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6 Best Backpacking Water Filters

Clean water is the most essential consideration for anyone planning to backpack or hike through the backcountry.

But, keeping yourself hydrated won’t be as simple as you might think.

Yes, you may discover water sources on the way, but almost none of them are clean enough for drinking unless you treat them first. Untreated water doesn’t just have a foul taste but it can also be full of waterborne pathogens, which can make you ill.

This is why you need a good, portable water filter. Contrary to most home units, water filtration systems that are designed specifically for hiking, camping, and backpacking are equipped to eliminate protozoa, bacteria, etc. They also help in sifting out the particulate matter and neutralizing the funky tastes, allowing you to chug with confidence.

In this guide, we’ll be reviewing 6 water filtration systems that we think are some of the top products available today. Additionally, we’ll also be providing you with a small buying guide, followed by a FAQ section. This is to ensure that you pick the best backpacking water filter for all your outdoor adventures.

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Best Backpacking Water Filter Reviews

Today, you’ll come across a wide variety of water filters designed for backpacking. As expected, this might make your shopping process a bit daunting. Luckily for you, we have done all the research and hard work to come up with 6 top products available in the market. These picks are the very filtration systems that most thru-hikers use to survive in the wilderness. So, let’s check them out!

1. Platypus Water Filter – Best Overall Backpacking Water Filter

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The Platypus Water Filter takes the top position on our list. This model is, without a doubt, one of the best and most convenient water filters available today. If you want to avoid restocking your water supply during your backpacking endeavors or planning to travel with a friend, this high-output filter is an excellent option.

As a gravity filter, it requires minimal effort and can filter 4 liters of water in one go. Its filtering speed is also commendable – boasting an excellent flow rate of about 1.75 liters a minute, thanks to its hollow fiber filter. The filtration process is also quite simple. You just have to fill the 4 ltr bag, hang it on a boulder or a branch, and within a few minutes, you’ll have 4 liters of clean drinkable water.

The “dirty” reservoir comes with a quick disconnect nozzle that shuts the water flow automatically once you remove the hose. Cleaning the system is also quite easy – you just hold the clean pouch above the “dirty” reservoir and backflush the filter. Furthermore, it offers a taste-free experience thanks to its SlimeGuard antimicrobial treatment.

The Platypus Water Filter, however, is slightly bulkier as it comes with a filter, two reservoirs, and a tubing bundle. Moreover, it requires a bit of effort to retrieve water if there aren’t any moving or reasonably deep water sources.


  • Fast filtering speed
  • Versatile adaptable
  • Microfiber lifespan lasts up to 1500 ltr


  • Slightly bulky
  • Some may not prefer the water retrieving process


2. Kadatyn Gravity Filter – The Runner Up

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The Kadatyn Gravity Filter is another one of our favorites and for good reasons. We love this gravity-fed filter for its hands-free and super fast filtration of large quantities of water. It can treat a large amount of water within minutes, which makes it a great choice for both solo and group use.

The bag features an opening that allows you to easily retrieve water in large quantities from streams, lakes, and rivers. Like the Platypus, gravity will take care of the filtration process, provided you hang it from a high point.

Additionally, the Kadatyn Gravity Filter is compatible with almost every hydration bladder system and can serve as a shower or handwash station. Boasting a fast flow rate, this gravity-fed filter can produce an output of 6 liters in 6 minutes.

It comes with a glass-fiber filter featuring activated carbon inside, which helps in removing nasty odors from waters so you can have clean and fresh hydration. Unlike other gravity filters that feature the filter inline, the filter, in this model, is housed inside the bag.

Weighing just 11.65 ounces, this Kadatyn Gravity filter is considerably lightweight. It comes with a carry bag to prevent losing any parts. In terms of setup, it requires a little bit of effort as you have to connect the filter onto the reservoir before dipping it in water.


  • Fast flow rate
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Durable design and easy setup


  • Clogs quickly with muddy water
  • No water storage bag


3. Swayer Squeeze Filteration – Best Budget Backpacking Water Filter

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If you need a great value backpacking water filter without the high price tag, then you can’t go wrong with the Swayer Squeeze Filteration. It has been a popular option among thru-hikers for years now. This model comes with every accessory, which allows it to be used as a straw, in-line, gravity, or bottle system, and of course, the classic squeeze mode.

