Avid hikers, world travelers, and camping enthusiasts have one thing in common — they all need a way to quickly and safely access clean drinking water. Thankfully, there are water filtration systems that are small enough to fit in your pocket or hiking backpack and are strong enough to remove harmful bacteria and parasites.
Outdoor water purifiers are a must-have item for anyone who likes to spend time in the outdoors, whether you’re hiking, fishing, camping, mountain biking, or enjoying a lazy afternoon at the local lake. While it’s always a good idea to bring your own water container from home, outdoor water purifiers mean outdoor enthusiasts no longer have to carry a huge supply of water, which can be cumbersome and bulky. Water purifiers work by turning natural bodies of water, like lakes and rivers, into drinking fountains.
The outdoor water purifiers on our list are not only convenient, but they’re also a safety tool. Small and lightweight, these water purifiers can easily fit in your pocket, backpack, or attach to a bag. They can mean the difference between life and death should the unthinkable happen and you’re separated from your group, get lost in the wilderness, or become stranded because of weather or an injury while outdoors. The water purifiers can help ensure you have clean drinking water until you’re able to make your way to safety or be rescued.
Outdoor water purifiers are also a must-have item for international travel. With clean drinking water not always available in certain parts of the world, including North America, outdoor water purifiers can ensure travelers always have safe water to drink, keeping them healthy and hydrated while traveling.
Check out our top picks for the best outdoor water purifiers below.
1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
This easy-to-carry and store filter takes out 99.9% of any bacteria in water it filters. Small and easy to use, the LifeStraw is a camper or backpacker’s #1 choice for accessing pure, clean water while out in the mountains. The LifeStraw also detects and removes microplastics and is proven to filter up to 1,000 gallons of water of its lifetime. Try the LifeStraw if you’re headed somewhere without clean water for easy access.
2. Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
The Sawyer mini is an excellent tool all campers and backpackers should store in their bags or in the car in case they need access to clean water. Carrying enough water on a trip can be tricky and is the most important aspect of all your equipment, so investing in a sound water filter is tantamount to having a good trip. The Sawyer mini filter has a 0.6-liter capacity and weighs just 2 pounds, which makes it ideal for backpacking, and removes 99.9% of all bacteria.
3. LifeStraw Mission High-Volume Water Purifier
The Life Straw’s twin comes with a gravity bag to ease the filtration process. Simply filter the clean water into the bag, which is lightweight and easy to carry along with any backpacking setup. The carbon fiber capsule makes this version a more astute filtration system and cleans out 99.9% of all bacteria while improving the taste of the water. This bag has a life of 4,775 gallons and a capacity of 1.3 gallons of water per load. It can roll up into a compact sleeve for easy transport when you’re not using it, and because it doesn’t require batteries or power of any kind it’s great for emergency preparedness.
4. Sawyer Squeeze Filter System
Another great Sawyer product is the squeeze system, which takes longer but can be more effective in cycling out bacteria. For avid campers and backpackers, this might be a tedious choice, but for those not in a hurry and seeking pure water, this is an excellent choice. Fill up the water from the lake into the pouch and simply squeeze through to the attached filtered cap. A key feature of this filter is the syringe to help the back-flush to maintain a high flow rate. Try out the squeeze filter system if you’re looking for a filter that weighs only 3 ounces and puts out 1.7 liters of water.
5. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
The Katadyn may be at a higher price point than most other water filter systems, but the quality of the product makes itself known through its 8-pound pump force which gives you 1 liter of water per minute. The glass fiber element helps sift through the silt at water level, keeping your water as clean and pure as possible. With only 48 strokes per minute, you’ll have 1 liter of water in no time at all, which is great for large groups or families camping. The activated carbon core absorbs chemicals and pesticides to improve the taste of your water. The Katadyn filter system may be expensive, but it’ll save you a bundle of effort with its amazing pump system.
6. Membrane Solutions Water Filter
These Membrane Solutions water filters have a very similar design to LifeStraw, with a 0.1 micron 4-stage water filter built into a convenient straw. The straw prevents backwash and can be used to drink water immediately or store it for later consumption. The lifespan is at least 20,000 liters of water and the straw has two detachable ends that can be hooked up to larger water supplies, hoses or other containers if you’re camping, backpacking or setting up a long term outdoor living situation.
7. Katadyn Pocket Water Filter
This ceramic water filter by Katadyn is by far the best on our list, which is why we saved it for last. At a high price point, this filter can only be justified for extreme backpacking situations or very avid campers. This system is a long-lasting, ceramic-made, quality filter that will last you for many years to come. The ceramic filter is silver-impregnated to inhibit bacterial growth inside its pores, removes particles, bacteria, cysts, and parasites larger than 0.2 microns, including protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidia.