A good quality portable water filter will not only improve your camping and hiking experience or your worldwide adventures, but it can also protect you from serious bacterial, parasitic or viral infections as well.
So, getting an efficient portable water filter can literally save your life.
Having a reliable water filter in your home emergency or disaster kit is also a must.
Since there are so many different types of compact water filters on the market, we have selected the most selling portable water filters for 2021 to help you make the most suitable selection easier.
Read on to find out more about these excellent water filters, their pros and cons, and what they are suitable for.
The best overall
This Mini Water Filtration system by Sawyer Products is a must-have for anybody who loves outdoor adventures, camping, hiking, as well as for any emergency or survival kit.
It is very compact in size. In fact, the actual filter can easily fit in your palm and weighs just 2-oz.
Yet, its filter cartridge has a huge capacity of filtering up to 100,000 gallons of water and removing 99.99% of dangerous bacteria, parasite protozoa, and viruses, as well as harmful microplastics as small as 0.1 microns from the water.
Also included in the affordable portable water filter package are a reusable water drinking pouch of 16-oz, a 7-inch reusable straw, as well as a cleaning plunger.
You can easily attach the filter to an average water bottle, a hydration bladder, and even a faucet, thanks to its nifty adapter.
This filter can be used as a personal filter, or you can share it with your family or others.
Each of these portable filters has been tested for efficiency by the manufacturer and by accredited laboratories.
- It is very compact and weighs only 2-oz, so you can fit it in your backpack, pocket, or anywhere.
- Superb for an emergency or survival kit
- A huge capacity of up to 100,000 gallons of water
- Independently tested for efficiency by 3 different accredited labs.
- Removes up to 99.99% of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other pathogens
- It can be used for drinking directly via the straw, or share with others via the 16-oz pouch, or any bottle.
- The filter kit is sold at a very reasonable price.
- The squeeze bag can burst if too much impact is applied.
This powerful portable water filter by MSR can remove protozoa, bacteria, particulate, organic pollutants as well as viruses from any fresh water source in cases of emergency or when you are outdoors without drinking water available.
The system includes a water pump and a pack of 50 Aquatab purification tablets, which you can use if you suspect that the water may be infected by viruses.
Otherwise, the pump has an efficient carbon and ceramic filter, which will keep you safe and hydrated no matter where you are. The filter can purify up to 2,000 liters of water from the protozoa and bacteria as small as 0.2 microns, and each tablet is efficient for killing off viruses from 2 quarts of water.
The MSR MiniWorks is capable of pumping one liter of purified water per minute.
The pump can be attached to any wide mouth water bottle or a hydration bladder. It is 2.75 x 7.5 inches in size, it weighs 1 lb., and it comes with a handy storage bag for easy portability.
The highly efficient portable water filter is one of the few products on this list that can efficiently kill off viruses from the water.
It is made in the USA from premium quality materials and is sold with a limited lifetime warranty.
- The pump can remove up to 99.99% of viruses, bacteria, protozoa and removes organic compounds and particulate from any water freshwater source.
- It is compatible with a wide variety of hydration bladders and wide-mouth bottles.
- The system comes with 50 purification Aquatab tablets, capable of cleaning 2 quarts of water each.
- It is tested and meets the NSF standard for bacteria and protozoa removal.
- The replaceable carbon and ceramic filter has a capacity of filtering up to 2,000 liters of water.
- The pump will filter 1 liter of water per minute.
- It is compact and light and comes with a storage bag.
- The pump is sold with a limited lifetime warranty.
- It requires cleaning and scrubbing if used with murky water.
The best budget-friendly option
The LifeStraw is the best budget-friendly portable water filter you can buy in 2021. It costs less than $20 and yet can save your life when there is a lack of safe drinking water.
The LifeStraw is a personal portable water filter that is very easy to use.
It can filter up to 1,000 gallons of water and has no moving parts or batteries so that it will function properly at all times.
It is capable of removing up to 99.99% of bacteria, protozoan parasites, and microplastics as small as 0.2 microns.
The filter is tested and surpasses the EPA filter standards.
