The 5 Best Water Filters for Backpacking

Yeah, we know you’ve seen these movies. Those characters, when stuck in the wild, drink directly from rivers and streams. Here’s the thing, though: in real life, it’s not as simple as that. 

Bacteria, parasites, and even viruses all present serious dangers to your health. Proper water treatment is critical to enjoying your backpacking trip. 

Now, with all the varieties of water filters, things can become a bit complicated. Tune in, because we’re going to be exploring some of the best water filters for backpacking.

It’s Here! Our Top Five Picks

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It’s perfectly understandable if you’re a bit lost. Types, methods, and equipment vary. You just want to get clean water, don’t you? Well, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Here are some of our favorite picks. 

MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter

This water filter doesn’t waste any time. It’s all about efficiency. It pumps at a rate of one liter per minute. This is in addition to the fact that it could be cleaned at any time with zero tools.

The carbon core also helps a ton when it comes to taste. It removes any unpleasant odors and tastes caused by organic compounds, like iodine, pesticides, and chlorine.

What We Like:

  • Has a flow rate of one liter per minute
  • Easy to maintain
  • Compact

What We Don’t Like:

GRAYL Geopress 24 oz Water Purifier for Global Travel, Backpacking, Hiking, and Survival

Water filters battle bacteria and protozoa. However, they can’t fight viruses. This is where water purifiers come in. 

Water purifiers fight pathogens. Use this with any water source, and you’ll get clean water. It won’t take any time either. This water purifier is able to purify 24 oz in eight seconds. It also requires no pumping, no hoses, no chemicals, and no batteries. 

It’s extremely practical as well. Skim along any water source, and fill your water purifier. Then, press your weight onto SoftPress Comfort Pads to power purification. And now what? Well, now you drink. 

What We Like:

  • Eliminates viruses, along with bacteria and protozoa
  • Requires no pumping
  • Has a rate of 5 liters per minute

What We Don’t Like:

  • It may be difficult to take apart the unit for some users 

Platypus GravityWorks 4.0 Liter High-Capacity Water Filter System for Group Camping and Emergency Preparedness

With this water filter, you’ll need no pumping. All you have to do is run your filter along the surface of the water, filling up the reservoir. Follow up by connecting the hose to the filter. Hold up the bag, or dangle it from a branch, or even put it on a rock. Release the clamps, and watch this filter work its magic. 

The really impressive thing about this water filter is the flow rate. It gets the job done in two and a half minutes. Sure, it needs constant backflushing to keep a pretty good flow, but it’s fast.

It doesn’t cut back on size, either. It has a 4-liter reservoir, which is perfect for going backpacking with groups. 

What We Like: 

  • Features a 4-liter dirty water reservoir
  • Has a flow rate of 1.75 liters/minutes
  • No pumping needed

What We Don’t Like:

  • You need a reliable water source to fill the reservoir 

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

So you’re on a budget? Then gather around! This LifeStraw water filter is a perfectly affordable option that will have you drinking clean water in no time. 

Forget about iodine, chlorine, or any other chemicals. It’s able to filter up to 1000 liters of contaminated water with zero hurdles. 

There’s no need for pumping. There’s no need for batteries. All you need is a reliable water source and your hands. Then, you’ll enjoy transforming 4,000 litres of contaminated water into clean drinking water. 

What We Like:

  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Surpasses EPA filter standards

What We Don’t Like:

  • It doesn’t produce significant amounts of clean drinking water

 Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter

You won’t have to worry much about your health when using the Hiker Pro. Its 0.2-micron filter helps eliminate harmful organisms like Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

But that’s not all when it comes to this 11-oz water filter. There’s also the activated-carbon in its core. This activated-carbon doesn’t only improve the taste of your water, but also reduces chemicals by a significant amount.

All you have to do is to stop by a river or by a stream. Get your pump-action going, and you’ll be on your way with drinking water in mere minutes. 

What We Like:

  • Features the 0.2-micron filter
  • Can access water in hard-to-reach areas
  • Lightweight and portable

What We Don’t Like:

  • The pump-action might be too rigorous for some

All About Water Filtration 

Filtering water has been an important part of our lives for centuries. Persian engineer Muhammad Al-Karaji wrote about the water filtration process in the 10th century. Since then, the process has evolved.

The methods, too, have evolved. Maybe they didn’t remove any of the significant microbes, but they provided a significant start. In early Greece, Hippocrates experimented with water purification. His introduction of the Hippocrates’ Sleeve was the result. 

With the methods wide and varied, you’ve probably got some questions on your mind. Wondering about the difference between water filters and water purifiers? We’ve got you.

Water Filter vs. Water Purifier

The main thing that differentiates between water filters and water purifiers is viruses. Water purifiers can eliminate viruses from drinking water, while water filters can’t.

This is why so many people prefer water purifiers. They resist all pathogens: bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Meanwhile, water filters only battle bacteria and protozoa. 

Wondering why? Well, viruses are just too small. They can easily slip through the insufficient technology of water filters. Think of it this way: you’re trying to catch a very small fish. If you use a fishing net with wide spaces in-between, what do you think will happen? It’ll fly right through, won’t it?

In these cases, many people decide to go the traditional way. Boiling is an age-old method of getting rid of bacteria that many people use. Employing UV lights and chemical treatments are also classic methods. 

Do You Need a Water Filter?

For you, a water purifier may seem like a safer option. But in the end, it depends on where you’re going.

Are you going backpacking in a place where there isn’t a huge concentration of humans? Maybe you have a remote destination. In this case, a water filter is sufficient.

This is because, in these areas where human traffic is low, viruses aren’t a major threat. What you want to protect yourself from are bacteria and protozoa. Viruses are usually present in water as a result of human waste. It’s safe to say that in areas where there are less humans, there’s going to be less human waste. Naturally, you can expect fewer viruses.

When you’re picking a microfilter, it’s important to check that it’s compatible with your needs. A lot of microfilters only work on removing organic compounds from water, which also reduces any undesirable tastes. These filters are meant to be used with tap waters, not natural water resources.

Try to look for a microfilter that’s made for trekking through the backcountry. These micro filters are usually marked by their ability to eliminate 0.2 microns. They should also be able to meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

Do You Need a Water Purifier?

Alright, so say you’re going to a less-developed country. Maybe it’s a place where human traffic is high, and the hygiene isn’t exactly top-notch. You want to make up for that inadequate sanitation by buying a good quality purifier.

Viruses like Hepatitis A are common in less-developed countries, especially in areas where water treatment isn’t emphasized. Norovirus is also a common threat. In these cases, water purifiers are needed.

You could also use a microfilter, but you’d need a purifying agent to go with it. Chemical tablets, in such cases, are needed. 


Hey, water is important. You need eight glasses of it per day. Water filters are going to make sure that you’re drinking more than enough when you’re out in the wild.

There are a lot of good options out there. One of them is GRAYL Geopress 24 oz Water Purifier for Global Travel, Backpacking, Hiking, and Survival. This water filter would be a good option for you if you have the money to spare. It requires no pumping, no prolonged waiting, and no batteries. Just you, your hands, and a water source.

If you’re on a budget, don’t worry. You don’t have to go over it. There are a lot of affordable options out there, like the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. This water filter, which surpasses EPA standards, is super-portable and lightweight. It won’t keep you waiting too long on your water either.

Start by finding a nice stream. Get your action going. Drink up. You can thank us later.

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