Best Backpacking Water Filter 2021

best water filter for hiking 2021

Last updated on Mar 18, 2021

In every backpacking adventure, it's vital to have access to clean drinking water. But of course, we don't bring gallons of clean water with us. Instead, we use a filtration or purification system, or a product that will enable us to cleanse the water we come across.

We've tested many travel water filters in our latest camping trips and have only listed the best on this list. Our tests include the time it takes for a specific product to filter water, quality of the filtered water, ease of setup of the product, weight, portability, and overall durability of the product.

In this article, you'll get to know the best products in their respective categories. We have the best overall water filter, gravity water filters, ceramic filters, cheap water filters, and portable filters. So, sit back and relax as we go through the 16 best backpacking water filters.

Best backpacking water filter: our quick Answers

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Best overall backpacking water filter

1. Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Gravity Filter

Weight: 3 oz

Inclusions: Inline hydration kit, bucket kit, and faucet kit options

usage: 2-3 people

One of the best backpacking water filters is the Sawyer Squeeze because it's easy to use and it has great filtration quality. If you're looking for a lightweight, versatile, and quick filter, then this product should be at the top of your list.

 What We Like

With the Sawyer Squeeze, there are two ways to collect and filter water. The first one is to collect the water through the bags provided, and squeeze the water through the filter. We timed how fast the water could be filtered using this method and were surprised to know it can treat one liter of water in exactly 45 seconds. 

The other way to filter water is by directly consuming it. To do this, you can use the straw that's included in the kit, attach it to the filter, and drink the water through the straw. The filter is pretty much universal so you can easily attach it to any water bottle. 

When it comes to the quality of the filtered water, we recommend that you only use this during your hikes upstream or in places where the natural water doesn't include heavy metal or viruses. We tested the Sawyer Squeeze in flowing water and streams and were satisfied with how clear and tasty the water was.

In terms of setup, this water filtration system is fairly easy to use. All you have to do is put water inside a container or the provided bag, and filter it by squeezing the bag. Unlike a pump system where you can stick a hose into the water, you need to be up close with the Sawyer Squeeze to get the water that needs to be filtered.

This kit already comes with everything you need to go on a backpacking adventure for a couple of days, namely a filter, a syringe (for backflushing), extra O-rings, a straw, a straw adapter, a couple of extra bags, and a mesh bag. All the pieces can easily be put in the mesh bag and everything weighs around 5.7 oz.

Durability-wise, the filter is sturdy enough to handle the pressure of water while we were squeezing the bag. The mesh bag also feels reliable since some of us just threw it inside our backpacks along with other things.

 What We Don't Like

Although we didn't experience it ourselves throughout our testing period, a lot of users complained about the O-rings not sealing in the filter. Thus, we recommend that you bring the provided extra O-rings to be sure that you won't experience any setbacks along the way.

What we experienced though is the quality of the squeezing bags. During our treatment time test, we tried to squeeze the bags hard enough to put pressure on the filter. Surprisingly, the filter didn't budge, but instead, the squeezing bag tore open, which is understandable since it's only made of plastic.

Overall, the Sawyer Squeeze is a reliable and sufficient travel water filter. It is projected to filter about 3,780,000 gallons of water, which is amazing considering the price of this kit. It's a lightweight, portable, and great quality filter. It's important to remember to bring all the extra items that were provided, especially the O-rings. We also recommend that you bring a plastic bottle with you because you can easily swap this with the squeezing bag.


 

Best Gravity Water Filter

2. Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Gravity

Weight: 11.6 oz

Inclusions: 4.0L Clean Reservoir, 4.0L Dirty Reservoir, Hollow Fiber microfilter, hoses, shutoff clamp, and storage sack

usage: 5-8 people

The Platypus GravityWorks was chosen as the runner-up in the best overall backpacking water filters. With it, water filtration is fast and easy, and provides clean water. Plus, it is lightweight, durable, versatile, and can support a group of people. If you're looking for an all-in-one filtration system, you should check this product out.

What we like about GravityWorks is the fast treatment time. We've tested this filter five times initially, and we're very much satisfied with its consistency, which averaged 55 seconds per liter. Although they advertised it as 1.75L per minute, 55 seconds already makes it one of the fastest filters we've tested.

This product works best in clear water since it does not filter out viruses. We've tested the GravityWorks in almost every water we came across, including murky and high sediment waters. It did filter out the dirty and smelly water, but it easily clogged at around 2L. 

