10 Best Water Filters Tested and Fully Reviewed
Water is essential to staying hydrated and it’s necessary to always have some readily available. Whether you are hiking, running or camping in the great outdoors, it is important you always have access to clean water —after all, you do need it to stay hydrated. Regardless of the weather or environment, you find yourself in, you can’t assume that all bodies of water you encounter are safe to drink, which is why learning about the best water filters is important.
Check out our list of the best water filters below!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Purifies your water, doesn't just filter it
Gets rid of 99.999% of bacteria and viruses
Can be taken anywhere
Compatible with your water bottle
Easy to use
Perfect for international travel, camping, and emergencies
- Renovo MUV Survivalist
- PLATYPUS GravityWorks 4.0
- GRAYL Ultralight
- Katadyn BeFree
- LifeStraw Family 1.0
- Aqua Vessel
- MSR Guardian
- LifeStraw Go
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Water Filters
1. Renovo MUV Survivalist
Purifies your water, doesn't just filter it
Gets rid of 99.999% of bacteria and viruses
Can be taken anywhere
Compatible with your water bottle
Easy to use
Perfect for international travel, camping, and emergencies
Need to buy the water bottle separately
If you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for a hardcore water filter, then this one just may be the one for you. It comes with additional accessories that you will find beneficial and it is sure to leave your water filtered and safe to drink, no matter where you running, hiking, or camping.Read more
This one is designed to filter out 99.999% of the following as well as protect you from drinking harmful chemicals and heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, E-Colim Cysts, and Giardia, Cryptosporidium. It isn't just a water filter--it is a water purifier--so you can be sure that the water you are drinking is safe. It comes with 3 different filters that can be used individually or all stacked together and used in unison--it just depends on the water you are filtering. You can use this one as a straw or a gravity system. You can attach it to the gravity bag or a water bottle which will have to buy separately. This one gives you the most filtering options and will purify your water, not just filter you.
This one comes with three different filters so you can choose its "strength." It can be used as a straw or in combination with a gravity bag or certain water bottles. It is lightweight and can be taken anywhere.
This one is expensive but it's worth it given that it comes with 3 filters--an activated carbon fiber filter, a micron hollow fiber filter, and a Nanalum virus filter. This allows it to purify your water from bacteria and viruses and allows you to use it anywhere. If you find yourself outdoors and need something to make almost all water drinkable, then this one is a great investment. It isn't something for everyday use but is also a great one to have in case of emergencies--even if you aren't always in other countries or hiking your favorite remote trails.
2. PLATYPUS GravityWorks 4.0
Holds 4 liters of clean water
Easy to use
Holes can form in bags
Filter can freeze in colder temperature and not work
This is a great option for families camping or for groups backpacking. It contacts of a 4-liter dirty water reservoir and a 4-liter clean water reservoir, shutoff clamp, a hollow-fiber microfilter, hoses, and storage sack. It is extremely fast for filtering larger quantities of water, doesn’t require any pumping and packed up small to make it very portable. It removes 99.99 percent of bacteria and protozoa and requires little maintenance.Read more
Filtering water extremely fast in just 2.5 minutes, this option eliminates bacteria and protozoa sic as E.Coli, cholera, and salmonella from being in the water. The consumer fills water in one bag and attaches the hose to the clean bag, and its tech does the work. It’s equipped with a hollow-fiber water filter that does the magic, which is effective down to 0.2 microns.
Because of its design, consumers don’t need to bring along a separate container or bucket for clean water. The system consists of a 4-liter dirty water reservoir, 4-liter clean water reservoir, hollow-fiber microfilter, hoses, shutoff clamp, and storage sack. The bags don’t need to hang from a tree in order to work.
The filter cleans 1,500 liters of water before needing to be replaced. This is a more pricey option, but it is extremely packable, easy to use and can store a whole lot of water. It doesn’t remove viruses from the water, so not ideal for traveling out of the country. However, this is a great option for mountain summits in groups.
