and other harmful sediments while still allowing a high flow rate. It utilizes a 2-stage activated carbon filter that also reduces chemicals such as iron and chlorine, and other harmful elements like pesticides, herbicides, and organic compounds, thereby producing clean, odor-free, and great-tasting water.
These durable and leak-proof bottles with water filters are made of BPA-free Tritan, and their mouthpiece is made of food-grade silicone. It comes in a variety of attractive colors to suit all kinds of travelers and outdoor adventurers.
The LifeStraw Go Water Filter lets you store water and transfer to or share it with someone. It is convenient and effortless, as you can dunk the bottle in any water source and sip through the mouthpiece. It is a very nice upgrade from the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, which is the same water filter but lacks the convenience and versatility that this lightweight water filter bottle offers.
This portable water filtration systems disaster relief is the perfect companion for mountain bikers or any cyclist who doesn’t want to carry a lot of weight but has access to natural water sources. This would quickly shed a pound or two for them while being able to replenish as they need it.
10. Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter
The Katadyn Hiker Pro water filtration system rolls performance and portability into one, making it one of the top-rated portable water purifiers for travel, and it remains to be the best-selling microfilter in the US market. It is an ideal backcountry water filter, as its long tube and small intake provide a handy and efficient hand pump. Its ergonomic pump handle is comfortable and very easy to use.
This water filter product is most useful for personal use. Still, its performance and efficiency make it easy to produce clean drinking water for a small travel group. It can filter 1 liter per minute and is simple to use, with quick-connect fittings compatible with most bottles, vessels, or hydration systems. It also comes with hydration bladders.
The transparent design lets you see the flow of its filtration process. This neat addition also lets you know when the filter is dirty and needs to be cleaned or replaced. Maintenance is a breeze with its cleanable protector screen. Cleaning is easy; swish the filter protector in the water. It also comes with a field maintenance kit and a handy carry sack. Its weight of 11 ounce and compact size makes it an excellent option for backpackers.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro uses 0.2-micron filters with cartridges made of pleated glass fiber that helps purify silt and muddy water and eliminates organisms, such as protozoa. A great feature of this water filter is the activated carbon in the core of its filter that helps reduce chemicals and pesticides in the water, improving the taste as well.
11. General Ecology Xle Elite Purifier
The General Ecology First Need Xle Elite Purifier is a complete water purifier system that is durable, compact, and lightweight, and provides ease and convenience of use. Its Structured Matrix 3-stage purification technology ecologically removes all kinds of contaminants such as bacteria, cysts, and viruses. It also gets rid of chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, thereby eliminating unpleasant tastes. This water filtration system is one of the few out there that can filter out organic compounds down to the virus level.
These General Ecology First Need Xle Elite water purifiers are easy to use and maintain. Its Cleanout Port feature makes it possible to clean the canister without having to remove hoses or reverse the water flow. It also features an ergonomic handle for comfort and easy grip when pumping. It offers a long inlet hose for convenience and consistent flow. It comes with a handy storage bag, a self-cleaning prefilter, and a gravity kit allowing hands-free purification.
This filter has a fast flow rate of 1.89 liters per minute so you can enjoy pure, great-tasting water in no time at all.
What Is A Portable Water Filter/ Who Is This For
Many types of portable water filters are available on the market. But what is it? A portable water filter is a convenient and handy filter that you can bring outdoors. It works simply, so people who love backpacking use it, especially when going into places where clean water is scarce or isn’t readily available.
Fishers and hunters use a portable water filter because it allows them to hydrate as they go, so they don’t need to worry about getting a clean water supply. It is also for the wilderness backpackers that enjoy their time in the wilderness but want fresh water to hydrate. If you’re spending much time outdoors, you should use this portable water filter that can let you have a significant amount of drinking water amount in no time and that gives them that drinking water in a few minutes.
People who enjoy hiking and trekking should also use a water filter. It will provide them with that instant drinking water supply even with a straw filter. Some of these can easily fit into their pockets or carry in their hands.
Car campers and recreational vehicle owners want to clean a large amount of water in minutes. They use either pump filters or gravity filters that can give them a high-water output, giving them that hydration all the time.
People who enjoy day hiking also bring a portable water filter that lets them pack and travel light. They don’t need to bring bottles of water, so they choose filtered water bottled or straw filters. On the other hand, portable water filters are also for city hikers that want a ready supply of clean water. They can filter and clean water as they go. Many of them choose a pump filter that they can use for group hiking. Some choose a straw filter or a bottle filter if they travel solo.
How Does It Work
It does not work in a complicated manner but is easy to use. It works to filter debris, protozoa, sand, silt, and even tiny microbes, depending on the model selected. However, it might be clogged for repeated use, so it needs replacement or cleaning. If you’re looking for a reliable portable filter for your adventures and outdoor activities, you might want to get started in the selection process using the reviews we’ve featured earlier in this guide.
What Are The Different Types Of Portable Water Filter
The next thing you might want to know about portable water purification systems is their types. As you know by now, you can find so many water filters on the market that you can use for backpacking, hunting, fishing, trekking, and hiking. There are also those that fit people who love car camping. To give you a reference, here are some of the most common types of portable filters to find on the market.
These portable water filtration systems are the most common and handy solutions to find. As the name suggests, these filters look like straws. They also work like straws. However, it would be best if you were as close to the water source as possible to use it to draw in the water through it. Many of these filters use a hollow fiber membrane as the filtration component. They are woven tightly so that water passes through the layers before reaching the filter straw from where you will be sipping water. The holes in these fibers are small, but the fibers are porous.
Many of the membranes are made with holes with 0.2 microns in size. In this case, the parasites, viruses, and bacteria are larger than the holes so they will not be able to pass. They will just be trapped for effective filtration.
They are larger than straw filters, but they are still handy. They can fit into your backpack without taking up much space. In terms of its mechanism, you need to connect the lead line to the water source, and then connect the other line to the recipient. To draw the water, you need to use the pump with which it comes. Some filters use ceramic, but others use fiber filters.
Others use any of these filtrations plus an activated carbon filter/block activated carbon. These pump filters work by offering mechanical filtration, preventing the contaminants from getting into the water you’re drinking. The contaminants are blocked. It can also block the asbestos that can get into your drinking water. On the downside, these filters might not be able to filter some bacteria, which can be small to pass through the filter. Thus, they will reach your drinking water.
These filters are also a personal water purifier for many people who love the outdoors. They can be useful even if you don’t want to filter water for drinking. This bottle can be used as an ordinary water bottle, too. But when you’re in a place where water is unhealthy or unsafe, you can just the filter cartridge back to filter the water. These filters make use of fiber filters to filter the water, but then, some others use block-activated carbon filters.
Another common filter, gravity filters, are chosen by emergency preppers, trekkers, hikers, and campers because they’re simple to use. They don’t require a constant water supply or electricity to work. They are for those who frequently travel in remote areas where you cannot find clean water. Most likely, these filters are engineered with two different containers, which are put above each other. You must put water in the first container in these portable water filter systems. The water will then pass through the filter medium before it ends up in the next container. Many of these systems also have a tap that you can use to refill a bottle or another recipient.
These models operate on batteries, so you might have to spend higher on their cost. But then, these filters are perfect for filtering down parasites and bacteria. They can also improve the taste and smell of the water and can work fast.
Just like when buying a top-quality portable water purifier, you might also be thinking of ways on how to select the right filtration system that fits your preferences, needs, and purpose. As said, you can find so many of these filters on the market. Comparing which one will match your needs can be hard without comparing the different filtration systems on the market. It is why we have prepared a handy guide to use as a reference.
This feature is one of the most important when picking a portable filter. You must pick one that is handy that you can fit in your pocket or backpack or hold with your hand, depending on what your preference is. You can go ahead and compare the different filters we’ve featured earlier to determine the most portable one to fit your preferences.
Speaking of portability, you must pick a lightweight filter so that you can bring it conveniently in backpacking, hiking, trekking, hunting, or fishing. Avoid filters that will pose discomfort to carry around when traveling. It is why you need to consider the weight when figuring out which filter to buy. Check for those that are compact, small, and handy. However, you should also note that the design can affect the weight of the filter that you’re buying. It might also vary based on its construction material and filtering mechanism.