However, we didn't have to worry about cleaning the filter since it's easy to maintain. All you have to do is flip it the other way and flush it out using 4L of water. Other than that, if you notice that the water is slow to filter, then it's time to replace the filter.

This filtration system is easy to use since there's no sucking or pumping required. Unlike other products that would need a certain amount of space between the dirty bag and your filtered bag, you can either hand or lay it on the ground and let gravity do the work for you.

Additionally, the entire kit only weighs around 11.6 oz which is one of the most lightweight kits we've tested. It's simple to pack and you can put it inside your backpack without consuming too much space. Every piece that's included in this kit is durable including the plastic overlay. Some users reported that the bag tore open while they filled it, but we haven't experienced this during our testing

What we don't like about the Platypus GravityWorks is that it easily clogs when trying to filter heavy sediments and you can't get water when you're in shallow sources. Other than that, this filtration system is one of the best gravity water filters in the market today.


 

3. Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L

Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Gravity

Weight: 12 oz

Inclusions: Ultra Flow Filter, 48” Hose with Quick-Connect fittings, Deluxe Carry Bag, Field-Cleanable Filter Protector, Cleaning Sponge, On/Off Hose

Valve, and Carry Strap

Usage: 10 or more

The next on our list is the Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L. It's one of the easiest gravity filters to use out of all the products that we've tested, and one of the most compact of all.

What we like about the Base Camp Pro is that everything was well-thought-out by Katadyn. First, it can filter water as quickly as 48 seconds per liter. This comes in handy when you're using the filtered water to cook, wash your hands, drink, etc.

The water tastes great even if we tried to filter murky waters. A word of advice though, it's better to filter water that is already clear since the Base Camp doesn't remove viruses. What we did was we pre-filter the water before using this product. If you want to make sure you're drinking clean water, you can also add drops after using this product.

The Base Camp Pro is easy to set up and use. All you have to do is fill the bag with water, connect the hose, and hang it. Portability-wise, you can effortlessly fold it to make a small pouch and store it inside your backpack. Since it only weighs around 12 oz, you don't have to worry about exceeding your backpack weight.

What we don't like about the Katadyn Base Camp Pro is that it can get clogged with a couple of filters. You always have to remember to clean and flush out the filter after every use because if there are small particles stuck in the filter, you'll have a hard time cleaning it.

Just like other users said in their reviews, on the third night of our trip, we (intentionally) did not clean the filter to see how it would work afterward. It took almost an hour to fill up at least 64 oz of a water bottle. After that, we cleaned the filter and everything worked fine again.


 

4. MSR Thru-Link Inline Filter

MSR Thru-Link Inline Filter

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Gravity

Weight: 2.5 oz

Inclusions: Inline Filter

usage: 1 person

We are big fans of the MSR Thru-Link Inline filter, which is why we included it on our best gravity water filters list. It's practical, lightweight, easy to use and clean, and reliable. If you're looking for a personal filter that can do all the work for you, then you should check out this product.

What we like about the Thru-Link inline filter is that it was initially invented for military use. You heard that right. The U.S. military asked for a filtration system that would allow them to filter and drink water while on the go. With this filter, you don't need long stopovers to filter.

Indeed, this product is easy to use. You simply attach it to your water reservoir and drink. You can also hang it if you want to have clean water inside your bottle. Other than that, you don't have to squat or pump in a long time just to have clean water.

In terms of filtering time, it's noticeably slower than other products, but it takes little effort to drink from it. Also, it effectively removes bacteria, chemicals, protozoa, and other particles. Although, you have to note that it doesn't remove viruses. So if you're planning to hike in countries with waters that may be contaminated, you would need a stronger filtration system.

There's nothing we don't like about the MSR Thru-Link Inline Filter. The entire piece is durable and can be attached to almost every reservoir available on the market. You have to remember to always clean the filter and store it in the right place to avoid damages. Indeed, some users reported that the hose can be bent when not carefully placed in a backpack, but this can be easily remedied. Overall, this product is the most trustworthy filter to date.