3. GRAYL Ultralight
Both a filter and purifier, removing viruses, bacteria, protozoa, chemicals, heavy metal and particulates
Cleans water in 15 seconds with one push
Packable and portable
Transparent design to see the water
The company donates 1% of sale to environmental nonprofits
Doesn’t remove fluoride
Needs lots of force to push down
Ideal for outdoor adventures and emergency situations, this is one of the easiest and best water filters to use. All the consumer has to do it fill the bottle, press down, and then they can drink the purified water right away in just 15 seconds. No more pumping, or squeezing, and this filter quickly removes 99.99 percent of bacteria, viruses, and protozoan cysts, while also eliminating chemicals and heavy metals. As a result, there is clean, fresh tasting water without aftertaste and odor.Read more
It takes a speedy 15 seconds (2 liters per minute) to filter the water with one press. This option uses both (its patented) filtration and purification technology to clean the water. It’s electroabsorbative media acts as a magnet to trap the sub-micron to remove pathogens. Then its activated carbon filters away other chemicals and heavy metals including pharmaceuticals. Lastly, silver treated zeolites help to keep things fresh in between uses. The consumer just fills the bottle part and pushes the top filter part down to drink. One cartridge has the lifespan of 300 uses or 40 gallons.
The GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier + Bottle has a transparent design so that consumers can see the clean water. There is an attachment loop so that it can clip onto a backpack or side pocket. It consists of the outer refill, the inner press that features the replaceable purifier cartridge and a loop cap. It also available in a few color options.
Just one cartridge takes the place of 300 single-use water bottles. Each cartridge lasts 300 uses (40 gals / 150 L), so it will last long before needing a refill. It is designed, and the purifier media is made in the U.S., and it has a 10-year warranty. For removing both bacteria and viruses, this a great buy.
4. Katadyn BeFree
Clean water instantly
Packable and lightweight for runners
Easy to use, easy to clean
Not as durable
Can’t store significant amounts of water
This is an option made for trail runners who are all about ultra-marathon races. It's super lightweight and small enough to be rolled up to fit in a pant pocket or running belt. It only purifies 20 ounces of water at a time but kills 99.99 percent of bacteria and protozoa like Giardia.Read more
Consumers just have to fill the hydra flask with the dirty water and the filtration system called its “EZ-Clean Membrane” does the rest. The consumer can then drink directly from the mouthpiece. It removes bacteria, protozoa and other particulate found in water. However, it does not remove viruses. Just make sure to clean the membrane by shaking or swishing the filter to make sure there is no debris.
This product includes a plastic flask bottom, along with a wide mouth that screws on top that is attached to the filter cartridge. When not in use, the BeFree water bottle can be rolled up to fit compactly in a pocket, vest or bag. This makes it ideal for when running on the trails next to bodies of water. However, it doesn’t store a lot of water, and the water needs to be deep enough to be able to fill the flask.
The filter has a shelf life of 1000 liters, which makes it a great buy for solo runners or hikers. It is easy to use, portable and provides clean water in seconds. It might not be as durable as other options because of its flask bag, but it will hold up without any tears if properly cared for.
5. LifeStraw Family 1.0
Removes waterborne viruses
Easy to use
Lots of water is cleaned, ideal for larger groups or families
Not the best tasting water
Doesn’t remove heavy metals
Eliminating both bacteria and viruses, as well as protozoan cysts from water sources, this water filter is made to clean enough water for a family when camping, backpacking, when traveling out of the country, or for in case of emergencies. It filters and purifies 4755 gallons without iodine, chlorine or other chemicals.Read more
This system meets EPA guidelines and is popular among used my millions. This a gravity filter, and it works by using its 0.02 micron ultrafiltration technology to get rid of the harmful microorganisms. The consumer fills the blue reservoir bucket with the dirty or questionable water, and leave to hang at head level. The water flows through a PVC hose to the hollow fiber membrane cartridge. There is a red rap to the end of the hose that releases contaminated water, and a blue tap for releasing safe water. It has a flow rate of 3.2 gallons per minute.
As mentioned above, this is a gravity filter meaning it contains a reservoir bucket, hose with filter and the tap. It has straps on the reservoir to hang to a tree, is small enough for putting in a backpack, and the nozzle sits nicely on a pitcher to fill with water easily.
Not only is the water filters, but also purified to be rid of viruses like Rotavirus and Hepatitis A. That makes it a great option for those going on long trips in the backcountry, or out of the country.
