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The Top Backpacking (Camping & Hiking) Water Filters in 2022

Looking for the best backpacking water filters? There are hundreds of options on the market today, choosing the right one isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you.

Published by: Paulo Baker

& Last updated:

Best Backpacking Water Filters

Thinking about taking up backpacking this summer? If so, you’ll need a way to acquire safe drinking water on the trail.

Fortunately there are many lightweight water filters designed specifically for backpacking like the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter and Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System.

Editor’s choice

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

β€” The best backpacking water filter

This portable water filter by LifeSraw is best for hiking, camping, travel and emergency situations.

The LifeStraw water filter is a portable filter that will get you access to clean and drinkable water almost anywhere. With over 70,000 5-star ratings, this is one of the best backpacking water filters.

It comes with a built-in filter that removes 99.9% of bacteria, parasites, microplastics, and dirt. It is lightweight, reliable, and is super easy to use. Typically priced under $20, this water filter is affordable and should be a part of every backpacker’s kit.

Also great

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

β€” Best high performance portable water filter

This water filter weighs just 45 grams and can be attached to drinking pouch, water bottles, or hydration packs.

This mini water filter by Swayer Products is a great option for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, and emergency preparedness. It is a very reliable water filter that is capable of removing particulates, bacteria, and protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

The filter is lightweight (weighs just 45 grams) and lasts for up to 100,000 gallons. Overall this Swayer Mini water filter is recommended to anybody looking for a compact water filtration system for personal use.

Everything we recommend…

Editor’s choice

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

This portable water filter by LifeSraw is best for hiking, camping, travel and emergency situations.

Our Pick

LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

This is an advanced version of the LifeStraw personal water filter β€” best for removing all germs & bacteria from water.

Budget Pick

Membrane Solutions Straw Water Filter

This uses 4-stage filtration system that removes 99.999% of harmful substances and improve the taste of water.

How we tested…

We have tested 30+ portable water filters to find out the best ones for you.

Manufacturer, Capacity, Dimensions, Purification method, Included components, and Certification.

All the portablewater systems were bought from online stores with some standard filters like at least 1,000+ customer reviews, good tank capacity, certifications, and a high overall warranty by the manufacturer.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping & Travel

Editor’s choice

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

β€” The best backpacking water filter

This portable water filter by LifeSraw is best for hiking, camping, travel and emergency situations.

The LifeStraw Personal water filter is an easy-to-use device to help you drink safely from questionable water sources during picnics. It contains a hollow membrane filter made to resemble straw.

As you suck the water up, it moves through microfiltration membranes that eliminate 99.999999% of water bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. In addition, the membranes trap 99.999% of harmful parasites, including giardia and cryptosporidium.

The water filter gadget helps to reduce microplastics in the water down to 1 micron. It implies that you have nearly zero chances of introducing plastics in your body when using the device.

This personal water filter reduces the turbidity (silt, sand, and cloudiness) of murky waters to 0.2 microns, making it a favorite choice among the water filters.

The plastic device size is 8.66 x 0.98 x 0.98 inches and only weighs 0.1 pounds. Its small size and lightweight nature make it an easy fit in your pocket, backpack, or first aid kit. Its design simplicity, weight, and size make it 5 or 6 times easier to ship and carry than regular bottled filters.

The personal water filter has undergone rigorous tests and gained credibility from top laboratories according to the US EPA, NSF, ASTM for water purifiers set standards. Therefore, the claims made by manufacturers of this gadget are verifiable with ample evidence.

The tool has no pump or complicated moving parts, allowing you to filter 1000 gallons of water before seeking a replacement. The gadget is durable with no shelf-life or expiry date.

Quick facts

β†’ Manufacturer: LifeStraw

β†’ Weight: 0.1 Pounds

β†’ Filter capacity: 4000 liters

β†’ Dimensions: 8.66 x 0.98 x 0.98 inches

β†’ Purification method: Membrane microfilter

β†’ Included components: LifeStraw Personal water filter, sealed bag, and instruction manual

Pros: Easy to us, reasonable pricing, no battery or electricity is needed, no expiry dates, only clean water goes through, and every purchase makes an impact on underprivileged children.

Cons: Does not filter viruses, and you cannot store water.

LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

Our Pick

LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

β€” Removes 99.999% germs, overall great portable filter

This is an advanced version of the LifeStraw personal water filter β€” best for removing all germs & bacteria from water.

