6 Best Water Filter For Backpacking & Camping in 2022

We conducted extensive research on the best backpacking water filters that 2022 has to offer. We look into features such as capacity, flow rate, portability, durability, affordability and other key features to produce this list!

DISCLOSURE: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Our Top Pick

4.8/5

Sawyer Squeeze

Sawyer Squeeze presents the most economical, versatile, lightweight, easy-to-use, and sturdy solution for filtered water in the backcountry. With a lifetime warranty and a CPG of $0.00005, it is the undisputed top-pick from the category.

Camping is an exciting outdoor recreational activity living inside a tent or lodging in a camp. People who are fond of camping leave their home or the city and spend a few nights outdoors.

Camping involves the use of a tent, minivan, cabin, or outside the wilderness.  It is a favorite summer activity, indeed.

The lakes, streams, and rivers may look pristine and crystal clear, truth be told, it is not clean and it is never safe. A great deal of water pollution happens not from one single source but from many different scattered sources.

The main contaminants are bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Pathogens are known as common water pollutants. Microorganisms in water are known to be causes of some very deadly diseases and become the breeding grounds for other creatures that act as carriers.

The following products are considered the best backpacking water filters. Fear not, because the camping water filtration system is to the rescue.

Best Backpacking Water Filters Review

  1. Sawyer Squeeze – Best Backpacking Water Filter
  2. Lifestraw Personal – Best Budget Backpacking Water Filter
  3. Katadyn Vario – Best Camping Water Filter
  4. Platypus GravityWorks – Best Gravity Fed Camping Water Filter​
  5. MSR Guardian – Travel Backpacking Filter​
  6. GRAYL Ultralight – Best Backpacking Water Bottle

Sawyer Squeeze – Best Backpacking Water Filter

review of Sawyer Squeeze

Features:

Our Rating4.8 / 5
Price $$$
Flow Rate0.37 to 0.5 gallon per minute
Filter Process0.1 absolute micron hollow fiber membrane inline water filter
Annual Cost$0 to $0.00005
Warranty‎Manufacturer lifetime warranty from defects on the filter
Life Span3 to 5 years
Certification Certified by Independent Testing Laboratory Hydreion, LLC.; Microbiological Report S05-03, certified authorities Aquadiagnostics Laboratories and Envirotek Laboratories (S1 – 2512B-12512C; S3 – 12514-12514A), 2017
Components Included‎2 bladder adapters; 1 ea: 16-oz pouch, drinking spout and straw, syringe cleaner
Capacity540 gallons

The Sawyer Squeeze filter is one of the easy to use pump filters as it is compact and lightweight. It weighs only about 3 ounces, is the size of the palm of your hand, and can be used as a water bottle from which you can drink directly.

This hollow fiber filter has the highest filtration on the market which is 99.9% that effectively removes bacteria such as Salmonella, Cholera, Leptospirosis, and E.coli, and protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. It uses a 0.1 absolute micron hollow fiber membrane inline water filter. It will also effectively remove 100% microplastics from the water being treated.

Although the Sawyer squeeze water filter has a good flow rate, altitude also affects the flow rates of water purifier pump filters, causing purified water to come out as merely drops. The flow rates are also affected when the filter hasn’t been cleaned. The SP131 can be maintained by using the syringe filter cleaner, which is used to backflush the filter to promote a high-flow rate as well as prevent clogging. 

The SP131 filter units are only independently tested, but they also have been individually tested three times to performance standards by Sawyer itself. 

sawyer squeeze use while backpacking

Pros

  1. Easy to unattach from the inline filter for cleaning and back flushing
  2. Easy to unattach for use as a squeeze filter, with very little squeezing involved
  3. Has a compact design and is very easy to use (no need to pump water)

Cons

  1. The pouches are not extremely durable and need to be carefully handled
  2. Some customers complain that the pouches burst up near the neck

Lifestraw Personal – Best Budget Backpacking Water Filter

review of Lifestraw Personal

Features:

Our Rating4.7 / 5
Price $$
Flow Rate0.132 gallon per minute
Filter Process0.2 micron filter membrane
Annual Cost$0 to $0.015
Warranty3 years limited manufacturer’s warranty from defects in material and workmanship
Life Span3 to 5 years
Certification Certified by US EPA & NSF P231 standards
Components IncludedLifeStraw, Lanyard, User manual
Capacity1,000 gallons

This is an ultralight water filter that is also a very convenient budget water filter that only weighs 1.62 ounces yet features a high flow rate. It filters up to 4,000 liters of water or 1,000 gallons for an individual for more than five years. It also reduces turbidity down to 0.2 microns. 