Compact, lightweight and portable
Can drink right from the source
Accessories for drinking water from a distance or collect water for later
Compatible with hydration packs
Does not protect against viruses
Perfect for hiking, camping or in case of a natural disaster, this portable water makes having access to clean water possible anywhere. It has a three-step purification process to get rid of bacteria, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Lightweight and portable, it can clip on to a backpack or belt loop when trekking through the wilderness. A great survival gear option, it has an extension to drink at safe distance from the water source, has a 16-ounce pouch for storing water when climbing that mountain, but the consumer can also safely drink right from the source.Read more
This filtration system gets rid of 99.99 percent of bacteria like cholera and salmonella, as well as 99.99 percent of protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium, and heavy metals, chlorine and VOC organic containments. Its three-stage line of defense includes a pre-filter that removes things like rust and worms, a carbon filter to remove chlorine and heavy metals and a micron hollow fiber UF membrane to eliminate waterborne bacteria and other organic compounds. It meets EPA water quality standards, and its pouch meets FDA standards.
This option is designed like a tube, with its three-stage filter located inside. It can be used directly from the water source, the filter removing all harmful containments before the water reaches the mouth. It can also be attached to any standard water bottle. It also comes with accessories that include a foldable water pouch that has a carabineer for attaching to a backpack, and an extension tube for drinking far away from the source.
This filter provides up to 1500 liters (400 gallons) of drinking water, making it work longer than other filters of the same kind. It also includes a backwash device to keep the filter clean, to avoid cogs from happening and damaging the filter. It’s available for an affordable price and meets all safe drinking water standards, making it the best option for those making sure to stay hydrated when on the trail.
7. Aqua Vessel
Can filter over 100 gallons of water
Filters 99.9% of Giardia and Cryptosporidium
Comes in several colors to choose from
Lasts 500 uses so you may not want to use it all day every day if you want to make it last for your hiking trips or trail runs.
The Aqua Vessel filtration water bottle is lightweight, easy to carry, and comes in lots of colors selections to choose from. It is easy to use and made of BPA free plastic--and it's also easy to clean and is dishwasher safe!Read more
This water bottle can hold 25 ounces of water and is perfect to take anywhere with you--whether it is running, hiking, camping, or for everyday use. The water bottle's filter will get rid of 99.9% of Giardia and Cryptosporidium while also improving the taste of your water and preventing any odor from accumulating. It can filter over 100 gallons of water before you have to replace it so this one is a great pick if you want something that is long-lasting.
This bottle is made of BPA free plastic and comes with an additional straw when you purchase it. The internal filter is capable of filtering properly and it comes in several colors to choose from.
This water filter is really effective and can filter over 100 gallons of water so this one comes at a great price--given that this one will filter will last you up to 500 uses.
Travel-size, lightweight and compact
Can drink water right from the source
Doesn’t eliminate viruses or heavy metals
May leak when attacked to a bottle
Must really suck through straw
Ultra-light, compact and convenient, this option is great for hiking, camping and overall preparedness for any situation. It includes a cleaning plunger that uses micron filtering technology to remove 99.9 percent of bacteria and all protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium from water sources. It has a 16-ounce reusable pouch and a personal drinking straw. Consumers can drink right from the pouch, pour the water into a bottle to share, or add to a hydration pack (part sold separately).Read more
The Sawyer Mini consists of a filter that fits inside the palm of the consumer’s hand. It is a 0.1 micron hollow fiber membrane inline filter that uses absolute icon filtering technology to clean the water. It works by allowing water to enter through the pores of its “U” shaped design so that it is close to impossible for bacteria, cysts, and other organisms to pass through. It does not get rid of viruses, chemicals or dissolved solids.
Small and compact, this water filter weighs on 2 ounces. It is designed to be able to drink directly from the water source with its straw, can screw onto a bottle, or use with its reusable squeeze pouch to then pour into a larger water bottle.
Available for an affordable price, this is the best option for those who want to be prepared while still being able to travel light. Great for runners for long distances on the rails for when camping, it can fit into a pocket and still removes 99.99 percent of harmful bacteria. It filters up to 100,000 gallons before being to be replaced.
