10 Best Water Filters Tested and Fully Reviewed
Staying hydrated is important when working out, but also for every day living. And while water is essential for life, it’s also absolutely necessary that we are drinking clean H2O. This can be challenging when in the great outdoors. We can brave out many different elements, weather and other situations, but there is no way that we could survive in the wilderness without water. That’s why it’s important to pack a water filter for these adventures.
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.
- Cleans in 15 Seconds
- Compact & Lightweight
- Alter Ego Frio
- Keeps Water Cold
10 Best Water Filters
GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier + Bottle
It takes a speedy 15 seconds (2 liters per minute) to filter the water with one press. This options uses both (its patented) filtration and purification technology to clean the water. It’s electrroadsorptive media acts a magnet to trap the sub microns to remove pathogens. Then its activated carbon filters away other chemicals and heavy metals including pharmaceuticals. Lastly, silver treated zeolites helps 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 singe-use water bottles. Each cartridge lasts 300 uses (40 gal / 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.
- 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
- Company donates 1% of sale to environmental nonprofits
- Doesn’t remove fluoride
- Needs lots of force to push down
- May leak
Etekcity Portable Water Purifier
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. It’s 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 includes 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.
- Compact, lightweight and portable
- Can drink right from the source
- Accessories included to drink water from a distance for collect water for later
- High performance
- Compatible with hydration packs
- Does not protect against viruses
Aquaovo Alter Ego Frio
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 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 consist of a vacuum insulated stainless steel bottle that has a patented straw filtration system. It hold 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 a eco-friendly option that can be used by both urban dwellers and backcountry folk.
The filter life time varies based on the water quality used, but it will has 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.
- 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
Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
The Sawyer Mini consist 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 though 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 deigned 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.
- 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
Survivor Filter Portable Water Filter
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 firs aline of defense to remove particles. Stage 2 is its 0.05 micron ultra filter 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 collapsible canteen to be drank 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.
- Drink directly from the source or save for later
- Clean water instantly
- Compact, portable and packable
- Need to buy canteen bags separately
PLATYPUS GravityWorks 4.0 Water Filter Reservoir Kit
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 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 stored a whole lot of water. It doesn’t remove viruses from the water, so not ideal for traveling out of country. However, this is a great option for mountain summits in groups.
- Holds 4 liters of clean water
- Easy to use
- Extremely portable
- Holes can form in bags
- Filter can freeze in colder temperature and not work
MSR Guardian Purifier
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 it’s main body that is equipped with its hollow fiber filter, as well as a hose and handle for pumping. While it is easy to use and performs extremely well, it is on the heavy size, with a weight of 22 ounces.
It’s 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 price tag on clean water when traveling to places where its likely to get sick from a waterborne disease.
- 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
Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System
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.
- Clean water instantly
- Packable and lightweight for runners
- Easy to use, easy to clean
- Not as durable
- Can’t store significant amounts of water
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
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.
- 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
LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier
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.
- Removes waterborne viruses
- Easy to use
- Lots of water is cleaned, ideal for larger groups or families
- Not best tasting water after cleaned
- Doesn’t remove heavy metals
The Criteria We Used For Our 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. But besides being effective, there are also some other criteria we used to determine the best water filter. These metrics are described below.
Filtration: How well does this product work at making 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?
Taste and Odor: 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?
Portability: 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.
Design: 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.
Other Important Factors To Consider
How it works, how easy it is to use, and its portability are all important factors to think about when choosing a water filter. But these aren’t the only things.
Don’t Risk It
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 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.
Giardia and Cryptosporidium
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’s 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 to weeks.
Just remember these aren’t the only two waterborne illness. Other contaminants include E.coli, salmonella, and more.
Water Filters vs Purifiers
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 are 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. Those backpacking outside of the U.S. would want a water purifier over a filter for this reason. Purifiers don’t eliminate chemical contaminates, so it’s best to find an option that does both.
Different Types of Water Filters
There are many different types of water filters and purifiers. These include: bottle, squeeze, straw-style, gravity, pump, and ultraviolet (UV) filters. Each have 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 does not protect against viruses, but does make tap water suitable for consumption.
Hollow fiber does eliminate protozoa and bacteria, but not viruses and does not reduce chemicals.
Q: How long does the filter last?
A: This varies among products. Many on this list can filter up to 1000 liters of water before needing a replacement filter.
Q: Can this filter purify urine in case of an emergency situation?
A: No, none of these can. This requires the forward osmosis process that uses salt or sugar solution to take the water out of the urine.
Q: How do I filter water when hiking?
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.
Q: Where can I find water when hiking?
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.
Q: What is the best way to carry water when hiking, climbing or backpacking?
A: This varies on the consumers, but lightweight, compact options are ideal for solo or short adventures.
Q: Where do I get replacement filters?
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.
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