10 Best Portable Water Filters – Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Portable Water Filter

There are 3 main things that you will need to survive when out in the wilderness and these are water, food, and shelter. But, you should add a portable water filter to the list to make them four.

Regardless of the water source that you have or come across when out there, the chances are that it will contain contaminants like viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. And so you need to have the best portable water filter to make the water safe for consumption.

Portable water filters are simply small size and compact water filters that will easily fit in your backpack or even a pocket to make it possible to purify water when traveling or camping.

These are highly convenient water filters that ensure you will never have to drink unsafe or contaminated water regardless of where you are. And they are available in several types.

In this piece, we describe the different types in details by highlight their pros and cons and also explain what to look for when choosing portable water filters.

But first, check out our reviews of 10 top rated portable water filters.

10 Best Portable Water Filters - Reviews

Product Name

Image

​Features/Benefits

Rating

Current Price

1. LifeStraw Portable Water Filter


LifeStraw Portable Water Filter

A compact, lightweight and highly affordable straw water filter that removes both bacteria and parasites and many other types of contaminants and can clean up to 1,000 gallons.

4.6

2. Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

Small but versatile bottle water filter with a high filter capacity of 100,000 that comes with all the necessary accessories and is usable in several ways

4.6

3. LifeStraw Portable Water Filter Bottles with 2-Stage Integrated Filter

LifeStraw Portable Water Filter Bottles with 2-Stage Integrated Filter

2- stage filtration system for more effective in removing bacteria and protozoa from your water and it also comes with a durable and leak-proof bottle

4.0

4. Survivor Filter Pro Portable Water Filter

Survivor Filter Pro Portable Water Filter

Compact and portable 3-stage pump filter that not only removes contaminants but also improves water taste and odor greatly and has a relatively higher filter capacity of 26,417 gallons

4.4

5. Etekcity Straw Portable Water Filter

Etekcity Straw Portable Water Filter

A small 3-stage straw water filter that is safety tested to meet EPA standard and filters down to 0.01 micron and will come with all the essential accessories

4.4

6. Sawyer All-In-One Portable Water Filtration System

Sawyer All-In-One Portable Water Filtration System

A versatile water filter that screws on most bottles and comes with adapters for faucet and buckets for high capacity filtration and removes 99.99% bacteria and protozoa.

4.5

7. Katadyn Vario Portable Water Filter

Katadyn Vario Portable Water Filter

Highly efficient 3-stage portable water filter with a relatively faster flow rate, dual pump mode and with cleanable and replaceable filters

4.2

8. Survival Hax Portable Water Filter with 0.1 Micron Purifier

Survival Hax Portable Water Filter with 0.1 Micron Purifier

An affordable, lightweight and portable filter straw that works with bottles and can remove various kinds of contaminants

4.1

9. Kor Nava BPA Portable Water Filter Bottle

Kor Nava BPA Portable Water Filter Bottle

Great water filter for traveling that is made from safe and durable materials, is NSF 42 certified and with easy flow design to eliminate the need for excessive sucking

3.9

10. LifeStraw Universal Portable Water Filter

LifeStraw Universal Portable Water Filter

Universal water filter that works with most water bottles and with efficient 2-stage filtration that will filter down to 0.2 micron

3.7

1. LifeStraw Portable Water Filter

Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)

LifeStraw Portable Water Filter
  • Filter capacity: 1,000 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.2 micron
  • Weight: 2 ounces

Being the cheapest item in our portable water filter reviews, the LifeStraw straw water filter will be a good buy for those that are looking for a more affordable water filtration solution.

The compact, lightweight and highly portable design also makes it our best backpacking water filter as it will not add any significant weight to your backpack. But, it can also be useful for other outdoor activities like camping.

Despite its small size, it is still quite an effective water filter as it will filter out 99.99% of the bacteria and parasites, reduce turbidity to 0.2 microns and also remove microplastics.

This water filter can clean up to 1,000 gallons of water and it has been tested and certified to be effective by bodies like NSF and ASTM.

Although it takes a lot of suction to start and maintain the water flow, this is still quite an easy-to-use water filter.

Pros:

  • Ultra-light and travel-friendly
  • Removes both bacteria and parasites
  • Easy to use
  • Relatively more affordable

Cons:

  • Takes a lot of suction to keep water flowing
  • Not good for heavily contaminated water

2. Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
  • Filter capacity: 100,000 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.1 micron
  • Weight: 2 ounces

It is amazing that this mini filtration system from Sawyer can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. This filter capacity is not only the highest on our list but is also higher than what most others similar size water filters can deliver,

Besides the high-capacity, this lightweight and compact water filter is also relatively easy to use and you can use it in various ways to make it even more convenient. You can use it to drink straight from the source or a bottle or use it to filter water into your water bottle.

This water filter will fit most standard disposable water bottles to make it an even great filtration system, and it comes with all the accessories you need to use it including a straw and cleaning plunger.

The water flow rate is relatively weaker but should still be enough to ensure you get enough water when you need it. And while it does not remove chemicals and viruses, these are things you are not likely to encounter in drinking water in most places.

Pros:

  • High filter capacity
  • Fits most disposable bottles
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Useable in several ways
  • Comes complete with all accessories

Cons:

  • Does not remove dissolved solids, chemicals and viruses
  • Weak flow rate

3. LifeStraw Portable Water Filter Bottles with 2-Stage Integrated Filter

Editor's Rating: (4 / 5)

LifeStraw Portable Water Filter Bottles with 2-Stage Integrated Filter
  • Filter capacity: 1,000 gallons/25 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.2 micron
  • Weight: 23 ounces

The 2-stage filtration process makes this LifeStraw water filter our best portable bottle water filter as it removes up to 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa.

Also, this water filter uses activated carbon to remove bad odors from the water and to improve its taste, and it will also be highly useful in reducing chlorine.

It is a reusable bottle with 1,000-gallon and 25-gallon capacity filters and it comes with a durable and leak proof 23-ounce bottle.

This bottle filter is super easy to use as all you need to do is fill it up with water and drink. Cleaning it and replacing the filters is also equally easy.

Although there is a bit of a chemical taste when the bottle is new, you can easily remove it with a thorough cleaning and by flushing the filtration system. And the fact that the straw feels a little hard to suck, this is typical of these kinds of filters but it only requires some getting used to.

Pros:

  • More effective multi-stage filtration
  • Reduces ad odor and improves tastes
  • Replaceable filters for long service life
  • Durable leak-proof bottle
  • Super easy to use

Cons:

  • A bit of chemical taste when new
  • Straw feels a little hard to suck through

4. Survivor Filter Pro Portable Water Filter

Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)

Survivor Filter Pro Portable Water Filter
  • Filter capacity: 26, 417 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.01 micron
  • Weight: 8.2 ounces

If you think that you will need to filter heavily contaminated water, this 3-stage pump water filter will be a great choice.

With the three stages of filtration, it will remove viruses, bacteria and most types of heavy metals and it has capacity filter down to 0.01 microns.

Also, it will improve the water taste and odor significantly which is another feature that makes it one of the best pump portable water filters in our list and out there.

The heavy-duty ABS construction ensures that it will serve you for many years and can withstand the outdoor abuse, and it is also quite a compact and lightweight water filter for increased portability.

Its 24,617-gallon filter capacity is the second highest in our list, and it ensures that you can use it for long enough before it needs any filter replacement. And the manufacturer will back it with a lifetime warranty.

Like with most other pump-style water filters, pumping can be quite tedious but with this one, it does not take a lot of pumping to fill up your bottle.

Pros:

  • 3-stage filtration
  • Improves water odor and taste
  • Heavy-duty ABS construction
  • Relatively higher filter capacity
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Pumping can be quite tedious
  • Pre-filters clog up easily

5. Etekcity Straw Portable Water Filter

Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)

Etekcity Straw Portable Water Filter
  • Filter capacity: 400 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.01 micron
  • Weight: 2.1 ounces

Although this straw portable water filter is our second most affordable product, it is still a highly efficient and effective water filter.

Its high efficiency comes from the advanced 3-stage filtration process that includes a fiber UF membrane inline filter that will filter down to 0.01 microns.

The straw water filter is small and lightweight to make it more portable and it has been tested to meet EPA water quality standard to give users some assurances that the water will be safe to drink.

Besides the straw filter, you will also get other essential accessories like a foldable pouch and a syringe for cleaning the system.

However, cleaning takes more effort and time but this should not be a big deal once you get used to it. And although the filtration process is relatively slow, the water quality makes it worth it, and it should still produce enough water to quench your thirst fast enough.

