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The 7 best backpacking water filters

Access to clean drinking water is never a guarantee in the wilderness, which is why a good filter is essential on your outdoor adventure. To remove bacteria, parasites, and other contaminants, the best backpacking water filters have a micron size of 0.4 or less, and they come in a range of styles, from gravity filters to straws.

The effectiveness of a portable water filter depends on the size of the pores in the filter itself, which is measured in microns. One micron is equivalent to 1/1,000 of a millimeter, and filters with smaller micron measurements will be able to filter out smaller particulates. Pores with a micron size of 1 or less can filter parasitic larvae, eggs, and protozoa, while a micron size of 0.4 or less will remove bacteria.

While water-borne viruses aren't typically a concern in North America, they're an important consideration when backpacking in developing countries. In those cases, it's best to opt for a water purifier (or use purifying tablets in addition to a filter) that eradicates viruses in addition to bacteria and protozoa.

With that said, the best lightweight hiking water filters come in a variety of styles —here's what to know, written by Vanessa Spilios.

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December 3, 2023

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