The LifeStraw Personal uses a microfiltration membrane that removes 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria protozoa such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Vibrio cholera, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella, Salmonella, Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium parvum, and Entamoeba histolytica. The filtration even includes the smallest microplastics.

The only drawback of using this water filter is that once it reaches its capacity, it will no longer be able to draw water like earlier, and hence will no longer act as your ready-to-use water bottle.

man drinking water from the lake using lifestraw personal

Pros

  1. One of the most durable backpacking squeeze filters, that is ultralight, easy to clean and store
  2. Contains no added chemicals for it is a BPA-free pump filter
  3. No shelf life so you don’t have to worry about it sitting unused

Cons

  1. Although it includes a user manual, some customers still complain that it is slightly difficult to use
  2. Not capable of filtering below 0.2 microns

Katadyn Vario – Best Camping Water Filter

review of Katadyn Vario

Features:

Our Rating4.5 / 5
Price $$$$$
Flow Rate0.25 to 0.5 gallon per minute
Filter ProcessDual technology microfilter (ceramic pre-filter, 0.2-micron high surface area pleated glass fiber filter, replaceable Katadyn carbon core and cleanable ceramic disc)
Annual Cost$0 to $0.10, $50 to $60 for the cartridge replacement
WarrantyManufacturer warranty for 1 year from date of purchase
Life Span6 months to 1 year
Certification None 
Components IncludedWater Filter, Storage Bag, Cleaning Pad
Capacity500 gallons

Katadyn Vario Microfilter is part of the backcountry series filter line for reduction of bacteria such as Klebsiella terrigenous, and protozoan cysts such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. 

This is a hiking and camping water filter that filters up to 500 gallons of contaminated and dirty water until after six months of use, after which it typically becomes ineffective. But a great addition to this package is the inclusion of a replaceable Katadyn carbon core and cleanable ceramic filter disc that keep water tasting fresh, reducing chemicals, odors, and toxins throughout the life of the cartridge. 

The Katadyn Vario features dual piston technology that provides maximum output with minimum effort. This is especially great when the filter is being used for large quantities of water for a group. To further accommodate to larger groups, the adapter base of the filter is designed to attach directly to a water bottle, as well as an output hose to simply fill another container.

man filters water from the lake using katadyn vario

Pros

  1. Can cater to a group instead of an individual (up to 4 people)
  2. Has a replaceable carbon core and a cleanable ceramic filter disc
  3. Functional for long backpacking trips

Cons

  1. This design is not very durable and users complain that it leaks catastrophically
  2. Heavier than most backpacking water filters and purifiers available

Platypus GravityWorks – Best Gravity Fed Camping Water Filter​

review of Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter

Features:

Our Rating4.6 / 5
Price $$$$$
Flow Rate0.46 gallon per minute
Filter ProcessHollow fiber technology (hundreds of hollow fibers bundled into a single filter, up to 18 times more surface area than traditional filter media)
Annual Cost$0 to $0.04, $50 to $60 for the cartridge replacement
WarrantyManufacturer lifetime warranty from defects on the filter
Life Span3 years
Certification Meets all EPA/NSF guidelines
Components IncludedClean reservoir, dirty reservoir, microfilter, hoses, storage sack
Capacity1,500 gallons

Platypus GravityWorks is a filter that meets all EPA and NSF guidelines and hence removes 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoa; including Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E.coli, Salmonella, and Cholera. It offers a great 4.0 capacity system for filtering and dispensing water for groups.

The Hollow Fiber Technology that this filter is designed with is important to mention because it uses hundreds of hollow fibers bundled into a single filter. Water then flows through the walls of this singular filter, leaving all and any impurities behind. The filter will become ineffective after cleaning about 1,500 gallons of water until the cartridge is replaced.