The LifeStraw is small and portable and weighs only 2 ounces. Plus, it comes in a nifty sealable bag so you can safely keep it in your bag, backpack, or disaster kit. It doesn’t have a shelf-life, so you can keep it safely tucked into your emergency or disaster kit and rely on it in case an actual disaster comes.
The size of the filter is 9 x 1 x 1 inch.
It is easy to use and filters the water immediately. All you need to do is place the bottom of the straw in a cup or directly into a stream or other water source and start sipping through the straw directly.
This will allow you to have access to safe drinking water as soon as you find a freshwater source.
- This is the least expensive personal portable water filter on the market.
- It is only 9 x 1 x 1 inch in size and weighs 2 oz.
- It doesn’t use chemicals to filter out 99.99% of the protozoa and bacteria from any freshwater source.
- It doesn’t have a shelf-life, so you can store it for emergencies or disasters.
- It has the capacity of filtering up to 1,000 gallons of water.
- It allows for easy and instant access to safe drinking water.
- It does require sufficient suction from your side to get the filter and water going, which can be a hassle, especially in high altitude where the oxygen level is low.
The rest of the best portable water filters for 2021
It is a lifesaving item for anyone who loves traveling to exotic destinations, backpacking, hiking, or going on other outdoor adventures.
The portable water filter by Grayl efficiently purifies water from any freshwater source from harmful pathogens like protozoa, bacteria and viruses, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, microplastics, and others. In fact, this portable water filter can even improve the taste of the water, no matter the source.
It is very easy to use, and all you need to do is fill it and press it to drink purified and safe water.
Thanks to its wide opening, you can fill it from a stream, well, any tap, lake, or another water source effortlessly.
The filter can purify about 24-oz of water per 8 seconds, without the use of batteries or complicated installation. This means that you will have access to safe water the minute you need it.
The Geopress is among the fastest of all portable water filters, with a capacity of filtering up to 5 liters of water per minute.
The bottle and cap are made of completely safe, BPA-free materials. The cap works as a ventilation system, helps protect the water from cross-contamination, allows for fast, one-hand filtering and drinking.
The bottle has ergonomic soft pads for slip-proof and fatigue-free holding.
The purifier cartridge can last for 350 filtering cycles or 65 gallons of water.
- It cleans and purifies any water from just about any contaminant.
- Great for traveling abroad, hiking, fishing, backpacking, survival
- Very fast filtering – 5 liters per minute
- A capacity of up to 350 uses of each filter cartridge
- Soft pads and a top grip finish
- Made of BPA free, durable materials
- Very easy to fill and use
- It is offered in different color options.
- It may be a bit bulky for some travelers.
- The water filtering push button and closing system may be challenging for people with weak hands.
The Sawyer Products Squeeze portable water filter system includes everything you will need to purify water from any fresh water source, at any time, and make it safe to drink.
Each filter can successfully purify up to an amazing 1 million gallons of water before it needs replacement. If you pre-filter the dirty water with a clean rag, coffee filter or shirt, and take care to backflush it regularly, you can increase the filter’s life immensely.
Not only does the filter have a huge capacity, but it is also very fast in filtering the water, so you will have access to safe water instantly after you pour it and start filtering it.
The filtration system includes a 32-oz squeeze pouch, a Sawyer filter, a faucet adapter, an adapter for attaching it to a 5-gallon bucket.
The filter weighs only 2-oz but is capable of removing over 99.9% of the parasites, bacteria, and microplastics up to 0.1 microns from the water, allowing you access to safe drinking water, no matter where you are.
When folded, the pouch and filter, as well as the adapters, are very portable and can easily fit in your backpack without taking up too much space or adding weight to it.
This portable filter is definitely something you should keep at home in case of emergencies, and take with you whenever going to a place where there is no access to safe drinking water. Plus, you will save hundreds of dollars for buying bottled water when traveling abroad with this filtering system.
- The filter has a capacity of filtering up to 1,000,000 gallons of water
- The system includes a large squeeze bag and adapters which you can use for attaching the filter to taps, buckets, bottles, and others
- It removes 99.9% of the parasite protozoa and bacteria as well as microplastics from the water
- You can filter water from any freshwater source easily
- It is light and compact – perfect for traveling, survival and outdoor adventures
- An excellent addition to any emergency or disaster pack
- The squeeze bag is not so durable, so you may want to opt for a smart bottle instead
- You need to keep the parts all together to avoid losing any of them when on the road
This portable water filter by LifeStraw includes a BPA-free water bottle and the popular LifeStraw filter, which can successfully remove 99.99% of the protozoa and bacteria from all types of freshwater, making it potable.
The hollow fiber membrane filter uses 2-stage filtering to remove chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, microplastics, odors, and taste from the water too. The activated carbon filter can purify up to 26 gallons of water, and the microfiltration membrane can clean up to 1,000 gallons of water before the need for a replacement. You will know when the filter reaches its limit because it will stop taking in water.
The water bottle has a 23-oz capacity, and it and its mouthpiece are made of food-safe and BPA free Tritan and silicone. It comes with a free carabiner, making it easy to carry on your backpack, belt, or other.
You can use the filter as a LifeStraw directly, or use it together with the bottle.
The LifeStraw portable water filter is available in more than 15 different color options for every taste.
This portable water filtering system is 3.1 x 3.1 x 9.2 inches in size and weighs 7.8-oz. It is the perfect accessory for adventurers, travelers, and lovers of outdoor adventures. Plus, it is a great item to have for emergencies or in case of disasters that could leave you without safe drinking water.
- Portable, easy to carry and with an added carabiner
- BPA-free bottle and mouthpiece
- The 2-stage filtering system successfully removes bacteria, protozoa, microplastics, pesticides and herbicides from the water
- Once the filter has reached its full capacity it will simply stop intaking water, and thus prevent you from drinking potentially harmful water accidentally
- The water bottle has a 23-ounce capacity
- The LifeStraw filter can be used as a filtering straw separately too
- The activated carbon capsule has a lifetime of up to 26 gallons of water, and the hollow fiber membrane can purify up to 1,000 gallons of water
- It is sold in a variety of color options
- It doesn’t filter out viruses from the water
The Platypus GravityWorks 4.0 water filtering system is one of the options for larger families and groups of people who need safe and clean drinking water.
The system has a high capacity and is great for camping and other outdoor activities. It can also be used successfully in emergencies, and cases of disasters when the drinking water is unsafe.
The gravity-based water filtering system is tested and certified in compliance with NSF and EPA standards and can remove 99.99% of bacteria, and 99.9% of protozoa, including salmonella, cholera, e.coli, cryptosporidium, and other nasty viruses from the water.
Thanks to its gravity-based design, no pumping, and extra effort are needed for filtering the water.
You just need to hang it on a tree or other high place and let the filter do its job. You can also use it as a handwashing station and even as a solar shower.
It can deliver 4 liters of purified water for 25 minutes.
Both reservoirs have a 4-liter capacity. The filter is made of a hollow fiber, and the system also includes the connecting hoses, a shutoff clamp, and a storage bag for all components.
The filters have a life of up to 1,500 gallons of water.
The weight of the entire kit is 11.5-oz., so it is easy to carry and store.
- Fast and easy filtering without pumping required
- Cleans 4 liters of water for 25 minutes
- NSF and EPA certified
- Removes protozoa and bacteria from the water
- The filter has a capacity of purifying up to 1,500 gallons of water
- Perfect for camping, outdoor activities and emergencies
- It can be used as a solar water shower or for hand and dishwashing
- Suitable for large families and groups of people
- Due to the bag design, filling it with water from some sources without help can be a hassle
The drops are easy to use and are efficient in removing protozoa, including the hard to kill cryptosporidium cysts, bacteria, and viruses from freshwater sources.
Part A of the system has chlorine dioxide as the main ingredient, and kills odor-causing bacteria, and can help improve the taste of your stored potable water. Part B from the filtering system contains phosphoric acid and other ingredients that kills the bacteria, protozoa, and particulates.
It has a long shelf-life of 4 years, and it is a useful item to have at home for emergencies or to take with you when traveling.
Overall, this is a compact and inexpensive portable water filtering system that you can use along with another filtration system, or a pre-filter to remove the particulates. It will help ensure that you stay safe and have access to well-tasting water when traveling the world.
- Very compact and easy to carry and use
- A shelf life of up to 4 years
- It kills bacteria, hard to kill protozoa, and other microorganisms
- It helps improve the taste of stored and filtered potable water
- It works on unlimited quantities of water
- It doesn’t remove particulates, so you should use a clean handkerchief or rug to pre-filter the water before adding the drops
Features to look for when buying a portable water filter
Having access to clean drinking water is the number one priority for every human and living being. If you like to go on adventures to exotic destinations or on camping or other outdoor trips, then having a reliable portable water filter can help you stay hydrated, safe from parasite and bacterial infections, and can literally even help save your life.
A portable filter should be easy to carry without taking up too much space but should still be capable of providing you with water that is safe to drink from any freshwater source.
Since there are so many different types of portable water filters, it can be hard to choose the most suitable one for your specific needs.
Here are the main features to look for, and the factors to keep in mind when shopping for a portable water filters for traveling, hiking, or for emergencies and disasters.
Its size and weight
Obviously, if you want a portable water filtering system, you should look for one which is compact and lightweight enough so you can carry it with you when you are outdoors or traveling.
As you can see from the products on our list of portable water filters for 2021, all of them are small enough to be carried and stored easily.
Some are larger than others, and some have larger capacities than others.
This is why you should make sure that you decide whether you are looking for a personal water filter or for one which can be used by an entire family or larger group of people when choosing the right size and capacity.
The water filtration speed
Each portable water filter purifies the water from bacteria, parasites, and other harmful microorganisms and pollutants at a different speed.
While some of the filtering systems can produce just a few ounces of water per minute, others are capable of purifying up to 20 or more ounces of water for a minute. The filtration speed is especially crucial if you will be sharing the water filtering system with other people.
The filter cartridge capacity
Every filtering media has a specific filtering capacity or lifespan. While some will last for a few days only, others can be used for several weeks and even for months. Some of the filters on our list have a very long shelf-life, so they are perfect additions for your emergency or disaster kits.
Depending on how much you are planning on using the filtering system, you should opt for one which can filter from 264 gallons up to 1,000,000 gallons of water per cartridge.
The ease of use
Aside from being portable and easy to carry, good water filters should be easy to use too, especially in harsh outdoor conditions. One of the easiest types to use is the straw filters, which are actually straws with integrated filters in them, which you can use by sucking in the water directly from the source. Others require that you do some pushing or pumping, and some filters use gravity to filter out the impurities from the water.
But overall, all of the products we have picked for you are quite easy to use, so whichever one you choose, you shouldn’t have difficulties using it.
The price of the filter and cartridges
It is a good idea to set a budget for a portable water filter, and then proceed to look for the best one within your price range. There are filtering systems that cost less than $20, while others can cost significantly more. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to check out the price of the replacement cartridges as well, in order to calculate how much the maintenance of your portable filtering system will cost you in the long run.
The type of portable water filter
As you may have noticed from our list, the portable filters vary in type, so picking the perfect one may be a tad confusing, especially if you are a first-time buyer and user of such a filter. Here are the main types of portable water filters and their pros and cons:
These are the most compact and lightest of all types. They are designed to look like and be used like straws but have integrated filters in them, which will filter the water as you suck it directly from the source.
These filters usually will be able to trap any virus, protozoa, and bacteria as small as 0.2 microns, and will prevent them from passing into the water which you suck in. They do require that you get very close to the water source. They also require quite a bit of suction from your side, which could be an inconvenience for some people and in some situations.
- Very light and compact
- No waiting is required for the water to be filtered
- Removes bacteria, parasite protozoa, and other microorganisms
- Removes bad taste and odors
- Great for ultralight backpackers
- You will need to get close to the source which can be a hassle if it is a lake
- They require suction which can be difficult in hard outdoor conditions, such as at a high altitude
- The filter can easily get clogged by larger particles so that it may require frequent unclogging and cleaning
- Not as efficient in removing chlorine, heavy metals or pharmaceuticals
These are not the most compact of all portable water filters, but the models we have picked for you are still small enough to fit in your backpack. These filters work by manually pumping the water from the source into the clean water recipient.
Some pump filters have ceramic or fiber filters, and others combine these with activated carbon filters to filter out contaminants as small as 0.5 to 1 microns.
Unfortunately, some types of bacteria are smaller than that at can pass through the ceramic filter to the water you will be drinking. Also, such filters are not capable of trapping organic compounds.
This is why, if you want a portable pump water filter, you should opt for one which has both a ceramic and an activated carbon filter.
- They have larger water filtering capacity than personal water filters
- Great for wilderness backpackers or day hikers
- Improve the odor and taste of the water
- When combined with an activated carbon filter, they can be very efficient for the removal of bacteria, protozoans, microplastics and other pollutants from the water
- The healthy minerals remain in the filtered water
- They do require pumping by hand
- They may not be able to filter out some of the smaller microorganisms
- The filter cartridge needs to be changed regularly in order to prevent bacterial growth inside it
This type of portable water filter is more versatile than others, as you can use the water bottle as a regular bottle when there is no need to filter the water. When you want to drink water from an unchecked source, all you need to do is add the filter cartridge, and you will have filtered drinking water.
Some bottle filters use fiber filters, while others use solid block activated carbon filters for purifying the water. The former usually have filter cartridges, which are actually straw filters, and which can be used as separate straw filters if you prefer. When used with the water bottle, the straw filter is easier to use, as you don’t need to bend or lay down to get close to the water source if it is a lake, pond, or other.
- They are more versatile than others, and the bottle and straw filter can be used separately
- They efficiently trap bacteria and parasite protozoa
- They keep the beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium in the drinking water
- An excellent option for day hikers and for hikers who prefer to go ultra-light
- Many of them are not useful for filtering out nitrates, fluorides or cadmium from the water
Gravity filters, as the name suggests, rely on gravity to filter the water. This means that they require no effort from your side, like pumping, pushing, or sucking. All you need to do is add water to the dirty water reservoir, connect it with the clean water tank and hang them on a tree branch, on the tent or anywhere else, so that the contaminated water from the top tank flows through the filter and into the drinking water tank which should be placed at a lower level.
Gravity filters are very suitable for camping and hiking trips, and for larger groups of people. They usually have a high water filtering capacity and can be used for washing your hands, and even as a shower when in the wilderness
- They require little physical effort to work
- They are capable of filtering larger quantities of water for a shorter time
- They can remove protozoa, bacteria, pesticides, herbicides, chlorine and other contaminants from the water
- Their filter cartridges have a long shelf life and a high capacity
- They are larger than other filter types
- They include several components which need to be stored in a way to prevent cross-contamination of the two reservoirs
- A superb option for car campers and all types of camping of larger groups of people
UV Filters are not as popular because they rely on batteries to run, and as such, are more expensive and more difficult to use when in the wilderness.
But a UV water filter is highly efficient against parasites and bacteria and works very quickly.
- Efficient against viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms
- Works quickly and is easy to use
- It helps remove the bad taste and odor from the drinking water
- It does keep the healthy mineral content in the water intact
- It requires batteries to work, which is not a good option if you are planning on long trips without access to batteries, or to a power source
Water purifying tablets
These are easy to carry and easy to use, and will not only help improve the taste and odor of the potable water, but will also help protect you from dangerous parasites, and bacterial or viral infections when drinking from contaminated water. They are also usually the most affordable of all types of portable water filters.
- They are small and easy to carry
- They have a long shelf-life
- They are easy to use
- Many of them can successfully kill harmful microorganisms including viruses
- Some of the tablets require that you wait for several hours before you can safely drink the water
- Depending on the chemicals used, they may have a chemical taste or smell or may have a negative effect on people with sensitivities to these chemicals
Hopefully, we have helped you resolve the dilemma about the best portable water filter to buy for your specific needs. As you can see, these products are relatively inexpensive, but can actually save your life, or protect you from some very nasty infections when you are traveling abroad, or exploring the wilderness.
A reliable portable water filter is a must for any household as part of an emergency or disaster kit, as well as for anybody who loves spending time outdoors.
Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API