 

5. Katadyn BeFree 3.0L Water Filter

Katadyn BeFree 3.0L Water Filter

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Gravity

Weight: 4 oz

Inclusions: Ultra-durable HydroPak 3.0L reservoir, and EZ-Clean Membrane Filter Cartridge

usage: 3-5 people

We've chosen the Katadyn BeFree 3.0L as one of the best gravity filters because of its portability, versatility, ease of use, and quality of water. If you're looking for a travel water filter that's great for personal use and can provide you with clean drinking water, then this product might just be the right one for you.

What we like about the Katadyn BeFree is that you don't have to connect any parts and materials to start filtering. Indeed, the bottle has a wide mouth so you can easily fill it with water, screw the cover, open the mouthpiece cover, and put pressure on the bottle when squeezing to make water drinkable. 

If you're planning to camp somewhere, you can hang the bottle above a tree and let gravity do the work for you. This filter works best in taking fluids from running or moving water. However, we had a difficult time filling the bottle when we were in shallow water sources.

BeFree effectively removes protozoa, bacteria, and any debris, leaving you with clean water to drink. It does not, however, remove viruses so if you're planning to hike in a country where there are known viruses in the waters, you should look for purifiers instead.

Although it's not as fast as the previously mentioned products, BeFree was able to filter one liter of water in 1.5 minutes. This is already quite fast compared to other products on the market. 

What we don't like about the Katadyn BeFree is the delicate HydroFlask bottle. On the first day of our 3-day hike, we were surprised to find a leak. This happened when we filled the bottle with water and noticed a small pinhole on the side. Thankfully, we had brought two BeFree products with us so we were still able to filter water and test the product.


 

6. MSR Trail Base 2L Personal Pump and Gravity Water Filter System

MSR Trail Base 2L Personal Pump and Gravity Water Filter System

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Gravity

Weight: 1 lb.

Inclusions: Trail filter, dirty water reservoir for gravity fed-filter system, and durable clean water reservoir

usage: 2-3 people

The last on our list of the best gravity filters is the MSR Trail Base because it's easy to use, versatile, requires minimal effort, and produces great water quality. If you're looking for a filtration system that can let you drink water, pour water quickly, or even take a shower, this can be the best product for you.

What we like about the MSR Trail Base is everything was set up for easy usage, consumption, and cleaning. We tested this filtration system in terms of gravity and hand pump. It only took us 67 seconds to filter one-liter using gravity, and a little over a minute using a hand pump. There was a big difference in speed when we hung the bag vertically and when we laid it on the ground, but it posed no problem at all. 

The .2-micron hollow fiber filter of the Trail Base is perfect when you're in clear water sources, but doesn't work well in super turbid waters since it can easily get clogged. Although, it requires little maintenance as it only needs backflushing after every use. What's interesting is that MSR claims it can filter 1,500 liters, but the description of Trail Base says it can do up to 2,000 liters.

Out of all the products we've tested, this is one of the fastest and easiest filters to set up. While it took us a couple of minutes to figure out the parts to connect, it's pretty much direct to use. The two bags included in this kit are already labeled so you don't get confused.

We didn't find anything wrong with the MSR Trail Base. The entire kit weighs around 1lb., which is pretty heavy compared to the other products we've reviewed. But if you're looking for a kit that can do both hand pump and gravity filtering, then this might be the best product for you.


 

Best Ceramic Water Filter

7. MSR MiniWorks EX MicroFilter Water Filter

MSR MiniWorks EX MicroFilter Water Filter

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Ceramic/Pump

Weight: 1 lb.

Inclusions: AirSpring Accumulator pump, hose, filter, and storage bag

usage: 1-2 people

If you're looking for a hand pump water filtration system that's durable, Nalgene-top compatible, and that provides great water quality, then you should check out the MSR MiniWorks EX MicroFilter. We've had this ceramic water filter for many years now and never had any issues in terms of reliability and durability.

What we like about the MiniWorks EX is that it can consistently provide us with clean water with its average time of 85 seconds per liter, which is an average of 95 strokes. This is rather slow compared to other products on the market, but it gets the job done.

The filtration system is equipped with ceramic filters and a carbon core. It can effectively remove any bacteria or chemicals that might be living in the water. We tested the product in murky waters and were disappointed to see that it was unable to remove the smell and color of the water, even though the water was already safe to drink.

Overall, many filters couldn't remove the smell of murky waters, which is why we suggest that you use a purifier if you're planning a trip to countries filled with murky waters. If you have a filter, however, the MiniWorks EX can provide you with drinking water.