As the name suggests, the LifeStraw Flex Advanced gravity bag applies gravity to achieve maximum water filtration. The device has various uses, including a personal straw, hydration bladder, or a gravity filter at your camping base.

The gadget works in two stages to ensure you take clean water from streams, rivers, lakes, or other outdoor water sources.

The first stage has a hollow fiber filter that traps 99.999999% bacteria such as shigella, salmonella, and E. coli. This fiber is also responsible for preventing 99.999% of microplastics and protozoa, including tapeworm and Ascaris lumbricoides.

As water seeps through this filtration membrane, particles, sediments, and water cloudiness is significantly reduced by its 0.2-micron filter capabilities.

The second stage of filtration targets lead, other heavy metals, organic chemical matter (such as herbicides, VOCs, and pesticides), and chlorine.

Moreover, the activated carbon + ion fiber filter helps to reduce foul odors from the water. The device exceeds NSF 53 standards in the filtration of lead and heavy metals and NSF 42 for chlorine reduction.

The device is easy to use and allows you to filter one gallon of water in less than 10 minutes. Its webbed handle for hanging supports its 3.7 liters reservoir capacity. The plastic bag is compact and ultralight, weighing about 6.9 Oz.

It comes with a shoulder strap for easy portability, a quick-connect hose, and a backflush syringe to reduce clogging. For these reasons, the LifeStraw gravity bag is among the most popular water filters.

Quick facts

β†’ Manufacturer: LifeStraw

β†’ Weight: 6.9 Ounces

β†’ Filter capacity: 2000 Liters for microbiological filter

β†’ Dimensions: 11 x 3 x 5.5 inches

β†’ Purification method: Hollow fiber membrane

β†’ Included components: LifeStraw Flex Filter, gravity bag, hose, and user manual

Pros: Backflush syringe for easy cleaning and maintenance, positive impact on people and the planet, seamless water flow, quick connect to avoid leaks, supports multiple uses, and no power source is needed.

Cons: Not effective against viruses.

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

Also great

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

β€” Best high performance portable water filter

This water filter weighs just 45 grams and can be attached to drinking pouch, water bottles, or hydration packs.

The Sawyer mini pushes contaminated water through a hollow fiber mesh-like membrane filter. The membrane effectively traps 99.99999% of bacteria such as cholera and salmonella.

Waterborne protozoa such as giardia are eliminated at a 99.9999% success rate. The 0.1-micron filter captures 100% of microplastics.

The product has undergone three independent tests during manufacturing. The first test is during the production of the fibers and the rest after casing assembly. These tests are critical to ensure no harmful bacteria or parasite penetrates through the casing or internal O-rings.

The Sawyer Mini is a lightweight plastic material with an additional seal to cover the hollow fibers. This characteristic helps the Sawyer mini reduce pathogens that would otherwise penetrate in case of physical damage.

Moreover, the reinforced hollow fibers are 75% stronger than ordinary fibers, which helps to improve the flow and backflush.

The device has a total field weight of two ounces and dimensions of 5.91 x 1.57 x 1.57 inches, making it one of the best backpacking water filters. Its size is so tiny that it comfortably fits on the palm.

The product comes with a pouch for easy packing for your outdoor expeditions.

The gadget has instantaneous treatment duration when drinking directly from the water source. However, it can take a little longer when you decide to squeeze the water into a bottle.

For example, it takes about 2 minutes to squeeze one liter through the filtration system. The gadget is compatible with inline systems such as the hydration bladder.

Quick facts

β†’ Manufacturer: Sawyer Products

β†’ Weight: 45 Grams

β†’ Capacity: 0.5 Liters

β†’ Dimensions: 5.91 x 1.57 x 1.57 inches

β†’ Purification method: Hollow Fiber Membrane

β†’ Included components: MINI filter, 16-ounce pouch, drinking straw, and cleaning plunger

Pros: Great portability, reinforced hollow fibers, ease of filtration, 100000 gallons filter rating, amazing performance, and removes 100% of micro-plastics.

Cons: Lot of suction power needed.

Membrane Solutions Straw Water Filter

Budget Pick

Membrane Solutions Straw Water Filter

β€” Best budget backpacking water filter

This uses 4-stage filtration system that removes 99.999% of harmful substances and improve the taste of water.

