The 5 Best Portable Water Filters

A Quick Look

 

There are different types of water filters that are specifically engineered to satisfy the needs of thousands of users because as we all know, water is essential for our existence. Being able to consume filtered water that is virtually free of numerous harmful compounds is a necessity, especially if you’re a person who often does sports.

Hikers, campers, and adventurists know the meaning of water like nobody else due to the fact that most of the times they face waters of questionable quality.

Most of our rivers and ravines are unfortunately polluted and the main reason is the human, of course. I’m sure that during your adventure, you have probably seen a ravine or a river that has a crystal-clear looking water, and have thought, well, why not to fill my bottle and keep moving?

If your answer is yes, then you probably know the consequences that may occur after an hour or two. That’s why portable water filters are must-have addition for everyone who is traveling a lot or adores exploring nature. Let’s take a look at some of the best portable water filters that you can buy today.

Our 5 Picks For The Best Portable Water Filters

5. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Our Ratings:

Durability
80%
Quality
70%
Value
70%

 

We are going to start our best portable water filters list with a very popular option. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is one of the most positively reviewed portable water filters available on the market, and the reason is fairly simple since this unit combines an extremely affordable price with a solid performance that makes it good enough to compete with other portable water filters that cost a lot more.

Design

From a design perspective, this unit is available in two colors including the Cyan-colored version and the Red Cross version, as well as in 3 styles including 1-pack, 2-pack, and the 3-pack edition. In addition, the one we are currently reviewing is the Cyan-colored one that comes in a single pack, however, feel free to choose the one that matches your preferences.

This particular model features a thin, tube-shaped construction made of BPA-free materials that measure 9 x 1 x 1-inches and weighs only 2 ounces,  which makes it be incredibly suitable for having it stored into your backpack anywhere you go!

Ease Of Use & Maintenance

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is very simple to use due to its longer length which does really offer a convenient use. To be more precise, since you won’t have to face the water directly and put your knees in a muddy terrain in order to access the water source.

But the convenience does not stop here. Considering the fact that it does not depend upon a pump, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time pumping and wasting unnecessary time.

When it comes to the maintenance, each part of this unit is quality enough to withstand a long-term usage, however, I’d like you to know that the filter is capable enough to offer a consistent performance of around 1,0000 gallons (4,000-liters) which is actually really long considering its price tag.

Performance

This water filter uses a so-called Hollow Fiber Membrane Technology, which in practice ensures effective removal of waterborne bacteria with an accuracy of up to 99% according to the manufacturer! But, removing waterborne bacteria isn’t the only thing that this filter is capable of doing because it also ensures that Protozoan parasites will be also removed along with compounds as small as 0.2-microns. If we take a closer look at these specs, the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter actually surpasses the rigorous EPA filter Standards so without a doubt, the manufacturer deserves our applaud here!

I would also like to mention that according to numerous users, the filter is also capable to reduce the levels of Chlorine and a  variety of different chemicals which is yet another proof that says a lot regarding the quality of this unit.

On the downside, the only thing this filter lacks, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t have storage capabilities which is fairly normal though, because its price is incredibly affordable.

Before we move to the next section, I’d also like to mention that this filter can be used with water of different types, including Streams, Ponds, Glaciers and Lakes, so you can access a safe water on-the-go.

Cost-Efficiency

This model can be considered as a highly cost-efficient product, due to the fact that as I’ve previously said, it can filter up to 1000-gallons of water which in practice means that amount of filtered water is more than what a typical person can consume in about a year!

On the other side, the price is affordable for millions of customers, so if we compare its price, performance with what you get in a return, I think that you will be more than satisfied.

Pros

  • Easy To Use
  • Affordable Price
  • Quality Performance
  • Lightweight
  • Can Filter Up To 1000-Gallons Of Water

Cons

  • No Storage Capabilities

Summary

I highly recommend you consider the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, especially if you’re looking for a budget, yet quality portable filter that will never disappoint you with its performance!

4. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filter

Our Ratings:

Durability
80%
Quality
70%
Value
70%

 

The Sawyer Products MINI Water Filter is a unique portable water filter that can be used by a variety of different users, starting from those that require one for outdoor recreation, scouting, emergency preparedness, as well as for hikers and campers. So, if you find yourself belonging in one of the categories I’ve previously mentioned, then let’s get into action and check the benefits you will receive with this product.

Design

Aesthetically speaking, this particular model has a tiny, blue-colored body construction that is engineered to be compatible with different kinds of disposable water bottles with the intention to satisfy a variety of users.

I would also like to mention that this unit is available in other color editions including Black, Camo, Pink, Orange, Green and in 3 editions such as 1-pack, 2-pack, and 4-pack, so do not hesitate to choose the one that suits your preferences the most.

Moreover, the one we are currently reviewing measures 4 x 3 x 8-inches and weighs approximately 3.52 pounds, which is really cool since it is lightweight enough to be carried with you anywhere you go.

This unit also comes with a 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch, a cleaning plunger, and a 7-inch drinking straw, which means that from the very beginning, you can start using it and keep care of it.

Ease Of Use & Maintenance

The MINI is simple and straightforward to use. As a matter of fact, you can use it in different ways as well such as using it with the included straw, having it attached to the pouch if you require storage and lastly, having it used on its own.

In addition, what makes this unit differ from the other is the fact that it is unbelievably versatile. To be more precise, given its versatility, you can use each of its included components for a variety of reasons. For instance, its pouch is fairly helpful for collecting water from medium to large sources. The straw will help you to filter water from puddles, however, keep in mind that you will have to get closer to the ground. Finally, you can also use it with standard-sized water bottles, so as you can see, you won’t feel any restriction by using this unit.

The maintenance is easy as well due to the fact that the filter does not require putting much effort in order to clean it, but according to some users,  after a few days of heavy use, you may use that it will be a bit hard to squeeze water through the filter which is fairly normal considering its price tag. However, these signs will unlikely show at the beginning.

Performance

 One of the best things you receive in a return with this product is the fact that , the MINI can filter up to 100,000-gallons of water and ensure effective removal of up to 99% of the bacteria ( including Cholera, Escherichia coli, Salmonella) as well as Giardia, Cryptosporidium and up to 100% of microplastic according to the manufacturer. This is awesome if you ask me because the bacteria is known for doing harm to our health and causing different health issues in the long-term.

The reason behind the effective removal is the use of tiny U-shaped Hollow Fiber Microtubes whose job is to capture different contaminants and ensure that the decontaminated water can flow freely at a high flow rate.

However, please note that this unit is not qualified to remove Dissolved Solids and Chemicals.

Cost-Efficiency

The MINI has a really affordable price tag and comes with other components where each of them offers various ways of use so you won’t have to spend an additional amount of money in order to use this unit as you should.

In addition, if we compare its ability to filter up to 100,000-gallons of water with the price you spend annually on water bottles, you will save significantly more money which is always welcome.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Highly-Effective Filtering
  • Affordable
  • Easy To Use

Cons

  • May get clogged after longer use

Summary

The Sawyer Products MINI Water Filter is worthy of considering, because this unit is a reliable on-the-go filtration system that offers a great value for its cost!

3. GRAYL Ultralight Water Filter

Our Ratings:

Durability
80%
Quality
70%
Value
70%

 

The GRAYL Ultralight is a 2-in-1 portable water filter bottle and purifier that combines a solid, quality construction with reliable performance with the intention to allow hundreds of different users to taste the benefits of having such a quality product.

Design

First of all, let’s start with the measurements. This unit measures 2.4 x 2.4 x 9.4-inches and weighs around 10.9-ounces which by default means that it won’t occupy a large amount of space when you store it inside your backpack, while on the other side, it is lightweight enough to offer you a truly convenient user-experience!

When it comes to the design itself, the GRAYL Ultralight is available in 4 colors of which you can choose from, starting from the Black-colored version, Blue, Green and the Orange which we are currently reviewing. Feel free to switch and choose the one that is compatible with your taste without any problem, since each of them looks beautiful and it is unique in its own way.

This particular model has an eye-catching, Orange-colored body that does not require batteries along with UltraViolet light bulbs, pumps and does not require any kind of extra reservoir to drink from, so as you can see, it is all about convenience.

Ease Of Use & Maintenance

The GRAYL Ultralight is exceptionally easy to use, hence, you will be freed from having to deal with specific steps that you should follow in order to get the best possible results. To be more precise, the only thing that this unit requires is to fill its outer sleeve of the bottle with water and ensure that you’ve pressed the inner bottle in. Easy, right?