The setup and filtration are simple using this system. Take all the pieces out of your bag, bring the float to the water, and ready your bottle. It works best if you partner it with Nalgene bottles since it fits right in. We tried to use other bottles but we had a hard time screwing it, so we had to hold the bottle the entire time.

We don't recommend you use the MiniWorks EX if you're planning to travel with a large group since it takes a lot of time and effort to pump and filter the water. Also, you would need to clean the filter after every three liters of usage since it can easily get clogged and would further slow down the filtration process.

What we don't like about the MSR MiniWorks EX is that it's one of the heaviest products we've tried. Plus, it's expensive and slow at pumping. Before going on a hike with this product, make sure to ready your arms and muscles since it will take a lot of effort to filter.


 

8. Katadyn Vario Water Filter

Katadyn Vario Water Filter

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Ceramic/Pump

Weight: 15oz

Inclusions: Prefilter, Deluxe Carry Bag, and Cleaning Pad

usage: 3-5 people

The next on our list of the best backpacking ceramic water filter is the Katadyn Vario Water Filter. If you're planning a trip with your family or friends and need a fast and comfortable pumping filter, then this product should be at the top of your list. 

We love how Katadyn Vario can provide clean drinking water in less than a minute. It has a triple filtration system that cleans the water thoroughly. First is the ceramic filter for large particles, then is pleated glass fiber as the main filter, and a carbon one to reduce odors and other chemicals. You also have two-speed settings to choose from when it comes to filtering water. 

If you want a fast output of water, you can disable the pre-filter setting, which allows the main glass fiber to directly filter the water. During our tests, we saw that it gave us an average of 40 seconds per liter. Although, we noticed that this clogged the filter faster than with the slow setting.

If you want a thorough water filtration, you can opt for the slow filter setting, which “extends the lifespan” of the product. This setting activates the ceramic disc that pre-filters the water. While using this, we were able to filter 1 liter in just 49 seconds.

The Vario has many different components that you need to assemble to start filtering. We didn't have any trouble setting up the pump because the manual was simple to follow. Once you're all set-up, the handle works perfectly and you don't need to put in much effort to use it.

Although we didn't experience it ourselves, we've read many reviews regarding the durability of the Katadyn Vario. Some users were concerned about the leakage on the filter housing of some users, which led to inefficient filtering.


 

9. Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Ceramic/Pump

Weight: 19oz

Inclusions: Hydration Accessory, Pre-filter, Bottle Clip, Carry Bag, Measuring Gauge, and Cleaning Pad

Usage: 1-4 people

The Katadyn Pocket is presumably one of the most durable pump filters on the market today. With its ceramic filter and metal pieces, it's sturdy enough to handle rough adventures and is reliable in almost any given situation.

What we like about the Pocket is that it's made with longevity in mind. It can clean up to 13,000 gallons of water before you ever need to replace the filter. The ceramic filter allows you to pump dirty water to clean drinking water with minimal maintenance.

The downside to its durability is that it takes time to pump water and it's very heavy. Indeed, it took us about two minutes to filter one liter of water. You also need a lot of muscle and energy if you want to fill more than one bottle of water.

Besides, the ceramic filter used in this product doesn't have any chemicals in it, which is why when we filtered murky waters, we were given pure, clean, and fresh water. However, if you're looking to filter in silty water, we suggest you look for a purifier that can thoroughly clean.

The downside to the Katadyn Pocket is that it's really heavy and expensive. Indeed, it costs almost three times as much as other ceramic water filters on the market while having almost all the same features. Nevertheless, Katadyn has proven that this travel water filter is durable and reliable. The brand also provides a 20-year warranty in case you encounter any leakage on this product.


 

Best budget-friendly water filters

10. RapidPure Universal Water Purifier Wide Mouth Bottle Adapter

RapidPure Universal Water Purifier Wide Mouth Bottle Adapter

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Bottle Adapter/On-the-go

Weight: 4.6oz

Inclusions: Screw on the top lid, purifier/filter, and plastic straw

Usage: 1 person

If you're looking for a lightweight, reliable, durable, and universal water purifier, you should take a look at the RapidPure Universal Wide Mouth Bottle Adapter. We consider this product one of the best affordable water filters as it costs less than $50 and provides clean drinking water.

What we like about the RapidPure universal purifier bottle adapter is that it can effectively remove not only bacteria and particles, but also viruses that might be living in the waters. This product uses an ultraceram electroabsorption with infused silver and carbon for better purification.

We also like that RapidPure made the bottle adapter universal. We tried to fit the adapter on our bottles and it perfectly everything fitted. Our bottles were Nalgene, Kleen Kanteen, HydroFlask, and Camelbak. In some instances, we had to cut the straw to screw the top lid into the bottle, which makes sense considering our bottles were of different lengths.

The mouthpiece of the bottle adapter also has a plastic flange that comes in handy. This enables us to open and close the cap with our dirty hands without worrying about contaminating the mouthpiece. We had no issue at all when we were drinking through the bottle. The filtering flow was fast enough for us to continue our hike while staying hydrated.

RapidPure advertises this product as being able to filter 200 gallons of water before reaching its limit. However, if you want to make sure that it removes viruses, it's recommended that you change the filter after every 100 liters. There's no way for you to tell how many liters you've filtered in this product, so it's at your discretion to decide when to change it.

Overall, we recommend using the RapidPure Universal Purifier Bottle Adapter for day-hiking, recreational activities, or cycling. If you're planning to camp for a couple of nights, we suggest you use a filtration system that can effectively clean water and store it at the same time.


 

11. Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with Gravity Bag

Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with Gravity Bag

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Straw/Gravity Bag

Weight: 1.1lb

Inclusions: Filter Straw, Blue Gravity Bag, and White Small Bag

Usage: 1 person

If you're looking for an affordable, versatile, and reliable water filter, then you should check out the Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with Gravity Bag. We were positively surprised by the performance of this filtration system since it costs less than $30.

What we like about the Waterdrop Filter Straw is that it's simple to use and provides water of outstanding quality. You just have to collect water from the roll bag, connect it to the filter, and wait for the clean water on the gravity bag. Plus, the setup is a no-brainer.

Waterdrop uses a three-stage filtration system with a .1-micron hollow filter that effectively removes contaminants, large particles, and bacteria from the water. We tested this product on murky waters and were able to drink odorless, clean water. 

Maintaining the quality of the filter is also very easy to do. Unlike other products that need a syringe to backflush, with this filter, you only have to blow through the mouthpiece, and shake the filter, or flush it out with clean water.

We didn't experience any problems with the Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with Gravity Bag. Although, we've read some online reviews from users who experienced stomach problems after they tried drinking the filtered water.

Overall, this product may be a little heavier than the other products we've reviewed, but it outweighs its competitors in terms of affordability and versatility.


 

12. LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Gravity/On-the-go

Weight:  6.9oz

Inclusions: Hydration pack, filter, hose

Usage: 1 person

The next on our list of the best affordable water filters is the LifeStraw Flex Advanced water filter with Gravity Bag. If you're looking for a lightweight, versatile, and affordable filtration system, then you should check this product out.

What we like about the Flex Advanced is that you can change the way you filter and drink water depending on the situation. Plus, it comes with a 650mL soft bottle, a hose, and a filtration system so it's compatible with in-line systems like hydration bladders or gravity filters.

Treatment time differs depending on how you use it. For instance, we first tried to use it as a gravity filter by hanging the product on a tree and letting the filter drop. The water trickled at first, but later gave a steady flow of water. It took around 6 minutes to fill a 1-liter bottle. 

When we tested it as an on-the-go system, we noticed that you have to exert a lot of effort into sucking the filtration bottle just to get a couple of drops of water. Overall, you have to be prepared to spend time both filtering and sucking water. 

To fill the hydration pack, you have to scoop the water from the source, which means it will be difficult to get water if you're in shallow water sources. But once you have done this, it's pretty easy to use. 

The Flex Advanced is collapsible and lightweight. When folded correctly, you'll get a salami size pack which you can easily put into your backpack. We were surprised by how durable the soft bottle is. Indeed, most soft bottles can easily get poked just by being stored inside a backpack, but this product seems to have thicker plastic.

What we don't like about the LifeStraw Flex Advanced is that it takes too much time and effort to get water out of it. Overall, this product is one of the best when it comes to versatility, but this falls short when it comes to actual usage.


 

Best Portable Water Filter

13. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Straw/On-the-go

Weight: 1.75 oz

Inclusion: One LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Usage: 1 person

When it comes to backpacking portable water filters, it's important to have a lightweight and compact item that can be easily accessed and stored away. The LifeStraw Personal water filter is one of the most compact items we've ever reviewed. Weighing under 2 oz, you can easily put it in a side pocket or use it as a necklace.