This system includes two 4-liter reservoirs, 1 for unfiltered water, and 1 for clean water. These reservoirs have hang loops attached to them for easy in-camp use and require no pumping water during their use, unlike most straw filters.

Although it weighs a little more than conventional and impacts backpacking water purifiers, the 11 ounces are not something that you need to worry about carrying.

Pros

  1. Microfilter can easily be cleaned by regular backflushing  
  2. The filter works quite fast with no pumping required
  3. Works for a group of people (up to 4 people)

Cons

  1. Expensive as compared to most conventional backpacking water filters/water purifiers 
  2. Users complain that the plastic bags are not durable

MSR Guardian – Travel Backpacking Filter​

review of MSR Guardian

Features:

Our Rating4.6/5
Price $$$$$
Flow Rate0.66 gallon per minute
Filter ProcessHollow fiber membrane
Annual Cost$0 to $0.1
WarrantyManufacturer’s limited 3 years warranty
Life SpanUp to 10 years
Certification Meets NSF protocol P248
Components IncludedWater Purifier
Capacity2600 gallons

One of the key features of MSR Guardian is that this patent-pending system cleans itself automatically with each stroke. This means that there is no need to ever backflush or filter-scrub it for maintenance purposes, unlike most filters.

Another great feature is that, unlike most traditional squeeze style filters/camping pump filters, this one removes sediments, bacteria and viruses from the murkiest puddles of water. This is what makes this hollow fiber filter versatile and useful in developing countries too, where the threat of viruses lurks in water sources. 

This hand pump-styled filter meets NSF protocol P248 and can withstand heavy use, freezing, rough handling, and harsh environments. Moreover, it can fit over almost all wide-mouth bottles, adding to its compatibility.

It cleans itself as you pump water through it, making maintenance redundant and allowing you to use all your time and energy to enjoy the outdoors.

Pros

  1. The only filter-purifier combo available on the market
  2. Effective against viruses, in addition to other contaminants in the silty water
  3. It has a long filter life with zero maintenance (it has a self-cleaning mechanism)

Cons

  1. Not at all budget friendly; one of the most expensive backpacking water filters and purifiers
  2. One of the heaviest hollow fiber filters for backpacking trips

GRAYL Ultralight – Best Backpacking Water Bottle

review of GRAYL Ultralight

Features:

Our Rating4.5 / 5
Price $$$$$
Flow Rate0.125 to 0.5 gallon per minute
Filter ProcessPatented filtration media (one-press purification method and filtration, three filtration technologies in one)
Annual Cost$0 to $0.37, $20 to $25 for the replacement filters cartridge
Warranty10 years manufacturer’s warranty
Life Span1 year
Certification NSF certification 
Components IncludedUltralight Cap, Inner Press, Outer Refill, Water Purifier Cartridge, Quickstart Guide
Capacity40 to 80 gallons

The GRAYL Ultralight is an award-winning, one-press purification and filtration which is also one of our best water purifiers to recommend. This compact water purifier has a patented Filtration Media – three filtration technologies in one for added protection during filtering water.

The patented filtration media helps remove pathogens and 99.9999% of viruses such as Hepatitis A, SARS, Rotavirus, and 99.9999% of disease-causing bacteria protozoa such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Giardia. A great thing about this filtration system is that it leaves zero after taste, eliminates bad odors, all while improving clarity and flavor of your drinking water.

The lifespan of the Water Purifier Cartridge varies with the quality of the water source. High levels of silt or sediment will shorten the lifespan of the cartridge. But you can expect the GRAYL Ultralight to last about a year of use. 

This means that for a year, you can simply drink straight from this bottle.

Pros

  1. Activated natural carbon filter that helps attracts and trap metals and chemicals
  2. An integrated anti-microbial agent suppresses the growth of mould, mildew, and bacteria
  3. Durable and long-lasting pump filter

Cons

  1. Quite a lot of pumping is required to get the water filtered, causing the straw filter to slow down in its process
  2. Can freeze due to the harsh weather conditions

For a wilderness enthusiast, nothing can be more worrying than being out in the wild without being appropriately hydrated. With the backpacking filtration gears listed here, you are sure to find your shield against common pathogens and contaminants found in natural water sources.

Here is some more information for beginners in the backpacking arena.

