For most people, water treatment is a must-have on backpacking trips. Heck, even a long day of hiking can require a filter, if you don't want to carry liters of water. It can also sometimes be a good idea to treat water while traveling, or even in the course of daily life at home.
Before the comments section implodes, we’d like to include the caveat that this article covers the filters we were sent to test. We reached out to several brands that did not respond to our inquiries, including MSR, LifeStraw, Steripen and Katadyn.
We are aware these filters are out there and have used them, but they are not included here because we didn’t test them. We’d like to note that the Katadyn BeFree is a popular alternative to the ubiquitous Sawyer Squeeze, with a fast flow rate, low weight, and super flexible bag.
Hikers can also use purifying treatments like Aquamira drops, iodine, or even bleach (repackaged into an eye dropper).
Here are the water filters tested for this article, with info on how they work and who they might be best for, written by Maggie Slepian.
May 8, 2022
Outdoor Life: Do You Really Need a Water Filter for Backpacking and Mountain Hunting?
My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!
Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.
The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).