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There’s a lot to digest when comparing water filters. Whether they’re for home use or travel, domestic or international, or drinking directly from that mountain stream, options abound. Pitcher-style filters now fit into bottles, so you can ditch single-use plastics once and for all. Microfilters like the LifeStraw have pushed the boundaries of exploration in the backwoods of North America, making it easy to go lighter, further, and faster. And more commonly, manufacturers are integrating protection against bacteria, viruses and more into refillable bottles with interior purifiers, so you can safely drink treated or untreated water overseas, at home, or during natural disasters.
By now every outdoor enthusiast has heard of the LifeStraw brand of water filters, and many have one of their ultra-light survival tools as a must-have camping accessory or set aside in case of an emergency. If you’re looking for a water bottle that delivers that same level of protection, their integrated filter + bottle may be just what you need. Comfortably sized for everyday use as a refillable water bottle, the integrated filter makes it a great companion in the American backcountry, filtering out 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa from water.
- Reduces odor and chlorine with no aftertaste
- BPA Free
- 1 or 2 stage filters available
Fill any sized bottle or install in-line on a hydration pack and filter as you drink. With this 2-ounce travel pal, you can enjoy your time in the backcountry with ease. The 0.1-micron filter removes 99.9 percent of the bacteria you’re likely to encounter in North American lakes and rivers; cholera, salmonella, and E. Coli. Because the filter traps, rather than absorbs, particulates, it has to be backflushed regularly, but with proper care and cleaning can filter up to 100,000 gallons.
- Includes straw, refillable pouch, cleaning plunger
- Fills any size bottle, so a great choice for families
If you’re looking for a way to eliminate single-use plastic bottles from your life, a good reusable bottle for every family member is essential. This soft squeezable bottle by Brita is comfortably sized for small hands and has fun patterns, making it an essential accessory when traveling with kids. It removes the bad taste found in many residential water systems, whether from well water with odors of sulfur, or city treated systems that have a chlorine smell. Each filter works for about two months, or about 40 gallons of water, before needing to be replaced.
- For use at home, school, or sporting events
- BPA free
- Does not remove fluoride
There are plenty of rave reviews online for Katadyn’s newly redesigned Hiker Pro microfilter, like this one from Amazon. “My guide had one of these in his pack, and when I ran out of water 4 miles from the truck he was able to refill my bladder from a stream that was running cloudy with snowmelt. The water that came out of the filter was clean and fresh. As soon as I got home I purchased one.” Whether hunting, hiking, or canoeing, having quick access to clean water keeps you alert and energized, able to stay safe and enjoy your trip. The clear design on this hand pump filter makes it easy to see your progress as you pump, so fill those bottles and hydration bladders quickly and easily.
- Activated charcoal filter improves taste
- Have to rinse before first use
- Cleans easily in the field
It seems like there are no situations that the Grayl Purifier + Filter can’t handle. It filters 99.9% of protozoa like giardia, bacteria like E. Coli, and viruses like hepatitis and rota, making it the best choice for anyone traveling. It also makes a great gift for hikers dependent on untreated water. The drawbacks; its’ 16 oz capacity and 40-gallon filter lifespan. The reviews for the Grayl are full of users noting where in the world this little bottle kept them safe. “Made a three-week trip to South America, used this purifier for almost all my drinking water. It worked awesomely – never got sick the entire trip.”
- Filters viruses, unlike many other options
- Works like a coffee press, requires firm pressure
- Small capacity means you’ll probably want to pick up a bladder
Lifestraw’s Flex filter is just that- flexible. Use it with the included 1-gallon capacity gravity bag to filter water while setting up or breaking down camp, or fill your hydration bladders and use the filter in-line as you hike. It can also be screwed onto a plastic water bottle, if you’re going ultralight, or even used as a straw filter like the LifeStraw we’re all familiar with. The fiber membrane is good for 500 gallons, but the replaceable carbon capsule needs to be changed out after about 26 gallons.
- Versatile; use as a straw, with a bladder, or with the bag
- Carbon capsule reduces lead, pesticides, and heavy metals
- Gravity filters are great for groups, families, or couples
If you’re frequently traveling and are looking for a portable filter that is easy to use and has a great capacity, this 8 cup BPA free filter could be the solution. Perfect for filtering hotel water to remove chlorine, benzene, and organic contaminants. The funnel-shaped design ensures it fits kettles, pitchers, and bottles, so you can drink and cook with purified water any time, and pre-filtering water for taste ensures better flavors from coffee and teas.
- Improves flavor
- Travels easily with included pouch
- Does not remove viruses, bacteria, etc.
Whenever you’re hiking or backpacking, it’s best to have backups for life-saving equipment, even if it’s just for peace of mind. A bottle of 50 water purifying iodine tablet will treat just over six gallons of water, and weighs less than a quarter ounce. The taste of iodine in treated water is noticeable to most people, so bringing along a flavoring packet for your water bottles helps mask the flavor. It’s also a useful tool for kayakers, boaters, or fishermen; an injury or engine breakdown may find you unintentionally stranded for hours, surrounded by undrinkable water.
- Multi-year shelf life
- Doesn’t remove silt and sediment
“I have used the SteriPEN in Mongolia, Chile, Argentina and all across the Rockies and never had a problem! I do SAR work and when I have my SeriPEN I can carry far less water with me with no risk.” -Amazon Review
A good choice for international travelers when the local tap water is clear and sediment free but still may contain viruses and bacteria. UV based purifiers have their proponents and their detractors among the hiking community. Some decry the need for pre-filters and batteries, others love the option for fresh, clean water without boiling, chemical treatment, or manual pumping.
- Treats up to 8000 liters
- Indicator lights are easiest to see when used with clear bottles
- Treatment takes about 90 seconds.
Let gravity do all the work with this hanging filter by MSR; no pumping or flushing required. Fill bottles, cooking pots, and hydration bladders easily. Water filters while you set up camp, making it easy to multitask. Uses a food grade liner so there are no off-putting plastic flavors. A great option for use at home during an emergency, it’s easy to fill with rainwater, and the fast working filter is great for families or groups
- 4 Liter capacity
- Gather, store, and purify all in one
- Packs up light and small
Convenient and inexpensive, Seychelle’s Extreme filter bottle uses an iodinated pre-filter. While some other bottles sell Aquatabs or other iodine treatment tabs as a component of a two-part filtration system in order to combat viruses, Seychelle has combined both into a single system, taking away steps from the end user. In addition to removing 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, it also filters radiological contaminants, chemical pollutants like pesticides, including glysophate, and inorganic materials like lead, mercury, and arsenic. Whether you’re buying this bottle for a specific use or just considering options for emergency preparedness, there are few scenarios that wouldn’t be improved by such a broad spectrum approach to water purification.
- Iodine treatment without the bad taste
- 28oz capacity
- You’ll need one per person, and suction-based systems are sometimes hard for children
There’s a lot of insecurity in the world, and it’s no surprise that a product with no expiration date, that costs less than twenty dollars and offers to alleviate some anxieties about the future is immensely popular. It filters up to a thousand gallons and only weighs two ounces. There are no batteries, no moving parts, you can drop it, kick it, leave it in the bottom of your bug-out bag, whatever. It’s the ultimate in emergency preparedness for people without the money, time, or space necessary to go full-on prepper.
- You’re gonna want to buy a bottle or something to use this with, seriously nobody belly crawls up to the stream and sticks their straw in.