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Best Backpacking Water Filter of 2021

Our filtration gurus have bought and tested 70+ of the best backpacking water filters over the last 11 years. This 2021 review covers 24 of the market's latest and greatest. Taking each with us on extensive adventures, they've seen the likes of sailing adventures North of Sweden, climbing trips to Peru, running expeditions across the USA, and fastpacking adventures in Iceland. We assess portability and ease of backcountry maintenance in the field, while also investigating critical aspects like what each model removes from water and how long it takes to get a potable liter of water. Using field and objective in-house tests we offer you our insights and recommendations for any backcountry traveler.

Best Overall for Personal Use

Sawyer Squeeze

Effective against: Particulates, Bacteria, Protozoa
Weight: 5.7 oz

  • Fast flow
  • Versatile & adaptable
  • Packable & lightweight
  • Great price
  • Squeeze bags break
  • Parts are easy to lose
  • Need to consistently backwash to maintain flow rate

The Sawyer Squeeze is a time-tested, on-the-go filtration system. This lightweight option is wonderful for personal use, providing great functionality on multi-day excursions and daily adventures into the backcountry. Of the multiple Sawyer Squeeze systems, it offers the fastest flow rate, filtering one liter of water in just 40 seconds during our tests. It's also packable, easily fitting into a running pack or pocket. Use it as a squeeze filter with its accompanying bags or in-line with a hydration bladder. You can even screw it to the top of a compatible water bottle and drink directly from puddles with its complementary straw. Few contenders offer this level of versatility and portability, making it our favorite for personal use.

In our four years of experience, the provided filtration bags have broken after just three to four trips, at which point they require replacement. Consider buying a Platypus Hydration Bladder as a substitute that will last longer than the traditional bags that come with the system. We also notice that bringing the syringe for cleaning is a must to ensure the flow rate stays fast, otherwise, it'll eventually clog and slow down after just a few filtrations, even in clear water. It also comes with small parts, which are easy to lose. For day trips and personal, this lightweight option comes highly recommended, so long as you bring all its bits.

Find more information on each of the best backpacking water filters of 2021 written by Amber King & Jessica Haist here.

LAST UPDATED

May 7, 2022

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Gear Lab

Media Mentions from Gear Lab

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MEDIA MENTIONS

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!

Anna Hamrick

MEDIA MENTIONS

Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.

Pete Ortiz
Writer

MEDIA MENTIONS

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).

Halfway Anywhere
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