The Best Water Filters and Purifiers for Backpacking

The Best Water Filters and Purifiers for Backpacking


Here you have the list with the best water filters and purifiers for backpacking, hiking, and practically any other outdoor activity. These are all Amazon best-selling items handpicked from their various departments.

I use such filters/purifiers all the time when I go to the mountains. This holds also for the water which I use with my freeze-dried backpacking meals, then I do not have to boil the water.

Besides, did you know that boiling water may be ineffective against micro-organisms at high altitudes? This is because at such higher altitudes the boiling point is reduced. This implies that you have to boil water much longer. So it is better to filter the water and save the fuel in your gas canister.

Water Filters vs Water Purifiers – what is the difference?

I use both words in the title. So if you are puzzled about the difference between these two, here are some facts that will make this clear:

  • If this is about physical (mechanical) filtration and removal of various stuff from water, then this is just about the size of the pores. So a tool is a purifier if the pores are below some critical value, otherwise it is in the category of water filters for backpacking.
  • But there are also tools that work on UV principle and they either destroy micro-organisms in water or make them harmless. They do not filter anything, and they are in the category of purifiers.

Regarding the size of pores, let’s see what you really need. If this is about bacteria, they are with the size above 0.2 microns. For example, giardia and cryptosporidium are around 10 microns and 4-6 microns, respectively. On the other hand, Escherichia coli is in the range of 0.25 – 1 micron.

The smallest known virus is the Porcine circovirus type 1, and its diameter is 0.017 microns, but viruses are typically in the range from 0.02 to 0.4 microns.

So if you have a filtration tool with pores below 0.01 microns, it will remove every living creature and this is a purifier. The tools with pores above this value could be defined as filters and they do not remove viruses.

But are there viruses in the water which you have outdoors? The answer is probably not. Viruses need living organisms to survive and they do not remain in freshwater for long.

Note that these tools do not remove salt, chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive substances. So if you are in the areas where such urban pollution is expected in water, do not rely on your filtration system whatever you have. Though, some of these filters and purifiers have activated carbon and it can remove or reduce some chemicals like pesticides, but in general, do not rely on water filters for such a purpose.

Regarding the principle of work and design of these mechanical tools, you can have any of the following:

  • Filters/purifiers that you use to drink directly. This is convenient if you have water all the time available so you drink on the go and when needed. But those tools do not allow you to collect water and carry with you.
  • Some of them are designed with a pump so you can collect water in a clean bottle. This is good for the trail, you collect water and carry with you till the next water source where you can refill.
  • Some have a pouch where you collect water and then squeeze it through the filter into a clean bottle. This is my usual way because it is the lightest and it allows me to collect some amount of water and keep in the pack.
  • Some have all these elements in the same package and you can use what suits you best.
  • Some of them are gravity tools designed to be used in the camp only. So you collect water in a reservoir and let it filter through the system in a clean bottle while you are doing other things in the camp.

Regarding the capacity, if this is for solo use, any will do. But if this is about a group, check in specifications how much water you can filter per minute. You will want to use those models that have a pump.

I know from my own experience that using the bladder and squeezing the water through the filter is a bit slow process, and above all, the water in the mountains can be ice cold and this is not a pleasant activity. I just came from the mountains and I was doing exactly this.

Regarding the material, note that some of these filters/purifiers have a ceramic piece inside through which water is filtered. This can crack at low temperatures, so better go for something different if you go to high altitudes. Besides, such ceramic tools are heavier than others.

These water filters/purifiers normally have several stages of filtration, typically three. My own tool which I have been using recently (it is not in the list here) has them 5.

How to avoid contamination?

Normally, I filter water in the mountains just as more the measure of a precaution than a necessity. It is expected to be clean in any case. But this is not always so, and in the process of collecting water and filtering it, your hands become contaminated.

This can be the case if you use those filters/purifiers where you drink directly. You have probably seen pictures of hikers drinking through their filters directly from the stream. This looks cool, but imagine how this really works. To drink, you have to come very close to the water, in most cases to put hands on the ground or even in the water, perhaps even your knees will be on the wet ground, and then drink through the filter. So you have contaminated your hands already, and you need to clean them properly after every drinking.

It may be even worse if you use a pouch which you have in the package, so you collect the water and your hands are wet in the process. Then you start squeezing the bladder through the filter, and there is no way to have hands dry when you are doing this. So the hands will definitely become wet and therefore contaminated, and filtering may be pointless already.

As I said, I just came from the mountains and those were the two ways of using my purifier. But this was in an obviously clean environment with the water coming from glaciers, and I did not want to carry the pump which is in the package, to shed the weight of course.

