10 Best Portable Water Filter For 2020

If you’re planning to go on an outdoor expedition either just by yourself or with your friends, you need to equip yourself properly. That means securing the essential pieces of outdoor equipment.

You should count the best portable water filter among those must-have items for reasons that will become clear as you go through this article.

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

4.3/5

Katadyn Hiker Pro​

+ Filter Type: Pump Filter
+ Lifespan: 300 Gallons
+ Replacement Cost: $38
+ Contamination Removal: 0.2 micron filter that removes bacteria and protozoan

Budget Pick

4/5

Waterdrop Straw

+ Filter Type: Water Filter Straw with Bag
+ Lifespan: 100,000 Gallons
+ Replacement Cost: $16
+ Contamination Removal: removes up to 99.9% of bacteria, protozoan and chlorine taste & odor.

Straw Pick

4/5

Sagan Life Xstream

+ Filter Type: Straw Filter
+ Lifespan: 26 Gallons
+ Replacement Cost: $12
+ Contamination Removal: 0.2 micron filter that removes 99.99999% of all bacteria and protozoan

Portable Water Filter Review

Katadyn Hiker Pro – Best Portable Water Filter

The Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter from Katadyn and what you’ll probably like the most about this product is its durability.

Durability: The manufacturers put a lot of thought into its design, ensuring that it will be able to withstand the rugged environments that you will likely encounter outdoors. The filter itself is protected by a durable container. Even if you drop it a few times, the whole thing should remain mostly intact.

The container itself is a bit small as it can only hold about 11 ounces of water, but it should still be enough to satisfy your thirst.

Type of Filter: This pump-type filter is something you will have to work yourself in order to get the clean water you need. Early on, the pumping is no problem. However, as you use this product more, the pumping can grow to become more difficult.

Contamination Removal: By using this filter, you can take out contaminants such as cryptosporidium, giardia, and different types of bacteria.

Lifespan: The filter itself should last for a while in your possession. The original filter included should be able to clean up around 300 gallons of water.

On-going Cost: Once the original filter is worn down, you can purchase a replacement filter for around $38. It’s a little pricey for a replacement filter, but it can process up to 300 gallons.

PROS
+ Durable container holds up well to drops.
+ Container can be easily cleaned.
+ Features activated carbon filter to improve the taste of the water.
CONS
Pumping can become more difficult over time.
Replacement filter is expensive.

Sagan Life XStream – Best Straw Portable Water Filter

Great for backpacking and travel, the Sagan Life XStream is what you can consider on your list if you are looking for a portable water filter. It is small, lightweight and packs in great features.

Hydradyne Technology: A very unique feature found in the XStream. It simply reduces the water surface tension (measure in dynes) which is usually around 72 dynes down to about 52 dynes.

This is quite beneficial to a human body as it not only helps you hydrate faster but also absorbs more nutrients that are commonly found in the water. You may also check out their Dyne Reduction Lab Test as well to see the amazing results.

Easy to Use: The XStream is also simple and easy to use as well. It comes with a 2-feet long straw with another 2-feet long extension. This reduces the hassle of getting on your belly as you drink. It also does not require any batteries as well but does have a high flow rate.

It also includes a spray pump which is a big plus when it comes to sharing clean drinking water and washing food and hands.

Contaminants Removal: The XStream uses its own proprietary filter. It also exceeds EPA purification standards therefore it is tested and proven. However, this filter is highly recommended to use the filter only on any non-salt water source. This means sources from rivers, lakes and streams.

The filter removes and filters up to 99.9% of bacteria which includes salmonella, cholera, and E.coli. The XStream filter does not stop there, it is also capable of removing 99% of protozoan and parasites (including giardia and cryptosporidium), 99.9% of Virus and 95% of Lead.

Lifespan and Cost: Each XStream water filter cartridge has a reasonable lifespan of around 250 gallons before a replacement is needed. In terms of cost, each cartridge is priced at $29.99.

