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Best Backpacking Water Filters of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

We rounded up eight of the most portable and functional backpacking water filters so you can find the perfect fit for your next trip.

When hiking in the backcountry, you need a good backpacking water filter to ensure access to safe, clean water. A functional water filter (and often a water purifier, too) can’t be missed on a packing list. However, it takes time and research to pick the right one for you, with such a variety of styles and brands available.

The main difference between a water purifier and a water filter is that a filter is designed to remove waterborne bacteria and protozoa, while a purifier removes all microbes including viruses. While both can be beneficial, water purifiers tend to be more of a concern when traveling abroad versus in the North American backcountry. For this review, we focused only on the best backpacking water filters that have an optimized lifespan, are easy to use, and are compact enough to take with you on the trail.

  • Best Overall: Sawyer Squeeze
  • Best Lightweight: Katadyn BeFree
  • Best Budget: Sawyer Squeeze Mini
  • Best Gravity Filter System: CNOC Outdoors Vecto and Versa Flow
  • Best Pump Filter: MSR Guardian
  • Best Bottle Filter: Grayl GeoPress Bottle
  • Best Squeeze Filter: Platypus Quickdraw
  • Best Straw Filter: Lifestraw

How We Picked the Best Backpacking Water Filters

The best backpacking water filters must be portable, functional, and suited to your backcountry needs. The region, time of year, and length of trip can all play a role in the type of filter you may choose. In putting together our top picks, we took all of that and more into account. Although I personally have my favorite and go-to water filtration system, all the water filters went through the same process to ensure we only included the highest-performing options on the market. Once chosen, they were assigned an appropriate category.

Primary considerations in choosing the best backpacking water filter:

  • Portability: What is the size and weight of the entire filtering system? Is it small and compact enough to bring with backpacking? Are there a lot of parts that are easy to lose?
  • Ease of Filtration: How easy is it to filter the water through the system? How long does it take to filter the water?
  • Water Quality: What exactly does the water filter out? How is the water quality once filtered?
  • Maintenance: Is it easy to keep the filter clean? How long does the filter last? How many liters of water can it filter in its lifetime?
  • Durability: What is the lifespan of all filter components? Is there a return or repair policy if components break or malfunction? What is the warranty on the products?

Whenever possible, we test products for review. When products are not available for testing during the writing of the review, we rely on firsthand experience from other industry experts along with additional knowledge about industry practices, manufacturing processes, and interviews with companies. Products are subject to change, and reviews are updated periodically as more gear is tested for longevity and durability.

Continue reading furher details on each of the water filtration options, written by Meg Carney here.


October 20, 2023

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Meg Carney

Field and Stream

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