Pros:

  • Advanced 3-stage filtration
  • Small and lightweight
  • Meets EPA water quality standards
  • Comes with all the essential accessories
  • Relatively more affordable

Cons:

  • Cleaning takes quite some effort
  • Slower filtration

6. Sawyer All-In-One Portable Water Filtration System

Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)

Sawyer All-In-One Portable Water Filtration System
  • Filter capacity: N/A
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.1 micron
  • Weight: 32 ounces

This top-rated portable water filter from Sawyer is an all-in-one system that you can use almost anywhere as it will screw on most standard disposable water bottles and also comes with faucet and bucket adapters.

It is a highly effective water filter designed to provide high filtration level as it will remove up to 99.99% of the bacteria and protozoa in water.

Also, it comes with a built-in push-pull cap that allows for convenient drinking straight from the filter, and the package also includes a squeeze bag.

You can be confident that this filtration system will serve you for a long time as the manufacturer also provides a limited lifetime warranty.

While the quality of the included bag is subpar, this should not be an issue as you do not have to use it and the slow filtration rate is typical of this style of water filters.

Pros:

  • Removes 99.99% bacteria and protozoa
  • Built-in push-pull cap
  • Screws on to most disposable bottles
  • Bucket and faucet adapters included
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Quality of the included bag is wanting
  • A little slow

7. Katadyn Vario Portable Water Filter

Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)

Katadyn Vario Portable Water Filter
  • Filter capacity: 500 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.2 micron
  • Weight: 15 ounces

Katdyn Vario is the best backpack water filter for anyone looking for something that delivers a faster flow rate and does not take a lot of effort to use.

Although it is a portable pump filter it uses dual piston mode to ensure that you will always get maximum water output with minimal effort.

It has a highly efficient 3-stage filtration system that includes a glass fiber filter, ceramic pre-filter and active charcoal for eliminating odors and tastes. The ceramic filter is cleanable for a long service life while the carbon core is replaceable.

Despite the high performance of this water filter, it is still quite compact, lightweight and easy to carry for use on the go.

However, it is the priciest portable water filter in our reviews. But, it is still quite a relatively affordable unit when compared to many other portable models in the market.

Pros:

  • Efficient multistage filtration
  • High flow rate
  • Dual pumping modes
  • Reduces odors and improves taste
  • Replaceable carbon core and cleanable ceramic disc

Cons:

  • A little pricier
  • Carbon dust takes longer to flush out

8. Survival Hax Portable Water Filter with 0.1 Micron Purifier

Editor's Rating: (4.1 / 5)

Survival Hax Portable Water Filter with 0.1 Micron Purifier
  • Filter capacity: 400 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.1 micron
  • Weight: 3 ounces

Straw water filters are some of the most portable and most convenient types, and this is more so if you get something compact and lightweight like this one from Survival Hax.

Apart from the convenience that comes with its portability, it is also an easy to use water filter as you only need to place it on the water source and start drinking. However, you can also use with your water bottle as it will screw directly to most standard water bottles.

This portable water filter is also relatively more affordable, and it includes extra survival items like a compass, bear whistle, and signaling mirror.

When it comes to its filtering efficiency, it will remove up to 99.99% of parasites and bacteria, and it also filters out many others contaminants.

Although some of the extras like the compass are not the best performing, they will not in any way affect the filtration efficiency, and so you do not have to use it.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Screws directly to standard water bottles
  • Relatively more affordable
  • Design includes extra survival items

Cons:

  • Extras like the compass don’t work very well
  • Plastic housing feels a little flimsy

9. Kor Nava BPA Portable Water Filter Bottle

Editor's Rating: (3.9 / 5)

Kor Nava BPA Portable Water Filter Bottle
  • Filter capacity: 40 gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: N/A
  • Weight: 12 ounces

Kor makes this portable bottle water filter to adhere to the highest safety and health standard by using BPA-free and FDA-approved materials.

The bottle filter is designed to be great for use when traveling as it will slip easily into a backpack and will not leak thanks to the silicon leak and locked lit.

It can filter up to 40 gallons before you need to change the filters, and it is an NSF 42 certified product which means it is highly effective in removing chlorine, chloramines and many other contaminants while also improving taste and odor.

