Do you want to risk getting ill from drinking dirty water? With the best portable water filter, you don’t have to worry about it. These filters will allow you to get a healthy drink anywhere as long as you have a source of freshwater. But with so many types available, trying to find the best one can be tough. That’s where we can help as we’ve searched high and low to find the top-rated models out there.
What makes the best portable water filter? Well, there are a few key features we took into account, including the filter type, the capacity, what it filters, the flow rate, and key specifications, such as the dimensions and weight. By the time you get to the end of this guide, you’ll know everything about those amazing portable survival tools. Let’s dive deeper and find the perfect portable water filter that matches your requirements!
Top 10 Portable Water Filters Review 2021
Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System – Editor's Choice
Filter type: 0.1-micron hollow fiber membrane
Filter capacity: 100,000 gallons
Removes: bacteria (salmonella, cholera, and E. coli), protozoa (giardia, cryptosporidium), microplastics
Flow rate: not specified
Dimensions: 5.5″ x 1.5″
Weight: 2 oz.
More features: 7-inch drinking straw, 16 oz. reusable squeeze pouch, cleaning plunger
Sawyer has made this excellent and versatile drinking system. The compact straw can be connected to the drinking pouch that is included, a standard water bottle, or you can even drink directly from the water source with it. That versatility means that you will never be short of options.
The internal filter is exceptionally good, and it will get rid of any bacteria or parasites from the water. The capacity is also high at 100,000 gallons, and thus, you’ll get plenty of use out of it. Additionally, the low weight at just 2oz makes it perfect for backpacking as you can easily stow it away and have it available whenever you run out of water. Along with that low weight, it has a fairly compact design.
What we liked: There are a lot of features here for such a low weight, which only adds to its versatility. The straw is also very simple to use and has an amazing filter life. It works time and time again perfectly for safe drinking water.
What could be better: There is very little to dislike about this water filter as it works very well. The only thing to note is that there is no pre-filter, so if you’re filtering sediment-heavy water, it can clog up quite quickly.
Waterdrop Water Filter Straw – Best Value
Filter type: 0.1-micron hollow fiber membrane
Filter capacity: 100,000 gallons
Removes: chlorine, bacteria, protozoa, odors, and more
Flow rate: not specified
Dimensions: 12.55 x 5.59 x 1.73 in.
Weight: 4 oz.
More features: four-stage filtration, made of BPA-free materials, comes with water bag, double removable cap
This is another portable water filter with a very similar design to the previous model. It has a 0.1-micron membrane, which will block any of those nasties from getting into your water. It will also remove odor and chemicals, giving your water a clean taste.
When looking for the best portable water filter, survival is on many people’s minds, and this model is great for those emergencies. The capacity is brilliant, and it’ll be able to give you more than enough water, even if you’re heavily relying on it. It can be the best survival water filter straw for those on a budget as this kit comes at an exceptionally low price.
What we liked: With many portable filters, you just accept that you’ll be getting healthy water, and you don’t care too much about taste. This product will give you that fresh taste. It’s very simple to use, and the versatility of the design allows it to be used with different types of water containers.
What could be better: The manufacturer doesn’t give you the exact figures, but the flow rate on this filter isn’t the highest. It can take some time to get the water you need, but you’ll accept that with great results.
Removes: waterborne bacteria, chemicals, pesticides, bad taste, odor, and more
Flow rate: 2 quarts per minute
Dimensions: 6.5 in. height, 36 in. hose
Weight: 15 oz.
More features: dual pumping modes, comes with carry bag and cleaning pad
Here, we see a different type of filter that uses a pump system. That pump helps to give this filter a good flow rate as you’ll be able to get 2 quarts of fresh water every minute. The filter offers you the highest level of safety while also being able to remove any bad smells and taste from the water.
It’s not quite as compact as the straw options, but it still won’t take up much space. On top of that, here is a ceramic pre-filter, which is ideal when trying to get fresh water from somewhere with a lot of debris and sediment. As for the accessories, it comes with a carrying bag and a cleaning pad.
What we liked: We think that this is the best portable water filter for camping as it’ll be able to give you plenty of clean water in no time at all. It allows you to get clean water for the whole camp. Maintenance is also minimal, and the filter is going to keep you happy and healthy.
