Best Portable Water Filters

Drinking hundreds of gallons of water collected from the murkiest of puddles and pristine mountain streams is overly possible. Thanks to the inception of portable water filters. To begin, water filters not only protect you from harmful water contaminants but also aid in improving the overall taste of water. However, finding the perfect portable water filter can be quite daunting. This is why you undertake some basics when searching for the best water filter.

Portable filters have improved in recent years since their inception. This is in a bid to primarily eliminate all pathogens present in outdoor water. That said, there are three main types of pathogens removed by any portable water filtration system. They include:

  • Protozoan cysts – some cysts include cryptosporidium parvum and giardia lamblia. With sizes ranging between 1 to 20 microns, micro-filtration, UV light, ozonation and portable reverse osmosis water filter are the type of filtration needed to remove them.
  • Bacteria. E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter, Yersinia and Leptospira are just but a few bacteria present in any collected water. Similarly, micro-filtration, ozonation, reverse osmosis and UV light are the filtration processes required to eliminate the 0.1 to 10-micron sized bacteria.
  • Viruses. Ultra-filtration, UV light, ozonation or reverse osmosis are some filtration procedures vital for the elimination of common viruses. They include rotavirus, enterovirus, Norwalk and hepatitis A viruses.

Bearing this in mind, it is essential to find the best portable water filter for your needs. This should be based on several factors. 

Things to Consider When Selecting a Portable Water Purifier

As mentioned, some of the factors to consider include:

1. Degree of portability

As the name suggests, your preferred device should be extensively portable. This in-turn depends on the amount of water you need to purify and other complementary services. Water purification systems portable vary weight-wise. Therefore, match your preferred choice to own individual situation.

2. Does the system kill bugs or remove the grit?

Portable water filtration systems have different mechanisms of action. Whereas some get rid of creepy crawlies present in water, others work best by removing bugs without removing solids. Such systems suits individuals who aren’t concerned about taking gritty water. If this isn’t your style, consider systems that add filtration to purification.

3. Flexibility

Flexibility in these systems depends on their complementary abilities. For instance, some portable water purification devices offer great options for attaching a bottle, straw or hydration system. Others have limited options. Besides, whereas others have extended filter life, others run on batteries. That said, envision the various situations you intend to use your filter before making a choice on your best portable water filter.

4. Cost

To begin, personal water filters aren’t that pricy. However, they aren’t that cheap too. Weigh the filter options, benefits and features against its price before making a final decision.

Other integral factors to consider include:

  • Lifetime capacity
  • Flow rate
  • Approaches. Include suction powered, gravity powered, UV powered and others.

With the considerations mentioned above, there are broad strokes of water filters available. Highlighted below are the top 5 portable water purifiers to consider.

Top 5 Best Portable Systems

1. The Katadyn Gravity Camp

The Katadyn Gravity Camp is the latest installment of the Gravity filters. Since its inception, it has been a great competitor with previous gravity models.

The Katadyn Gravity Camp


  • Reliability and effectiveness: the Katadyn Gravity Camp has a 0.2-micron size. This makes it a perfect choice for filtering out protozoa, bacteria and other debris and sediments. Unlike other models which have hollow fiber, the Katadyn Gravity Camp has pleated glass units.
  • Ease of use: compared to the MSR Autoflow, the Katadyn Gravity Camp is quite daunting to use. The filter should be screed to the bag before putting water source. Moving on, the outlet hose has a link that isn’t compatible with all hydration systems. Besides, it doesn’t have a water bottle adapter. Therefore, you’ll need to hold on a water bottle while it fills up.
  • Treatment capacity: the Katadyn Gravity Camp filter has a lifespan of 1500 liters. This is a great choice for group camps. It is also fast and filters approximately six liters at a time.
  • Speed: the Katadyn Gravity Camp is probably the fastest Gravity model available. So to say, it filters 10 seconds per liter.
  • Weight: This model is the second lightest Gravity filters. It weighs 11.5 ounces.
  • Best applications: unlike the Sawyer Mini which is best suited for solo hiking, the Katadyn Gravity Camp is a good filter for a backcountry trip for two or more people.

Pros of Katadyn Gravity Camp

  • Is relatively fast
  • Lightweight
  • Is inexpensive

Cons of Katadyn Gravity Camp

  • Assembly is quite daunting
  • The outlet hose is not compatible with all vessels

2. The Platypus Gravity Work

This is a unique water purification system that also forms the ultimate storage and filtering devices. The system is available in two and four-liter sizes with a capacity of eight liters. With this, the Platypus Gravity Work provides a convenient, constant and adequate water supply for campsites and those lacking ample water supply. So to say, it eliminates the need to have a separate water container for clean drinking water. This ultimately saves on weight and space.

The Platypus Gravity Work


  • Reliability and effectiveness: The Platypus Gravity Work has a hollow fiber which is effective against bacteria and protozoa but not viruses. It is a reliable system ideal for backpacking. Platypus Gravity Work also lacks moving and electronic parts. This means that there are fewer chances of breaking down or malfunctions. Maintenance of this system is also extra low. To begin, filters don’t need to be often replaced. Replacing them is also not a big deal.
  • Ease of use: The Platypus Gravity Work is ridiculously easy to use. The system works best with the dirty bag just above the clean bag. It doesn’t have to be hanging on top of the tree for effective filtration. Begin by filling the dirty bag, zip at the top set the dirty bag at a point above the clean bag and attach the hose linking the dirty bag with the clean bag.

The dirty and clean bags are clearly labeled. Moreover, the dirty bag has an opening with a zip on the top whereas the clean bag doesn’t.

