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When you’re on the move, you need to stay hydrated — that’s just a simple fact. Backpacking and camping, while both exhilarating activities, might leave you dehydrated. You’ll be outside all day, subjected to all types of weather, and going through physical exercise. It’s definitely fun, but it’s not easy!

Staying hydrated is not only going to help you feel better while on your backpacking trip. It’s crucial to your health and well being. However, finding clean drinking water while out in nature can be challenging. After all, there won’t be a corner store that you could pop down to for a few minutes. 

As you have to rely on yourself, it’s good to prepare early on. One of the things you need for your next backpacking trip is a reliable method of water treatment. Fortunately, even the best backpacking water filter is just a few clicks away. The only issue is, how do you find the best one? 

This is where we come in. We’re here to help you find the best backpacking water filter for you. Keep reading to learn more!

What is the best personal water filter?

Before we jump right in, we should talk about the different types and qualities of water filters. We want you to be aware of the things you need to look for before we present you with the best backpacking water filters.

Bacteria vs viruses

One important thing to note, that many manufacturers would rather withhold from you, is that a water filter will NOT remove viruses. For that, you’d need a water purifier. Water filters will provide you with clean water and remove bacteria & protozoa, but they will not remove viruses.

The question is, do you need a water backpacking purifier or would a simple water filter be enough? Should you be concerned about waterborne viruses? The answer depends on where you’re headed. Many backpackers making their way through North America do not have to concern themselves with viruses too much. However, in other areas of the world, viruses can be an issue.

Water-transmitted viral pathogens include adenovirus, hepatitis A and E, rotavirus, norovirus, astrovirus, and more. On the other hand, bacteria are everywhere and that’s why you need a safe means of water treatment and a durable water bottle.

Bottom line is, do you NEED a water purifier? Only you can know the answer to that. Check where you’re going and decide based on that. If you’re headed somewhere with a water source that is chock-full of dirty water, you might also need a stronger method of water treatment. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Ease of use

This is another huge consideration when you buy a water filter for backpacking. You will have to treat your water several times a day, every single day of your trip. That’s why annoying, difficult to use water filters just won’t work for you, at least not in the long run.


Backpacking means that you’ll be on your feet all day long, with everything you own carried on your back. It’s important that your gear is as light as it can be. The filters we’ve chosen are all of the lightweight kind.

If you’re camping and heading there by car, weight is less of an issue. Remember that even if you’re just camping and not doing a lot of hiking, you still need a good water filter.


A prefilter is an accessory that will filter out the largest dirt and debris particles from your water. It’s the first step of water treatment. If you’re going to places that don’t have a lot of sources of clear water, you might want to look for tools that also have a pre-filter. Additionally, you can buy one separately from the water filter.

What is the best water filter for backpacking?

You now know what to look for, but sifting through hundreds of backpacking water filters is a chore. Let us save you some legwork and present you with the best backpacking water filters and purifiers on the market!

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

If you want the best backpacking water filter in terms of simplicity, this Sawyer Squeeze product ticks all the right boxes. It’s so easy to use that anyone could do it, and it’s more lightweight than most other water filters.

This is a personal water filtration system, so you will need one for each member of the family or friend group. However, at such an affordable price, you’re still getting the best bang for your buck. This compact filter will take care of all the bacteria, cysts, sediment, microplastics, and protozoa found in your water. 

When you first glance at this bottle, you’ll be reminded of a sports drink of sorts. It comes with a built-in and removable flip-top cap, which is why it looks so familiar. You can drink directly from your water filter or from the included pouch. 

Short on space? Again, not a problem! Not only is Sawyer lightweight, but it also presents the best solutions for backpacking. It comes with two pouches that roll up tightly, saving space in your pack. You can drink from these two reusable 32-oz, BPA-free bottle-replacements and then roll them right up into your backpack.

Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter

Katadyn is an elegant and useful water filter system that comes with a semi-transparent bottle. It’s powerful enough to tackle even really contaminated water, managing as low as 0.2 micron. Thanks to the pleated glass-fiber filter media, it destroys bacteria and protozoan cysts without a hitch.

The core of the filter contains activated carbon. This does wonders for the taste of the beverage. While water found in the wild doesn’t always taste great, this filter will get rid of the pond-like taste and leaves crisp, perfect refreshment behind.

It’s compatible with hydration bladders, but it’s also built in such a way that allows you to drink right out of the filter. Thanks to the transparent bottle, you’ll be able to see the filter at work. Worth noting that it’s lightweight enough to be one of the best backpacking water filters, as it weighs just 11 oz.