So if the water is really dirty, it is best to use those tools with a pump and a hose. So only a part of the hose will be in the water and everything else will remain clean. But here is a video where you can see more on how to avoid contamination:

Can you trust these tools?

This is a difficult question, but you should know that many of the items in the list have been on the market for years already. Those are tried and tested tools, and you will realize this from the numbers of reports they have collected.

This aside, serious tools of this type must have independently confirmed testing and certifications in their specifications. There are some top names in the list below, and those you can trust. See one in this video:


So here is our list with best water filters for backpacking, please have a look. You will notice that many of them are Amazon Prime products so you can have them shipped for free. Many of them are also on sale and you have a chance to save some money.

The prices are updated daily and all other information is also fresh and accurate. The list is dynamic and new filters and purifiers will be added from time to time when they become best-selling on Amazon. This is why you might want to bookmark this text and check occasionally.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue
5,260 Reviews
Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue
  • Ideal for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, scouting, domestic and international travel, and emergency preparedness
  • High-performance 0. 1 Micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just 2 ounces; 100% of MINI units individually tested three times to performance standards by Sawyer
  • Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable water bottles, hydration packs, or use the straw to drink directly from your water source
  • Removes 99. 99999% of all bacteria (salmonella, cholera, and E. coli); removes 99. 9999% of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium); also removes 100% of micro plastics
  • Filter rated up to 100, 000 gallons; Includes one Sawyer MINI filter, 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch, 7-inch drinking straw, and cleaning plunger
Bestseller No. 2
Sawyer Products SP129 PointOne Water Filtration System with 32-Ounce Squeezable Pouch
1,304 Reviews
Sawyer Products SP129 PointOne Water Filtration System with 32-Ounce Squeezable Pouch
  • Lightweight, easily portable 0. 1 absolute micron hollow fiber Membrane inline water filter
  • Highest level of filtration on market — removes greater than 99. 99999% of all bacteria and 99. 9999% of all protozoa (also filters 100% of micro plastics)
  • Built-in and removable push/pull cap; spray water straight into mouth or bottle from included pouch; attach to standard threaded water bottles
  • Comes with one 32-ounce, BPA-free collapsible pouch that rolls up tightly for easy packing; can be reused hundreds of times
  • Backed by manufacturer's lifetime limited (independent testing laboratory Hydration, LLC. ; Microbiological Report S05-03); 100% of squeeze filter units individually tested three times to performance standards by sawyer
Bestseller No. 3
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
8,465 Reviews
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
  • Award-winning LifeStraw water filter is a must-carry tool for hiking, camping, travel, and emergencies; no disaster kit is complete without it
  • Filters up to 1000 liters of contaminated water without iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals; does not require batteries and has no moving parts
  • Removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters to 0.2 microns; surpasses EPA filter standards
  • An alternative to iodine tablets and bulky purifiers, it weighs 2oz for ultralight portability, and has a high flow rate for drinking from the source
  • Comes in a sealed bag, perfect for storing in a bugout bag or other prepper gear supply kit; measures 9 x 1 x 1 inches.BPA Free materials
SaleBestseller No. 4
Katadyn Vario Water Filter, Dual Technology Microfilter for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness
534 Reviews
Katadyn Vario Water Filter, Dual Technology Microfilter for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness
  • Dual pumping modes
  • Removes particles
  • Activated Carbon reduces chemicals
  • Suitable for backpacking
  • Glass fiber filter
SaleBestseller No. 5
Purewell Water Purifier Pump with Replaceable Carbon 0.01 Micron Water Filter, 4 Filter Stages, Portable Outdoor Emergency and Survival Gear - Camping, Hiking, Backpacking
45 Reviews
Purewell Water Purifier Pump with Replaceable Carbon 0.01 Micron Water Filter, 4 Filter Stages, Portable Outdoor Emergency and Survival Gear - Camping, Hiking, Backpacking
  • SUPER FAST FLOW RATE AND FULLY COMPACT--Super-fast flow rate of up to max 1400 ml (58 Oz.) per minute; Compact Size: 6.69 x 3.14 x 1.96 inches; Comes with Detailed Instruction Manual, Tubing, Hose Clip, Advanced 4-Stage Filter, Carry Bag.
  • ANTI-SKID DESIGN: Special anti-skid rubber on sides and bottom of pump helps maintain a firm and sturdy surface while pump is in use, as well as increasing durability .
  • HIGH FILTER CAPACITY--The water filter pump hiking can filter up to 3000L/793 Gallons before replacing its reusable carbon filter.
