There was a time you could scoop up fresh mountain stream water on your hike and relish the sweet taste. Not anymore. In the 21st century, to stay healthy on your hikes in the wilderness, you have to treat all water as suspect.
Crystal clear mountain streams may seem clean to the eye, but millions of invisible micro-organisms are thriving there. Most living things in water are harmless, but there are types that can make you very sick when ingested.
Yes, if you’re in a survival situation facing dehydration, you’d take a chance and drink the water, as is. However, if you have a water filter with you, you can avoid a lot of intestinal discomfort.
There are many excellent backpacking water filters, and how they work and their simplicity will be important considerations when choosing the best hiking water filter.
You’re Not Alone
In the modern, over-populated world in which we live, no matter how remote your hiking trip is, somebody has no doubt been there before you. You can never tell whether further upstream people haven’t urinated or defecated into the water. You also can’t tell if a dead animal is rotting upstream.
Water filters vary in the types, as well as the number of organisms they are able to filter. The best backpacking water filter is small and compact and fits easily into your backpack. When you want to travel light with your backpacking trip, you can’t be carrying a daily ration of 4 liters of water with you. The best backpacking water filter is, therefore, lightweight and easy to carry around and has certainly revolutionised hydration issues of backpackers.
There are plenty of variations available, and we look at some reliable, robust water filters that can be easily popped into your backpack for easy retrieval:
1. Katadyn Hiker Pro
This filter is plastic and affordable and the inexpensive replacement filters are readily available. It is suited for 1 or 2 people. You won’t battle with excessive clogging with this portable water purifier which is also easy to keep clean. To clean it, you simply unscrew the filter element and rinse it out.
The water filter offers easy attaching to a drinking bottle, removing unpleasant tastes, chlorine, pesticides, trihalomethanes, as well as odors.
2. MSR AutoFlow Gravity Filter
Weighing just 0.69 pounds, this pump lets gravity do the work for you and filters more than 1.75 liters per minute into a 4-liter reservoir. The filter can be cleaned without disassembly for flow recovery. Simply fill the 4-liter reservoir with your water, hang the bag from a tree and gravity gets to work, eliminating the need for pumping.
With the Universal Bottle Adapter which is included, you can filter water directly into almost any bottle. MSR recommends you backflush after every 8 liters of water that you process so as to clean the filter and remove sediment.
3. The Sawyer MINI
It’s no wonder that this small, light, water filter is considered as one of the best hiking water filter there is. It weighs just 2 ounces and is recommended for up to 100 000 gallons of water. You can screw the Mini directly onto most water bottles. You can also use the attachable drinking straw to drink directly from the water source. The kit comes with the Sawyer Filter with tip cap, a 7-inch drinking straw, a 16oz reusable squeeze pouch as well as a cleaning plunger.
If you’re a group, this water filter is also available as a 4-pack and is made in the USA. Sawyer recommends back-washing your filter when you notice the flow rate is becoming sluggish. With proper back-washing you won’t need to replace filter cartridges.
This has to be the best camping water filter for simplicity. Made of BPA-free plastic, this is such a recognizable water filter, weighing just 2 ounces and 9 inches long. Its smallness means you can toss it into your backpack or carry it in your pocket. Its flow rate is about 1.7 liters per minute. You simply remove the small product from its sealed hygienic packaging and use the filter to drink directly from the water source.
To clean it, you backflush by blowing air back through the mouthpiece. LifeStraw recommends you backflush after use every time. This nifty little filter removes bacteria and protozoa from water. It’s able to filter up to about 1000 liters of water before it needs to be replaced.
5. Versa Flow
The HydroBlu water filter can be used with a hydration pack or as a gravity filter. It can be screwed into a plastic water bottle, and can be used as a straw that you can use to drink directly from a water source. Ideal for backpacking and outdoor recreation, the filter removes bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli and cholera from water as well as protozoan cysts, including the likes of Giardia and cryptosporidium.
The filter can be used in a number of ways, such as gravity filter or drinking straw. It weighs just 2 ounces and has a flow rate of 1 gallon per 5 minutes. HydroBlu suggests you use the filter for up to 20 000 liters before it will need to be replaced.
6. Survivor Filter PRO
Weighing 8 ounces, this water filter has been tested at Intertek labs in the USA to show that it can remove 99.9% of virus, staph, bacteria, heavy metals and more. The filter makes use of a 3-level filtration system to filter water through pores of 0.01-microns. The filter comes with tubing, a hose clip, zippered carrying case, and an attachable cup.
The plastic casing is made of military grade BPA free material. The carbon filter and cotton pre-filter will last up to 2000 liters before replacement is needed. You can use the Filter PRO directly from the source, into the included attachable cup, or into some other water container.
7. Aqua Vessel Insulated Filtration
This bottle by EcoVessel is made from high-quality, premium, stainless steel. You can describe this water filter container as a no-fuss way to ensure clean water. Its vacuum insulation will ensure your water remains cold for up to 36 hours. The plant-based filter attaches easily to the straw top, ensuring that each sip you take is cleaned before reaching your mouth. All that is basically required of you is to fill the bottle.
The filter, which is attached to the bottom of the straw, will clean the water as you sip. It removes 99.9% of Giardia and Cryptosporidium. It’s not the best solution for long hikes but it’s ideal for day hikers.
The bottle also comes with an additional non-filtering straw. The water filter is made in the USA and filters up to 100 gallons of water.
Temperatures, humidity, altitude and individual tastes will play a part in how much water you need on your hike. Once you are out in the wilderness, the water sources you are relying on can’t provide 100% safe water. Even if you’re dying of thirst, take the time to filter your water.
The importance of remaining hydrated and filtering your water can’t be overestimated. The best camping water filter will be effective for removing protozoa, bacteria, particulates, viruses and chemicals. We’ve given you seven well-rated, effective, portable, backpacking water filters so that you can get away into the wilderness with an enormous sense of peace.