The 5 Best Backpacking Water Filters Reviewed

Best Backpacking Water Filters

Waterborne pathogens are a big threat when backpacking, causing illness, and sometimes even death. In order to protect yourself, you need to choose a water filtration device if you plan on drinking any water you find in brooks, streams, and other bodies of water.

A backpacking water filtration system cleans pathogens from water using a filter and mechanical water pressure versus boiling water or using physical filtration, chemicals, or ultraviolet light.

There are many things to consider when deciding on the right filtration system, and we’ve broken them down into the five best backpacking water filters with reviews, which include the:

  • LifeStraw Mission Water Purifier
  • Katadyn Pocket Water Filter
  • Katadyn Hiker Microfilter
  • MSR MiniWors EX Microfilter
  • Chemical Treatments


Available in 5 and 12 liter sizes

Most Recognized
LifeStraw is widely recognized in the backpacking and camping community and is one of the top choices.
Easy To Use
All you have to do is fill the bag with water then attach the hollow membrane water filter. You get water without 99.9999% of protozoa, bacteria, and viruses.
Improved Technology
LifeStraw takes gravity and pressure filtering to a whole new level with improved technology.
Easy To Clean
Just clean out debris and particulates with the integrate backwash bulb, and you are ready to use it again.
Filters 5,000 Gallons Of Water
Most people never use the maximum amount of water that LifeStraw can filter.


Rugged And Durable
This device stands the test of time, even with heavy use.
All Metal And Rugged Plastic
With this device there is no chance of it breaking
Replacement Parts
Bent arm pumps are the worst of anything going wrong, and a quick call to the company results in a replacement part.
Easy To Clean
The filter breaks down entirely and can be cleaned easily. The ceramic filter is easily cleaned with a steel pad.
It’s not pocket size, by any means. It’s large and heavy. A replacement filter is $100


Lasts A Long Time
The filter is more fragile than filters in other devices because it is made of plastic.
Low Cost
This device costs less to buy and to replace filters
Doesn’t Clog Easily
The device works well and hardly ever clog
Easy To Clean
You just remove the filter by unscrewing it, rinsing it, leaving it out to dry, and putting it back in. Clean the pump arm by disassembling, cleaning, and lubing, before replacing.


Ceramic Filter
Clogs easily, try to use on water with less sediment, if you can.
Lever Arm
This devices uses a lever arm versus a direct pump handle.
Fits On Water Bottle
You can screw the filter onto a Dromedar water bag or your Nalgene wide mouth bottle.
Easy To Clean
The device is easily disassembled and cleaned, but make sure you scrub the ceramic filter with a steel pad.

Chemical treatments are another option that we want to briefly discuss.


AquaMira, Iodine, and Bleach

  • These chemicals do not remove sediment, but they do kill pathogens.
  • Less expensive than water filtration devices
  • Safe


Size And Weight
When you are backpacking you want something light and small. In this case, chemicals and UV Pens beat out water filters.

Replacement Parts

  • Water filtration devices have elements that wear out and need to be replaced. Some units need to be thrown out and completely replaced.
  • When using ultraviolet light devices, batteries wear out and need replacing.
  • Chemicals also run out and need replacing.

Filter Pore Size
The smaller the pore size in a filter, the fewer pathogens can get through. These pores are measured in microns. You can compare these pore sizes to the pathogens that you are wishing to remove. Some are bigger, some are smaller.

Water Considerations
If the water has heavy sediment, or is dirty or stagnant, water filters can become clogged with dirt, debris, and sediment. Sometimes you will have to clean the filter after each liter of filtered water, which can be a pain. Using a pre-filtering cloth before putting the water through the device can help with preventing clogging.

Chemicals work best with this type of water.

Water filtration is important to anyone who plans to be out in the woods or wilderness. With many choices, such as chemicals, filters, ultraviolet light, and boiling, you are sure to find one that suits your needs. The type you choose should match the type of water you will be filtering. Consider risk, ease of use, convenience, and budget when choosing your filter, but remember that pathogens can make you very ill and you want something that is highly effective in filtering out these bugs.

As always, have fun and protect yourself!


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