  • Treatment capacity: This water filter works excellently in treating huge amounts of water for groups or cooking uses. As mentioned, it can store up to eight liters of water. Additionally, the entire system can treat an entire gallon within five minutes.
  • Speed: Surprisingly, the Platypus Gravity Work works efficiently fast. Despite the large amounts of water, this portable filter works swiftly taking approximately 2 minutes to filter the entire 2L system.
  • Weight: the 4L system weighs 12 ounces inclusive of the storage system.
  • Best applications: as mentioned, this system excels well in treating or rather filtering large amounts of water. Therefore, it is better suited for car-camping and backcountry trips involving a base camp.

Many people confuse the 2L and 4L systems of the Platypus Gravity Work. To begin, both systems use the same filter and use the same gravitational principle to push water through the filters. Additionally, they are made from a durable Platypus plastic with a shut-off clamp. That aside, there are a couple of differences. Some of the differences present in the two systems include:

The 2L system:

  • Can be used with three configurations including one direct to a water bottle, one direct to a hydration bladder and third direct to its own system.
  • Has 4L capacity
  • Weighs 11.5 ounces
  • Hoses attach to a clean water bag with a rubber suction cup

On the other hand, the 4L system:

  • Has 8L capacity
  • Weighs 12 ounces
  • Hoses attach to an opening in the clean bag
  • Has no water bottle adapter

Pros of the Platypus Gravity Work

  • Has a fast treatment time
  • Easy to use
  • Is of light weight
  • Requires minimal maintenance
  • Can store and treat up to 8 liters.

Cons of Platypus Gravity Work

  • Is relatively expensive
  • Collecting water from small sources can be daunting

3. The Sawyer Mini

The Sawyer Mini is a small but versatile water filter that can be used as a straw filter. It is simple to use and of great value. It filters materials down to 0.1 microns. This is perhaps why it is considered as among the best portable water filter available.

The Sawyer Mini


  • Reliability and effectiveness: filtering up to 0.1 microns sized materials, the Sawyer Mini is hugely effective against bacteria, protozoa, and cryptosporidium. However, it isn’t effective for viruses. It has no batteries, or moving parts thus reduces the risk of breaking up.
  • Ease of use: As mentioned before, the Sawyer Mini is simple to use. Besides, it can be used in different ways. For instance, by attaching a straw, you can use the Mini to drink water directly from the source. It can also be screwed into a small-mouthed water bottle and water can be drunk directly from it.
  • Speed: water from the Sawyer Mini can be drunk directly. Therefore, the treatment time is instantaneous. Also, note that drinking from this purifier is easier, faster and effortless.
  • Weight: The Sawyer Mini weighs 1.6 ounces. This is perhaps among the lightest water filters available.
  • Best application: The Sawyer Mini is the best choice as a personal water filter. It isn’t ideal for groups or car camping.

Pros of Sawyer Mini

  • It is small, lightweight thus excellently portable
  • Can be used in various ways
  • Easy to drink water from
  • Is inexpensive

Cons of Sawyer Mini

  • Doesn’t treat huge amount of water at once
  • May clog fast its squeezable bag is of low quality

4. The SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Water Purifier

The SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV purifier is an awesome and easy to use portable water filter. It is an essential gear for adventurers who don’t worry taking pure water with grit. It is a revolutionary optical water sensor doubling up as an integrated LED flashlight. This adds convenience especially during the trails or during campsite walks. To achieve this, you need to hold down its activation button for some three seconds to illuminate the darkness.

The SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Water Purifier

Features of the SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV purifier

  • Uses UV light that impairs the ability of bugs to reproduce and thus potential harm.
  • Weighs 4.62 ounces thus light
  • Has a flowrate of 90 seconds per liter.
  • Has a capacity of 50 liters per battery set.
  • Has a water sensor that can double up as LED light.

Pros of SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Water Purifier

  • Is lightweight with simple operations
  • LED comes in handy
  • Doesn’t affect the taste of water
  • Effective and certified
  • Sustainable and economical

Cons of SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Purifier

  • It requires CR123A batteries which are often expensive
  • Does not remove dirt and silt thus not suitable for those who don’t need grit

The steriPen Adventurer Opti UV is the best choice for individuals searching for a lightweight portable water filter and don’t mind some grit in water. You should also be willing to carry enough batteries or a solar charger.

5. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

This portable water filter system is based on a simple idea. Actually, making this water filtration system is quite easy. It involves using a small and rather lightweight plastic tube to turn potentially hazardous water to clean water. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is cheap and eliminates chunks of dirt in the water. It eliminates dirt with 0.2 microns and above.

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Key features of the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

  • Weighs 2 ounces thus extra light
  • Has a flowrate of 1.7 liters per minute
  • Has a capacity of 1000 liters.
  • Uses no chemicals thus no change in water taste
  • Has a hollow membrane that filters out everything above 0.2 microns

Pros of LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

  • Is cheap, neat, lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Uses no chemicals
  • No batteries are required
  • Makes use of a proven hollow filter membrane

Cons of LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

  • Does not filter or neutralize chemical toxins
  • Perfect for one person/ cannot be used by groups.


Picking the best portable water filter depends hugely on individual considerations. For instance, whereas other filters are suitable for individual uses, others won’t favor group camps. Nonetheless, ensure that the system you prioritize is light in weight, easy to use, of low price and has a suitable capacity. Besides, read widely and have a basic understanding of the system to ensure that it keeps you safe. Other systems you might consider include:

  • The MSR Autoflow Gravity Filter
  • The MSR Guardian Purifier
  • The Travel Berkey Water Filter

Drinking clean and safe water should be everyone’s priority every day. This is why having a good water purifier is prudent. Consider the factors and models mentioned above as they can come in handy when searching for one.