Best Hiking Water Filters Reviewed for Quality

Anyone who spends time out on the hiking trail knows the value of having clean drinking water. Drinking water is essential to having a safe hike. The problem is that we can’t just drink any water that we see while we are outdoors. Water found in lakes, ponds, springs, and stream is not safe to drink because it can contain harmful minerals and microbes that can make us extremely sick. We need a way to purify the water so that it is safe to drink.

We can certainly boil water to kill off any organisms that might be living in the water. This makes the water much safer because any bacteria or parasites will get killed in the boiling process. Nevertheless, boiling water does nothing to remove any harmful minerals so pollutants such as salt or lead will still be present in the water. Since boiling water clearly has limitations, technology has come forward to deal with the shortcomings of boiling water in the wild.

Featured Recommendations

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Chemical Free
  • Price: See Here
Sawyer Products Mini
  • Sawyer Products Mini
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Reuseable Pouch
  • Price: See Here
Potable Aqua Tablets
  • Potable Aqua Tablets
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Treats Large Quanities
  • Price: See Here

Hiking water filters are such a technology. These filters make water safe by killing harmful organisms and removing harmful minerals from the water. Many of these filters are extremely lightweight and are easy to pack in your hiking gear. They can be a much better option as opposed to purifier tablets since you can run out of such tablets. For this reason, hiking water filters are a great choice for cleaning and purifying water found in the wilderness.

Many of these filters are rated to exceed EPA standards for clean drinking water. They remove extremely harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli, and cholera. The filters will also protect you from organisms such as cryptosporidium and giardia. This helps you stay safe when you are drinking water from lakes, streams, or ponds. Hiking water filters are also extremely easy to use and are a smart choice for hikers.

 

10 Best Hiking Water Filters

 

1. LifeStraw Personal

1. LifeStraw Personal
The LifeStraw is one of the best choices for a personal water filter. It removes harmful bacteria without using chemicals such as chlorine or iodine. The tool does not require any batteries either so you can trust that it will work when it is needed. It only weighs 2 ounces and comes in a sealed bag so that you can easily pack it in with your hiking or camping gear.
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No Chemicals

The LifeStraw does not use any chemicals to purify water. It works by using a hollow fiber membrane that filters out all organisms, minerals, and harmful bacteria. The filter can be backflushed so that you can clean the filter.

Drink from Water Source

You use the LifeStraw by placing the large end into the water and then drinking from the straw end of the straw. As you drink, the water is pulled through the filtering technology and clean water comes out of the other end.

Cost and Value

The LifeStraw is a low-cost product which makes it into an excellent value. The product is inexpensive and lightweight so that you can easily carry it with your gear. It works great for regular usages or even just to have in an emergency.
Pros
  • This product uses no chemicals or moving parts to purify the water and instead relies on filters.
  • It is rated to exceed the EPA standards for clean drinking water by removing all harmful organisms.
  • The LifeStraw is easy to use because you just put one end into the water and drink from it.
  • It is lightweight and comes in a sealed bag which makes it easy to pack and carry.
  • The LifeStraw is trusted worldwide by NGOs all over the world.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have reported that drinking from the LifeStraw feels like drinking from a thick milkshake.
  • The straw is too thick to fit inside of a water bottle opening which makes it hard to fill bottles.

2. Sawyer Mini

2. Sawyer Mini
This filter is another excellent choice for a hiking. It works by using a hollow microfilter system which traps harmful bacteria such as salmonella or E.Coli. The filter comes with a drinking straw and a reusable water pouch. You can easily filter water and then pour it into a regular water bottle as well. The system is lightweight and it is easy to pack and carry this water filter system.
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Reusable Pouch

This filter system is sold with a sixteen-ounce reusable pouch that you can use to store water on the go. The pouch is useful because it allows you to carry water with you as you go on your hike.

Long Lasting

This filter is capable of providing you with up to ten gallons of water between backflushes. If you need more water, you can easily backflush this filter in the field so that it can continue to provide you with safe water.

Cost and Value

This filter system has a low price which makes it into an excellent value. It has additional important features such as a plunger for backflushing, water bladders, and a drinking straw. This filter is an excellent value for its price.
Pros
  • The filter is able to purify up to ten gallons of water between cleanings.
  • It has a reusable sixteen-ounce squeeze pouch and a straw so it's easy to carry water.
  • The filter is shaped in a way that allows you to fill a water bottle.
  • It is a long-lasting filter that is designed to fill up to 10,000 gallons of water.
  • The filter relies on microfibers rather than on chemicals or moving parts.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have experienced problems with the filter breaking easily while on the trail.
  • Other reviewers have noted that the filter does not work very fast.

3. Sawyer PointOne

3. Sawyer PointOne
This is a high volume hiking water filter that is ideal for filtering large quantities of water for large groups. The filter system comes with faucet and bucket adapters so that you can empty purified water into a five-gallon bucket if you wish to do so. The filter also comes with a thirty-two-ounce pouch so that you can easily carry water with you while you are hiking.
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High Volume Flow

The filter is designed to purify large quantities of water quickly. This makes it into the ideal water filter for large groups of people who all need drinking water. You can even attach this filter to a five-gallon bucket.

Squeeze Pouch

This filter system comes with a large thirty two ounce squeeze system that allows you to carry water while you are walking. It also makes it easy for you to fill other people's water bottles or hydration packs quickly.

Cost and Value

You should expect to see this filter sold at a price that is slightly below the average price for water filters. It is an excellent value because it can safely and reliably filter large volumes of water quickly making it ideal for groups.
Pros
  • This hiking filter is suitable for filter large volumes of water quickly.
  • It comes with a reusable thirty-two-ounce squeeze bladder which makes it easy to carry water.
  • You can drink directly from the filter or you can use it to fill other water bottles.
  • This filter kit includes water faucet and bucket attachments to make it easy to filter lots of water.
  • The product has a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer so it is long lasting.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have had an issue with an important gasket falling out rending the filter unusable.
  • It is difficult to keep dirty water from mixing with clean water when using the squeeze pouch.

4. LifeStraw Family

4. LifeStraw Family
This is another hiking water filter that makes it easy to filter larger quantities of water as needed. It is a gravity fed system that works by filling up a two-liter bucket of water and then letting the water drain through the filter. The purified water comes out of the other end of the system which can be used to fill a water bottle or some other container.
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Gravity Fed

This system works by filling the two-liter capacity bucket and then letting clean water drain out of the straw. This allows you to easily filter larger quantities of water which can be useful for larger groups that need more water.

Long Lasting

The LifeStraw can provide a family of four people with clean drinking water for up to three years. It filters about nine to twelve liters of water in a single hour which makes it a great tool for large groups.

Cost and Value

This filter system has an average price for hiking water filters. It gets its value by being able to filter water quickly at a rate of nine to twelve liters of water per hour. This makes it great for large groups.
Pros
  • The filter is designed to purify up to 4,755 gallons of water in its lifetime.
  • It is gravity fed from a bucket which allows you to filter large quantities easily.
  • The system is designed to provide threes years of drinking water for a family of four.
  • It exceeds the EPA standards for clean drinking water by removing almost all viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts.
  • It filters water without having to use moving parts or harmful chemicals.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have mentioned that it is hard to hang the bucket without spilling water.
  • Other reviewers have said that the purified water does not taste very well.

5. Survivor Filter

5. Survivor Filter
This is an excellent filter that is extremely long lasting and is easy to use on the hiking trail. It is able to filter up to 264 gallons of water before you have to change the pre-filters and the main filter lasts for 26,417 gallons of water. The product is lightweight and is only seven inches long which makes it really easy to pack and carry on the hiking trail.
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Protective Mouthpieces

The mouthpiece is designed to keep bacteria out of your clean water. It has a special flip top and a micron filter that ensures your water stays clean without your backwash from polluting the water.

Long Lasting

The product lasts a lifetime because you can change the filters as they are needed. This makes the product into a long lasting product because you just change the filters as needed rather than disposing of the entire filter.

Cost and Value

This filter has a price that is below the average which turns it into an excellent value. It lasts for an entire lifetime which makes it into a great purchase since its the only water filter you will ever need.
Pros
  • This filter has replaceable filters that are long-lasting and make the filter lasts a lifetime.
  • It has a special mouthpiece that seals shut and keeps backwash from polluting the clean water.
  • The product is only seven inches long and weighs only three and a half ounces make it easy to pack.
  • You can drink from this filter as if it were a straw.
  • There are optional canteen accessories that attach to the filter and allow you to keep water with you.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have reported that it can be really hard to suck water through this filter.
  • Other reviewers have mentioned that the water tastes like plastic after its purified.

6. Katadyn Filter

6. Katadyn Filter
This is an excellent pump style filter that you can use to purify large quantities of water while you are out on the trail. It is perfect for filling large water bladders such as the ones that are found in hydration backpacks. Rather than drinking directly from the filter, you use it to pump water from a lake or stream and directly into a container for the purified water.
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Pump Design

This filter comes with a pump design and hoses. You use it by placing on hose into a water source and then placing the other hose into a container for the purified water. Then you pump water until your container is full.

Performance Design

You can filter water extremely quickly by using this water filter because it can filter water at a rate of one quart per minute. This allows you to fill large containers of water quickly so that you can get back on the trail.

Cost and Value

This filter is expensive but it is also extremely high quality. The filter has a twenty-year warranty and has a pump design so that you can filter large quantities of water quickly. You don't have to worry about dirty water mixing with clean water.
Pros
  • This filter uses a silver infused ceramic element to that kills protozoa and bacteria.
  • It can filter water at a fast rate of one quart per minute.
  • The outlet hose can be attached to containers using a clip so that it doesn't fall off.
  • This water filter is used by the United States Military to purify water.
  • The filter is capable of purifying up to 13,000 gallons of water in its lifetime.
Cons
  • It is important that you drain all water from this filter in cold weather or it will crack.
  • The product is not designed to remove viruses but you can purchase an attachment for this purpose.

7. Survivor Filter 3-Stage

7. Survivor Filter 3-Stage
This is another pump style filter that can quickly filter large volumes of water. It is built for long-term use and even emergency situations. The filter uses three filters to remove bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals from your drinking water. This makes it an excellent choice for a filter because you end up with clean and safe drinking water. The filter is easy to use and can be used in different ways.
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Filters Heavy Metals

This filter is capable of removing heavy metals which are poisonous. It will remove 99.5% of mercury and will also remove 93% of the lead. This helps protect you from the harmful effects of such heavy metals.

Triple Filteration

This water system uses three filters to completely filter water. It has a pre-filter and an internal filter which filter 100,000 liters of water before they need to be replaced. The final carbon filter lasts for 2,000 liters.

Cost and Value

You can expect to average price for this water filter system. It gets its value by being a heavy-duty filter that is pump driven and long-lasting. This filter is able to remove poisonous heavy metals from the water.
Pros
  • This filter is sold with a lifetime warranty and will last a lifetime.
  • You can use the filter by drinking directly from a water source, filling a cup, or filling a water pack.
  • This filter is able to filter 2,000 liters of water before you need to replace the filter.
  • It filters water quickly at a rate of 17 ounces per minute.
  • The filter is only seven inches long and only weighs three and a half ounces.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have mentioned that the pump handle is easy to break.
  • Other reviewers said that this pump filters much slower than high priced pumps.

8. Potable Aqua Tablets

8. Potable Aqua Tablets
Purifier tablets are an excellent alternative to water filters. Filters can become clogged, dirty, or broken on the trail. The purifier tablets offer a backup solution in situations where a water filter fails to work as you expected. These tables can treat up to twenty-five quarts of water in as little as thirty-five minutes. These tablets are an ideal choice for emergency situations where you need clean water quickly.
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Great for Emergencies

The purifier tablets serve as an excellent backup option in case your water filter becomes lost or damaged. These tablets kill harmful bacteria and help improve the clarity of the water so that it becomes safe to drink.

Treats Large Quantities of Water

These tablets work great for treating large quantities of water. They are able to treat up to twenty-five liters of water in thirty-five minutes which is enough water for a group of people.

Cost and Value

These tablets have a low cost which makes them ideal as a backup device. They are a great value because they are excellent for backup or emergency situations. The tables are able to treat large quantities of water.
Pros
  • These tablets can treat up to twenty-five quarts of water in just thirty-five minutes.
  • They are lightweight and are easy to pack into your hiking gear.
  • You can use these tablets to help improve the clarity of the water.
  • They do not have an expiration date so they can last for a long time when stored properly.
  • You can use these tablets in natural disaster situations such as hurricanes.
Cons
  • These tablets are not designed for long-term use but are intended for emergency situations.
  • These tablets have been reported to leave a distinct iodine taste in the water.

9. Etekcity Filtration Straw

9. Etekcity Filtration Straw
This is another form of hiking water filter that works on a three-stage filtration system. The first stage is a prefilter that filters out large debris in the water. The second stage is a carbon filter that kills bacteria and heavy metals that are in the water. The final filter is a hollow fiber micron filter that removes any elements that are still present in the water.
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Removes Heavy Metals

This filter protects you against harmful heavy metals such as mercury or lead. Both of those metals can be extremely harmful but the carbon filter used in stage two protects you against these metals.

Easy to Pack

This filter is small and is really easy to pack into your hiking gear. It also comes with a sixteen-ounce water pouch so that you can keep filter water with you as you go hiking.

Cost and Value

This is a low-cost filter straw that makes it into an excellent value. You can rely on this filter to provide you with clean water throughout your hike. Its low cost makes it into a must-have item for hiking.
Pros
  • This filter uses a three-stage process to filter water and make sure its safe to drink.
  • You can drink directly from a water source or fill the squeezable bag.
  • The filter is fully tested for safety and it meets the EPAs standards for safe water.
  • It is lightweight and small so that you can easily pack it into your hiking your gear.
  • This filter comes with a cleaning kit so that you can clean the filter when needed.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have said that it is really difficult to draw water through this filter.
  • Other reviewers have mentioned that the filter is difficult to clean.

10. KOR Water Nava Bottle

10. KOR Water Nava Bottle
This water bottle features a carbon filter that is made from coconut shell. The bottle is intended to provide you with clean tasting water. It features a hygienic cap so that the spout is protected while the water bottle is not being used. You can easily open this bottle with just the push of a button. The filter is high flow and allows you to drink naturally from the water bottle.
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Carbon Filter

The water bottle uses a carbon filter that purifies water as you drink from the water bottle. It is made completely out of coconut shells so that the water bottle is environmentally sustainable.

Easy Flow

The filter and the straw are designed to allow you drink naturally from the water bottle. You won't feel as if you are sucking really hard on the straw while drinking from this water bottle.

Cost and Value

This product has a cost that is below average which makes it an excellent value. The water bottles are able to purify water so that it is safe to drink and it's fully environmentally sustainable.
Pros
  • This bottle is made out of BPE free materials that are environmentally sustainable.
  • The cap is fully hygienic and protects the cap while you are not drinking from the bottle.
  • It uses a full carbon filter that is made from coconut shell for environmental sustainability.
  • The bottom of the bottle has a cushion on the base so that it doesn't break when dropped.
  • This bottle has a wide mouth which makes it extremely easy to clean and refill.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have mentioned that the bottle is too large put into a cup holder.
  • Other reviewers have mentioned that there is no change in how the water tastes when using this product.

If you plan on spending an extended amount of time outdoors, then you will need access to clean and safe drinking water. There are plenty of different ways to purify your water using hiking water filters. These filters perform tasks such as removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites from the water which would otherwise make you extremely sick. Some of the premium filters can also remove poisonous heavy metals from the water as well.

You can purchase filters in a variety of different styles. Some filters are a straw style filter that allows you to drink directly from a drinking source. In other words, you just simply put one of the straw into a river and drink from it. The water is purified as you drink. Other filters are a pump style filter that makes it easy for you to filter large volumes of water. These filters are great for large groups.

You can also purchase potable water tablets which are useful in an emergency. These tablets kill harmful organisms and will allow you to safely drink water if your pump is unavailable. The tablets are small enough to pack into an emergency kit or your camping gear. This makes them an extremely worthwhile item to have in your gear.

All of these solutions are an excellent choice to make clean water available when you are out in the wilderness. Having access to clean drinking water is extremely important for safety. A lack of clean drinking water can be life-threatening situation but having these filters takes care of that problem.

Criteria for Choosing the Best Hiking Water Filters

When choosing a water filter you want to make sure that it is going to keep the water safe and clean for all of your drinking needs. Each water filter is built differently and there are several different types of filters available on the market to choose from. When you think about water that is coming out of a river, lake, or stream, you think dirty. Which is exactly what it is. Water that comes from these bodies are incredibly dangerous and can poison your body with E.coli, salmonella, and many different kinds of bacterias. These bacterias are incredibly dangerous to the human body and can cause extreme dehydration, intestinal issues, and more. Thankfully, we have all the criteria you need for choosing the best hiking water filters on the market!

Types of Water Filters

Straws: Survival straws are some of the easiest ways to filter water on the market. What is so great about these straws is that they offer a tiny carbon filter that can catch almost all bacteria and debris, making it incredibly safe to drink and within the proper drinking levels. The greatest thing about the survival straws is that they are low maintenance and incredibly easy to use. You simply walk up to a body of water or fill your water bottle, drip your straw in and drink. These straws are great for emergency and prepping purposes, and they are also great for hiking and camping purposes.

Purifying Water Bottles: What is so great about these water bottles that purify the water is you basically fill them up and then let the filter do the job. Low key and easy to use, these water bottles come with carbon filters that catch all the bacteria and debris, making the water safe to drink. What is so nice about these bottles is that you can bring them anywhere and prevent physical issues from happening, especially in an emergency situation. These water filter bottles are known to only catch bacteria and debris, not viruses. But overall, a great and easy choice.

UV Purification: This system is incredible for assisting in the purification of water. This portable, handheld light will clear out water, making it safe to drink by using UV lighting. These strong UV rays are designed to kill microorganisms within seconds and also damaging any other living viruses. The biggest downfalls of these filters are that they run off of batteries, risking the power source. Also, there is no way that the UV light can get through cloudy water, that being said, you can not purify dirty or muddy water.

Gravity Filter: These filters are great for the campsite or at any risk situation. Being as they are larger filters, they are better off having a base camp, where you just haul water to them and allow them to filter. What is great about these filters is that they keep all of the bad bacteria at the top as well as debris and allow the water and minerals to travel through the filter and down to the bottom of the canister, leaving you refreshed and your thirst quenched. Great for camping, or base camp, these filters are essential to maintaining fresh water.

Water Tablets: There are several different purification tablets on the market. When these tablets first came out, people were skeptical of how they work. With that, several tests have been run to test the accuracy and efficiency of these tablets. Tests have shown that these tablets can purify the water, just as much as a normal filter can. One thing you need to do prior to using these tablets is run the water through an actual filter, or cloth, to remove any visible debris from the water. Once that is done, just drop a tablet in, wait 30 minutes and your water will be well below the limits for safe drinking. An easy way to stay safe!

