10 Best Water Filters Tested and Fully Reviewed
Water filter systems and bottles are a safe way to make sure we have water that does not contain harmful bacteria when drinking from a river, stream, or lake. It removes the need to have to boil water, which can be time-consuming and requires setting up camp.
Not every source of water has bacteria and viruses, just like how not every clear source is clean. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry. More than for just using when hiking or camping, portable water filter systems are great for ultra marathons and other endurance races, as well as when fishing, boating, and for emergency and survival circumstances.
- PLATYPUS GravityWorks 4.0
- GRAYL Ultralight
- Katadyn BeFree
- LifeStraw Family 1.0
- Aquaovo Alter Ego Frio
- MSR Guardian Purifier
- LifeStraw Go
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Water Filters
1. 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.
Drink directly from the source or save for later
Clean water instantly
Compact, portable and packable
Need to buy canteen bags separately
Eliminating the need to boil water when out in the wildness, this option uses a triple filtration system to make sure the water is contaminant free. This includes its cotton pre-filter, an ultrafilter, and carbon filter. Once the water is purified, the consumer can drink right from it since it has a special mouthpiece and an integrated cap to keep the mouthpiece clean.Read more
This water filter has a three-stage filtration system that removes 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, and staph, while also reducing heavy metals and meets EPA standards. The cartridge includes a cotton pre-filter as its first line of defense to remove particles. Stage 2 is its 0.05-micron ultrafilter to get rid of things like Giardia and E.Coli. Lastly is the stage 3 carbon filter that reduces the heavy metal while improving the taste or the water.
The Survivor Filter is designed to be able to drink directly from the water source. Acting like a straw, the user puts their mouth on the mouthpiece has the cartridge filters the water. It can be attached a water bottle of the collapsible canteen to drink later.
This filter lasts up to 100,000 liters before needing to be replaced. Since consumer can drink right away from the source, it is convenient and works fast. It’s a great option for solo hikes or trail runs, as well as for when camping or backpacking with groups. It’s available for an affordable price, so consumers can decide to also purchase its Squeeze Kit with Canteens or replacement filters.
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 it 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 idea for when running on the trails next to bodies of water. However, it doesn’t store a lot of water, and the water need 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 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 a 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 country.
Compact, lightweight and portable
Can drink right from the source
Accessories included to drink water from a distance for 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. Aquaovo Alter Ego Frio
Filters bacteria, virus, fluoride, heavy metals
Great design and versatile for every day and hiking trips
Keeps water cold
Cap is bulky
Have to sip hard to drink
Filtering tap, lake and river water, this is a great option for taking for that backpacking climb through the mountainside or that Ultra race, as well as for everyday use. It removes 99.9 percent of water containment, as well as fluoride. The best part is this stainless steel, portable water bottle keeps water cold all day, or steaming hot for up to 10 hours. It is versatile so coffee and tea can be drank from it as well.Read more
The Alter Ego Frio features a filter cartridge that sterilizes and removes 99.99 percent of water contaminates, as well as a straw filtration technology to assure the water is pure. This includes viruses and bacteria including Giardia and Criptosporidium, as well as chlorine, heavy metals like cooper and lead, and agricultural run-off waste. Its multi-patented filtration technology is EPA and ANSI certified and meets NSR standards. And its effectiveness has been lab tested and proven for more than 10 years.
This filter option consists of a vacuum insulated stainless steel bottle that has a patented straw filtration system. It holds up to 21 oz. of water, and has a sleek design and comes in a matte black color with the company’s trendy logo.
Filtering 99.99 percent of containments instantly from rivers, lakes and tap water, this is an eco-friendly option that can be used by both urban dwellers and backcountry folk.
The filter lifetime varies based on the water quality used, but it will have for about 200 gallons before needing a replacement. The filter will clog at the end of its lifetime.
It is a bit pricey for a water bottle, but has a long shelf life, is versatile and effective. It keeps ice water cold and tea or coffee warm, and is easy to clean.
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 fit 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 Purifier
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 company’s award-winnings technology, a hollow fiber membrane, which removes bacteria and protozoa. Then there is 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 carabinieri 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.
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 in 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.
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. Many on this list can filter up to 1000 liters of water before needing a replacement filter.
A: Any of these options on the list will filter water from a lake, stream or pond. Read the product instructions on how to use. Some can drink directly from the source, while other need to hang upright to filter and take more time.
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.
A: This varies on the consumers, but lightweight, compact options are ideal for solo or short adventures.
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.
- Camping Health and Safety Tips, Health Organization Website, Jun 09, 2015 ,
- How to Choose a Water Filter or Purifier, Outdoor Gear Website, ,
- A Guide to Water Filters, Health Organization Website, Apr 03, 2015 ,
- Healthy Swimming, Health Organization Website, May 04, 2016 ,
- How To Find And Purify Drinking Water In The Wilderness, Informational Tech Website, May 23, 2014 ,
- Parasites - Giardia, Health Organization Website, Jul 22, 2015 ,
- Parasites - Cryptosporidium (also known as , Health Organization Website, Jan 12, 2017 ,
- What is the Difference between Water Filters, Water Purifiers and Water Softeners?, Water Filter Manufactuer Website, ,