Water filtration systems have existed for over 2,000 years, ever since Hippocrates invented the first bag filter, a filter known as the Hippocratic Sleeve. Since then, a variety of different filters have been invented and have been used by people who want to have a potable source of water available to them when they are out in the wood or heading out on that long trip.
Nowadays, backpacking water filter systems have become all the rage, thanks to renewed interest in outdoor activities and the popularity of the survival movement. This has led to an increase in the number of filters available for backpacking and this has led many people to wonder how to find the best model available. Fortunately, those interested can find the top ten best backpacking water filter models in the list below.
Best Backpacking Water Filters – Reviews
10Etekcity Portable Water Filtration Straw
Capable of cleaning a variety of contaminants from up to 1500 liters of water including chlorine, bacteria and heavy metal ions. It does this using a 3-stage system—stage one removes insects, rust and other larger object from the water, stage two removes heavy metal ions, chlorine, and THMs, and stage three removes up to 99.99% of all mold, waterborne bacteria and VOCs using a micron hollow fiber UF membrane that filters out particles as fine as .01 microns. It can be used to drink water directly from the source or can be collected in the BPA-free bag and then fed through the filter into a water bottle. Either way, the traveler will have the clean drinking water he or she wants and needs.
9Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter
There is no need for hikers and campers to carry gallons of water with them when this filter can treat all of the water they’re going to need and make it clean and drinkable. It can be used as a stand-alone filter or can be hooked up to most hydration systems that use a 1/4-inch drink tubes, as well as most water bottles. This model is lightweight, easy-to-use and not only has a .3 micron glass fiber filter that filters out a variety of contaminants but also has activated carbon at the core of it and this removes chemicals from the water, all while improving the taste of it. Best of all, this unit can be cleaned in the field, so it’s always ready to do what it’s designed to do – which is clean water.
8Platypus Gravity Works 2.0 Liter Water Filtration Kit
This gravity-fed water filtration kit can be hooked up to hydration packs and water bottles or can be used by placing dirty water in the bag marked for that purpose and using the enclosed filter and hose to filter the water into the bag marked clean water. Its rechargeable filter can filter up to 1,500 gallons of water and can filter the water at a flow rate of approximately 1.5-liters a minute. This filter will remove approximately 99.99% of all bacteria and up to 99.9% of protozoa including Cholera, Giardia, E. coli, and Cryptosporidium. This filter is light enough to be taken just about anywhere and easily fits into a field pack or backpack.
7Katadyn Vario Filtration Filter
This Vario water filter is like having three distinct filters in one convenient system. It contains a ceramic pre-filter that can be adjusted to the cloudiness of the water and which strains out larger objects such as bugs and leaves; a glass fiber filter that can remove bacteria and a carbon filter that removes chemicals and unpleasant tastes from the water. This model uses dual piston tech to produce approximately 2-liters per minute, which makes it suitable for the base camps of backpackers and campers or for anyone who needs to have a steady supply of potable water on hand.
6Survivor Filter Pro Filter Pump
This pump has the features that hikers, campers, and survivalist are looking for in a water filter. Laboratory tests have shown that this easy-to-use filter removes approximately 99.9% of viruses, 93% of lead and 99.4% of mercury. It’s capable of filtering up to 17-ounces of water per minute but is small enough to fit in most packs and backpacks. This filter can be used in one of three ways, it can filter water directly from the water source, can be used to pump potable water into a hydration pack or pump it into the attached cup. These features make this convenient filter perfect for taking out into the backwoods or anyplace else where clean, safe water isn’t readily available.
5Hydro Blu Versa Flow Lightweight Filtration System
Designed to be used by outdoor enthusiasts, international travelers and survivalists who need access to a clean, safe supply of water, this lightweight filter has the features needed to remove up to 99.99% of all protozoan cysts (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium) and 99.99% of all bacteria (such as Cholera, E. Coli, and Salmonella). And it cleans out these contaminants using a .1 micron hollow fiber membrane that allows the filter to filter up to 20,000 liters of water over the course of its lifetime, yet still, remain light, compact and able to be carried anywhere it’s needed. All that has to be done is to put the filter and its accessories into a pack of your choice and it’s ready to go with you.
4Survivor Filter Camping & Survival Water Cleaner
Priding itself on being one of the better filters available today, this filter is capable of removing up to 99.9% of all viruses and bacteria. It does this feat using three different filter stages which all work together to make water that’s not only pure but also tastes good as well. It uses a cotton pre-filter which removes larger impurities, a carbon filter that removes chemicals, tastes and odors and a membrane ultra-filter which removes bacteria and viruses. This filter is also designed to never have to be replaced, as long as you replace each of the individual stages when they’ve been used up. This model has a specially designed mouthpiece that makes it easy to drink the water that’s purified.