The membrane solutions water filter is a survival gear for outdoor recreational activities such as camping and hiking. The device uses four filtration stages to remove particulates and foul odors from water.

The coarse filter screen removes large sediments and other particles. The pp cotton intercepts small particles and reduces water turbidity. Its coconut shell-activated carbon improves water taste reduces foul odors, chlorine, VOCs, and 5-micron tiny pathogens.

On the other hand, the hollow fiber filters remove 99.99% of harmful bacteria, parasites, and 0.1-micron particulates. The device effectively prevents waterborne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, and giardiasis.

Its pore size is 0.1 micron captures even tiny pathogens such as bacteria and parasites. In addition, this pore size assists in maintaining optimum water flow. The microscopic pores hinder chlorine and microplastics from penetrating, significantly improving water quality.

The ABS plastic material is BKA-free and considered food safe. Its straw has a relatively smaller frame with 1 inch in diameter and 6.7 inches long for maximum ease during use.

The device weighs 2 ounces with 1.18 x 1.18 x 6.69 inches. It can fit at the palm of your hand, in a purse, backpack, or gym bag, making it a top choice for camping water filters.

This product has 1500 liters or 396 gallons lifespan of drinking water. After 1500 filtrations, it becomes hard to draw water through, and off-tastes and odors remain.

Quick facts

β†’ Manufacturer: Membrane Solutions

β†’ Weight: 2 Ounces

β†’ Capacity: 1500 Liters

β†’ Dimensions: 1.18 x 1.18 x 6.69 inches

β†’ Purification method: Activated carbon

β†’ Included components: Membrane Solutions straw water filter, and instructions manual

Pros: 1500 litres filter capacity, compact and featherweight, instant treatment time, 4 water filtration stages for maximum substance removal, easy to clean and maintain.

Cons: Filtration process is slow compared to other filters.

Who Should Use a Backpacking Water Filter?

Drinking untreated water results in diarrhea, beaver fever, and other waterborne illnesses. If you live in places where water treatment and sanitation infrastructure is poor, you need a backpacking water filter.

Water from ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams may have microscopic contaminants due to human and animal activities such as washing or excretion. Ingestion of these tiny microorganisms can knock you out for days.

Avid campers and hikers should consider carrying these devices. More often than not, campers use natural sources of water for drinking. It would help if you used the water filters to safeguard your well-being.

When traveling to the backcountry areas, you should not leave your hiking water filters behind. These areas have negligible population concentrations and lack sophisticated water filters. A portable water filter is your best companion to rule out any doubts about water safety.

If you love adventures are looking to explore new survival locations, then the gadget is a must-have. Adventurous places lack access to suitable drinking water, and the water filter can save you from dehydration or illnesses arising from polluted water.

The same is valid for tourists. Some places, especially third-world countries, lack safe drinking water, which causes waterborne diseases.

Types of Backpacking Water Filters

Here are all the different types of backpacking water filters…

1. Gravity Water Filters

As the name suggests, these water filters apply the force of gravity in their functionalities.

Typically, you fill the dirty water reservoir with murky water and hang it on a lifted area or tree. Gravitational pull forces the water downwards through the filters into the clean receptacle. Such devices are ideal for group camping as they quickly clean large volumes of water.

2. Water Bottle Filters

The water bottle is convenient for bicycle rides, and trail runs where you keep coming across water sources. The device allows you to drink from it while directly attached to the water source.

You can also attach the gadget to a water bottle and drink from it. It only allows you to filter small amounts of water and is ideal for personal use.

3. Squeeze Filters

To use the squeeze filtration devices, you need to fill its pouch with water from any source. Afterward, screw the filter into the bag and squeeze the water into a clean water bottle for drinking. You can also drink directly from the filter.

The advantage of this method is that it is instantaneous, with no need for a pump or battery power.

4. Pump Filters

The pump filters allow you to manually pump water from the source through the filters into the receptacle or reservoir. It works for deep and shallow waters alike. The pump filter removes bacteria and waterborne parasites.

However, some models also remove viruses. The main downside with these filters is the manual effort and time needed to operate them.

What to Look for When Buying Backpacking Water Filter?

Backpacking water filters come in all shapes and sizes, and there are several factors to consider when choosing the right backpacking water filter for you. Let us take a look at some of the main factors to consider.

1. Location

The areas you are likely to visit play the most significant role in selecting a water filter. A place with stagnant waters such as ponds, tarns, or lakes is a good breeding ground for mosquitos and algae.

Consequently, it can be challenging to drink from it due to sediments and the algae. You should try and fetch the shallow waters to avoid clogging in such places.

When visiting highly populated areas with poor sanitation and water treatment, it is ideal you look for a device to safeguard you from viruses. While most water filters will prevent cholera and other waterborne diseases, you need to protect yourself from viruses.

2. Frequency

The rate of usage will help you in the purchasing decision. If you are likely to use the device nearly every time, look for a gadget with a prolonged filter capacity.

Otherwise, the filter capacity may not be a priority if you only want the equipment for your few trips.

3. Number of Users

If you are looking for a device for personal use, the straw is an excellent choice. However, if you want something to filter a lot of water for many people, such as at a camping site, the gravity filters will suffice.

4. Size of Particulates

You may not need to worry so much about viruses in most parts of Canada and the USA. It implies that a water filter for parasites, microplastics, and bacteria is sufficient.

However, in third-world countries, you need to ensure that the micron pores are small enough to trap viruses.

Water Treatment Tips and Best Practices While Camping & Hiking

Using the camping water filters is pretty straightforward. However, many still find trouble and make critical mistakes that result in dire consequences.

When planning to do some backpacking camping and hikes in the summer, you must keep the following tips and pointers in mind.

  • Clearly label the designated water containers accordingly, that is, β€œdirty water” and β€œclean water.” Ensure that you maintain this labeling throughout the water filter’s lifetime.
  • Varied products may have slight differences in how they work. Therefore, read the user manual and pay attention to the directions indicated to avoid cross contaminations.
  • Where possible, always try to avoid sediments in murky sources. Allowing sediments to settle improves the efficiency of the treatment process.
  • Avoid drinking water from water sources where human or animal waste is channeled. Most hiking water filters effectively avoid parasites, plastics, and bacteria. However, viruses may seep through, leading to infections.
  • Frozen water alters the effectiveness of the hollow filters. Opt for melted snow for better protection against water pathogens as a rule of thumb.
  • Always ensure your hands are clean when using the device.

Final Words

If you’re an avid backpacker or hiker, you know that a clean source of drinking water is one of the most important things to remember.

When you’re out in the wilderness, a good quantity of drinking water can keep you going for hours – and without it, a hike or trip can be cut dramatically short.

Overall we believe that the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a perfect solution for anybody looking for a portable water filter. It’s a highly reliable, easy to use, and small enough water filter to fit in a first aid or emergency preparedness kit, or even in your pocket.

Editor’s choice

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

β€” The best backpacking water filter

This portable water filter by LifeSraw is best for hiking, camping, travel and emergency situations.


What type of filter is ideal to use while camping in the wilderness?

When camping in the wilderness, you may not know how many water sources you will come across. As such, it is crucial to take water from every source as you approach it. The ideal water filter for these environments is the bottle water filter due to its portability and quick filtration processes.

What is the best way to purify water when backpacking?

The water filter is the most efficient way to purify water when backpacking. These filters do not require a power source or energy to clean the water. Moreover, the devices are easy to carry around and need little space, making them efficient for instant water purification.

How Long Does a Backpacking Water Filter Last?

The duration of the filters may vary depending on the model and manufacturers. Many backpacking filters have a specified filter rating capacity beyond which filtration becomes ineffective. Most water filters have no shelf life and can be used for years if they have not exceeded the water filtration capacity.

Do water filters work hiking?

During hikes, the body becomes easily dehydrated and requires replenishing for everyday functions. The water filters come in handy as you can easily fetch some water in a bottle and screw the filter at the opening. You can fill the dirty water into the reservoir and squeeze out clean water directly into your mouth or a sterile container using the squeeze filters.

What is the most effective filter for around water?

The personal straw is the most effective water filter when you are around a water body. The gadget allows you to drink directly from the water source instantaneously. Moreover, this device filters out harmful pathogens that cause stomach disorders and body fevers.

Photo of author

Article by:

Paulo Baker

Paulo is a senior writer at Dash Appliances, where he research, writes, and reviews home and commercial water filters. Paulo is covering home-related things like water filters, vacuum cleaners, and more since 2019. When he's not researching and testing, he's traveling and playing golf.

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