With the easy flow technology, drinking from this bottle is also much easy as you will not need any excessive sucking, biting or sucking.

The few shortcomings of this bottle include the fact that it seems a little problem which should not be a big deal as it can still withstand many accidental falls. Also, the relatively smaller filter capacity is still not that bad as you can still use the bottle for many trips before you start worrying about filter replacement.

Pros:

  • Easy flow design
  • NSF 42 certified
  • Hygiene cap design
  • Safe BPA-free materials

Cons:

  • Bottle is a little too fragile
  • Smaller filter capacity

10. LifeStraw Universal Portable Water Filter

Editor's Rating: (3.7 / 5)

LifeStraw Universal Portable Water Filter
  • Filter capacity: 1,000 gallons/25gallons
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.2 micron
  • Weight: 3.7 ounces

While the 1,000 gallons and 25gallons capacities of the two filters on this system are not the highest in our portable water filter reviews, they are still quite good for a bottle water filter.

However, what gives this water filter an edge and makes it a good buy is the efficient multistage filtration.

The two stages are a replaceable microbiological filter that removes up to 99.99% of bacteria and waterborne protozoa and activated carbon filter for removing chlorine, bad tastes, and other contaminants.

This bottle water filter will also come with interchangeable mouthpieces and a leak-proof lid, and it is made from safe FDA-approved materials.

But, like most other bottle water filters it will require a lot of suction when drinking the water, but this is often not a big deal once you get used to it.

Pros:

  • Fits most water bottles
  • Multistage filtration system
  • Interchangeable mouthpieces
  • FDA approved materials
  • Removes chlorine taste and odor

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of suction

Types of Portable Water Filters

Types of Portable Water Filters

As you are shopping for portable water filters, you will not only need to choose between different types and brands but also from several types. Although there are many ways of classifying these water filters, the 5 most common types are straw, pump, bottle, gravity and UV water filters.

Straw Filters

The straw water filters are some of the lightest and most portable water filters that you can get in the market. And as their name suggests, they look like large and fancy straws.

Straw water filters use a filtration cartridge with tightly woven fiber membrane. This membrane is what traps the contaminants as the water passes through.

To use these water filters, you only need to get them close to the water source and suck the water as you would with a regular straw. However, you will need to use extra suction.

Pros:

  • Removes all sediments and debris efficiently
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Lightweight
  • Relatively more affordable

Cons:

  • Not efficient enough in removing dissolved contaminants
  • Some models do not have replaceable filter elements

Pump Filters

While the pump filters are not as small as many other portable water filters, they are still compact enough to fit into a backpack and without taking up a lot of space.

These water filters will require you to force water through the filtrations element by hand using a small pump. And they will have two hoses, one for drawing water from the source and the other for directing the filtered water to your container.

Portable pump water filters will use either ceramic, fiber filters or combine either of these with activated carbon filters for increased filtration efficiency.

Pros:

  • Greatly improves water taste and smell
  • Keeps the beneficial minerals
  • Replaceable filter cartridge

Cons:

  • Pumping can be a little hectic
  • Elements require some field cleaning

Bottle Filters

Bottle water filters are designed to offer simple fill-and-sip filtration and they are just regular water bottles with a straw-like filtration element.

With these water filters, you will use the bottle to collect water from the source and then insert the straw filter cartridge which then traps the contaminant as the water flows through before getting to the mouthpiece.

Like the straw filter types, most of these water filters will use fiber filters, but some more advanced ones will have activated carbon block for increased efficiency in trapping bacteria, heavy metals, and other toxins.

Also, with these water filters, it is possible to remove the straw filter element and use them as regular water bottles if you trust the water source.

Pros:

  • Keeps the beneficial minerals in the water
  • Easy to use and convenient
  • Uses replaceable filter element/cartridge

Cons:

  • Bottle size limits water quantity
  • Most do not reduce dissolved elements like nitrates and fluoride

Gravity Filters

If you are a camper, trekker or one of the many emergency preppers, you need to get the best gravity portable water filters.

Gravity water filters will not need a constant supply of water to work and will also it use any electricity, and so they are a great pick for those that travel a lot to remote areas.

They consist of two containers and make use of gravity to pull the unfiltered water to the other container through a filter media. In most instances, the containers are hanging bags linked together with hoses.

