The Best Backpacking Water Filters of 2022
We pumped hundreds of liters of dirty water to find the fastest and most reliable filter
Imagine this: you’re in the backcountry, nearly out of liquids on a scorcher of a day, when you hit the first water source you’ve seen for hours. You sit down, pull out your bladder and your pump, and drop the intake tube into the water. But when you go to pump, the pressure goes slack. Or the nozzle jams, barely a drop coming out no matter how much you squeeze. Chances are, if you’ve spent enough time in the backcountry, you don’t have to imagine this scenario: It’s happened to you. Maybe more than once.
It’s certainly happened to me. So for Outdoor Life’s test of the best backpacking water filters, we decided to see which models from the top brands—including MSR, Lifestraw, Katadyn, Grayl, Platypus, and RapidPure—could handle the gnarliest water conditions backpackers can expect to find: stagnant water with high levels of bacterial contamination, the dark-tea tannin-filled water of a wetland, and silt-filled glacial runoff.
- Fastest Flow: Platypus QuickDraw
- Easiest to Use: Katadyn BeFree
- Best Value: Sawyer Squeeze
- Best Lightweight: Sawyer Squeeze Mini
- Best Gravity: Katadyn Gravity BeFree
- Best for Groups: Platypus GravityWorks
- Most Reliable: MSR Guardian
- Best for Emergencies: LifeStraw
December 1, 2022
Outdoor Life: Do You Really Need a Water Filter for Backpacking and Mountain Hunting?
While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.
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).
SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan