Best Backpacking Water Filters 2021

Best Water Filter Drinking Very dirty water

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When you’re out hiking, clean water is important. In the wilderness, there’s plenty of water to be found, but it’s not necessarily clean. That’s why you need one of the best water filters for backpacking.

There are so many different bacteria that live in rivers, streams, and puddles, that you can’t just fill a water bottle with it straight away.

You need something to help you remove all those bacteria or parasites so that you can drink safely.

The Best Backpacking water filter is an essential piece of hiking equipment that can make your water safe to drink. If you’re out hiking for long periods of time, a good quality water filter will be a crucial addition to your backpack.

You’ll also want to ensure that you have a super lightweight water filtration system for backpacking that it isn’t too much of a burden to carry on your hikes. But with so many different types of water filters available, how can you be sure that you’ve found the best lightweight water filters for hiking?

I’ve done all the research for you so that you don’t have to. The search has been narrowed down to the 10 Best Ultralight Water Filters 2021.


Lightweight Water Filters for Backpacking Review


LifeStraw Personal Water Filter Review

The LifeStraw personal water filter is the perfect choice if you’re looking for something that’s super lightweight.

This particular water filter only weighs 2 ounces, so will be an ultralight addition to your backpack. It actively filters the water as you use it to drink.

This means you won’t have to do any pumping, and there aren’t any batteries needed.

The LifeStraw personal water filter works to remove 99.999% of waterborne parasites, 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria, and 99.999% of microplastics.

It uses its unique microfiltration membrane to do so, as well as reducing cloudiness, sand, and silt. All you need to do is stick your LifeStraw in the water and drink. All of these claims have been verified through rigorous testing.

Another great feature of this particular water filter is that it’s designed to last you for a long time. The microbiological filter gives you 4,000 liters of clean, safe drinking water.

The Lifestraw Personal does not attach to water bottles so it must be used like a straw by placing it into a water bottle and sucking. Also great for drinking directly from streams or when using a large mouth waterbottle.

This is a brand name water filter that is best when used in remote areas as a straw to sip water from remote streams.

Pros:

  • Ultralight – won’t take up too much room in your backpack and light to carry
  • Effective – removes 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.999% of waterborne parasites, and 99.999% of microplastics
  • Easy to use – filters as you drink the water

Cons:

  • Best for the wilderness and not general travel
  • Does not attach to water bottles

Sawyer MINI Review

The Sawyer Products MINI water filtration system is very popular with ultralight thru hikers. Weighing only 2 ounces / 56 grams, it is one of the most popular water filters for ultralight backpacking when completing any of the Hiking Triple Crown Trails.

The Sawyer Mini attached to the end of a water bottle instead of the cap. You then squeeze the water bottle and suck the water through the filter.

It does a good job but as the filter is so small it will clog up easier than any other filter. It is easy to back flush sediments and dirt from the filter with the lightweight syringe that is supplied.

Its lightweight and compact nature makes it the perfect addition to your hiking gear. This particular water filter is highly effective.

It’s capable of removing 99.99999% of all bacteria from the water you filter as well as harmful parasites and microplastics that can lurk in water. Giardia and cryptosporidium are removed with this filter.

A handy feature of this particular water filter is that it’s capable of filtering up to 100,000 gallons of water. In reality it will probably not last that long. I tended to replace this filter after every thru hike or around 150 days of very heavy use, which can be around 1500 liters of water. I just drop the filter a lot and wanted to make sure it was not cracked or broken.

This makes it the perfect filter to invest in if you are an ultralight thru hiker who wants one of the lightest filters on the market.

Pros:

  • Effective – removes the vast majority of bacteria and parasites, as well as 100% of microplastics
  • Compact – small, lightweight, and easy to stash away in your backpack
  • Long lasting – filters up to 100,000 gallons of water over its lifetime

Cons:

  • Clogs easily – silt and dirt build up quickly inside the filter due to it’s small size.

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier Review

The GRAYL ultralight water purifier is great for lengthy hiking trips but much better suited to travel than backpacking in the wilderness. The GRAYL is one of the best backpacking water filters and purifiers which is quite compact and will easily fit in with the rest of your hiking or travel equipment.

It removes harmful waterborne pathogens to leave you with clean, safe water. Not only that, it works to make the water taste better overall, too.

The GRAYL ultralight water purifier is able to remove sediment, silt, as well as many chemicals such as chlorine and benzene. But when the water is filled with a lot of sediment it is very difficult to filter. Better for pre filter the majority of sediment first. For that reason this is not the best lightweight filter for thru hiking where water quality can be very poor.

This water filter is capable of holding up to 16 ounces of water. This makes it the perfect addition for hiking as you can fill it up at a water source, then carry on with your hike while the water filters.

It’s easy to use. All you need to do is fill the container, press down on the lid, then drink once the water has had time to filter through.

An interesting feature of this water filter is that it’s been designed for harsh environments. The filter itself contains two layers of media to ensure that you’re drinking safely during your adventures. This works to enhance impurity removal, and also gives you a second layer of protection.

Overall, this is the best backpacking water filters and purifiers for overseas travel to areas with very sketchy water sources.

Pros:

  • Lightweight – ultralight water filter that you can add to your backpack or clip to the pack for easy transportation
  • Effective – removes the majority of bacteria, parasites, and even many chemicals
  • Travel – This is the best lightweight water filter for international travel

Cons:

  • Takes time – you will need to wait for the water to filter before it’s safe to drink
  • Blocks Easily – can’t be used on water with any sediment

Katadyn Vario Water Filter

If you’re a passionate hiker who’s looking for something that will last you for several adventures, the Katadyn Vario water filter is the perfect choice.

This particular water filter is pricier than some competitor products, however, it includes a range of features that make it a worthy investment. You can even replace some of the internal components for longevity.

I used one of the early versions of this filter back in the 1990s when I hiked my way around Alaska and South America. It worked perfectly to filter all the worst water sources back then and this model is no different.

This water filter is super easy to use. All you need to do is give it a simple turn to make use of the ceramic pre-filter. Add the suction end into your water source, then use the pump to filter clean water through into your water bottle.

This water filter is capable of producing up to 2 quarts per minute in the faster flow mode. If you want to ensure that your filter lasts you for longer, you can choose the longer life mode, which produces 1 quart of water per minute.

A wonderful feature of the Katadyn Vario water filter is how versatile it is. The adapter base can be used with water bottles directly, or you can attach it to an output hose to fill larger containers. This will make it a versatile addition to your hiking and camping gear.

This is one of the best expedition water filters for remote areas.

Pros:

  • Versatile – can be used with a water bottle or adapter hose for larger containers
  • Fast – produces 2 quarts of water per minute
  • Replaceable components – you can easily replace some of the internal filters to keep it working for many years to come

Cons:

  • Expensive – costs a bit more than some competitor filters
  • Heavy – Not lightweight but very effective

Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter

The Katadyn Hiker Pro transparent water filter is the essential piece of kit that you need for your hiking expeditions.

It’s been proven to protect users from bacteria as well as harmful parasites that can lurk in natural water sources.

This particular filter makes use of activated carbon in its core to make water taste better. The activated carbon works to reduce the chemicals that appear in the water, too.

A great feature of the Katadyn Hiker Pro is that you can see the filtration process working. Thanks to its transparent nature, you’ll be able to see the filtration process in action, giving you extra peace of mind.

It also comes with features to ensure it lasts you a lifetime, including a cleanable filter protector screen.

You won’t have to worry about this water filter being a burden to carry. It may not be the lightest filter in this review but ot os very effective. The compact size can easily be fitted in with the rest of your hiking essentials ready for you to use when you need it most.

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Another great expedition water filter that is great when hiking in groups in remote areas.

Pros:

  • Compact – easy to carry and pack away with your hiking gear
  • Transparent – see the filtration process in action
  • Effective – proven to get rid of harmful bacteria and protozoan cysts

Cons:

  • Requires rinsing – you will need to rinse the water filter first before you use it
  • Heavy – Not ultralight but very effective

Katadyn BeFree 0.6L Water Filter

Another great product from Katadyn, the Katadyn BeFree 0.6L water filter is the perfect choice if you want something even more compact.

What’s great about this water filter is that you can easily fold up the bag when it’s not in use. This means it won’t take up loads of room in your pack.

This water filter is highly effective. It works to remove harmful bacteria and protozoa from your water sources. So you won’t have to worry about whether the water you’re drinking will harm you or not!

The filter itself is super easy to clean after your hiking trips, too. Simply shake or swish the filter to get rid of any debris.

The Katadyn BeFree water filter is capable of filtering up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water. This makes it the perfect addition to your hiking equipment and should last you for ages.

A simple water filter that is great for traveling and trail running. Just fill from a stream when trail running and off you go.

Pros:

  • Compact – features a collapsible flask for easier portability
  • Effective – removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of harmful parasites
  • Long lasting – filters up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water

Cons:

  • Biological filter – not designed for chemically polluted water

EHS Water Filter Straw Review

The EHS water filter is a great choice if you have your heart set on a water filter straw. Slightly cheaper than the Lifestraw but just as effective.

This particular filter has been designed to be attached to tubing so that you don’t have to get close to the water source in order to use it.

Simply attach the tubing to the end, dip this in your water source, and drink away. You can also easily attach a water bottle to the end instead of the straw instead if you would prefer to use it that way.

This water filter is highly effective. It’s capable of filtering out 99.99% of particles and other harmful materials. It also works to reduce the amount of microplastics, silt, and waste that may be present in the source water.