3Sawyer Products Point One H2O Filter System
This lightweight, portable and convenient to use H2O filter is designed to make even the dirtiest water safe to drink. It’s capable of removing 99.99% of all protozoa and 99.99% of all bacteria, which makes it one of the top filters in use today. It comes with a 32-ounce pouch that’s collapsible and can easily fit in any pack, a syringe style filter cleaner, a screw-on water filter and a pop-up spout that’s completely replaceable. These accessories and feature make this a great system for hikers, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts to take with them as they explore the great outdoors.
2LifeStraw Personal Filter For Water Purification
Used by hikers, campers, and survivalists all over the world, the LifeStraw is a personal filter that can filter up to 1000-liters of contaminated water and it can do so without adding chlorine, iodine or any other purifying chemical to the water. It has no moving parts to break down when you need it the most and it can purify up to 99.99% of all waterborne bacteria and protozoa. It can filter contaminants up to .2 microns, which exceeds the recommendations the EPA has put forth for water filter standards. This unit weighs approximately 2-ounces, so it’s lightweight enough to take just about anywhere.
1Sawyer Products Mini Filtration System
This mini filtration system is not only small enough to fit into a backpack but is small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s small and just weighs 2-ounces but can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water over the course of its lifetime. It will remove up to 99.99% of all protozoa and bacteria, which means that it can remove such dangerous pathogens as Salmonella, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Cholera, and E.Coli. This model can be screwed on to the 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch, hydration pouch or on a water bottle and it comes with a 7-inch drinking straw and a cleaning plunger.
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Selecting the Best Backpacking Water Filter
When choosing a water treatment method for turning not-so-good water into potable water, there are a number of things to consider. After all, not every filter or purifier is the same and they can have some pretty significant differences. The first thing that needs to be realized is that there is a difference between filters and purifiers. Filters are designed to strain out bacteria and protozoa but only actual purifiers will kill the pathogens in the water and render them harmless. This is usually done using UV light or through a chemical agent.
The filter vs. purifier debate is not the only thing to consider when choosing a backpack water treatment method, however. Whether the filter has a pre-filter is something else that needs to be considered, as well as the type of water treatment method a filter uses. Some of them are easier to use than others and some of them are more expensive than other ones. Below are some of the features you will need to consider before purchasing one of these filters.
Is a Prefilter Necessary?
Some systems come with a prefilter and some don’t, which makes some people wonder if they are even a necessary component to filter water. While water can be filtered without the need of a prefilter, the prefilter does a number of things which make it a useful feature to find on any filtration system. It removes larger particles so the filter doesn’t have to deal with it. Some of the benefits of a prefilter include:
- It allows the filter to filter water faster
- It improves the ability of chemical treatments to do their job
- It’s necessary before using a UV purifier
How Much Does it Weigh?
Another thing to factor into your decision to buy a particular filter is to consider how much it weighs. Hikers traveling for long periods will most likely want to get a model that’s as small as possible.
What is the Filter Made Of?
What the filter is made out of will determine how well it eliminates certain particles and how durable the filter is while it’s being used. Some of the more common filter mediums include the following:
- Silica Depth Filter-This filter uses sands of different grain sizes to filter particles of different sizes as the water passes through it.
- Fiberglass-This filter is effective at removing particles but is a bit more fragile than other types of filters.
- Ceramic-Ceramic filters are reusable but they often become clogged quite easily.
- Hollow Fiber-This type of filter strains out pathogens using micro-tubes and is quite durable.
What is the Micron Size?
Micron size is a term that’s batted around by a number of different filters without much information being given to the consumer about what it is or why it’s important. Generally speaking, the smallest virus is around. 2 microns, so any filter with that micron size will be able to filter out viruses. Some of the newer filtration systems have a .1 micron filter size but these often tend to filter water slowly.
How much Water Does it Treat Per Minute?
Something that can vary wildly among the different filter types is the number of liters or ounces a filter can treat per minute. Some of the top filters available can treat up to 2-liters of water per minute but other models may filter a whole lot less. How much water it actually can treat per minute needs to be weighed against other factors.
How Much Water Can it Filter During Its Lifetime?
The last and most important consideration that needs to be considered is just how much use the user will get out of a particular filter. Some of the top models out there can filter 1,500 liters of water or more before they need to be replaced. Other models, however, come in stages that can be replaced as they are depleted. This extends the use of the filter and essentially allows it to be used forever – or as long as the parts can be acquired and fitted on the unit.