Most gravity water filters will use a combination of ceramic and activated carbon, and they will filter out viruses, parasites, bacteria, and many other contaminants.

Pros:

  • Efficiently removes of parasites, viruses, bacteria, and protozoa
  • Long lasting filter cartridges
  • Great for filtering large volumes of water

Cons:

  • Larger than many other types
  • Slower filtration process

UV Filters

UV filters are the least common of the 5 main types, but they are still highly effective in filtering out different kinds of contaminants.

As the name suggests, these are the water filters that make use of ultraviolet rays to kill bacteria as the water passes through the system.

These water filters work relatively quicker than many other types, and they will improve both the water taste and smell significantly. However, many people dislike them because they use batteries.

Pros:

  • Filter relatively quickly
  • Improves taste and odor significantly
  • Does not remove the healthy minerals

Cons:

  • Require batteries for operation
  • Not effective in filtering out heavy metals and chlorine

Buying Advice:

While all the 5 types of portable water filters above will be very useful, each is ideal for different situations. If you are looking for something quick and easy to use by one person the straw and bottle water filters are your best pick.

For those that prefer something that can filter larger volumes of water for a group, the gravity and some types of pump filters are the best. If you do not plan to be out in the wilderness for long periods and would love to drink great tasting water go for a UV water filter.

How to Buy the Best Portable Water Filters

How to Buy the Best Portable Water Filters

Even after deciding on the right portable water filter types to buy, you will still need to pick between several models which can be quite hectic because most look good enough.

However, to ensure you end up with something safe and highly effective that will give you value for money, you need to consider the following factors.

#1. Filter Capacity

Like with all other filtration systems, the filters on the portable water filters will have a limited lifespan as they can only filter a certain volume of water before you need to replace them.

The right filter capacity for you will depend on how often you intend to be using the filter and also the amount of water you will need.

Some portable water filters can clean just a couple of hundred gallons of water while others can be used to filter thousands of gallons. Also, some are good for use for a few months while others can serve you for many years.

Here the right capacity depends on your needs, but the higher the filter capacity the better as you cannot always know when you might need to clean more water.

#2. Flow Rate

The flow rate is the speed of filtration and it determines how fast you will get filtered water. Nobody wants to wait for hours just to get a liter of water, and so the higher the flow rate the better the water filter will be.

For most portable water filters, the flow rate or speed of filtration is measured in ounces per minute. Some will only filter a few ounces every minute while others can produce a few liters every minute.

While a high flow rate is good, it is important to make sure that it does not reduce the effectiveness of the filtration. If the water passes through too fast it might not make enough contact with the filter media.

#3. Weight

Because you will often have to carry the water filter with you for extended periods, its weight also matters. You do not want something too bulky and heavy as it can weigh you down.

For any water filter to be considered portable, it should be light enough for convenient carrying for outdoor activities like trekking and camping.

The type, materials used, and also the filtration technology are some of the things that determine the weight. Straw and bottle water filters are the lightest while gravity filters are often the heaviest.

#4. Ease of Use

Whether you are looking for the best personal water filter or something for filtering water for a group, it needs to be easy to use for it to serve you well.

Because most portable water filters are often small and compact, many people tend to assume that they are all easy to use, but this is not always the case.

Some like the straw and bottle water filters are straightforward to use as you will only need to draw water through the filtration media.

However, there are some gravity and pump water filters that can require a complicated setup and will come with highly detailed instructions on how to use them. The right option for you is what you find easiest to use and fulfills your water needs.

#5. Price

When buying a portable water filter, it is important to choose something that matches your budget as they are available in different price ranges.

Some models will retail for under $50 while others will require you to spend hundreds of dollars. But, like with all other types of water filters, the priciest models are not always the best ones.

The wise idea is always to look for the best filter quality that you can afford, and make sure that you factor in the cost of replacement filters when making up your mind.

Conclusion

Portable water filters are designed to ensure that you still take clean and healthy water regardless of where you might be whether you are traveling, camping or hiking.

These water filters come in different types and each is ideal for different situations, but our descriptions above of the different types will make it easier to choose the right one.

Picking the best portable water filter model from the many options out there should also not be a problem with our buying guide above.

And you will also not need to waste a lot of time comparing different brands and models as our top 12 portable water filters reviews will provide some great recommendations.

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