The EHS water filter is super lightweight and only weighs roughly 2.4 ounces. This will make it the perfect addition to your hiking backpack as it won’t take up too much room, and won’t be noticeably heavy in your pack.

A great alternative to the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter at a cheaper price.

Pros:

  • Lightweight – only weighs 2.4 ounces
  • Versatile – can be combined with tubing or a water bottle for easier drinking
  • Effective – removes the vast majority of bacteria, harmful parasites, and other unwanted contaminants

Cons:

  • Tubing not included – if you want to use tubing this will need to be bought separately

Waterdrop Gravity Water Filter

The Waterdrop gravity water filter will be a welcome addition to any hiker’s equipment. This particular water filter uses gravity to filter the water you find from natural sources.

Simply fill up the water bag, then wait for gravity to do the hard work for you. You can even attach this to any water bottles you have if you want the water to go into an easy to use container.

The equipment itself is lightweight, and won’t take up much room in your backpack when empty. This smaller frame also gives you a much larger capacity than competitive water filters. It’s capable of filtering up to 100,000 gallons of water, so will last you for many years to come.

The Waterdrop gravity water filter for backpacking is quite efficient. This water filter reduces 99% of harmful substances, leaving you with clean water that’s safe to drink. It even makes use of an activated carbon filter to help improve the taste of the water it filters.

One of the best basecamp or group water filters. Also great when hiking in the desert where large amounts of water need to be filtered between water sources.

Pros:

  • Highly effective – removes 99% of harmful substances
  • Gravity operated – no need to get pumping for cleaner water
  • Long lasting – can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water

Cons:

  • Gravity reliant – needs gravity in order to filter properly

SimPure Water Filter Straw

You’ll have all the filtering power you need with the SimPure water filter straw. This particular product comes with 4 different straws for you to use while hiking.

You can easily have one for all your family and friends who will be accompanying you on your adventure. Or you can save the additional water filters for the next time you need them!

The SimPure water filter straw is highly effective and easy to use. This particular water filter works to remove 99.9999% of unwanted bacteria and parasites, as well as microplastics.

You can even drink straight from the water source. So you won’t have to worry about waiting ages for the straw to filter the water beforehand!

An interesting feature of this water filter straw is that it comes with a carrying strap. This means you can easily carry the straw around your neck for easier access. You won’t have to go digging through your backpack to find it if you want to get a drink!

Yet another budget version of the Lifestraw Person Straw.

Pros:

  • Compact – small and lightweight for easier portability
  • Effective – removes 99.9999% of harmful bacteria, parasites, and microplastics
  • Portable – comes with a carry strap for easier portability
  • Cheap – Not many cheaper water filter straws than this one

Cons:

  • Pricey – pricey compared to some similar water filter straw products

Ultralight Water Filters for Hiking Buyer’s Guide

Trying to find the best lightweight water filter for thru hiking or backpacking is not an easy task. There are so many different types of water filter to choose from, and with so many different weights.

Good filtration

The most important factor to consider is what kind of filtration your chosen water filter is able to offer you.

There is all manner of harmful bacteria and parasites lurking in natural water. I found this out the hard way. I have picked up both Giardia and Cryptosporidium while in the backcountry on hiking trips. They are both unpleasant and preventable with a good water filter.

Good water filters for backpacking can also remove harmful chemicals. This will of course depend on where exactly you go hiking, as there may be no need to worry about human interference if you’re out in the wild. An activated carbon filter attached to the main filter is best to remove chemicals and the bad smell of polluted water sources. But carbon filters need to be replaced regularly, often after as little as 100 liters of filtering.

Backpacking water filters can remove microplastics. These are known to slip through water treatment plants and get released into water systems around the globe.

Lightweight

You will of course want a water filter that’s lightweight. This makes it easier to carry around while you go hiking.

Take a look at how much the water filter weighs. A compact water filter will also be easier to stash away in your backpack when it’s not in use.

Take a look at other customer’s reviews. This should be a good indicator of how easy the water filter is to carry, as some customers will make a note of how heavy or light the water filter was to carry on their own hiking expeditions.

Easy to use

There are so many different types of water filters available. You should opt for a water filter that’s easy for you to use.

The last thing you’ll want while you’re out hiking is a water filter that’s too complicated to use in a pinch! Take a look at the style of water filter that you would prefer.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best filter for hiking?

The best filters for hiking are:

How do you filter water while backpacking?

You can filter water while backpacking by using a water filter! There are many different types to choose from.

Some feature a straw design that you stick into your water source; some require you to pump the water through the filter; some even use gravity to do all the work for you.

You can take a look at the 10 best ultralight water filters for hiking above to get you started with the best water filter for your backpacking needs.

Related Posts:

Complete Guide to the Best Water Filters for Backpacking

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