7 Best Backpacking Water Filters

Rilor Staff
Update: August 31, 2021
Table of Contents

Outdoor enthusiasts should consider gearing themselves with the best backpacking water filters. After all, these tools guarantee that you will remain hydrated even if your water bottle is already empty. 

Backpacking will require access to clean water sources. Of course, you have the option to carry your own water container, but there's no telling if it can last on your trip. In this case, you will need to utilize the resources around you, such as streams and rivers. This is where our water filters come in. 

One of the notable features of these water filters is their portability. Even in weight-conscious applications like backpacking, you can still carry these filters with you. Furthermore, keep in mind that there are different types of water filters that you can take outdoors. Check some of them in the list below. 

Best Backpacking Water Filters

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System Squeeze filter0.5 pounds
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Glass-fiber filter0.6 pounds
Grayl Geopress Water Purifier Bottle Electro press / activated carbon15.9 pounds
latypus QuickDraw Microfilter System Hollow fiber0.2 pounds
MSR Guardian Purifier Advanced hollow fiber1 pound
LifeStraw Flex with Gravity Bag Water Filter Hollow-fiber membrane/activated carbon0.3 pounds
LifeStraw Flex 2-Stage Multi-Function Water Filter System Hollow-fiber membrane/activated carbon0.1 pound

1. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System


Sawyer Products has produced arguably one of the most popular water filtration systems today. The Mini Water Filtration System is ideal for various outdoor applications such as hiking, camping, emergencies, and even international travels. It has superb mechanisms for cleaning water. Specifically, the device includes a 0.1-micron inline filter that can easily prevent unwanted contaminants in your system. 

You can attach this device to its drinking pouch (included in the package), hydration packs, and disposable water bottles. It also has a straw so that you can drink water directly from the source. This water filter guarantees to remove salmonella, E.coli, cholera, and other potentially harmful bacteria. 


  • Filter - 0.1-micron squeeze filter
  • Capacity - 0.5 liters
  • Contaminants filtered - Bacteria, protozoa, microplastic
  • Item weight - 0.5 pounds
  • Item size - 4 inches x 3 inches x 8 inches

2. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter


This 11-ounce water microfilter will eliminate the need for you to carry gallons of water on your backpacking and hiking trip. This device uses a pump-action technology to directly drink water from rivers and streams without the fear that you'll get contaminated. Its 0.2-micron glass fiber filter media is efficient enough in preventing the entry of unwanted pollutants found in your water source. 

Moreover, it has an activated carbon on its body, which, in turn, improves the taste of water while reducing chemicals present in the water. Interestingly enough, the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter works well with hydration bladders. And since it has an ultralight and compact construction, bringing it to your adventures wouldn't be a problem.


  • Filter - 0.2-micron glass-fiber filter
  • Capacity - 0.3 liters
  • Contaminants filtered - Bacteria, protozoa, microplastic, chemicals
  • Item weight - 0.6 pounds
  • Item size - 9 inches x 8 inches x 3 inches

3. Grayl Geopress Water Purifier Bottle 


The Grayl Geopress Water Purifier Bottle boasts the OnePress system that lets you use this water filter on any continent of the world. You no longer have to purchase single-use water bottles again as long as you have this device. It is effective in removing waterborne pathogens such as norovirus, E. coli, cholera, hepatitis, and dysentery. Using the Grayl Geopress is pretty easy. You simply fill its container with water and press it afterward. The water inside it will then be safe for consumption. 

This water filter also includes activated carbon that reduces the presence of chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, and unwanted odor in the water. It can also remove microplastics and small particulates in the water. With its three-function SimpleVent drinking cap, the water filter gains the capability to vent air, purify grime and dirt while you are drinking into it.


  • Filter - Electro absorption
  • Capacity - 5 liters
  • Contaminants filtered - Bacteria, protozoa, viruses, microplastic, heavy metals
  • Item weight - 15.9 pounds
  • Item size - 10.4 inches x 5.6 inches x 3.4 inches

4. Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter System


Another exceptional water filter for backpacking that you should try is the Platypus QuickDraw. This unit includes a one-liter reservoir that contains a hollow-fiber filter that aids in cleaning various sources of water. This item only weighs 3.6 ounces and can be packed smaller than your average shirt. This unit is equipped with a rugged tri-layer film that doesn't add unwanted flavor to the water. Furthermore, it also includes a large mouth so that you can refill it without spills. 

However, the most notable aspect of the Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter System is its hassle-free maintenance. Essentially, you can clean the hollow-fiber filter by simply shaking the container. You can also do some backflushing to ensure that its water flow is at a regular rate. Under normal settings, this unit can filter up to three liters of water per minute. It is also worthy of indicating that its filter has met the NSF and EPA standards. Hence, there's an assurance that the Platypus can remove 99.9% of protozoa and bacteria in your water.


  • Filter - Hollow fiber
  • Capacity - 1 liter
  • Contaminants filtered - Bacteria, protozoa
  • Item weight - 3.4 ounces
  • Item size - 2 inches x 5 inches

5. MSR Guardian Purifier


The MSR Guardian Purifier is undoubtedly one of the most expensive purifiers that you can get today. But trust me on this: it is one of the best, too. In fact, the MSR Guardian Purifier has been named the best water purifier by the Backpacker Magazine 2016 Editor's Choice Award. That accolade alone proves that the quality of this device can meet your expectations. It doesn't follow the typical hollow-fiber filtration system; instead, it is using advanced medical-grade fibers that effectively eliminate viruses. 

Aside from viruses, the MSR Guardian Purifier can also be used to block particulates, protozoa, and bacteria. It is an essential capacity for a backpacking water filter since you don't need to have to worry about E. coli, hepatitis A, cryptosporidium, and other contaminants. Furthermore, this device can purify water up to 2.5 liters per minute. Of course, the durable construction of this water filter lets it handle the impacts and drops. It's never flimsy at all.


  • Filter - Advanced hollow fibers
  • Capacity - 2.5 liters
  • Contaminants filtered - Bacteria, protozoa
  • Item weight - 1 pound
  • Item size - 8.2 inches x 4.7 inches x 3.5 inches

6. LifeStraw Flex with Gravity Bag Water Filter 


LifeStraw is definitely one of the first brands that invested in portable water filters. Hence, it is pretty accurate to say that it knows what it's doing. A proof of that is the LifeStraw Flex with Gravity Bag Water Filter. This one has an ergonomic design that lets you hang it on trees or stash it in your backpack. This item has a two-stage filter that is capable of removing 99.9% of bacteria, microplastics, and parasites. It guarantees that you'll never sustain waterborne illnesses every time you drink from different water sources. 

Versatility is also the name of the game for the LifeStraw Flex. After all, it can be used in multiple ways (via a personal straw, gravity bag, plastic water bottle attachment, or hydration bladder). Meanwhile, its filter can cleanse 2,000 liters of water before you need to replace it. Its activated carbon capsule can work up to 100 liters. Impressively, this water filter exceeds the US EPA standards and NSF 53 standards. Hence, you can guarantee that it can remove heavy metals. 


  • Filter - Hollow-fiber membrane/activated carbon
  • Capacity - 1 gallon
  • Contaminants filtered - Bacteria, protozoa, parasites, microplastics, heavy metals, chlorine
  • Item weight - 5.7 ounces
  • Item size - 11 inches x 5.4 inches x 2.6 inches

7. LifeStraw Flex 2-Stage Multi-Function Water Filter System


You should also check out the LifeStraw Flex 2-Stage Multi-Function Water Filter System. Similar to the previous LifeStraw Flex Water Filter System, it can be used in multiple ways: with a straw, in-line filtration system, gravity filter, or hydration pack. With this device, you can convert disposable bottles into a simple but effective water filtration system. This unit primarily uses a hollow-fiber membrane that effectively removes 99.9% of bacteria and parasites from up to 400 gallons of water. 

It also includes an activated carbon capsule that you can replace. This particular component easily removes unwanted taste and odor from the water you drink. Moreover, it can delimit the presence of organic chemicals such as VOCs, herbicides, and pesticides. And since it meets the NSF-42 and NSF-53 standards, you'll have peace of mind that it can also reduce heavy metals and harmful chemicals in the water. 


  • Filter - Hollow-fiber membrane/activated carbon
  • Capacity - 1 gallon
  • Contaminants filtered - Bacteria, protozoa, parasites, microplastics, heavy metals, chlorine
  • Item weight - 1.7 ounces
  • Item size - 5 inches x 1 inches

Why Do You Need The Best Backpacking Water Filters?

It is essential for a backpacker or outdoor goer to remain hydrated all the time. But realistically speaking, that's not something that you can ascertain, especially if you only carry a bottle of water or two. If you are into day hikes, this matter shouldn't be a problem. But for extended trips, you may need to refill your water bottles from time to time. 

Of course, you can't expect that you'll find a faucet during your trip--unless you are going to an established campsite with complete amenities. But most of the time, you'll only rely on ponds, lakes, and rivers. However, before you take a sip, you have to think first if the water source is clean or not. 

If you are uncertain, then there's a need for you to invest in a water filter. This is a device that lets you cleanse any water source from contaminants and waterborne illnesses. 

When choosing one, you should mind the following considerations:

Water Filter And Water Purifier: What's Their Difference?

The terms "purifier" and "filter" are interchangeable. But they have some key differences. 

First, a water filter is designed to remove bacteria and protozoa in the water. A purifier can do the same, but it removes viruses, too. Another difference is that water filters have cartridges that physically strip bacteria and protozoa. Purifiers eliminate viruses and harmful organisms through microscopic fibers and chemical agents. 

Water purifiers cannot filter sediments, though, and that's their downside. The possible exception here is the MSR Guardian Purifier since the latter is designed to be a purifier and filter at the same time. Within the United States, you are safe with just a water filter. But for international backpacking tours, you need to get a purifier. 

Types Of Water Filter / Purifier

You have different options for water filters and purifiers. Here are some of them. 

  • Gravity filters - They are touted to be the most convenient option for filtering water in backcountry applications. With a gravity filter, you fill a reservoir with the water from the water source and hang it somewhere (such as a tree branch). After that, gravity does its thing by pulling the dirty water through a filter before proceeding to the receptacle. The downsides of gravity filters are their size and weight. They are not that easy to pack, either.
  • Pump filters - A pump filter, such as the Katadyn Hiker, will need you to pump water from rivers, lakes, or other water sources. The pumped water will then pass through the filter of the device before it is sent into a reservoir or bottle. A pump filter lets you draw drinking water from shallow sources. It also filters water, even in small quantities. On the flip side, you may need to lend some extra time and effort to use these pump filters. 
  • Bottle filters - A bottle purifier or filter is directly attached to the mouth of your container or bottle. It filters your water while you drink it. Such a mechanism enables bottle filters to be a convenient choice for many backpackers. You simply need to fill your bottle with any water that you come across and drink it once you feel parched. Of course, there's a downside to these bottle filters, too. One, they are slow in cleaning water. Second, they only process small volumes of water.
  • Straw filters - If you don't want to carry bulky and heavy water filters, then you should get straw filters. Just as their name suggests, these straw filters are designed to be like straws. Specifically, they have a tubed body that contains an internal filter. You use them the same way you use a straw. This means that if you have a straw filter, drinking directly from a water source is entirely possible. Of course, the downsides are relatively evident. These straws don't let you store water, which is disadvantageous if you are traveling in areas where water sources are scarce. Moreover, there's a certain degree of inconvenience whenever you use them; after all, you need to lie on the ground to take a sip. 
  • UV filter - Another means of purifying water is through UV filters. They utilize ultraviolet rays to cleanse the water from pollutants. But because a UV filter doesn't have a physical filter, there's a need for you to pre-filter the water first. Moreover, this filter can only purify up to one liter of water at a time. 
  • Chemical purifier - A chemical purifier is a traditional way of eliminating pollutants in the water. They usually come in drops or tablets; you add these things to your water container and let them sit for a couple of minutes. They are generally inexpensive and lightweight. But similar to UV filters, they don't have physical filters. Hence, there's still a need for you to pre-filter them.

In Summary

The best backpacking water filters are essential so that you can stay hydrated on your trip. With these water filters, you will be able to sustain the rigidness of your journey. You'll not succumb to thirst and dehydration, which have catastrophic consequences for your body. 

That's it for now. If you have inquiries, feel free to ask me in the comment section below.

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