How To Choose A Backpacking Water Filter

A backpacking water filter is essential for long outdoor adventures. Invest in a water filter system by carefully understanding how each backpacking water system works. 

Here are some of the 6 ways which can be used to pick a great water filter for backpacking.

  1. Identify The Purpose Or Contaminants To Filter. What is the usage of this filter? Backpacking, traveling, camping, hiking? What is the water source? Is it from the tap or streams in remote areas? Does bacteria presents in the water source?
  2. Personal Or Group Usage. This determines the size of the filtration system. Some systems are great for personal consumption which filters on the go and it is not suitable for group usage.
  3. Lifespan Of The Filter. Generally speaking, the shorter the lifespan, the higher the cost to maintain it. An ideal case is to look for a longer lifespan filter that yields a higher output of filtered water at a lower cost.  
  4. Budget Constraint. While it is great to own a great quality backpacking filter, but the maintenance cost needs to be considered as part of your budget. Purchase what is affordable and upgrade when it is necessary.
  5. Portability and Weight. Backpacking and camping require traveling as light as possible. Hence, portability and lightweight is crucial when it comes to picking your own camping water filter.
  6. Customer Reviews. Existing customers are your source of reference when it comes to purchasing a product online. They provide you the hidden information that wasn’t shown in the sales pitch.

For a wilderness enthusiast, nothing can be more worrying than being out in the wild without being appropriately hydrated. With the backpacking filtration gears listed here, you are sure to find your shield against common pathogens and contaminants found in natural water sources.

Here is some more information for beginners in the backpacking arena.

What Is Important To You In a Backpacking Water Filter?

A backpacking filter is an essential gear in the outdoors since a safe supply of water will determine how well you will be able to enjoy your camping or hiking trip. 

So, here are some pointers that can help you find the best fit for yourself.

  • Cost: The backpacking filters come in all sizes and price points. While some may be inexpensive like the chemical treatment methods, others like the MSR Guardian are more expensive than some of the domestic water filters. 

What Are The Different Types of Backpacking Water Filter?

Mode of operation is one of the ways used to classify backpacking water filters. Based on this, the following are the broad classifications:

1. Squeeze Filters and Gravity Filters

These kinds of filters essentially work on the same principle except for the force that drives the water through the filter. In a squeeze model, water runs through the filter from the mechanical action of squeezing the water pouch. The water pouch contains dirty water.

In the latter, gravity acts on the water stored in the reservoir bag and pulls it through the filter which is at a lower height than the bag.

The filtered water is collected in another container.

2. Pump-Styled Filters

These filters bring back the old-world charm to the modern-day. Water is sucked into the filter with the pumping action and filtered in the middle chamber. Filtered water is collected in containers.

These filters can filter water from any source, no matter how shallow.

3. Purification Tablet or Drops      

An easy to use, super cost-effective, and budget-friendly option, the water purification tablet targets microbes of all kinds and gives you the very basic protection against disease-causing microbes.

However, the method is not enough to filter contaminants of all kinds.

4. UV Purification

An expensive method, UV-light is known to render pathogens ineffective and thus make water safe for consumption.

The light is battery-powered and hence you would need to carry extra pair of batteries with you. While the light loses its efficacy in turbid water, it is effective even when the temperature dips very low and other methods fail to work due to freezing filter.

5. Boiling

Boiling is another method that provides basic protection from diseases caused by pathogens. However, it does not remove other pollutants like heavy metals, or sediments. Also, you will always have to carry enough fuel to be able to make use of this method.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

FAQ for Backpacking Water Filter

Q: Do activated carbon filters remove viruses?

No. Activated carbon filters are ineffective against viruses. They are also incapable of filtering bacteria.

However, they are efficient in reducing volatile organic compounds (VOC), herbicides, pesticides, THMs (disinfection by-product), chlorine, benzene, solvents, radon and hundreds of other chemicals.

Q: Do backpacking water filters expire?

Yes. Even the best backpacking water filters have a limited lifespan and expire. Every filter has a limited capacity to filter water. At the end of having served this volume of water, the cartridge calls for a replacement.

Wrap Up

Getting a filtration system for camping will help to cut down any potential danger from the water source that you are drinking. Start investing on our recommended backpacking water filter, Sawyer PointOne now to keep yourselves protected.

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