Waterborne illnesses are no joke. They can ravage your digestive tract, give you parasites, or worse. But water is something we simply can’t live without—particularly in the Great Outdoors. So, if you’re planning on backpacking or hitting the hiking trail, don’t leave without a water purifier. They’re light, efficient, and can remove harmful bacteria from natural water sources. Water weighs almost 10 pounds per gallon—and adults need to drink at least half of that per day. Instead of breaking your back, endangering your health, or becoming dehydrated, check out these top portable water purifiers.
Don’t want to get cholera, botulism, or dysentery? The SteriPEN has you covered. SteriPEN uses a powerful UV light to purify up to 50 liters of clear water per charge. While it’s small, it kills off 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. It’s fast, too. The SteriPEN treats 16 fl. oz. of water in under one minute—and twice that in under 90 seconds.
An important thing to note is that SteriPEN only works on clear water. If you’re getting water from puddles or ponds with visible sediment or impurities, you’ll need a different filter. Just make sure you use the USB cord to charge the SteriPEN in your car, through an outlet, or with a solar panel to keep your water purifier working. At $99 retail, it’s a pricey but super convenient and important tool for backpackers.
Whet your whistle with confidence when you use the Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System. It can filter four liters of water in 2.5 minutes. No pumping. No separate containers. Simply fill one bag, hang it from a tree, and let the system remove particles and kill off protozoa and bacteria as small as 0.2 microns. That way, you won’t have to worry about contracting giardia, salmonella, parasites, or a slew of other unpleasantries.
Another mega bonus is the sustainable design. Other water purifiers run on battery, but this filter doesn’t. It uses gravity and a dual-bag system to eliminate impurities. Plus, the Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System stores and filters water, so you won’t need an additional container.
Dirty water goes in; clean water comes out. All that’s required of you is some muscle. Unlike other models, the Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Filter operates with a manual pump. For every 48 pumps, you’ll get one liter of clean drinking water. Since this only takes about one minute to produce one liter of potable water, you’ll be hydrating in no time.
The Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Filter is a rugged device. It takes in cloudy water with physical particles and processes it into better tasting, safe H2O. The design of the Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Filter is meant to last, removing large particles before they enter the filter to extend its lifespan. Then, its carbon core sifts out chemicals and pesticides to deliver a better tasting product. If you’re heading out on a long journey, this is a reliable water filter that won’t need a charge—just man power.
MSR SweetWater Water Filter shares a similar design with Katadyn, but it’s much more compact. At just 11 oz., MSR is one of the lightest full size water filters you can buy. Plus, you can fold the pump down to make more room in your pack. But don’t let its size fool you. While it may be tiny, the MSR SweetWater Water Filter kills more than 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria and 99.9 percent of protozoan parasites like giardia. Thanks to its pump that draws water in during the up and down motion, you can purify up to one liter every 1.5 minutes. While we wouldn’t recommend filtering super murky water with this pump, it does have a carbon filter to improve taste.
Pack light (and smart) with the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier. Weighing in at just under 11 oz., this little gem is a backpacker’s best friend—and a modern-day marvel. Instead of using a typical mechanical filtration system, GRAYL implements patented electro adsorptive media that kills 99.9999 percent of all pathogens. While some water filters only protect against bacteria and protozoa, GRAYL stops viruses like Hepatitis A, SARS, and Rotovirus. Tack on the fact that this water purifier can process two liters per minute, and you’ll see that it’s one of the best you can buy. Plus, it’s half the price of most!
Of all water purifiers on our list, the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System is by far the smallest. At just two oz., it’ll hardly take up any space in your backpack. Once you find a water source, kneel down and use the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System as a straw. It’ll filter out 99.9999 percent of bacteria and protozoa like cholera and E.coli while leaving you refreshed. If you need to take water with you, you can still use this straw. It fits most water bottles and can be used with canisters. At just under $25, this is a great primary or secondary water purifier that can keep you hydrated and healthy.
Lifestraw is a Best Seller on Amazon. That’s probably because it’s cheap (about $20), compact, and high quality. Sip untreated water with this straw to remove over 99 percent of waterborne parasites and bacteria. And while you drink, don’t worry about what the straw might be introducing to your body. This device cleans up to 1,000 liters of water without using harmful iodine, chlorine, or chemicals. You also won’t need to pump or charge this device.
Don’t let thirst cloud your judgement. Stay hydrated and healthy by bringing a water purifier along with you on all your adventures. Have a favorite brand or water safety recommendations? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.