PROS
+ Excellent Filter Performance
+ Hydradyne Technology
+ Includes a Spray Pump
CONS
Some units arrived with missing pieces
Expensive filter replacement cost

Waterdrop Filter – Best Budget Portable Water Filter

Waterdrop Water Filter Straw with the bag is one of the latest portable water filters. A great backpacking water filter that is quite compact and does the job in terms of filtration performance and more.

Compact Design & Easy to Use: Although most portable water filters are small and compact, the Waterdrop brings it to the next level. It is simply a straw that you can carry around with you anywhere without all the extra parts like tubes and containers. In terms of ease of use, you can simply drink directly from any water source using the straw.

Easy to Clean: You don’t need to use a backwashing syringe or any additional tools to clean it. Simply flush through the filter with clean water.

Contaminants Removal:  Waterdrop uses a 4-stage filtration system which consists of the pre-filter fabric, hollow fiber membrane, activated carbon fiber, and post polyester membrane. Kindly refer to the list below for each filter stage and its functions

1. Pre-Filter Fabric – Removes small debris such as dirt, stones, leaves, etc.

2. Hollow Fiber Membrane – A 0.1-micron filter that removes up to 99.9% of common bacterias and protozoans. These include Escherichia Coli, Vitriol Cholerae, salmonella typhi and also protozoans.

3. Japanese activated Carbon Fiber Uses high-grade coconut shells which are designed to reduce chlorine thus improving taste and odor.

4. Post Polyester Membrane – This is the last stage of the filter that removes rust, sediments, particulates and other types of impurities.

Lifespan and Cost: Each Waterdrop water filter straw has a long lifespan of around 100,000 gallons before buying a new one (no filter replacement).

PROS
+ 4-Stage Water Filtration System
+ Excellent Filter Lifespan
+ Easy to Clean and Use
CONS
No Filter Replacement (One time Use)
Slow Water Flow

Sawyer Micro Squeeze – Best Budget Squeeze Water Filter

Perhaps you’re among those people who prefer not worrying about how long their portable filters will last. You’d rather purchase one portable water filter and just continue using it for every outdoor trip.

If you are indeed that type of outdoor explorer, then the Micro Squeeze Water Filtration System should be right up your alley.

Contamination Removal: Potentially harmful substances that are removed by this portable filter include cryptosporidium, giardia, and microplastics.

Lifespan: The filter included in this Sawyer offering is rated to last for 100,000 gallons. That should be more than enough to last for all your upcoming outdoor excursions.

On-Going Cost: You can use this filter by attaching it to the included squeezable pouch. The pouch itself is reusable, but it is prone to damage. If you ever need additional pouches, you can get a 3-pack of 32-ounce replacements for $9.

This filter has also been designed in such a way that it can be attached to water bottles and hydration packs. It can also be used on its own as a drinking straw.

The problem with this filter is that it can sometimes work very slowly. When used to process noticeably dirty water, it may take a while before this filter can produce the water you need to quench your thirst. It’s best to start filtering water using this product well before you get the urge to drink.

PROS
+ Filter included is rated to last for 100,000 gallons.
+ Works with reusable pouches, drinking bottles, and hydration packs.
+ Can also be used as a drinking straw.
CONS
Takes a long time to process noticeably dirty water.

Lifestraw Mission – Best Gravity Portable Water Filter

The LifeStraw Mission is a great camping essential for accessing clean water everywhere and anywhere. It also has its own water reservoir for storing your unused filtered water. This is the ideal portable water filter for small group and family camping on our best portable water filter list.

Water Reservoir: The Mission includes a compact roll bag reservoir that is capable of storing clean and filtered water when not in use.  It is quite beneficial as it gives you access to clean water that you can bring anywhere without having the need to filter water every time.

The LifeStraw Mission’s water reservoir is available in either a 1.3 gallon (5-liters) or 3.1 gallon (12- liters). It is also relatively simple to use which features a strap which allows you to suspend the reservoir on a tree for easy access. Overall, A perfect feature to have on a portable water filter for family camping and other outdoor activities.

Long Lasting Filters: One of the strongest points of the LifeStraw Mission is the filter. The filter itself is great not only on the amount of contaminants it removes but also on how long it lasts. It is capable of providing clean water for up to 4,755 gallons (18,000 liters) which is amazing given that most common filters only have around 100-500 gallons on average.

Contaminants Removal:  It uses its own proprietary LifeStraw Mission water filter. It is independently lab tested (NSF/ANSI P231) to reduce and remove up to 99.9% of viruses (including rotavirus and Hepatitis A), 99% parasites (Giardia and Cryptosporidium) and as well as up to 99% of microplastics, dirt, sand and cloudiness.

In terms of filter performance, the LifeStraw Mission can filter up to 3.1 gallons of water per hour and has a decent flow rate of 2.4 to 3.4 gallons.

Lifespan and Cost: As discussed, each filter is capable of lasting up to 4,755 gallons before a replacement is needed. It cost around $65 for each LifeStraw Mission replacement filter.

PROS
+ Excellent Filter Performance
+ Incredibly Long lasting filters
+ Configurable water reservoir included
CONS
Expensive.
Leaking may occur.

Katadyn Vario – Best Pump Portable Water Filter

The Katadyn is another lightweight but portable water filter packed with unique features. It also has a unique filter system that comprises 3 different components working together. Overall, a good water filter that is worth considering.

Filter Modes: This is the first water filter to feature two filter modes. Katadyn Vario’s longer life and faster flow offers you different types of filtered water depending on your needs.

The longer life filter serves as the initial or default mode of the water filter. It first passes water through the ceramic pre-filter disc before moving to the other filter cartridges. If you set the water filter to the fast flow mode, the water flows directly to the cartridge.

Ceramic Pre-Filter Disc: Surprisingly, the Katadyn Vario includes a 1.0 micron ceramic pre-filter disc. It is quite effective at removing bacteria, viruses and other contaminants. What’s great about this filter is that it is reusable. Simply brush it with the included cleaning pad.

Contaminants Removal: Katadyn Vario uses a set of different components that work together to filter debris and contaminants. It consists of the filter cartridge, activated carbon core and a ceramic pre-filter disc. These components have been tested to meet industry standards for reducing contaminants.

It filters and removes up to 99.9% of bacterias like Klebsiella Terrigena and 99.9% of protozoan cysts such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. It also reduces chemicals and improves the taste and odor of the water. For long term use, Katadyn highly recommended to use it on the best water source available.

Lifespan and Cost: Each Katadyn Vario filter cartridges has a long lifespan of around 528 gallons (2,000 liters) while its activated carbon core is effective for 60 gallons (200 liters). The replacement packs for these filters cost around $52 and $15 respectively.

PROS
+ Ceramic Pre-Filter Disc Included.
+ Long Lifespan
+ Fine filtration that removes bacteria
CONS
Build Quality.
Expensive filter replacement costs./su_box]

Lifestraw Flex - Best Collapsible Water Filter

LifeStraw is arguably the best-known brand in the portable water filter industry and with good reason. Their products are super compact and easy to use.

Take the LifeStraw Flex. This is the kind of portable filter you can use in different ways.

Straw Filter: It works on its own as a straw-type filter that’s perfect for getting small sips of clean water. You can also use it as an inline filter together with the soft-touch water bottle if you want to have more water on hand.

Compatibility: You also have the option of switching from the straw to inline filter depending on what you need at the moment. Alternatively, the filter can also be paired with a plastic bottle or even a hydration bladder.

Contamination Removal: Regardless of how you decide to use this filter, it can take out substances such as chlorine, lead, and other heavy metals in the water. With a 0.2 micron rating, it filters 99.9999% bacteria and water-borne protozoa.

The straw itself is also so small that it should fit easily in your pocket.

Lifespan: The biggest downside to this portable water filter is that the carbon capsule it uses has to be replaced often. Each replacement carbon capsule is only good for processing around 26 gallons of water. A replacement carbon capsule costs around $12.

On the plus side, the item itself should remain usable for a year and a half.

PROS
+ Versatile water filter that can be used on its own or with a variety of containers.
+ Lasts for a year and a half.
+ Will fit easily into your pockets.
+ Great for taking quick sips of water.
CONS
Makes use of low-capacity carbon capsules.
Low lifespan filter of 26 gallons.

Seychelle Extreme - Best Popular Portable Water Filter

If you use water filters at home, then you may already be familiar with that unpleasant taste that can sometimes accompany the water they produce. The flavor may not be your primary concern when you’re drinking filtered water from a nearby spring, but it would still be nice if you could enjoy something more palatable.

Great Taste: Seychelle’s Extreme Water Filter Bottle excels at providing you with that pleasant-tasting water that you can gulp down with no issue.

Decent Size Bottle: Another advantage of using this portable filter is that it allows you to stock up on drinkable water. It can hold up to 28 ounces of water at a time. That should be more than enough to last you through a night of camping.

You do need to be careful whenever you’re taking a drink from this bottle. Tipping it too far or squeezing it too hard can cause the water to leak. If you’re not cautious while drinking, your precious water could end up on the ground.

Contaminants Removal: It uses a 0.2-micron filter that removes a wide variety of possible contaminants including bacteria, viruses, chlorine, cryptosporidium, and giardia.

Lifespan and Cost: There’s no need to worry about securing a replacement filter for this Seychelle offering right away. The original filter included will be usable for 100 gallons. Once you reach that point, you can purchase a replacement filter for $25 that will also be able to process up to another 100 gallons of water.

PROS
+ Produces great-tasting filtered water.
+ Capable of holding up to 27 ounces of water at a time.
+ Lightweight container.
CONS
Prone to leaking.
Expensive replacement filters.
Replace The Cons Here

Survival Filter - Best Squeeze Portable Water Filter

Survivor Filter’s product offering may not feature the same kind of longevity as the Sawyer creation, but you can still count on it remaining in service for an extended period of time.

Contaminants Removal: Bank on this portable filter eliminating numerous possible contaminants with it’s 0.05 micron filter including staph, giardia, and cryptosporidium.

Great Flow Rate: This is also not the kind of water filter that will keep you waiting. It has a flow rate of seven ounces per minute, so you should have no trouble quenching your thirst quickly.

Additional Canteen for Storage: You won’t be able to use this portable filter on its own as a drinking straw, but it connects easily enough to Survivor Filter’s Collapsible Canteens. Each canteen can hold up to 33 ounces of water.

Remember to avoid squeezing the canteen to hard when you are drinking from one. You could end up spilling water all over yourself if you grip the canteen too tightly.

Lifespan and cost: The original filter installed inside this product is rated for over 26,000 gallons. The replacement filter you can purchase for this product does not offer quite the same capacity, but it still processes over 260 gallons. The replacement filter is also priced very reasonably at $15.

Should there be issues with the Collapsible Canteens or if you just so happen to lose them during one of your camping trips, you can easily secure replacements. A two-pack of replacement Collapsible Canteens costs $13.

PROS
+ Original filter has a capacity of over 26,000 gallons.
+ Features a good flow rate.
+ Pairs with a 33-ounce canteen.
CONS
Applying excess pressure on the canteen can cause the filter to leak.

MoKo Filter - Best Budget Pump Portable Water Filter

Tested & approved by the TUV SUD Institute, the Moko Portable Water Filter is one of the known water filters that has met the highest standards raised by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Super Fast Flow Rate: Despite its small size, the Moko portable water filter is capable of producing clean water at a faster flow rate compared to others. It can reach up to 600ml (0.13 gallons) of water per minute.

Backwashing Feature: Moko also includes a Backwash MU filter that is used for cleaning and maintaining the other filters. This keeps the Moko filters safe to use and extends its lifespan for longer service.

Using the included backflushing device (in the form of a syringe), simply pump in clean water and the Backwash MU filter will do the rest.

Contaminants Removal:  Moko portable water filter uses its 3-stage system called ‘Triple Absolute Filtration’. It comprises different components including a coconut shell base and a 0.01 micron activated carbon ultra filter.

The Triple Absolute Filtration System is capable of eliminating up to 99.99% of contaminants including colibacillus, legionella, staphylococcus and more. It is also effective in getting rid of protists, organics, algaes and other waterborne contaminants. Furthermore, it also reduces chlorine thus improving taste and odor.

Lifespan and Cost: The Moko filter cartridges have a surprisingly long lifespan of around 660 gallons (3,000 liters) before a replacement is needed. Its long lasting feature is due to the included backwashing feature. Each filter replacement cost around $20 which is fairly reasonable given its amazing features.

PROS
+ Triple Absolute Filtration System.
+ Super Fast Flow Rate.
+ Incredibly long lasting filters
+ Filter Backwash Feature
CONS
Build Quality
Takes a long time to pump water

What Is A Portable Water Filter?

When you’re out in the wilderness, making sure that you have enough water to keep your body properly hydrated is crucial. You don’t want to suddenly collapse outdoors because you weren’t able to drink enough water.

The great thing about portable water filters is that they eliminate the need for you to bring bulky water containers. You can just go to a nearby body of water, use the filter, and after a short wait, you will have clean water for drinking.

The Different Types of Portable Water Filter

Although they all have the same purpose and functionality, many different kinds of portable water filters have been emerging for the past decade. Depending on your needs, it is great to know those when choosing the right filter. Below are some of the different types of portable water filter.

Straw Filters

Starting with the most popular and most compact portable water filters which are the straw filters. These consist of just a plastic pipe with the filters built in inside. It is quite easy and quick to use as well. Simply dip the straw in the unfiltered water source (like rivers or a jug with tap water) and sip directly.

The filtration system simply works right away as water passes through as you sip. Straw Filters also have their own disadvantages as well such as less thorough water filtering (some particles may still make it through), easy to clog and shorter lifespan. However, straw filters like Waterdrop have been seen with a long lifespan of around 100,000 gallons.

Bottle Filters

Bottle Filters are another type of portable water filters which functions similar to water filter pitchers. It consists of a bottle and a filter that is attached directly on the neck. An advantage found in bottle filters is that they are great at filtering heavy metals and viruses compared to the straw filter.

Of course, bottle filters also have its own disadvantages like its build quality (some are made of foldable plastic), and are much bulkier and may require more space when carrying it in your backpack. Overall, you get a water filter with great filtration performance at the cost of bulk size.

Gravity Filters

Another type of portable water filter that functions similar to a water filter pitcher. Gravity Filters consist of a container and a filter attached below. Utilizing gravity, the unfiltered water passes down through the filter.

However, there are some disadvantages that gravity filters have as well such as the slow filtration speed, and the likely contamination of your freshwater (occurs when filters are not sealed tightly). Gravity Filters are also required to be assembled which may not be a thing for some people.

Pump Filters

The most complex type of portable water filters. Pump filters consist of a hose and a tank for storing clean water. Once connected, you can start obtaining fresh water by vigorously pumping water from a water source. One of the biggest advantages of pump filters is that its filtration method may vary as it is capable enough to use filters with different purposes.

The downsides of using pump filters are quite noticeable as well includes vigorously pumping water in order to fill a small tank thus it can be laborious. Another downside is the storage capacity which some pump filters will only include a small tank which may not be enough for family consumption.

Why You Need a Portable Water Filter

When going on an outdoor trip like camping or hiking, it is very important to have access to healthy and clean water. So why do you need a portable water filter? While it is fairly easy to quench your hunger, you cannot function well without water.

Another reason is that most of these types of water filters are compact and easy to bring along on an outdoor trip. Portable water filters are also great at removing harmful elements found in untreated water. Here are some of the common examples of these contaminants and its effects.

  1. Giardia Lamblia - a virus that causes nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  2. E. Coli - it can cause fever, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
  3. Salmonella - Usually found in raw chicken and beef, it can also be found in untreated water. When contaminated, it usually leads to fever, diarrhea and muscle cramps when infected.
  4. Hepatitis A - A common virus that shows symptoms after 28 days of contamination. Symptoms include nausea, stomach pain, fever and jaundice.
  5. Legionella Pneumonia - A bacteria that is the common culprit of the Legionnaires’ disease. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and cough. If untreated may result in death.

How Portable Water Filters Work

Although all types of portable water filters have similar goals that is to remove and filter contaminants from the water, they all do it in their own unique ways that differ from each other. Below are the types of portable water filters and how they work in order to provide clean water.

Straw Filters - Straw Filters work by sipping the water through the plastic pipe. The water quickly passes through different filter media before being consumed by the user.

Bottle Filters - Bottle filters work by first placing water inside the bottle with untreated water. As you sip, the water will pass through the center filter attached to the neck of the bottle, filtering contaminants so when the water hits your mouth, it is already clean.

Gravity Filters - As exactly as they sound, gravity filters use the force of gravity to push the water as it filters contaminants from the water. The untreated water is stored on a water reservoir and when it is needed, it passes through a water hose with a filter attached.

Pump Filters - Pump Filters require effort from the user in order to achieve clean water. The user forces the water through the filter by pumping. The clean water is then transferred onto a small storage tank.

How To Pick A Portable Water Filter?

Included below are five of the main factors you need to check before deciding whether or not you should purchase a specific portable filter. Taking the following factors into consideration should make it easier for you to find the best portable water filter.

Type

There are several types of portable water filters, but the ones you’ll likely encounter most are gravity, pump, squeeze, and straw-style filters.

Gravity filters are great because you don’t have to do that much work, but they can be slow. Pump filters will enable you to draw water even from shallower sources, but they tend to become tougher to work with as they age.

Squeeze filters are remarkably versatile, but many of them have to be paired with separate containers. The straw-style filters are very compact, but they aren’t ideal for producing a large amount of clean water.

Speed

To get an idea of how quickly the filter can provide clean water, you should take a look at its flow rate. The filters with higher flow rates are best if you want your thirst addressed as quickly as possible.

Contaminants Eliminated

Portable water filters that eliminate as many contaminants as possible would obviously be best, but at the very least, look for ones that specifically target cryptosporidium and giardia. These are parasites that can cause diarrhea and must be avoided at all costs when you’re outdoors.

Longevity

Check to see how many gallons of water the filter can handle before it needs to be replaced. You will be able to find filters that can process so much water that they should essentially last for a long time. You don’t necessarily have to aim for that, but filters that can go through 200 gallons of water are good to have.

If it’s a straw-style filter that you’re considering getting, you don’t have to worry as much about how many gallons it can process since they only work on small amounts of water whenever they’re used.

Ease of Use

The portable water filter should be your ally outdoors and not your enemy. If it takes a lot of energy to get the filter set up, it may not be worth using. Pick one up that you can use easily so that you can get water on demand.

FAQ For Portable Water Filter

How to tell if a portable water filter needs to be replaced?

Although many portable water filters can last for a reasonable amount of time, there are visual cues as to tell you that it is time to change it. These visual cues include unpleasant taste or smell coming out of the water and clogged filter that causes a decrease in water pressure.

What do portable water filters remove from the water?

Portable water filters remove some of the most common contaminants that are usually found in untreated water sources and are harmful when consumed. These include viruses (E.Coli, rotavirus, Hepatitis A, etc.), parasites (Giardia and Cryptosporidium), sediments (dirt and microplastics), heavy metals (lead and mercury) and more.

Should you wash your portable water filter?

Most portable water filters can be washed after use and may extend their run in terms of efficiency. Some portable water filters include a backwashing feature which involves flushing water through the media in order to clean out the filters and become usable again.

How and how often do you clean your portable water filter?

It is suggested by many manufacturers to clean your water filter every 6 months but this entirely depends on how often and how much water you use. In the case of portable water filters, it is great to clean it once after every use since it is usually exposed to outdoor elements which may contaminate the water if not cleaned.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, the product reviews and additional details listed above will help you find the best portable water filter for your needs. You never know what may happen outdoors, so having a portable water filter on hand at all times is very important.

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