Even though there are several different filters on the market, the ones listed above are the most popular and essential to your needs while you are out on an excursion or in an emergency situation. It is wise to keep a water filtration system at hand at all times, keeping you safe and healthy, while assisting with your needs for water.

Pre-Filter Systems

Have you ever walked through the water, on the beach, or in a creek? Who hasn’t? There are some things that are essential to getting your water to a safe drinking point. Leaf, mud, murky debris, and much more has been found in water when you scoop it from its body. What is good to know about is pre-filtering. You will have a lot more success if you pre-filter your water and that way you know that the water will also be a lot more safe to drink.

While many water filters include a pre-filter system, some may not. The role of this filter is to remove the larger debris that could be floating around in your water. If you do not have a filter with a pre-filter system, you will need to filter your water by using a cloth, which will assist in removing the larger debris from the water. With these pre-filter systems, they have been known to clog up. It is essential to clean them out, to assist in the accuracy of your drinking water.

Boiling vs Filtering

For several years, boiling water has been the most popular way to filter out the contaminants that you may experience with water that is pulled from a body of water. While boiling water can get rid of some contaminants, it is said that it does not get rid of all. For those who have ever been in a situation where your home water wasn’t safe, boil alerts have been issues. Even though you are boiling the water to remove bacteria, you are not removing dangerous chemicals such as chlorine or lead, or other debris that could make it into your water, so it is recommended that you both filter and boil if you have to boil the water. If you do not have a filter available, boiling will suffice, even though you still pose the risk of debris, viruses, and other containment, still remaining in the water.

As mentioned before, water filters give you the ability to not only filter the debris but also filter containments. Some of these filters will even get rid of viruses and more. Getting a water filter with a pre-filter included, there is no need to boil the water, prior to drinking. Boiling the water is only recommended when that is the only choice that you may have, a good filter can eliminate the boiling process.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do hiking water filters work?

A: Water filters work by straining out the different microorganisms that are dangerous for our bodies. Every time the water passes through the filter, it runs through tiny little pores that will catch all the dangerous diseases and debris that is in the water. These cartridges are designed to pick up bacteria as well, but not viruses.

Q: How effective is the water purification? 

A: The majority of the survival water filters or the camping and hiking filters, have a great success rate when it comes down to removing and filtering out the dangers to our body. With a success rate of 99.9999%, these emergency filters come in handy, in many situations. They also keep you protected from the dangerous waters, that we know we should not drink. These filters are truly amazing and effective.

Q: How effective are the water tablets for purification?

A: With several tests being run on different surface waters, it shows just how effective these tablets can be. When you take water from a river or lake, chances are there are thousands of microorganisms swimming in the water. If you place a tablet into the water, wait 30 minutes, the tablet will kill off almost all of the microorganisms that can cause severe illnesses. With these levels being well below the safe drinking levels, we are sure that these tablets are effective enough to use for drinking lake water. Just be sure to filter any of the floating debris from the water, prior to using the tablet, whether it be an actual filter or cloth.

Q: What happens if you do not filter water?

A: If you do not filter water, there are several risks that you can pose to your health. Depending upon where the water is coming from, you can risk E. Coli, Salmonella, and many more issues that will cause major havoc on your body, which if left untreated, can lead to death. It is very important to stay hydrated and just as equally important to filter your water.

Q: How long do portable water filters last?

A: There is no sure answer as to how long water purifiers will work. A lot of the filter life is based on how often the filter needs to be replaced. As these filters are mainly made from carbon, they can eventually become clogged and need replacing. When it comes down to UV filters or tablets, there is no need to replace anything, only the batteries when your filter dies. It is said that each carbon filter lasts on a month to month basis, rather than an on use basis.

Sources

  1. Lumin Ultra, Going Hiking?, July 10, 2017
  2. REI, How to choose a water filter
  3. Fresh Water Systems, SteriPEN Journey
  4. Flo-Bro, Boiling vs Filtering, February 23, 2017

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