The 12 Best Personal Water Filters for Hiking of 2021

Keep clean water close with these picks

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks
A great addition to any hike, as you squeeze, the nozzle will filter the water, getting rid of 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa.
The best-in-class option for those dealing with turbid water, it processes 84 fluid ounces of water per minute.
A water bottle that doubles as a water purifier, it gives you 24 ounces of clean water in just eight seconds.
A lightweight, space-efficient way to filter your water on-the-go, it comes with two collapsible pouches.
Ideal if you don’t mind the effort a hand pump requires, it includes an adapter so you can use it with your favorite bottle.
Simply fill up the “dirty” bag, hang your filter on a nearby tree, and sit back while gravity handles the rest.
One of the smallest and lightest filters around, it removes 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa after a straw is dipped in.
The gravity filter can hold up to 2.6 gallons at a time, and it promises to filter 0.5 gallons of water per minute.
A purifier that doubles as a stainless steel bottle, the UV-equipped cap automatically cleans your bottle every four hours.
A lightweight purifier you can easily take on-the-go, it removes 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in just 48 seconds.

When going on a hike—or embarking on a camping trip—you want to make sure you’ll have plenty of clean water to drink. And since you’ll be carrying all your gear on your back, staying hydrated isn’t as simple as throwing a bunch of full water bottles into your bag. You’ll need a lightweight solution that can filter or purify the water you find-on-the-go. Put simply, you’ll need a water filter or a water purifier, depending on where you’re headed.

It’s important to note that water filters and water purifiers aren’t exactly the same thing. Water filters can remove bacteria, protozoa, and sediment from water, but they tend not to remove viruses. Water purifiers can remove bacteria, protozoa, and viruses from water, but they tend not to remove sediment. If you’re heading to a nearby hiking trail, a water filter should suffice. But if you’re traveling internationally (or anywhere water-borne viruses may be a concern), you may want to invest in a water purifier.

There are plenty of water filters and water purifiers out there for you to choose from. So be sure to find an option that works for you before heading out on your next camping trip—or even your next hike. 

Here are the best personal water filters on the market.

Best Overall: Katadyn BeFree Water Filter

Collapsible, lightweight, and effective, the Katadyn BeFree Water Filter makes an excellent addition to any hike. Simply fill the soft bottle with water, attach the nozzle, and squeeze the water into your mouth. As you squeeze, the nozzle will filter the water, getting rid of 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa.

The bottle can hold up to 20 fluid ounces of water at a time, and you can easily fold it up between refills. And if you’d rather pair the filter with another water bottle, you can—the versatile nozzle should fit most standard plastic water bottles

Best Splurge: MSR Guardian Purifier System

The MSR Guardian Purifier System is a best-in-class option for those dealing with turbid water. The military-grade purifier can process 84 fluid ounces of water per minute, removing viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and more.

Though the purifier is a bit of an investment, it’s durable, self-cleaning, and promises to last a long time. At 2.19 pounds, it may be too heavy to take on a casual hiking trip. But if you’re traveling internationally, it may be worth the added weight. 

Best Bottle Purifier: GRAYL Geopress Water Purifier

The GRAYL Geopress Water Purifier is a water bottle that doubles as a water purifier, making it easy for you to get clean water on-the-go. Simply fill up the water bottle, attach the lid, and activate the purifying process by pressing the SoftPress Comfort Pad on the top of the lid. The purifier will remove viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and more—giving you 24 ounces of clean water in just eight seconds.

Drink from the purifier the way you’d drink from any water bottle, and refill it any time you’re thirsty. The purifier promises to make a durable companion on all your adventures. And since it’s easy to hold, you won’t have to worry about it slipping out of your hand—even when it’s wet.

Best Squeeze Filter: Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System

The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System is a lightweight, space-efficient way to filter your water on-the-go. The system comes with two collapsible pouches, which hold 32 fluid ounces of water apiece. Attach the filter to one of these pouches, squeeze the pouch, and spray the water into your mouth. As you do, the filter will remove 99.9% of bacteria, protozoa, and more.

These pouches will fold up between uses, making them particularly easy to store. And since the filter is designed to be versatile, you can easily pair it with a standard plastic water bottle, if you want to. 

Best Pump Filter: Katadyn Hiker Microfilter

If you don’t mind the extra work a hand pump requires, the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter is a solid pick. The lightweight filter weighs only 11 ounces. And since it comes with a universal adapter, you can easily use it with your favorite water bottle.

Simply drop one end of the hose into a nearby water source, and start pumping. As you do, the pump will filter out particles, protozoa, and bacteria, giving you nearly 34 fluid ounces of filtered water per minute. (Just make sure the other end of the hose is connected to your water bottle before you start pumping).

Best Gravity Filter: Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System

The Platypus GravityWorks Filter System lets gravity do most of the work for you. Simply fill up the “dirty” bag, hang your filter on a nearby tree, and sit back while gravity handles the rest. The water will begin to move from the “dirty” bag to the “clean” bag. As it does, the filter will remove 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa.

After just 2.5 minutes, you should have 1 gallon of filtered water to work with. That’s enough to hydrate a group—or to use for cooking and cleaning if you’re flying solo.

Best Straw Filter: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is one of the smallest and lightest filters around. And it’s incredibly easy to use, too. Simply dip the straw inside a reservoir of unfiltered water, and start drinking. As you do, the filter will remove 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa. Really, it’s that easy.

The tiny filter will easily fit inside your backpack. And since it weighs a mere 1.6 ounces, you won’t have to worry about it weighing you down. The only downside? The LifeStraw can be hard to clean. But if you’re looking for a water filter that’s budget-friendly, lightweight, and effective, the tradeoff seems pretty worth it.

Best High Capacity: MSR AutoFlow XL10L Gravity Filter

MSR AutoFlow XL Gravity Filter - 10 Liter

If you’re setting up a basecamp—or traveling with a group—you may need a lot of water at once. And the MSR AutoFlow XL Gravity Filter can deliver it. Despite weighing in at a mere 12 ounces, the gravity filter can hold up to 2.6 gallons at a time, and it promises to filter 0.5 gallons of water per minute.

Simply hang the filter on a tree, attach the hose to your water bottle (or other reservoir of choice), and sit back as the filter removes 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa. In just a few minutes, you’ll have plenty of water to use for drinking, cleaning, cooking, and more. 

Best UV Purifier: CrazyCap UV Water Purifier & Bottle

The CrazyCap UV Water Purifier may look like a classic stainless steel water bottle. But thanks to its UV-equipped cap, it’s also a water purifier. Simply fill up the water bottle, screw on the cap, and press the button on the top of the cap to activate the cleaning process. Every four hours, the cap will automatically clean your water bottle, keeping your water clean and your bottle mold-free.

And if you need to purify something else—like a surface or utensil—you can actually remove the cap, press the button, and let it work its magic outside your bottle, too.

Best UV Purifier Pen: SteriPEN Ultra UV Water Purifier

The Katadyn SteriPEN Ultra is a lightweight purifier you can easily take on-the-go. The purifier is small enough to toss in your bag, and it’s incredibly easy to use, too. Just take off the cap, pop the tip into a bottle of water, and press a button to start the purifying process.

In just 48 seconds, the purifier will remove 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa using UV light.

Best Tablets: Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets

If you want to purify water without carrying around bulky equipment, a chemical treatment can be a great option. This pack of Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets weighs in at just 0.35 ounces, and each tablet is powerful enough to purify 33 ounces of water (using chlorine dioxide, a disinfectant).

Simply fill up your water bottle (or another reservoir of your choice), and drop in a purification tablet. The tablet will work to remove viruses and bacteria, giving you clean drinking water in as little as 30 minutes (though it may take up to four hours if the water is cold and dirty).

Best Drops: Aquamira Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly chemical treatment, Aquamira’s Water Treatment drops are a solid choice. The lightweight bottles weigh a combined 3 ounces, and they can treat up to 30 gallons of water (using chlorine dioxide) before you need to replace them.

To use the treatment, combine seven drops from each bottle inside the cap they ship with, and give the mixture five minutes to react. Then, drop the mixture inside 1 quart of water, and wait as the chemical treatment works to remove 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

After 15 to 30 minutes, you should have clean drinking water to enjoy. And if you need more than 1 quart of water, you can always do a little math, and scale up the recipe accordingly. 

Final Verdict

Looking for a water filter that’s lightweight, portable, and effective? The Katadyn BeFree Water Filter and the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System are both excellent picks. Both of the squeeze filters are small and collapsible, so they’re easy to take on-the-go. They’re also budget-friendly—and versatile enough to pair with other water bottles. If you’re looking for a water purifier, the CrazyCap UV Water Purifier is a great pick. The bottle will purify your water and keep itself clean. Plus, since it’s made from stainless steel, it will keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for hours on end.

What to Look for in a Personal Water Filter for Hiking

Filter vs. Purifier

Water filters and water purifiers are similar, but not the same. Since water filters remove sediment but not viruses, they’re great for nearby hikes. And since water purifiers remove viruses but not sediment, they’re a better pick for international travel.

Style

There are many different kinds of water filters and water purifiers. And each style has its own pros and cons. Pump filters, for example, are lightweight and efficient, but they also require a fair amount of work. Gravity filters, on the other hand, are lower-effort and higher-capacity, but you’ll have to find a tree to hang yours from.

Weight

When it comes to hiking and camping gear, lightweight is always better than heavy. Think critically before buying a product that weighs more than 1 pound.

Size

Gear space is limited, so you’ll want to opt for smaller options whenever possible. That said, smaller tends to mean smaller-capacity. So think about how much water you’ll need and how much space you have for gear, then find an option that suits both needs.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

Was this page helpful?