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The Best Water Filters and Purifiers for Outdoor Activities

Having essential items like solid footwear, a comfortable hiking backpack, a first aid kit, and a few days’ worth of food is essential when you’re on the trail, but nothing is more important than having a safe water source. You could be dehydrated in three days without water (more like one or two if you’re outdoors), but water alone is not enough: It needs to be clean – not just of particulate matter like dirt and sand but of bacteria, protozoa, and viruses as well.

Moreover, it’s almost impossible to bring enough water with you for an extended hike if you’re not moving by vehicle. And if you’re in the wilderness far away from sources of clean drink, then the water you encounter outdoors may not be safe. Streams, ponds, and other freshwater bodies may look and even taste clean while in fact being host to a myriad of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens that can be a serious – sometimes, even fatal – problem when you’re hundreds of miles away from civilization.

That’s why a durable, reliable, simple, and efficient water filter is an indispensable tool in any survival kit. There are plenty of great ones on the market today, and we’ve rounded up the best ones below (most of which are surprisingly inexpensive). Given how important a clean source of hydration is, there’s no excuse not to have one in your pack, so read on.

Best Overall: Sawyer PointOne Water Filter

Portable filters move water through a filtration medium in several different ways: via pumps, squeezing, sucking, or even gravity. Typically, a filter system is designed to be used in only one way, but the Sawyer PointOne water filter is our favorite due to the fact that it can be used both as a personal filter (which you drink directly through) or as a pump that allows you to dispense filtered water directly into a separate container.

This two-in-one versatility, paired with excellent filtration that removes more than 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa (and 100% of microplastic contaminants), makes the Sawyer PointOne our top recommendation for most people.

Explore more of the best water filters and purifiers for outdoor activities written by Lucas Coll here.

LAST UPDATED

May 8, 2022

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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

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

Pete Ortiz
Writer

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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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