However, sometimes you would have to apply a bit of a force to press the water through, but don’t worry, the force isn’t that hard, so an average user would not have any difficulties. Either way, I wanted to provide you just a tip.

Performance

This unit incorporates security-layers where each of them is reliable enough to ensure proper filtration so that the water you’re going to drink will be indeed quality. So, let’s briefly explain each layer so that you will be able to understand better what I’m talking about.

  • 1st Stage: Consists of two layers of non-woven ceramic fiber, and what’s special about them is that they drastically enhance the durability of the base.
  • 2nd Stage: Is composed of Positively-Charged Mesh Of Ions whose job is to detect and capture impurities and ensure that they will be kept inside the cartridge so that the water you will drink is going to be clean and would flow without getting contaminated.
  • 3rd Stage: Here, an Activated Carbon comes into play. This stage is focused on absorbing Chemicals, Heavy Metals while reducing the odor of the water as much as possible so that the final result would be clear water that tastes indeed fresh!

Moreover, the manufacturer rates this product at filtering 16 ounces of water (500-ml)   in just 15 seconds, but what’s cool is that most of the users claim that this does really happen so I have to say that the manufacturer did a really good job here.

But that’s not all! The GRAYL Ultralight can remove up to 99% of viruses including the Rotavirus, and Hepatitis A, types of bacteria that are known for causing health-issues such as Salmonella, Cholera, Escherichia coli, and Cholera along with protozoan cysts ( e.g Cryptosporidium and Giardia).

Before we move to the next section, I’d also like to note that the filter is capable enough of reducing the levels of Chlorine and Benzene, so if we combine all these things into one,  I’m not surprised why this unit is a choice of millions of users on the market.

Cost-Efficiency

Once purchased, the GRAYL Ultralight does really offer cost-efficiency. Namely, considering the fact that it can offer 2-3 months of use before you would have to replace its cartridge with another one, it means that you will save a lot of money. On the other side, this product can withstand  hard use as well,  which means that  you will only have to replace the filter itself.

Pros

  • Exceptionally Effective
  • Durable
  • Ideal for Adventures
  • Cost-Efficient

Cons

  • May Start Leaking After Long-Term Use

Summary

You should definitely consider the GRAYL Ultralight as your next purchase, especially if you’re a hard-core adventurist that requires a portable water filter that offers an exclusively reliable performance!

2. Katadyn Vario

Our Ratings:

Durability
80%
Quality
70%
Value
70%

 

The Katadyn Vario would be an amazing option for you, especially if you’re keen on investing in a highly-reliable portable water filter that is ideal for backpacking, emergency preparedness or camping purposes, so if you’ve been looking for something similar, congratulations! You’ve found it!

Design

Katadyn Vario simply radiates with a luxurious yet solid look, and I’m not surprised to be honest since once again,  the Swiss quality has proven as true!

For your information, this unit is super lightweight, weighing only a pound, and being only 6.5-inches tall makes the Vario an excellent addition to your travel gear and portable enough to prevent you from noticing that you actually have a water filter in your backpack!

On the top, there is a dual-piston that offers a continuous water flow of up to 2-liters per minute,  on the side, you can notice the presence of an ergonomic pump handles that offers a huge amount of convenience, while on the bottom, there is a rubber base with opening, so when you see it as a whole, the Vario does really look good and it is really well engineered!

Ease Of Use & Maintenance

The Katadyn Vario can be used in two different modes when it comes to treating water, including the

  • Fast Flow Mode – This mode lets the water straight from the source to the primary filter with a rapid flow rate of up to two quarts per minute, however, using this mode also means that it will make your filter more vulnerable.
  • Longer Life Mode – As the name states, this mode is focused on preserving the filter’s life as much as possible. In comparison with the Fast Flow Mode which distributes fast flow rate, this mode will take longer to pump your water ( approximately one quart per minute) but adds better overall protection.

Moreover, the maintenance process is butter-smooth, since all you have to do is to ensure that you regularly clean the filter and replace it with a newer one when the time comes. This is normal and it doesn’t require anything else.

Performance

The Katadyn Vario is equipped with an Activated Carbon which is surely one of the biggest highlights regarding this product, due to the fact that this layer is highly effective in preventing your water from having a bad taste, and this by default means that the filtered water will be easy to consume.

