Water is one of the essential items that you need to survive. Without access to safe water, you’re not going to finish your backpacking trip. The good news is that you don’t have to carry all of your water with you. Using the best backpacking water filter, you can refill your water anytime you come across a stream or river on the trail.

The average person needs between 2 and 4 liters of water a day, sometimes more when hiking in hot weather. That’s a lot of water to carry on a multi-day hike. And if you’re cooking on your backpacking trip, you’ll need safe water to cook and clean with too.

Getting all that water is easier if you have a backpacking water filter with you to purify H2O as you go. How will you know which backpacking water filter is right for you? This guide will help you find the best backpacking water filter for your journey.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

TentsHammocks | Bivy Sacks | Tarps

Sleeping Bags |  Sleeping Pads | Stoves

Backpacks | GPS | Headlamps | PolesWatches

Boots | Shoes | Sandals | Pants | Shorts

Base Layers | Fleeces | Down Jackets | Rain Jackets

cloud-download

CLICK HERE to Download our FREE Quick Starter Guide to Hiking

 

 

 

QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST BACKPACKING WATER FILTER 

1. MSR Autoflow Gravity

2. Platypus Gravityworks 

3. Sawyer Complete

4. Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L 

5. Katadyn Hiker Pro 

6. MSR Miniworks Ex 

7. Katadyn Vario 

8. Lifestraw 

9. Sawyer Mini

10. Etekcity Portable 1500L Emergency

 

 

 

BACKPACKING WATER FILTERS REVIEWS

MSR AUTOFLOW GRAVITY

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: All season hiking/backpacking, all water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Gravity

OUTPUT: 1.8 liters per minute

WEIGHT: 10.5 ounces

PROS: Hollow fiber filter, BPA free, field cleanable, dirty water reservoir has 4 liter capacity, filters water quickly, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns, universal bottle adapter included, shutoff clamp, durable fabric reservoir, has strap to hang while it filters

CONS: Expensive, filter can get clogged by silty and slimy water, need to use a cup to fill the dirty water reservoir when at shallow water sources

 

 

 

PLATYPUS GRAVITYWORKS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: 3-season hiking/backpacking, all water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Gravity

OUTPUT: 1.8 liters per minute

WEIGHT: 11.5 ounces

PROS: Hollow fiber filter medium, BPA free, field cleanable, dirty and clean water reservoirs have 4-liter capacity, filters water quickly, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns, shutoff hose clamp, antimicrobial treatment, made of durable material, has strap to hang while it filters

CONS: Expensive, filter can get clogged by silty and slimy water, filter can freeze which inhibits use in cold weather backpacking, need to use a cup to fill the dirty water reservoir when at shallow water sources

 

 

 

SAWYER COMPLETE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: 3-season hiking/backpacking, use in all water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Gravity

OUTPUT: 1.3 liters per minute

WEIGHT: 16 ounces

PROS: Hollow fiber membranes, BPA free, field cleanable, dirty and clean water reservoirs have 2-liter capacity, filters water quickly, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.1 microns, clean reservoir converts to a hydration bladder, has strap to hang while it filters

CONS: Heavy, expensive, filter can freeze which inhibits use in cold weather backpacking, need to use a cup to fill the dirty water reservoir when at shallow water sources

 

 

 

KATADYN GRAVITY CAMP 6L

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: All season hiking/backpacking, use in all water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Gravity

OUTPUT: 2 liters per minute

WEIGHT: 12.4 ounces

PROS: Pleated glass fiber/carbon core filter, BPA free, includes field cleaning supplies, dirty reservoir has 6-liter capacity, filters water quickly, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns, sediment trap grabs dirt before it enters filter, clips into hydration bladders, has strap to hang while it filters

CONS: Flow rate is inhibited if there isn’t a good place to hang the bag, filter can get clogged by silty and slimy water

 

 

 

KATADYN HIKER PRO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: 3-season hiking/backpacking, all water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Pump

OUTPUT: 1 liter per minute

WEIGHT: 11 ounces

PROS: Glass fiber/carbon core filter medium, BPA free, includes field maintenance kit, filters water quickly, can connect directly to hydration reservoirs, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns, can handle silty and muddy water

CONS: Doesn’t perform well in freezing temperatures, filter can clog over time, handle and intake valve are not durable

 

 

 

MSR MINIWORKS EX

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: 3-season hiking/backpacking, all water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Pump

OUTPUT: 1 liter per minute

WEIGHT: 14.6 ounces

PROS: Ceramic with carbon core filter medium, BPA free, field cleanable, filters water quickly, screws onto wide mouth bottles, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns

CONS: Heavy, doesn’t perform well in freezing temperatures, filter can get clogged by silty and slimy water, pump takes a lot of force to use, filter requires a lot of cleaning, output hose not included

 

 

 

KATADYN VARIO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: 3-season hiking/backpacking, all water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Pump

OUTPUT: 1.1 liters per minute

WEIGHT: 17.6 ounces

PROS: Pleated glass fiber/ceramic filter medium, BPA free, field cleanable, filters water quickly, 2-filter system, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns, two modes – one that extends the lifetime of the filter, attaches to bottles, output hose included

CONS: Heavy, ceramic filter can get clogged by silty and slimy water, prone to leaks, inlet port protrudes and can get damaged

 

 

 

LIFESTRAW

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: All-season hiking/backpacking, easy water access conditions

FILTER TYPE: Straw

OUTPUT: N/A

WEIGHT: 2 ounces

PROS: Inexpensive, lightweight, hollow fiber membrane filter medium, BPA free, field cleanable, filters water quickly, lifetime filtering of up to 1,000 liters, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns

CONS: Requires straw suction from either water source or bottle to filter, straw takes a bit to get going, filters only for immediate consumption

 

 

 

SAWYER MINI

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: 3-season hiking/backpacking, easy access water conditions

FILTER TYPE: Straw

OUTPUT: N/A

WEIGHT: 2 ounces

PROS: Inexpensive, lightweight, hollow fiber membrane filter medium, BPA free, includes syringe for field cleaning, filters water quickly, includes reusable water pouch, lifetime filtering of up to 378,000 liters, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.1 microns

CONS: Filter can freeze which inhibits use in cold weather backpacking, requires straw suction from either water source or bottle to filter, straw takes a bit to get going, filters only for immediate consumption, problems with durability

 

 

 

ETEKCITY PORTABLE 1500L EMERGENCY

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: 3-season hiking/backpacking, easy access water conditions

FILTER TYPE: Straw

OUTPUT: N/A

WEIGHT: 2.12 ounces

PROS: Inexpensive, lightweight, carbon fiber filter medium, includes syringe for field cleaning, includes reusable water pouch, includes a longer straw to attach to the filter, lifetime filtering of up to 1,500 liters, removes protozoa and bacteria down to 0.01 microns

CONS: Requires straw suction from either water source or bottle to filter, straw takes a bit to get going, flow rate is slow, filters only for immediate consumption

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST BACKPACKING WATER FILTERS

PICTURE
WATER FILTER
BEST
OUTPUT
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
WATER FILTER
BEST
OUTPUT
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
MSR AutoFlow Gravity
Gravity
1.8 liters per minute
10.5 ounces
$$$
4.7
Platypus GravityWorks
Gravity
1.8 liters per minute
11.5 ounces
$$$
4.6
Sawyer Complete
Gravity
1.3 liters per minute
16.0 ounces
$$$
4.4
Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L
Gravity
2.0 liters per minute
12.4 ounces
$$
4.3
Katadyn Hiker Pro
Pump
1.0 liter per minute
11.0 ounces
$$
4.5
MSR MiniWorks EX
Pump
1.0 liter per minute
14.6 ounces
$$
4.4
Katadyn Vario
Pump
1.1 liters per minute
17.6 ounces
$$
4.4
LifeStraw
Straw
N/A
2.0 ounces
$
4.7
Sawyer Mini
Straw
N/A
2.0 ounces
$
4.7
Etekcity Portable 1500L Emergency
Straw
N/A
2.1 ounces
$
4.5

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BACKPACKING WATER FILTERS

WATER FILTER TYPES

In this guide, we recommend three kinds of water filter types: gravity, pump, and straw. What do these terms mean and how do you know which one will work for you?

 

GRAVITY

Gravity filters use the force of gravity to direct the dirty water through the filter. They usually consist of an elevated dirty reservoir bag that you fill with water. Gravity helps push this water through the filter and into a clean reservoir, water bottle, or hydration pouch.

Gravity filters are easy to use. They can also be a great option if you need to filter large amounts of water for a group trip.

Because they use gravity to work, you’ll have to find somewhere to hang the dirty water reservoir. If you’re in an area without trees, this can be a challenge. It can also be hard to adequately fill the reservoir if only shallow water sources are available.

 

PUMP

Pump filters use a pumping mechanism to pull water from the source. This water is directed into a tube, through the filter, and into your waiting water bottle.

With a pump filter, you can easily pull water from deep or shallow water sources. There’s also no water waste as you only pump what you need.

The downside is that pumping can take a lot of energy and force. When you’re tired from a day of backpacking, this extra work can feel like quite the hassle.

 

STRAW

Straw filters work like drinking straws. Sucking water through the filter, you can draw safe water from almost any source.

These filters are lightweight and incredibly easy to use. However, there’s no way to filter large quantities of water with a straw filter. You’re also only getting water when you’re next to a water source. If you need a lot of water or if you’re in an area with limited water, the straw filter will leave you high and dry.

 

PROTOZOA AND BACTERIA REMOVAL

Your backpacking water filter does more than remove grit and dirt from your water. It also gets rid of the microscopic protozoa and bacteria that can leave you stuck on the toilet if you drink them.

The filters included in this guide all remove protozoa and bacteria down to at least 0.2 microns. According to the Water Quality Association, the smallest bacteria are 0.2 microns wide. So, you can trust that these water filters are keeping even the smallest bacteria out of your water.

While most water filters eliminate protozoa and bacteria, they aren’t designed to remove viruses. If you’re traveling in an area where viruses might be in your water, you’ll need a water purifier. Check out our article, Backpacking Water Purifiers 101, to find one that’s right for you.

 

CLEANING AND BACK FLUSHING

The silt, tiny bugs, and other gross stuff that you take out of your water will eventually clog your filter. As your filter gets blocked, its filtering speed may slow down to a trickle or a stop.

To fix this, you’ll need to clean or back flush your water filter. Unclogging your water filter is something that you may need to do in the middle of your journey. Choose a filter you think will be easy to clean on the trail.

 

REPLACING THE FILTER

How long will your filter last before it needs replacing? Some filters can do a few thousand liters. Others have only a 500-liter lifespan.

Replacement filters are available for many backpacking water filters. Some water filters are no longer usable once they’ve hit their lifetime number of liters.

Top 10 Best Backpacking Water Filters – Hiking Tips For Beginners – Backpacking Tips and Tricks for Women and Men
130 Shares
Pin87
Share19
Tweet24
Flip

LOOKING FOR AN EPIC GIFT FOR HIKERS?