9. MSR Guardian
Self-cleaning and easy to use
Effective at killing both bacteria and viruses
The best when traveling to third world countries
Heavy to bring for solo trips
This is a military-grade water purifier that eliminated bacteria and viruses from any water source. This is a pump option that treats up to 10,000 liters of water, pumping at 2.5 liters per minute. Not only is it fast, but it is also efficient, and self-cleans after each use.Read more
This purifier treats water for even the smallest waterborne threats, meeting NSP testing standards. Called the “world’s most advanced backcountry purifier” (by the company), this system has an advanced hollow fiber filter to get rid of bacteria, viruses, protozoa and particulate. It works extremely fast, with a flow rate of 2.5 liters per min. It also has a self-cleaning system that back-flushes the filter with each pump. Keep in mind that the consumer has to actually pump for this purifier to work.
This pump includes its main body that is equipped with its hollow fiber filter, as well as a hose and handles for pumping. While it is easy to use and performs extremely well, it is on the heavy size with a weight of 22 ounces.
Its cartridge has a life of over 10,000 liters of water. It is durable, and ideal for when backpacking outside of the country. However, it does retail for $350, which is a lot to pay for a filter. Then again, there can be a hefty price tag on clean water when traveling to places where its likely to get sick from a waterborne disease.
10. LifeStraw Go
Great for campers and hikers looking to drink for fresh streams
Double filter system
Does not remove viruses, chemicals, or heavy metals
Not dishwasher safe
At the heart of this product is the filter straw, which removes E.coli and other harmful waterborne bacteria from the water. Packaged with a leak-proof BPA-free bottle, this is a to-go option that is makes drinking from a pond or stream possible when hiking or exploring outdoors.Read more
This is one of the easiest options to use. Just stop at the water source, fill the bottle, screw the lid and drink. The water gets filtered first through the company’s award-winning technology, a hollow fiber membrane, which removes bacteria and protozoa. Then there is also a second line of defense; the replaceable activated carbon capsule that reduces chlorine. The fiber membrane filters up to 1,000 liters of water.
This option allows consumers to drink safe and clean water right from the stream or pond It can hold 23-ounces of water, and is made of durable BPA-free Tritan with leak-proof technology. It is portable, being lightweight and has a carabinier to attach to a backpack.
LifeStraw does not use iodine or iodinated resin chemicals to treat the water, so there is no aftertaste. It is easy to carry and functions well thanks to its flip-top mouthpiece. It meets the EPA standards, so consumers can trust the water is safely being filtered to be able to drink. Simply replace the filter when it’s time, but this is a great way to stay hydrated when on the trails and even at home.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It is extremely important that all the water filters on this list do exactly what they are meant to do—and do it well. That’s because harmful bacterial and waterborne viruses can make you extremely ill.
How well does this product work at making the stream, lake, and river water safe for human consumption? Does it filter or purify the water or both? What percentage of heavy metals is removed? How does the filter process work? Does it remove fluoride, and does it add healthy minerals back into the water?
How well does this option filter or purify the water? Is there a “chemical” taste, or does the water taste “clean”? Does it remove odors? These are the questions we asked when picking the best water filters.
Those taking the water filter for backpacking trips want an option that can easily be folded or stored without taking up too much room. Runners need an even smaller and lighter option. How lightweight a water filter is in important for those who want it on hand when in the wilderness.
You will also find that some of the selections on our list functions as straws. These are great to have if you find yourself backpacking, camping, or even in other countries. It gives you the option to just go up to the water and drink it straight through the straw. These are typically also compatible with water bottles and gravity bags so if you want to take some with you, then you can still use the straw. The straws typically can also function as water purifiers--which makes them perfect for those of you who will need to find water in a place where it may be contaminated with viruses or bacteria that can make you really ill.
How easy is the filter to use? It might require pumping the water manually, or might do all the work itself. Consider if the filter is going to be used for just the consumer or for multiple people to determine the kind that best suits the consumer’s needs.
There are two different products that clean water: water filters and water purifiers. These are not one and the same, although some water filters also purify. Each is designed to treat the water in different ways, mainly to get rid of different microorganisms and pathogens.
Filters eliminate bacteria like E. coli, as well as protozoan cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium. Water filters also remove or reduce other impurities in the water like mercury, lead cooper and more.