In addition, this unit also has a Ceramic Filter Disc that captures Sediment, Dirt, and Debris and makes sure that they will never reach the 0.2-micron Glass Fiber Filter. With one sentence, this is actually a dual-filter system that does its job exactly as it should.

I would also like to mention that the Vario can reduce up to 99% of bacteria and Protozoan cysts such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium which is indeed awesome!

Cost-Efficiency

The GRAYL Ultralight is relatively more expensive than the traditional portable water filters, however, I think that this unit justifies its price tag if we take into consideration its quality construction and reliable performance. As a matter of fact, this unit can offer up to 6 months of use which means that you won’t have to replace the filter for a really long period of time. However, keep in mind that this may vary in practice because everything depends on the way you use the filter.

Pros

  • Long-Lasting Filter
  • Durable
  • Easy To Use
  • Multi-Flow Modes
  • Dual-Filter System

Cons

  • Demands Frequent Maintenance

Summary

The GRAYL Ultralight deserves your attention, and if you ever decide to purchase it, you will have an in-depth insight of the benefits that you will receive in a return by having such a quality travel gear!

1. Platypus GravityWorks

Our Ratings:

Durability
80%
Quality
70%
Value
70%

The Platypus GravityWorks is more than ideal for users who want to invest in a reliable, fairly portable water filter with a large-capacity of  up to 4-Liters that can effectively deal with numerous kind of bacteria that is present in water! Intrigued? Let’s get straight into action and find out what can you expect from having this product!

Design

The filter itself is well-made even though it is plastic, and you can notice this from the moment you take it out of its box. In fact, the plastic is fairly resistance to holes which is something that I particularly like, however, the filter itself is a bit fragile so you would have to take care of it in order to preserve the quality of its look.

In addition, the filter comes with many components including shutoff clamp, a carrying case, and hoses that should attach to each bag at the same end, so, no pumping needed!

In terms of the dimensions, the Platypus GravityWorks measures 3.25-inches in width, 9.5-inches in length and measures approximately 11.5-ounces which means that you can bring it with you while exploring nature without any problem!

Ease Of Use & Maintenance

First things come first. Once you get this product, I’d advise you to backflush it for 4 seconds just in case. What’s interesting is that this process is easy since you can do this in the field without any problem due to the fact that there isn’t a need of a sink at all!

Moreover, I’d suggest you to backflush the unit often because by doing this, you will not only preserve its look, but this will also contribute to using this unit for a long period of time so the chances that you will face undesirable scenarios will be set to the minimum.

Before we move to the next section, I’d like you to let you know that once the threshold of 1,500-gallons is passed, you should consider replacing the filter with a newer one, so for this part, I’m unable to find any remarks.

Performance

The Platypus GravityWorks employs a gravity-fed,  high-capacity, Hollow-Fiber Filter that meets the EPA/NSF standards for the removal of compounds as small as 0.2-microns which is amazing, due to the fact that this unit can reduce up to 99% of the known bacteria along with 99% removal of Giardia and Cryptosporidium!

Furthermore, users have reported us that the filtered water tastes delicious, and if you ask me, I’m not even surprised, since the presence of the Hollow Fiber Element does really offer this.

When it comes to the speed, I have to admit that the manufacturer has done a really good job here, because this model can output a flow rate of 1.75 liters per minute, and this does not really happen with most of the portable water filters that are available on the market. However, even though this flow rate isn’t questionable, still, it may differ in practice especially if the water you’re filtering at a certain moment is of questionable quality.

Thanks to its specs, you can use the Platypus GravityWorks for various reasons including camping, outdoor adventures and even for emergency preparedness without any problem!

Another great thing about this product is that you don’t have to use it primarily for consuming water, but instead,  the filtered water can be used for cooking as well, so as you can see, you will never feel restricted with anything in terms of use!

Cost-Efficiency

The Platypus GravityWorks is not the most affordable portable water filter that you can find, but at the same time, it may be one of the best if not the best one especially when it comes to performance, durability, and capacity. This by default means that the price will be higher.

In addition, as I’ve stated before, the approximate filter life is rated at 1500-Liters so make sure you follow these steps and you change in time!

Pros

  • Large Capacity
  • Meets EPA/NSF Guide Standards
  • Durable
  • BPA-Free
  • Removes Up To 99% Of Bacteria
  • Easy To Use

Cons

  • Salty Price

Conclusion

The Platypus GravityWorks is a must-have portable water filter for everyone who appreciates water of tremendously good quality and it is ready to do an actual investment! Definitely one of the best portable water filters out there.