Unlike the other squeeze systems from Swayer, this one provides an incredibly fast flow rate, with the ability to filter one liter of fresh water in less than a minute. Additionally, it’s packable, meaning it can fit into a pocket or running bag with ease.

To use this filter, you just need to fill the two 32-ounce bags with unfiltered water, attach the filter, and then squeeze them directly into your mouth or a clean reservoir or bottle. The process is pretty straightforward, but if needed, you can simply check the directions which are printed on the pouches.

Furthermore, the Swayer Squeeze Filtration features a cleaning and other extra accessories. They include a gravity tubing for using it as a gravity system, inline adapters to squeeze, followed by a syringe for backflushing the filter.

With no wait time, no pills, and no pumps, this water filter offers great protection every time. It can remove 99.9 percent of bacteria and all protozoa, including Cryptosporidium and giardia. Moreover, it can filter 100,000  gallons of unclean water. It also features collapsible bags which you can use multiple times.


  • Massive filtration capacity
  • Best budget buy
  • Includes reusable bags


  • Collecting water from shallow water sources requires a bit of effort
  • The flimsy pouches aren’t so durable


4. Kadatyn Microfilter

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The Kadatyn Microfilter is among the most reliable pump filters available today and is a great option for various backpacking scenarios.

Retrieving water is fairly easy. You can collect water by actively pumping it through the system and into the container. It works brilliantly with a container featuring a wide-opening and it’s also compatible with a hydration bladder.

Like most of the options on our list, this one too boasts a fast flow rate. It can produce about 1 liter of fresh, clean water in a minute. Featuring activated carbon granules, the Kadatyn Microfilter helps in removing large particles and reducing foul odor and taste.

Construction-wise, this pump filter is well-built. It’s made using ABS plastic and comes with multiple small parts and hoses. Another great thing about the Kadatyn Microfilter is that it requires minimal maintenance. So, no need to backflush frequently.


  • Reliable construction
  • Easy maintenance
  • Water pumping process is relatively fast


  • The filter needs replacement once it’s fully clogged
  • Not the most sturdy hand pump


5. Survivor Filter Pro

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The Survivor Filter Pro is another great pick and despite being a filter, it can do much more. It can remove any particles above 0.01 microns, including viruses and bacteria, thanks to its triple filtration system.

Further, it also boasts a fast flow rate, allowing it to produce half a liter of clean water in a minute. It is quite easy to use too. You simply dip the input tube into a water source. The tube’s floater is also adjustable, which helps in preventing the straw from going too deep into the water, where there are full of grimes. Next, you just put the output tube into your bottle and start pumping.

While it boasts a long filter life, you might need to replace the carbon filter as they don’t last very long, particularly in contaminated water. For its construction, it dons a high-quality ABS plastic, which is quite sturdy and durable up to a certain extent. But, it’s still plastic so try not to step on it.


  • Easy to use
  • Long filter life
  • Treats viruses


  • Not the most durable option
  • No straw
  • Slower than other filters


6. LifeStraw Advanced Filter

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Finally, we have the Lifestraw Advanced Filter, which is a compact, lightweight, gravity filtration system. It’s also quite versatile as you can use it in four different ways. It can serve as an inline filter, gravity filter, straw filter, and you can even connect it with most disposable bottles.

Thanks to its hollow fiber membrane with a pore size of 0.32 micron, the LifeStraw Advanced Filter offers next-level protection. It can remove 99.9 percent of bacteria, protozoa, and Microplastics.

Furthermore, its carbon-fiber capsule helps in improving taste while lowering the presence of lead, chlorine, and other heavy metals and chemical content. Its microbiological filter can last up to 500 liters while its carbon filter is replaceable and can last up to 25 gallons.


  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive


  • Slow flow rate
  • Leaky bottle


Best Backpacking Water Filter Buying Guide

When you’re shopping for backing water filters, there are some important factors that you need to keep in mind. In doing so, you not only purchase a product that is worth your money but also matches your needs.