Take note that the filter can remove contaminants from the water source, but the rate will depend on the model that you have chosen. For example, some portable filters can produce some ounces every minute. On the other hand, some faster models can clean as much as 20 ounces of water at the same time as others can.
Know that cartridges have their lifespan. It just means some might last longer than others can. Some can be used for months, but others only for weeks. Nevertheless, you can find those that can filter at most 264 gallons of water, while the others will be able to clean at most 100,000 gallons of water.
You should also take note that not all portable filters are easy to use. That is why you should look for those that come with detailed use and priming instructions. You must also find those that are very simple to use, such as that allowing you to use a straw to draw in water, such as straw filters.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How effective is a portable water filter?
The effectiveness of portable or handheld water filters depends on the gadget’s filtration technology.
For instance, the Membrane Solutions Straw Filter for survival and emergency applications features four filtration technologies, including ultrafiltration, carbon filtration, sediment screening, and polypropylene filtration (absorption).
Unsurprisingly, these straw filters can reduce water contaminants by 99.99999%.
Similarly, the compact LifeStraw can remove up to 99.999999% of bacteria and 99.999% of parasites, microplastics, sand, parasites, and dirt. These small water filters use the same ultrafiltration technology as the Membrane Solutions, albeit with a smaller pore size (0.02 vs. 0.1 microns).
Sadly, companies can claim their smallest and most portable water filters are 99.9999% effective in removing water impurities without offering verifiable proof. Hence, you might want to be wary of products that make such claims without NSF, WQA, or EPA certification.
You could also ask Reddit members about a portable water filter’s effectiveness if you cannot find information on the brand’s website or marketing materials.
What portable water filter removes chemicals forever?
According to the National Sanitation Foundation, any water filter with an NSF P473 certification can remove the “forever chemicals” of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
An example of a portable water filter that removes chemicals forever is the LifeStraw Home 7-Cup Water Filter Pitcher. Although it might not be as compact and lightweight as other portable filters, this system can still make for an excellent hiking companion.
What backpacking water filter is better than LifeStraw?
The Sawyer Mini is a better water filter mobile system than LifeStraw. It has a higher filtration capacity (100,000 gallons vs. 4,000 gallons) and a smaller micron size (0.1 vs. 0.2). Its finer semipermeable membrane makes the Sawyer more effective in removing harmful particulates in the water (99.9999% vs. 99.9%).
Although both products do not have a built-in hand pump, Sawyer beats LifeStraw in versatility. Outdoor adventurers can use it as a straw, like the LifeStraw, or connect it to a water bottle or pouch.
Homeowners who love doing DIY projects can convert the Sawyer into a portable filter for coffee and other beverages. They can also splice it into a water hose.
Cleaning the Sawyer device is also more convenient than maintaining the LifeStraw. It does not require blowing air through the filter chamber after backflushing (the LifeStraw does).
What are the most trusted portable water filter brands?
A few of the most trusted brands around are LifeStraw, and Sawyer Products, among the rest featured earlier. You can go ahead and check them out to ensure that you’re dealing with a proper manufacturer that can offer their users satisfaction.
Can a water filter remove viruses?
In many cases, a filter can remove waterborne bacteria and protozoa. However, they are not designed to get rid of viruses. What is, it is a water purifier. It can work in removing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
What is the top-tier water filter bottle for travel?
There is no specific answer to this question because people may have different preferences. You can compare the various features these portable bottle filters can offer to check if they satisfy you.
How to care & clean?
All filter cartridges have a lifespan. They need replacement from time to time, depending on their condition. But for any specific care and cleaning instructions, you must read the specifications page for your guidance.
Where to buy?
Find these water filters from Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, and Lowes. They are also on the websites of the manufacturers of the specific filters. Other places to buy include RVing stores and other specialty shops.
Hoping you have learned from this guide how to choose the best portable water filter and what you need to consider when comparing your options. Check out the top 11 picks so you can figure out which among them has the characteristics and qualities that will work for your needs. Buy the right portable filter for camping, backpacking, fishing, or hunting today!
Hi, I am Ronald, founder of Saveourh2o. With this website, we aim to solve all the problems related to your water filters, softeners, and heaters. I have five years working in water equipment sales & service. I hope to bring the knowledge gathered from my daily work to help you to achieve comfort and safety in your home!