How Do Portable Water Filters Work

In general, they perform as most of the filters on the market but mostly differ in their ability to eliminate viruses. In practice, portable water filters use an element that is specifically designed to prevent bacteria and debris from reaching your body and causing you health issues. They have some of the features of more complex water filters, such as the countertop water filters & shower filters.

The Difference Between Water Filters and Purifiers

Nowadays, the words “purifier” and “filter” are commonly used as a single word. Unfortunately, this may lead to a huge understanding so let’s debunk this.

Water filters actually filter the water by letting it pass through layers that serve as a buffer zone between you and the contaminants. Water filters are not capable of blocking viruses that have a micron-size of  0.1, however, there are specialized filters that may do this.

On the other hand, Water Purifiers ensure that they use chemicals such as Chlorine, Bleach, Colloidal silver, and Dioxide which are known for their ability to destroy live microorganisms.

Advantages of having a portable water filter

  • Health Benefits – Drinking filtered water means that you will be safe from thousands of harmful compounds and bacteria that can cause health problems, and as we all know, being healthy is a number 1 rule!
  • Transport – They can be carried with you anywhere you go which comes handy especially if you’re a camper or hiker who often requires drinking clear water in locations where the water is scarce or it is dirty.
  • Cost-Efficiency – I’d advise you to make a calculation of the money you’ve spent on bottled water with the money you would spend on purchasing a portable water filter. The result may likely show that you will spend significantly less, right? Unlike whole house water filter systems, portable ones are much cheaper.
  • No More Odour and Taste – Once you start using a water filter regardless if it is portable or not, you will immediately notice the difference mainly in taste. The taste is fresh and the overall water is easy to consume!

Why should you purchase a portable water filter

Portable water filters can be considered as essential, especially if you prefer filtering water on-the-go. If you’re a type of person that loves exploring nature, they are more than ideal because municipal waters at least have some sort of protection against numerous contaminants. The nature doesn’t. Even though the water may look crystal-clear, there are still chances that a microorganism that does harm may be present in the water!

What about bottled water?

Let’s take this report as an instance: 64% of Bottled Water Is Tap Water, Costs 2000x More.

Keep in mind that this report is from 2018,  and for instance if we say that “Well, this report is from 2018”, what is changed in 2019? A year more or less is not proof that nowadays these things do not exist!

But let’s get straight to the point. Portable water filters are way cheaper than purchasing and carrying bottled water. On the other side, once your backpack is ready, you know that space is crucial so why would you raise the weight of your backpack with something that you can simply avoid?

Environmental Benefits

Since you’re likely a person that travels a lot and has hobbies, you may already faced that forests are filled with plastics that have been thrown by people who do not really care about nature itself. Purchasing bottled water if not directly, indirectly contributes to the use of plastic.

In fact,  recycled plastic water bottles often use petroleum throughout the crafting process due to the fact that this saves transportation cost. Petroleum is a known polluter as well, right? The other thing is that it takes approximately 3 times as much water to produce a plastic bottle then it does to fill it.

Purchasing portable water filter or a water filter of any type can be considered as a “Guerilla” action against the use of plastic, and after all, I think that every one of us should contribute on saving our planet.

water before passing through a portable water filter

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can portable water filters remove viruses?

Generally, they can’t because for this reasons It is advisable to use purifiers who are known for removing all three waterborne threas including Viruses, Protozoa and Bacteria. If you are looking to remove ions from the water, I’d recommend you take a look at water softeners.

How often do I need to replace the filters?

Depending on the brand and the product, each filter has its own expiration date which has to be followed precisely. The basic rule of thumb for changing water filter is rated at 40-gallons.

Where can I find test results on the products?

Most of the manufacturers include test results within the platform they intend to sell their product, such as Amazon. The other place where you can find the test result is by checking forums which are filled with users that usually attach their home-made result.

Can portable water filters be used in saltwater?

As far as we know, they can’t, because there are other types of filters that are specifically engineered for this reason.

Can you backwash with dirty water?

We don’t recommend you doing this because this may lead to undesirable scenarios. However, if you’re in a middle of nowhere and require doing this, you should put at least one quart of water thorugh the filter and dispose it prior to start filtering water for your personal use.