Here’s a quick buyer’s guide discussing 3 of those essential factors:

Filtration Speed

Every water filter removes contaminants present in the water within a specific timeframe. Some units can produce a few ounces of filtrated water every minute. You can also find some other water filtration systems that can even produce almost twenty ounces of clear water at the same rate. Opt for one that can filter untreated water quickly especially if you plan on hiking or backpacking along with a large group.

Filter Capacity

This is another significant factor to consider before purchasing a water filter for camping or thru-hiking. All filter cartridges have limited lifespans. While some units may only serve you for a few days, others last for weeks and even months. That said, high-grade portable filters feature durable filter cartridges. Some units can filter up to 1000 liters of water with just one cartridge and some can clean even more.

Water Filter Types

Another thing you need to remember about backpacking water filters is that they come in multiple types. First, we have the pump filters, which allow you to draw the exact quantity of water, which means you need not worry about getting too little or too much. Gravity filters are a great choice for someone planning to visit remote areas with limited clean water. These filters usually feature two containers with one placed atop of the other. It works by letting the untreated water pass through a filter and into the bottom container. Lastly, squeeze filters work by simply connecting them to a pouch or bottle, and then you squeeze the pouch so the water passes through the filter.

Backpacking Water Filter FAQs

When shopping for backpacking water filters, a lot of people seems to have quite a number of questions regarding the product. In this section, we have covered some of the most commonly asked questions that most hikers and backpackers have. So, keep reading.

How to Clean a Backpacking Water Filter

To clean a backpacking water filter, you’ll have to backwash it. It helps in removing any particles that might be present in the filtration membrane’s pores.

How to Choose a Water Filter for Backpacking

The answer to this may vary depending on your needs and where you plan on backpacking. There are different water filter types available, which include pump filters, straw filters, squeeze filters, bottle filters, etc. That said, gravity and squeeze models are quite popular among backpackers.

How Can You Tell if Your Water Filter is Bad?

Firstly, most filters let you clean a specific amount of water before it requires a replacement. When you reach the limit, you might have to replace it. Furthermore, once the filter goes bad, the water it produces might still have a foul taste.

Find the Best Backpacking Water Filter That’s Right for You

It’s pretty clear from our best backpacking water filter reviews that finding the most suitable one isn’t so arduous once you’re aware of what you need to look for. These models are all great choices and will help transform almost all freshwater sources into clean, drinkable water.

3 thoughts on “6 Best Backpacking Water Filters”

    • Water filters remove particles from the water, viruses, bacteria, plastics and other organisms. Chemical tablets apply a disinfecting chemical, typically chlorine or iodine to the water and kills the harmful things but doesn’t remove any particles from your water. There will still be sand, microplastics and dead organisms in the water but it is safe to drink. Filters are a immediately available source for purifying water, while chemical tablets take about 30 minutes to be effective in killing the pathogens that are in the water. I think you need both types of purification to be able to use the water found in your environment and your time frame. If water is immediately needed a filter works best, but if it’s for use later on a chemical treatment may be better. One takes time to kill the harmful pathogens and the other is instant. Chemical tablets will eventually degrade in effectiveness and become useless. Filters last longer and are more effective for long term use. You can always boil water to kill off any harmful pathogens that may be in your water. Boil the water for at least, 15 minutes at a rolling boil, then let cool to room temperature. You can also make your own water filter from green grass or cloth, charcoal, pebbles, sand and a container to hold the different layers of material starting with a layer of grass on the bottom to act as a filter to keep the other Ingredients in place, you can use cloth as a filter to keep everything in place instead of grass, then charcoal, pebbles, sand that has been heated to kill off any organisms in it. Repeat this layering process so you have at least two layers of material 2 inches deep each. Pour the water into the top of your container and then allow it to gravity feed trough the layers of material and then drip out the bottom of your filter. The water from the bottom is safe to drink and the charcoal will help with the taste and remove heavy metals and pesticides from the water. Never stop up the water coming from the bottom of your filter, always let it drain thoroughly and dry. Stopping up the filter will allow the pathogens to work their way through the layers of material and contaminate the clean water at the bottom of your filter. Always let the water filter down through and then into a storage container and not stored in the filter itself. The longevity of the filter will depend upon the thickness and number of layers in your filter. You will have to make a new one after a little while, just reuse the container and use new layers of grass or cloth, charcoal, pebbles and sand. Repeat as necessary.
      I hope this answers your question.


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