What we like about the LifeStraw Personal is the overall feature of this product. First, it's equipped with a hollow a .2 -micron pore size hollow fiber filtration cartridge, which effectively filters bacteria and other particles, although it doesn't purify viruses. If you're concerned about certain viruses that you may drink, it's better that you use a complete purification system.

Besides, treatment time is fast. As soon as you suck from the mouthpiece, the filter will automatically clean the water you're trying to drink. Although, it may take some time for you to taste the water since the tube needs to be filled up first. The flow significantly decreases depending on how murky or salty the water you're trying to drink is.

The LifeStraw Personal is pretty durable. We tried putting it inside our camping backpacks, into the mesh pockets, and even made a necklace out of it, and didn't notice any signs of wear and tear. There's nothing to set up when using this travel water filter; you only need to get close enough to the water source and drink from it.

However, what we don't like about this product is the maintenance. Since it's an entire tube, there's no way to open it. Therefore, if it gets clogged, you'd have to blow out the stuck particles, which is difficult to do and inefficient. Most of the time, you'll get your hands and knees dirty or wet when trying to drink since you have to get to the water source.


 

14. OxGord Aqua-Marine Personal Water Filter Purifier Straw

OxGord Aqua-Marine Personal Water Filter Purifier Straw

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Straw/On-the-go

Weight: 3oz

Inclusions: One Aqua-Marine Water Purifier Straw

Usage: 1 person

When it comes to preparing for emergencies, especially when you're out in the wilderness, it's important to have an extra filter that can save you from tough circumstances. This is where the OxGord Aqua-Marine Purifier Straw comes in handy.

What we like about this Aqua-Marine purifier straw is that it's lightweight and compact, so can easily go into the mesh pockets of your hip belt or on the side. Besides, it only weighs 3 ounces and is 7.5” long.

This purifier straw can effectively remove waterborne parasites and bacteria. With its multi-stage filtration system, we were able to drink water from the stream and murky areas. We didn't encounter any problems nor tasted anything bad in the filtered water.

The first stage of filtration uses a pre-filter system that effectively removes large particles in the water. The next stage uses the MIR High Iodine Bactericidal Resin Filter Layer that thoroughly cleans and sterilizes the water from pathogenic bacteria. Finally, the last stage features a Coconut Husk Granular Active Carbon Layer that helps absorb the remaining pollutants in the water. It also reduces the turbidity in the water and improves its overall taste.

This is one of the products that we can't say anything negative about. It's affordable, lightweight, compact, and extremely reliable, which is why we think this is one of the best portable water filters on the market.


 

15. Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System 0.6L

Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System 0.6L

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: On-the-go

Weight: 2oz

Inclusion: 0.6 L HydraPak Soft Bottle Flask

Usage: 1 person

One of our favorite on-the-go travel water filters, the Katadyn BeFree is super easy to use, has a fast flow rate of water, is effortlessly collapsible, and lightweight. If you're looking for an affordable on-the-go filtration system with all these attributes, then this could be the perfect product for you.

What we like about the BeFree water filter has a tough filtration unit and a small high-flow nozzle that can be attached and detached from the soft bottle. You can collect water just by scooping it from a water source, which can be difficult in shallow waters.

Besides, filtering and using it is trouble-free. All you have to do is squeeze the bottle softly and suck the water out, which cancels out any treatment time. It removes protozoa and bacteria in the water, leaving you with fresh water. However, it does not remove viruses, which may be waterborne in some countries.

The only downside to this product is its durability. While we were out testing it, the soft bottle was easily poked, which led to a leak. Because of the durability issue, we suggest that you either buy another HydraPak or bring a sturdier bottle that's compatible with the filter of this product.

Overall, the Katadyn BeFree water filter can be a great use if you're looking for a quick trail run or day-hike. It's also a good addition to your emergency kit as a substitute filter system during a long trip.


 

16. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

Click to view on amazon.com.

Type: Straw/On-the-go

Weight: 3.7oz

Inclusions: Mini Filter, 16oz Pouch, Drinking Straw, and Cleaning Plunger

Usage: 1 person

The last product on our list of best portable water filters is the Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System. It's inexpensive, versatile, reliable, and lightweight. If you're looking for a kit that can complete almost all filtering processes, then you should check out this one.

What we like about the Sawyer Mini is it uses a .1-micron pore size hollow fiber membrane filter that effectively removes bacteria and protozoa from the water, leaving you with clean drinking water. There are multiple ways for you to filter and consume water with this product.

First, you can use the straw and drink right from the water source, which provides instant treatment and filtration time. We also tried to use this as a gravity filter, although it's not advertised, and we successfully filled a 1-liter bottle in two minutes. You can also use the 16oz pouch, squeeze the water through the filter, and drink from, it which also provides instant water.

It's important to remember to always backflush your filter to ensure the quality and flow of the water. We noticed that the filter took longer to do its job if we were in murky waters and didn't clean the filter beforehand. Thus, we suggest that you backflush the filter with the cleaning plunger after every use.

Durability-wise, we were surprised by durable and reliable the filter is. We had no issues at all with the taste of the water. The bag, however, is a different story. After a couple of refilling and filtering, we noticed a leak in the bag. This happened when we were squeezing the bag to improve the water flow. 

Other than this, we are happy with the performance of the Sawyer Mini water filtration system. It's lightweight and portable, which makes it easy to store inside a hiking backpacking.


 


Best hiking water filter: Comparison table

FotoWater Filter TypeInclusions CapacityWeight
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

1. Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

Gravity FilterInline hydration kit, bucket kit, and faucet kit options2-3 people3 oz
Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

2. Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

Gravity4.0L Clean Reservoir, 4.0L Dirty Reservoir, Hollow Fiber microfilter, hoses, shutoff clamp, and storage sack5-8 people11.6 oz
Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L

3. Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L

GravityUltra Flow Filter, 48” Hose with Quick-Connect fittings, Deluxe Carry Bag, Field-Cleanable Filter Protector, Cleaning Sponge, On/Off Hose Valve, and Carry Strap10 or more12 oz
MSR Thru-Link Inline Filter

4. MSR Thru-Link Inline Filter

GravityInline Filter1 person2.5 oz
Katadyn BeFree 3.0L Water Filter

5. Katadyn BeFree 3.0L Water Filter

GravityUltra-durable HydroPak 3.0L reservoir, and EZ-Clean Membrane Filter Cartridge3-5 people4 oz
MSR Trail Base 2L Personal Pump and Gravity Water Filter System

6. MSR Trail Base 2L Personal Pump and Gravity Water Filter System

GravityTrail filter, dirty water reservoir for gravity fed-filter system, and durable clean water reservoir2-3 people1 lb
MSR MiniWorks EX MicroFilter Water Filter

7. MSR MiniWorks EX MicroFilter Water Filter

Ceramic/PumpAirSpring Accumulator pump, hose, filter, and storage bag1-2 people1 lb
Katadyn Vario Water Filter

8. Katadyn Vario Water Filter

Ceramic/PumpPrefilter, Deluxe Carry Bag, and Cleaning Pad3-5 people15oz
Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

9. Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

Ceramic/PumpHydration Accessory, Pre-filter, Bottle Clip, Carry Bag, Measuring Gauge, and Cleaning Pad1-4 people19oz
RapidPure Universal Water Purifier Wide Mouth Bottle Adapter

10. RapidPure Universal Water Purifier Wide Mouth Bottle Adapter

Bottle Adapter/On-the-goScrew on the top lid, purifier/filter, and plastic straw1 person4.6oz
Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with Gravity Bag

11. Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with Gravity Bag

Straw/Gravity BagFilter Straw, Blue Gravity Bag, and White Small Bag1 person1.1lb
LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

12. LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

Gravity/On-the-goHydration pack, filter, hose1 person6.9oz
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

13. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Straw/On-the-goOne LifeStraw Personal Water Filter1 person1.75 oz
OxGord Aqua-Marine Personal Water Filter Purifier Straw

14. OxGord Aqua-Marine Personal Water Filter Purifier Straw

Straw/On-the-goOne Aqua-Marine Water Purifier Straw1 person3oz
Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System 0.6L

15. Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System 0.6L

On-the-go0.6 L Hydrapak Soft Bottle Flask 1 person2oz
Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

16. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

Straw/On-the-goMini Filter, 16oz Pouch, Drinking Straw, and Cleaning Plunger1 person3.7oz

How do I choose a hiking water filter?

The products we've mentioned are just some of the filters that are available on the market. We know what you're thinking, how do you choose a backpacking water filter that's perfect for you? Below, we'll discuss the differences between a filter and a purifier, and each one's pros and cons.

Water filter vs. purifier

Water filters can effectively remove bacteria like E. coli and Shigella, as well as protozoan cysts, like Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium. If you're living in Canada or the U.S., water filters are enough to clean the water from most sources.

Water purifiers can remove both protozoan cysts and bacteria. Additionally, they can also combat viruses that may be present in the water, like Norovirus or Hepatitis A. Since these viruses are too small, most filters cannot catch them, which is why you'll need a purifier instead.

Different types of water filters vs. water purifiers

There are different methods to purify or filter water while you're out hiking. Choosing the right hiking water filter will depend on your preferences, how long you will be out camping, and the number of people you're planning to support.

Here are 8 methods to turn dirty water into clean one.

  1. Pump method

All you need to do is drop the hose and connect it to your water bottle or reservoir, and pump the handle. The pumping mechanism differs from a brand to another, from a product to another, and also varies in terms of flow rate and treatment time, so it's best to compare the specs and prices of the top products before buying one.

Pros: 

  • Internal cartridge or filter is replaceable.
  • You have control over how much water you're going to process.
  • You can easily collect water from shallow and deep water sources.

Cons:

  • These are bulky and heavy compared to other methods.
  • Pumping requires more effort compared to other methods.
  1. Gravity method

Fill a dirty reservoir from the water source, connect the filter and your clean reservoir or bottle, hang it on a tree or set it on a rock, and let gravity do the work for you. Treatment time and flow rates differ per product and brand as well.

Pros:

  • No need to exert too much effort.
  • Cartridge or filter is replaceable.
  • Can easily support a large group of people.

Cons:

  • You need a place to hang the product.
  • Treatment time can be slower compared to pumping.
  • Difficult to collect water from shallow water sources.
  1. Ultraviolet (UV) light method

Most products with UV light have a pen-styled design. You have to click the button and stir the water you want to filter, which typically takes 60 seconds.

Pros:

  • You don't have to replace or clean any filter or cartridge.
  • Treatment time is quicker compared to the previously mentioned methods.

Cons: 

  • Ineffective in cloudy and silty waters.
  • Requires more time to treat large quantities of water.
  • Requires batteries.
  1. Bottle purifiers or filters

You have to simply attach the filter onto your favorite (and compatible) water bottle and sip. It'll instantly filter the water going through the cartridge.

Pros:

  • Cartridge is replaceable.
  • Treatment time is quick.
  • More affordable and lightweight than other methods.

Cons:

  • Filtered water depends on the size of the bottle.
  1. Squeeze filter bags

The product includes a reservoir bag and a filter. You just have to collect water using the provided bag, attach the provided filter, and squeeze the bag.

Pros:

  • Treatment time is quick.
  • Replaceable cartridge.
  • Typically lightweight, affordable, and collapsible.
  • Some products can be used as straw-style or gravity filters.

Cons:

  • Filtered water depends on the size of the bottle.
  1. Straw-style filters

Has a built-in filter inside that allows you to sip directly from the water source.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and affordable.
  • Treatment time is quick.

Cons:

  • Some products do not include replaceable cartridges.
  • You can only filter and drink water if you're at the water source.
  1. Chemicals

Typically has chlorine and/or iodine that effectively removes viruses, protozoa, and bacteria. You add these pills or drops to the water you collected and wait for the recommended time to treat the water.

Pros:

  • Ultra-lightweight, compact, and affordable.
  • Easy to use.
  • Acts as an emergency backup filter.

Cons:

  • There are known side effects of using iodine-based chemicals.
  • It takes 30 minutes to a whopping 4 hours to treat water before drinking it.
  1. Boiling

All you need is your pot, fuel, and stove. You can easily treat the water you've collected by boiling it.

Pros:

  • Can treat almost all types of water from different sources.
  • Serves as a back-up emergency treatment.

Cons:

  • Waiting time is longer to boil and cool the water down.
  • Effort and time in boiling water.
  • You need to pack more fuel other than for cooking your meals.

Conclusion

Treating the water you collect during your hike can preserve you from stomach problems. If you're planning a hiking adventure, make sure that you have all the necessary accessories with you and always have a backup plan.

 


I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

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