Katadyn Hiker also provides a cleanable filter protector screen which acts as a pre-filter. It extends the lifespan of your filter while getting rid of dangerous contaminants.

Purewell Outdoor Water Filter and Purifier

Sometimes, a mere water filter just won’t suffice. While you can trust a water filter to remove all the bacteria, a water purifier takes it a step further and gets rid of viruses. This purify water filter combo is a must-have for any camping aficionado.

Instead of a bottle, this is a pack of two water filter straws. They’re handy when backpacking, camping, trekking, hiking, hunting, and even on road trips or car rides. They work in an innovative way — you can drink directly from the source using one of these straws.

How does that work? It’s simple. Simply approach the water source, such as a creek, insert the straw, and get drinking! The entire process of filtration happens in the straw, allowing you to quench your thirst whenever, wherever. Alternatively, you can insert one of these into your water bottle and then safely drink.

These two innovative straws remove over 99.99% contaminants, such as cysts, particulates, bacteria, and sediments. Moreover, they get rid of all viruses. Due to their effective and yet simple use, we consider them the best backpacking water purifier.

MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter

If you’re after something extra-efficient and quick, MSR delivers in both aspects. This MSR water filter has a pump that gives it an interesting look. It does mean that you’ll have to do a bit of the work yourself, but the end result is simple — a removal of up to 99.99% of bacteria from your water.

Pumping at a rate of one liter per minute, MSR is one of the quickest water filters for backpacking. That type of flow rate is nothing short of impressive! The resulting water comes out fresh and clean of all sorts of nasty things. Even if you’re unable to locate a clean source of water, this bottle will deal with what you already have. It works with any and all water sources.

MSR has a replaceable carbon and ceramic filter. The addition of carbon removes all odor from water. If you don’t like the taste of pond or river water, you’re sure to enjoy the added freshness.

Aside from being quick, it’s great value for the money. Just one filter treats up to 2,000 liters of water. Considering that most of us don’t drink more than 2 liters a day, you might very well still own this bottle years from now!

Platypus Gravity Works Gravity Filter System

Your backpacking adventures might take you anywhere. After all, the whole point is to head out as far as the eye can see. However, using a complex water filter system just won’t do in these situations. If you want something easy to use that will work everywhere, this gravity filter will strike your fancy.

Gravity filters can be hung on trees. The use of gravity filters relies on the flow rate speeding up due to the natural pressure and gravity applied to the filter. They’re efficient, work with all water sources, and they do not require any additional help from you.

Due to its high capacity, this gravity filter system is ideal for families. If you’re a lone wolf, you can still use it, but a family will find the highest benefit in it. This is largely due to its size. Each bag has a high capacity, and it comes with four!

It removes bacteria and protozoa such as giardia, E. coli, and salmonella. This keeps you and your family safe from the most common threats. It’s also simple to use — no pumping needed! All you have to do is hang it from a tree and let the filter perform its magic. 

For those that tend to go camping with large groups of people, a single bottle is inefficient. We recommend that you get the best backpacking water filter for big groups.

SteriPen Adventurer Purifier

Want something small and easy-to-use? This water purifier is just as powerful as its bigger counterparts, but it fits in the palm of your hand. What does this device do?

SteriPen is a handheld UV water purifier. Many people choose to stick to the methods of old, but the truth is that SteriPen still destroys more than 99% of contaminants from all water sources. The simplicity of water treatment is an added benefit that makes it a great choice if you want something hassle-free.

It’s effective at producing clean water; it’s also entirely chemical-free. This means that it retains all the natural properties of water, such as the taste or pH. You can trust it to do its job for up to 8,000 liters, which is a lot more than some competitor products.

The built-in water sensor doubles as an LED flashlight, making it possible to use this in the dark. Day or night, it’s as simple as it gets thanks to the one-button purification feature.

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filter

Trying to travel light? No problem — Sawyer has got you covered. Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, scouting, hunting, or simply out on a walk, this mini water filtration system can accompany you just about anywhere. 

This is a highly compact and lightweight filtration system. It fits in the palm of your hand, so packing it will not be an issue. It also weighs just 2 ounces. We especially recommend it on hiking trips where you know you’ll be doing a lot of walking, as you’ll want to pack light.

Sawyer provides two drinking straws that can be attached to the (included) drinking pouch. You can also use them with most water bottles, or even to drink directly from the creek or lake. The entire filtering process doesn’t take long and requires no extra effort from you.

Despite the size, this water filter is extremely long-lasting. You can trust it to cleanse your water for up to 100,00 gallons. In addition to removing bacteria such as salmonella or cholera, it also removes 100% of microplastics, making your water cleaner than ever.

Purewell Purifier Pump

For those in need of extra-thorough filtration and purification, we recommend this one of these water pump filters by Purewell. Being a pump, it does require a bit of extra work from you, but we think it’s worth it thanks to the supreme filtration it provides.

These water pump filters have an advanced 0.01-micron water filter and within that, they offer 4 different filter stages. The device comes with everything you need right out of the box: tubing, the pump, hose clip, the four-stage filter, and a carry bag.

Using it is as easy as pie and you get clean water in return. You can filter water & drink directly from various water sources, use the pump filters directly into a cup, or pump into any container such as a simple water bottle. If you’ve got the energy and time, just one pump can serve the whole family & get rid of gallons of dirty water.

Purewell can purify up to 1400 ml (58 oz) of water per minute. Moreover, you can use the same filter pump for up to 3,000 liters (793 gallons) before it will require a replacement. With such speed and efficiency, this is the best backpacking water filter and purifier out there regardless of the water source.

SteriPen Classic Purifier and Pre-Filter

Water purifiers take filtration to the next level and rid your drinking water of all the bad stuff. Viruses, bacteria, and protozoa like giardia can do nothing but run when faced with SteriPen. This is one of the best backpacking water treatment and purifying method for demanding users.

Certified by the Water Quality Association, this water purifier keeps your water pristine. It’s chemical-free and safe to use for children. It doesn’t alter the taste pH, meaning your water will have a delicious, crisp taste without any traces of unnatural substances.

Another good thing about the SteriPen is how long it can last. You can use it to purify up to 8,000 liters of water. Like a water filter, you can expect this purifier to keep you going for years and years of camping. 

It’s also speedy at what it does. Half a liter of water is purified in a mere 48 seconds, which adds up to 1 liter in 90 seconds of flow rate. You can use it with nearly every commercial water bottle, canteen, or drinking glass.

Katadyn Vario Water Filter

This is a high-end product that delivers high-end performance to satisfy any backpacker. If the best backpacking water filter is what you’re after, you’re bound to like this one.

It comes with a pre-filter that removes particles, so it can be used on murky waters. In fact, Katadyn Vario features a three-level filtration system. First, the ceramic pre-filter rids your water of all kinds of contaminants. This can be adjusted to match the cloudiness of the water. Next, the active charcoal eliminates all odors. Lastly, the high-performance glass fiber filter deals with all the bacteria.

It’s fairly quick as far as water filters go. It can produce up to two quarts of water per minute in the faster flow rate mode. However, if you’re not in a hurry, we recommend using the long-life flow rate mode. The filtration is slower, but your filters will have greater longevity.

It uses a replaceable Katadyn carbon core and a cleanable ceramic disc, both of which are included in the bundle. You also get a deluxe carry bag and a cleaning pad, making this a complete water filtration set.


That wraps up our section about the best backpacking water filter selection. You may already have picked a favorite. However, if you still have questions, keep reading to let us clear everything up.

How long do backpacking water filters last?

You may be surprised by this, but water filters for backpacking actually tend to last a really long time. Of course, this depends on where you hike & how often you use the filter. However, with normal usage, you can expect a water filter to last anywhere between 2-6 years. If you hike a lot, that time is shortened considerably.

What water filter removes viruses?

A water filter alone will not remove viruses. Water filters are designed to clean your water of bacteria and protozoa. What you need is a water purifier, which is a tool made to remove bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

As mentioned in our section above, take this into consideration when buying a brand new backpacking water filter. If you need water purifiers, we recommend the Purewell Water Purifier Pump.

What contaminants do water filters remove?

Most water filters are highly effective at removing the majority of harmful contaminants found in water. This is also why people use them at home for their tap water.

A water filter will rid your water of bacteria, protozoa, chlorine, lead, calcium, salt, minerals, carcinogens, and chemical toxic contaminants. With the use of a pre-filter, you can even remove dirt and debris and turn murky water into drinking water. Depending on the water sources you know you’ll be visiting, you may have to adapt between a filter or purifier.


Water is the stuff of life. You can’t be active, focused, and most of all, healthy, without proper hydration. This rings especially true if you’re hiking or backpacking. When you spend the whole day out in the sun, your body will be starved for some water.

Fortunately, water filters and purifiers make it easier than ever to find drinking water everywhere. Don’t weigh yourself down with bottled water. Purify your own water and enjoy the benefits of nature!


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