Top Portable Water Filters Reviewed

Portable water filters come in multiple sizes and shapes to provide one or more people with drinkable, safe water while away from civilization.

Don’t stress about which one is right for you. We the latest models available and compiled a list with a selection of the best options to save your valuable time for more important activities.

Decide which features suit your needs best and go forth and buy! From UV lights to straws to water filter pumps you have plenty of options to choose from to clean up your water no matter where you go.

No one wants to lug multiple bottles of water around to a campsite or when hiking. These filtration systems let you use the water available without the extra baggage.

Best Portable Water Filter

We were impressed with the number of different models available to filter water on the trail. The units in our review use a variety of different technologies to ensure you get safe water to drink. So after comparing features and analyzing owner feedback we present our picks for the best portable water filter:

1. Katadyn Water Filter

How about taking the futuristic technology with you the next time you go camping? No, not a fancy tent, you will still feel like you are outside living like a caveman, but you will still have clean water free of harmful substances. The Katadyn Water Filter is a better option for avid campers than a bottle as it cleans the water into any container you want.

Place the pump in a source of water, like a lake or pond, and the other side into a container then pump the water into a container of your choice. Store the water in bottles, a camel pack, or even plastic jugs for groups. It’s built to last too, which makes this an extremely efficient option.

The silver and ceramic filter effectively eliminates bacteria and protozoa with the microfiltration system. It can pump 1 quart of water per minute with this cartridge capacity and up to 13,000 gallons over its lifetime depending on the water your filter. It’s perfect for sticking in your pocket for travel to exotic destinations.

This set includes a round pump handle, a pre-filter, bottle clip, carry bag, measuring gauge and a cleaning pad. Its weight is minuscule at just 20 ounces and only 10 inches long. The cleanable, reusable filter comes with a 20-year warranty which is the highest out there!

Furthermore, the filter removes sediment, particles, and microorganisms found in freshwater sources. Because you don’t have to carry your water, you can save weight when packing and carry a smaller load. It works even under continuous use and in extreme situations and circumstances. The only real issue, unless you get a defective model is the rather high price, but it replaces thousands of expensive and heavy water bottles.

2. Royal Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

If you and the whole family are packing up to camp at the lake, take the Royal Berkey Water Filter System. Trust me though, you do not want to take this hiking as it’s on the large size. It holds 3.25 gallons of water, which is great for families staying in one spot out camping but not for one person to lug around all day!

The portable container comes apart into two sections with a filter inside. On the bottom find a convenient pour spout for draining the water right into your drinking cup or bottle. This set comes with two filters and you can add up to 4 to increase the flow rate of the system.

It measures 23 inches tall and 9 inches in diameter which is enough space for water for 2-4 people a day. The powerful purification system purifies and filters water by removing over 99% of viruses, pathogenic bacteria, protozoa, and trihalomethanes. It doesn’t stop there as it also removes inorganic minerals, heavy metals, and even pharmaceutical drugs although, you may not find those out in the woods as bears and squirrel usually stay clean.

Each filter works for 6,000 gallons of water before you need to change. This equals out to about 2 cents cost per gallon. Hello, affordable health! As the system does not require electricity, tools, or plumbing to operate. The system requires cleaning which can frustrate out on a campsite and annoying based on the high price.

3. Membrane Solutions Straw Water Filter Survival Filtration Portable

A popular method of portable water filters is a little straw-like filters without a container for water storage. These allow you to save space when hiking and drink straight from your chosen (or only!) water source. The Membrane Solutions gives you four straws for a low price that can fit into almost budget.

This filter offers four stages of filtration including a coarse filter screen, polypropylene section, a coconut shell carbon layer, and a hollow fiber section. The layers work to reduce over 99% of harmful substances and give you clean odor-free water. No matter if the water comes from a puddle or a lake, you will get crisp clean water.

Each straw measures 6.7 inches long and only 1.1 inches in diameter so it can fit in the palm of your hand. Pack it in your bag, hang it around your neck, or find another convenient spot as this is an ultra-portable filter system. Even better, each straw lasts for 264 gallons of water or enough for one person for a year.

Open the cap on both sides, stand it in the water for half a minute, take five quick sips and enjoy. Cleaning is just as easy. It comes in camo print or aqua. Replace with a new straw when the first one dies. Sucking through the straw can be difficult as with most filtration systems with multiple layers.

4. MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter

The MSR MiniWorks Water Filter pumps water into a filter and then into your container of choice. Take it camping, hiking, or just for emergency preparation. It comes with a ceramic element to filter up to 528 gallons of water into clean drinkable water. It comes with several other benefits as well, take a look.

Place the tube in the water of your choice and attach the bottom of the filter to your container. Use the handle to pump the water and fill up to a fourth of a gallon a minute. The screw-in bottom allows you to attach the filter to almost any wide-mouth container.

The filter meets NSF protocol which means it removes 99% of bacteria and Protozoa. The pump measures 7.5 by 2.75 inches and weighs just one pound. All this for a reasonable mid-range price. Some customers had issues filtering the water with the pump and did not find the filter work at the advertised rate.

5. LifeStraw Family 1.0 Portable Gravity Powered Water Purifier

LifeStraw brand makes an award-winning family-sized portable water purifier ready to travel with you on the road or plane. Don’t pack tons of water bottles or gallon jugs, just take this one tiny filter and provide water for your family.

The filter removes bacteria, parasites, and viruses, a necessity for everyone who drinks water! Even better for those with weakened immune systems or those who travel often. You simply fill the roll bag and collect safe water in a separate container in a few minutes. This is the fastest way to filter, and you don’t need a pump nor do you have to wait for chemicals to react.

Another great feature of the LifeStraw is the filter works for over 4000 gallons of water at a micron size of 0.02 and a bucket capacity of 62 fluid ounces. The bucket is made of polypropylene for sturdiness and BPA free for safety. It’s the perfect choice for a family of four or five for three years. It will definitely work for the life of your camping trips!

It comes with an easy to clean pre-filter and a red bulb for back-washing. Also, it includes a flow rate of 9-12 liters an hour and ways around one and a half pounds. It does not work for saltwater as most filters do not. A small percentage of customers found the taste unappealing and a few others had issues with the smell. As water tastes so different based on location means it’s a very personal preference and not everyone will agree on flavor.

6. Survivor Filter PRO X Electric Water Filter

While the other portable water filtration systems on the list do not use any electricity, this one does and it may be exactly what you are looking for. The Survivor Filter Pro X comes with a mid-range price making this an excellent option for people on tighter budgets who want to get out in nature and enjoy clean water.

Because the filter uses electricity, this means no pumping, pressing, sucking, or any other action is needed except to press a button. Yep, that’s it you press a button with the hose in the water and the other side connected to a water bag and wait. You even get a few options for power. Connect to a traditional outlet, a power bank, a solar panel, or use AA batteries if you run out of power. It also provides 17 ounces of water per minute for fast, healthy water.

The portable device is small enough to fit into any space you need except maybe your pants pocket. It comes with a convenient back-washing syringe for easy cleaning even in the wild. No need to replace the filter for over 26,000 gallons of filtration which makes this an exceptional option for larger groups out in the wilderness.

Each filter has three filtration stages to clean up water. Stage 1 includes a pre-filter, carbon filter, and an internal ultrafilter to clear away the rest of the contaminants in water. The filter cleans out bacteria and staph, protozoa, parasites, and viruses as well as reducing heavy metals for clean water. The only issue with this filter is it may not be the best option for those without access to power for extended periods of time, but it’s great for shorter camping trips!

7. Sawyer Products PointOne Squeeze Water Filter System

With the Sawyer Water Filter System we head back into manual labor territory, but don’t worry you just have to squeeze a little to get your clean water. This model is lightweight and extremely portable with a 0.1 absolute micron hollow fiber membrane inner water filter. This filter comes with several filter options including pouches and a faucet adapter but we are specifically looking at the three personal pouches.

The company claims the highest level of filtration on the market as it removes over 99% of bacteria, and protozoa, and 100% of micro-plastics. It comes with a built-in and removable push/pull cap to spray water into your mouth or bottle from the pouch. You can also attach it to a standard threaded water bottle. The set comes with 3 BPA-free collapsible pouches including a 16 ounce, 32 ounces, and 64 ounces pouches.

When not in use, you can roll up the pouches to fit in any space you need such as a backpack or storage container. Each filter works for 100,000 gallons of water, which is a whole lot of clean water for a single person. Switch to a gravity water filtration system with the included parts too for more versatility.

Finally, you can clean this bottle and reuse it almost indefinitely without ever having to buy or replace another filter. When the water flow begins to reduce, clean it out by back-washing to restore the filter flow rate. Beyond a few customers receiving defective units, most customers love this filtration system.

8. BOTTLED JOY Water Filter

The Bottled Joy Water Filter is another portable straw-like device with two stages of filtration. No matter where you go, this filter will serve up safe, drinkable water whether from a lake, stream, or river. It’s a great addition to your backpack for camping, hiking, or even for emergency preparedness. Though, do not use this in the ocean as the salt can destroy the filter.

Also, doe not use this on chemically polluted water as this can damage the filter too. Otherwise, you have a premium filter for water. Stage one uses advanced fiber membranes to collect and remove micro-plastics down to 0.1 microns and reduces turbidity too. The second stage uses the standard activated carbon filter to reduce odor, chlorine, and bad tastes.

You need to use the included syringe to draw up the first 17 ounces to active the straw. Pair the straw with a bottle for added functionality. One filter will last for 400, 17 ounce (or 3 months before you need to replace the filter depending on use) uses to keep you hydrated without the need to carry around expensive water bottles.

Customers love this easy-to-use filtration system. The economical product comes in at the lowest price but does not filter out as much bacteria or viral contaminants as the other brands. This is maybe an entry-level filtration system mainly for cloudy or odor-filled water. Consider a more advanced option for extreme water conditions.

9. CrazyCap Deep UV Light Water Filter Cap

One of the neatest technologies around is the Crazy Cap Water Filter. Not only is this portable but also extremely useful for camping and hiking as it can clean any smaller surface using UV light technology. Bacteria, viruses, and microbial’s disappear with the click of a button.

Tap the button on the cap twice to activate the normal mode to clean your water in one minute. For extra dirty water, tap the button on the top five times and to activate crazy mode and completely eliminate all microbes in two minutes. This cap can also sanitize other items like headphones or phones. It has a 7-day battery life on one charge and goes with you where ever you go. It’s not the best option for camping trips longer than seven days unless you bring an additional power supply to charge the cap.

Next, the bottle fits more cola top styled insulated bottles by major brands to clean those too. You can only use this cap on stainless steel bottles as you do not want to degrade plastic. This means you can use an insulated bottle for cold water! Do not use this filter though if you wish to reduce sediments as it works specifically for killing viral and bacterial issues.

This bottle cap can save you thousands of dollars as it can handle half a million treatments in its lifetime. Includes a charger, an extra gasket, wipes, and a manual. As it’s a UV light, it cleans itself too for added value. Mind you, this cap does not include the bottle but you can probably use bottles you already own.

10. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

The last set of filters are the economical LifeStraw set of three filters. This is the brand most people think of when they think portable water straw and for good reason, the brand has a great track record. The three-pack works for multiple people on the go while hiking, camping, or just to keep in case of an emergency drinking needs from dirty water locations.

Each Life Straw filters up to 1,000 gallons of water for long life before they need to toss out the straw for a new one. These straws also remove over 99% of bacteria including e-coli, campylobacter, vibrio cholera, pseudomonas aeruginosa, shigella, and salmonella. You can also expect 99.9% removal of protozoa, giardia lamblia (or beaver fever, cryptosporidium parvum, and entamoeba histolytic.

Dirty water enters the bottom of the straw and goes through a hollow fiber membrane to trap pathogens and get them out of your water safely. The straw ways only 2 ounces making it lightweight and easy to pack anywhere you need. You can even pack all three in case you lose one or break one and the affordable price makes this possible.

Now for the minor issues. Do not use this for chemical toxins, seawater, or urine as these filters will not remove contaminants from these sources. Also, the straw is breakable, so pack with care and use a soft case for this with foam if possible or if it will be packed in with heavy items. Finally, sucking on any filtered straw takes extra work to get the water out of the filter.

Questions About Portable Water Filters

What is protozoa?

Protozoa are single-celled organisms that live in moist habitats including freshwater, marine environments, and soil. They can become parasites that you do not want in your body as they can cause malaria, giardia, and toxoplasmosis.

What do portable water filtration not filter out?

Unless otherwise stated, portable water filters do not remove arsenic, iron, fluoride, or heavy metals. Mostly, these devices clean up contaminants the can cause illness such as infectious elements like bacteria, viruses, and microbial’s. While the above elements should not be consumed in large quantities, they are not as dangerous as bacteria or viral contaminants in small quantities.

If you haven’t seen a portable filter in action, here is a good video demonstration of a Lifestraw in action:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/NqZlq7m56yI

How much water should I drink while out hiking or camping?

You need roughly two cups of water per hour for each adult when out camping or hiking. One of the fastest ways to get sick when out in the woods is by dehydration. If you only bring one necessity when hiking it should be water as humans can only live three days without water.

This is why these water filtration systems are so important. You cannot always pack or carry large containers of heavy water but you can take a filter for the water already out in the wilderness. Not only do they help you keep hydrated but help to keep you safe from illness.

Wrapping Up Portable Water Filters

The best portable water filter on this list is the Survivor Filter PRO X Electric Water Filter. You can use this for one or multiple people to provide clean drinking water on the go. As it uses electricity or batteries you do not have to work as hard to get water in your belly. The small portable device can pump into any container you choose and stores in a convenient pouch for easy storage and carrying. All these features plus an affordable price to filter out contaminants and drink large quantities of water to avoid dehydration.

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