Water purifiers eliminate both bacteria and viruses such as hepatitis A and norovirus. That backpacking outside of the U.S. would want a water purifier over a filter for this reason. Purifiers don’t eliminate chemical contaminants, so it’s best to find an option that does both.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
The difference is in the type of protection you're looking for. A filter is somewhat limited in that it will filter waterborne bacteria and protozoa, whereas the purifier will filter those classes as well as viruses. It all depends on what you'd like to do and where you're planning to go.
Filter life is an important thing to keep track of. You will want to change it on time and make sure you don't use it longer than recommended by the manufacturer--especially those like the survivalist, which are designed to deal with more viruses and bacteria than the filters alone. Make sure to replace it on time if you want to keep it working properly.
Other Factors to Consider
Water from a well, river, lake or stream might look clean, but that doesn’t make it safe to drink. These sources of water can contain parasites and bacteria that are unseen to the naked eye.
A general rule of thumb is to never drink from the stagnant water. If animals have access to the water, don’t drink it without first cleaning it because of the potential of fecal matter contaminating the supply.
Keep in mind that people can only live a day or two without water so if it means dehydrating or the risk of getting sick from the water, drink the water. It’s best to drink from flowing water instead of stagnant bodies of water, or from rainwater or snow/ice.
The two most common causes of recreational water illnesses are caused by parasites giardia and cryptosporidium.
Giardia is found in water contaminated with fecal matter from infected animals or humans. It causes an illness after drinking infected water, with symptoms like stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea lasting for up to two weeks.
Cryptosporidium is another parasite that causes a diarrhea disease and could lead to a life-threatening condition. Fever, weight loss, and stomach pain are some of the symptoms, which can also last one to two weeks.
Just remember these aren’t the only two waterborne illness. Other contaminants include E.coli, salmonella, and more.
There are many different types of water filters and purifiers. These include bottle, squeeze, straw-style, gravity, pump, and ultraviolet (UV) filters. Each has their pros and cons.
There are also different technologies that filter water. This include activated carbon, ion exchange, and hollow fiber. Activated carbon and ion exchange methods do not protect against viruses but do make tap water suitable for consumption.
Hollow fiber does eliminate protozoa and bacteria, but not viruses and does not reduce chemicals.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: This varies among products. Our list contains some that can only handle 100 gallons of water while others can handle so much more than that. It really just depends on which one you go with and your final decision should be based on what you need. If you only need a filter every so often, then you will probably want to go with the more affordable water bottle versions. However, if you want something that is more hardcore or that will at least last longer then you will need to pay a little more money.
Overall, you will find this varies--but they all typically filter a minimum of about 100 gallons, at least the best ones do.
A: All of the water filters on our list can effectively filter out water in a lot of places--and typically your local lake, stream, or pond is included here. However, if you aren't sure of the water quality of the area you live in, or if you're traveling internationally, you will want to pick one other selection that is also capable of purifying your water. These sometimes come with more than one filter so you can use just one or all of them. Overall, it is important that you read the product instructions on your filter to make sure you know what your filter can handle and make sure that you are using it the right place.
To summarize, most of these can filter water while hiking but we will no go as far as to say that they can handle any body of water on all hikes--that would be a stretch.
A: It’s smart to bring water with you when hiking, especially on an unfamiliar trail. Water can be found from natural springs, rivers, lakes or ponds. However, never drink from the water without filtering.
Also, keep in mind that if you are traveling internationally or remotely then you need to make sure the filter you bring is capable of actually purifying as well. The filters on our list are great, but all of them meet different needs.
A: This varies on the consumers, but lightweight, compact options are ideal for solo or short adventures. However, if you are going on longer climbs or hikes then you will want to be able to carry more. You will find some of the options are list are compatible with gravity packs and hydration packs. While most people want to make sure they pack light, it is also important to have enough water. If you know the trail well then you can plan just how much ahead, however, if you don't then you will want to make sure you bring a little extra just in case.
A: The company that makes the water filler or purifier sells the replacement filters. They might also be found elsewhere like (online) retailers that also sell that company’s products. Make sure to know about how long your filters are designed to last so you can make sure to order them on time--especially if you know you will need them sometime soon. It's important to always use an up to date filter so you know it is working effectively--it is important to remember that their effect does diminish and when it is time to change them it is important that you do so if you want to continue using it.
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