  • WAYS TO USE--Use directly from fresh water source, pump into Attached Cup OR pump into any portable hydration device/pack. Perfect for filtering large quantities of water for the whole family!
  • WARRANTY--If not 100% completely satisfied with our outdoor mini water filter, simply contact us to request a refund or exchange. 3 month money back/replacement guarantee, 24 months product defect free replacement warranty.
Bestseller No. 6
Sawyer Products SP160 One-Gallon Gravity Water Filtration System with Dual-Threaded Mini Filter
150 Reviews
Sawyer Products SP160 One-Gallon Gravity Water Filtration System with Dual-Threaded Mini Filter
  • Easily create gravity-based water filtering system with dual-threaded mini water Filter and 1-gallon reservoir
  • High performance filter fits in the palm of your hand; 0. 1 micron filter removes 99. 99999% of all bacteria and 99. 9999% of all protozoa and cysts (also filters 100% of micro plastics)
  • Lightweight bladder with wide mouth for fast, easy filling; convenient carry handle
  • Dual-threaded mini allows you to screw the push/pull cap onto the filter for easy on/off functionality
  • Includes Mini water Filter, 1-gallon bladder, cleaning plunger, cleaning coupling, and gravity hose with adapters; 100% of mini units individually tested three times to performance standards by sawyer
SaleBestseller No. 7
Katadyn Hiker Water Filter, Lightweight, Compact Design for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness
301 Reviews
Katadyn Hiker Water Filter, Lightweight, Compact Design for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness
  • Easy-to-use design is great for the beginning camper to the serious backpacker
  • The 0.2 micron glassfiber filter media is designed for high output with little effort
  • Activated carbon in the core of the filter improves the taste and reduces chemicals in your drinking water
  • Provides safe drinking water in any challenging conditions
  • Lowest maintenance water filter available; no need for constant backflushing
SaleBestseller No. 8
Joypur Portable Outdoor Water Purifier Camping 0.01 Micron Emergency Backpacking Water Filter for Hiking with 3-Stage Filter Pump
3 Reviews
Joypur Portable Outdoor Water Purifier Camping 0.01 Micron Emergency Backpacking Water Filter for Hiking with 3-Stage Filter Pump
  • Advanced 3-level Filter : 0.01 Micron Ultrafiltration Membrane Camping Water Filter could help you effectively filter water (The diameter is one ten thousandth of the hair), anything larger than 0.01 microns in diameter cannot pass, Carbon filter helps remove the odor and improve the taste
  • Camping Water Purifier : Outdoor water filter for hiking camping backpacking suitable for most outdoor water sources, can effectively turn lakes, rivers, spring, streams into drinking water and is perfect for outdoor hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and emergency preparedness
  • Replaceable Water Filter : Medical Grade Hollow Fiber UF Membrane and High Quality Carbon filter are replaceable, emergency water filter pump can be used for up to 3,000 Liters (793 Gallons) before it needs to be replaced ( Available for sale separately)
  • Personal Portable Filter Pump : Outdoor water purifier weighs 8.9oz.(254g) and its dimensions is 3.15 X 1.97 X 6.69 inch, which easily fits in your knapsack and allows you to take it anywhere with sustained water supply, hiking water filter pump provides a super fast flow rate of 1400 ml (49.4 Oz) per minute
  • Lifetime Warranty and Trustworthy : Buying a pump is equivalent to buying 6,000 bottles of plain pure water, We offer LIFETIME warranty and a free return service for all our customers. Please contact us with any questions
Bestseller No. 9
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
2,395 Reviews
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
  • Reusable Life Straw go BPA-free water bottle filters water while drinking; great for travel, backpacking, camping, and emergency kits
  • Removes 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria, and 99.999% of waterborne protozoan parasites without chemicals, iodine or batteries
  • Each replaceable hollow Membrane filter purifies up to 4000 liters of contaminated water, replaceable carbon filter lasts 100 liters
  • Award-winning Life Straw hollow fiber Membrane water filter removes bacteria and protozoa from lakes, streams to ensure safe, clean drinking water
  • Value pack includes two Life Straw go 2-stage filtration bottles in our most popular colors, Blue and Purple
Bestseller No. 10
MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter
541 Reviews
MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter
  • Microfilter water filter pump for hiking, backpacking, camping, travel, survival, and emergency preparedness
  • Replaceable carbon and ceramic filter removes bacteria, protozoa, organic compounds, and particulate, delivering clean, taste and odor-free water
  • Pumps at a rate of one liter per minute; compatible with a variety of wide mouth water bottles, and hydration bladders (sold separately)
  • Meets NSF protocol P231 for removal of bacteria (99.9999%) and protozoa (99.9%); one replaceable filter cartridge treats up to 2,000 liters of water
  • Pump measures 7.5 x 2.75 inches and weighs 1 pound; storage bag included; manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty; made in the USA

Last update on 2019-11-14  / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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