What could be better: If you’re an ultralight backpacker, then you may find this water filter to be a little bulky and a little too heavy.
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottles – Best Water Filter Bottles
Filter type: hollow fiber membrane, carbon filter
Filter capacity: 4000 liters for hollow membrane, 100 liters for carbon filter
Removes: waterborne bacteria, protozoa, chemicals, and more
Flow rate: not specified
Dimensions: 3.1 x 3.1 x 9.2 in. each
Weight: 7.8 in. each
More features: 2-stage filtration, includes two bottles in the package, carabiners, BPA-free
Can’t be bothered with a straw filter or a pump? If so, then these are the best portable water filter bottles you can get. All you have to do is fill it up and drink from it as normal. The catch to that is that the filter means that sucking the water up through the straw takes a little more effort than with a regular water bottle.
Next, it’s highly effective at filtration, and it won’t take up more space when you’re on the move as you’d presumably be taking a water bottle anyway. You get an impressive lifespan from the filter. It’s perhaps the simplest solution you’ll see.
What we liked: The build quality is impressive here, and it’s going to withstand plenty of punishment for those who love hiking. There are also several design options so you can get the color you like. The capacity is excellent, and it’s going to be easy enough to drink through.
What could be better: While you can be assured of the safety of the water you’re drinking, it doesn’t have the greatest of taste. It’s not unpleasant but is similar in taste to what you get through the faucet.
Survivor Filter PRO Portable Water Filter Pump – Best Lightweight Pump
Filter type: dual hollow fiber membrane and carbon filter
Filter capacity: 100,000 liters for membrane filter, 2,000 liters for carbon filter
Removes: bacteria, protozoa, mercury, lead, and more
Flow rate: 500 ml (17 oz.) per minute
Dimensions: 3.15 x 1.97 x 6.5 in.
Weight: 8.16 oz.
More features: BPA-free, made of durable ABS material, lifetime warranty, comes with carry case and cup
This is a great little pump and one that is highly effective. It uses two hollow fiber membranes to remove all the dangerous impurities from the water. Also, it combines this with a carbon filter to give you clean drinking water.
It weighs a little over 8oz to give it a high level of portability, and that’s aided by its compact design. Despite that small weight and size, it’s able to remain highly durable with the ABS plastic used. The flow rate is also quite good here, as it’ll be able to fill a 500ml water bottle in just one minute.
What we liked: You get impressive functionality from a small device and with that fast water flow. The filter is very easy to use, and you’ll be able to top up that water in no time at all. That water will taste great, and you’ll have peace of mind that it will be completely safe.
What could be better: If you’re not careful, this water filter can clog up quite quickly. Fortunately, you will be able to notice it with the help of the intake tube.
Etekcity Water Filter Straw – Best for Backpacking
Removes: chlorine, heavy metal ions, THMs, waterborne bacteria, and more
Flow rate: 400ML/min
Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 2 in.
Weight: 2.08 oz.
More features: small and lightweight, comes with foldable water pouch, syringe, inlet mouthpiece, four cotton pads
This is a small and lightweight straw, which is perfect for ultralight backpacking trips or those who want an emergency option. The filter can cope with up to 1,500 liters of water, which shows you can get plenty of use out of it. It’ll help to get rid of bacteria along with those elements that can give water a bad taste.
It has a flow rate of 400ml per minute, which will be more than quick enough to quench your thirst. It comes with plenty of accessories such as the foldable water pouch, which works brilliantly as a container and also the syringe, an inlet mouthpiece, and four cotton pads.
What we liked: We think that this is one of the best portable water filters for hiking due to how light and compact it is. It has a pre-filter that will get rid of any heavy sediments, and it can also be backflushed to clear any clogs.
What could be better: The build quality here isn’t quite as high as with other models that we’ve seen. It feels a bit cheaper, but that’s not reflected in the performance as it’s able to filter water extremely well.
Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter – Best Flow Rate
More features: transparent design, comes with carry bag, durable construction, connects with 1/4″ drink tubes and water bottles
If you want to have a high capacity water filter, then this can be a great bet. It’s able to cope with up to one liter per minute, and that’s perfect for camps as you’ll be able to get enough water for everyone in your group quickly. That’s aided by a high filter capacity of 300 gallons.
While it is slightly bigger than some other models, it remains compact and weighs only 11oz. It has plenty of versatility, and the transparent design allows you to easily identify any potential issues.
What we liked: Everything works perfectly here, and the result is excellent water taste. It features pump action, which is very simple to use, and you’re not going to need much effort. It works very quickly, and you’ll love being able to get that clean water wherever you are.
What could be better: The water filter is bigger than some of its rivals. If packing is going to be tight, then it’s a good idea to check the dimensions to see if it will fit.
MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter – Best with Purification Tablets
Filter type: carbon and ceramic filter
Filter capacity: 2,000 liters for filter, 2 quarts per tab
Removes: viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and more
Flow rate: 1 liter per minute
Dimensions: 7.5 x 2.75 in.
Weight: 1 lbs.
More features: comes with 50 purification tablets, compatible with various bottles and hydration bladders
This is another pump with impressive capability. It can filter up to 1 liter per minute and adds that to an excellent capacity. Also, it comes with 50 purification tablets that will allow you to filter a high volume of water.
You won’t have to worry about any bacteria or viruses with this filter, and you’ll be able to drink from almost any water source with plenty of confidence. It also has high compatibility with various bottles and hydration bladders.
What we liked: This filter has an impressive efficiency, and it will be able to give you lots of water quite fast. We also love that it can be used with regular water bottles.
What could be better: One issue we found with this water filter is that it can clog up fairly quickly. It’s also quite easy to clear out once it happens, but it can be a little annoying.
FS-TFC Personal Water Filter Straw – Easiest to Use
Removes: sediments, harmful substances, odor, and more
Flow rate: not specified
Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.6 x 1.6 in.
Weight: 16 oz.
More features: side flow flush and backwash, comes with silicone pipe and reusable pouch
Here, we see another brilliant water filter straw that works perfectly every time. The filter is highly effective with the 0.1-micron membrane, and this product also has a pre-filter that will get rid of any lager bits or sediments. The membrane on the filter is going to last for up to 4,000 liters, which gives it excellent longevity.
All the features you see here help make it the best water filter straw in most aspects, but it is on the heavier side. The straw filter can be flushed and has a backwash feature that will allow it to be easily cleaned and used again. The impressive filter works perfectly in all conditions.
What we liked: One thing you notice instantly about this water filter is the impressive build quality. It’s not going to let you down with the excellent filter system, and it is also easy to use and store away in your bag.
What could be better: This is a little heavier than some straw filters that we’ve looked at here. It’s not heavy by any means, but some may be put off by its slightly higher weight than some of its rivals.
More features: BPA-free, comes with plunger and carry pouch
MoKo has produced a fantastic portable water filter with many qualities that we’ve already seen. The filter is highly effective and has a capacity of 3,000 liters, so you’re going to get plenty of use out of it.
The filter rate on this model is also impressive, especially for its size. It can give you 600ml of water per minute, and it has a fairly low weight of a little under 8oz. Along with all those features, it also comes with a carrying pouch, making it extremely portable.
What we liked: The action on the pump is very smooth, and it will take a minimal to no effort to get the results you’re looking for. It’s also quite light when compared to other pumps but mixes that with impressive durability.
What could be better: While we didn’t notice any of these drawbacks, a few users have noted some leaking issues. But this doesn’t appear to be a common problem.
Things to Consider
As you have already noticed, there are a few different types of filters, and you’ll also find that there is a wide range of parameters that distinguish one filter from the next. This all means that getting the right portable water filter for you can be a bit difficult. That’s why we are here to help you. After reading our reviews, it’s now time to turn our attention to the buying guide portion of this article. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the advantages of portable water filters and features you want to get in your mode. In the end, we’ll also aim to clear up any doubts with our FAQs.
Reasons to purchase a water filter
There are many great reasons to get a portable water filter, and we’ll check them out here.
Portability – This one is obvious. You’re able to take these filters anywhere you need them. That makes them perfect for backpacking but also suitable for any scenario that you may be without water. Even the biggest model we looked at here is very easy to carry.
Ease of use – Using those filters won’t require much effort. The straw models can simply be sucked through, and the pump models allow you to get water from almost any source. There aren’t too many parts that you must put together, so nothing can go wrong with that.
Emergencies – These portable filters can be a lifesaver. Many people use them as a backup should they find themselves in an emergency situation. They are wonderful tools to keep in your backpacks just in case.
Lack of water weight – Water is heavy. Having to carry liters with you can be a problem on longer trips. These filters will cut down on the water you have to carry, as you’ll know you’ll be fine as long as you’re near a natural water source.
How to pick the best portable water filter?
There are many things to think about before you get a portable water filter. You want to get the right type for you, a filter capacity that matches your needs, and a flow rate that will be suitable. Additionally, you want to know what it’ll be able to remove from the water. The portability is also key, and thus, dimensions and weight are important. Everyone is different, so as we look at each of these features, you want to see how they relate to you. Once we get to the end, you should have a clear picture of the best portable water filter.
There are three main types of portable filters here. Straws, such as the Waterdrop Water Filter Straw, are amazing for the low weight and excellent portability. Bottles are great for those who usually carry a regular water bottle and want a lighter replacement. The pump type of filter is usually a little bigger and is great for those looking for a higher volume of water.
There are also different types of filtration systems. Hollow fiber membranes are commonly used as they are extremely lightweight while having a high level of performance. They will let the water pass through while trapping any other biological matter. This makes the water safe to drink.
Next, you can find a charcoal/carbon/ceramic filters, which all do the same thing of chemically reacting with the likes of chlorine of heavy metals to remove them. This will help you to get rid of any odor and improve the water taste.
A pre-filter can also be a useful feature as this will trap any large sediments before they even reach the main filter.
Your filter won’t last forever. As it does its job, everything that it filters out will get left behind, and this eventually builds up. The advantage of hollow membrane filters, such as seen with the Survivor Filter PRO Portable Water Filter Pump, is that they often have a long life, and the will be able to filter thousands of gallons of water before they need no longer work.
The likes of carbon filters won’t last as long, but they can be replaced fairly easily without needing to throw away the whole filter unit. If you can get replacement filters, then it’s a good idea to check their price and understand the on-going cost of owning the filter.
What is it best against?
You need to know exactly what your filter is removing. The most harmful contaminants are bacteria and parasites, as this is why you can’t drink water directly from natural sources. Viruses are less important as these are unlikely to survive in water, but some filters can still get rid of these.
Other contaminants will give your water a nasty taste and a bad odor. This generally includes chemicals, metals, and sediment that may be dissolved into the water.
If you want to have the best tasting water, you’ll need your filter to be able to get rid of almost everything.
One annoying aspect of filters can be the slow flow rate. The importance of flow rate will often depend on who the water is for. If it’s just for you, then your need won’t be that high, and thus, a slower flow rate isn’t going to be much of an issue.
If you’re hoping to fill up the water bottles for a large group, it will be more of an issue. In these circumstances, a pump filter is going to be the best option. The one-liter per minute of the Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter is an example of a filter with great output.
When it comes to portability, the dimensions are going to play a huge role. All these pumps are fairly compact, but some are smaller than others. For the ultimate in compactness, you want to look towards a filter straw, such as the Waterdrop Water Filter Straw.
If you want to have a pump filter instead, you don’t need to make many sacrifices in weight and size. The MoKo Portable Water Filter is an example of a pump filter that is fairly compact and can be easily packed away into a backpack for later use.
All of these portable water filters have a low weight. Even the pump models aren’t going to feel too heavy in your backpack.
For those ultralight backpackers, every ounce counts, and you’ll want to make sure every part of your gear is going to be as light as possible.
If weight is a big issue for you, the Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System at just 2oz can be the perfect portable water filter. For those who don’t need an ultralight option, a filter such as the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter, which is a little heavier, will be a good pick, and you get the advantages of its fast flow rate.
It doesn’t matter what type of product you get, as it’s always nice to get some extra accessories. A useful one to have is a syringe for backwashing. This allows you to clear the filter and prevent it from getting clogged.
With straw filters, some also love to have a water pouch as this allows you to get instant access to water. Some prefer to attach it to a water bottle. Other great accessories include a carrying bag, filter replacements, and a hose.
At around $75, there are many great filter pumps available such as the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter. It has a high flow rate with an impressive filter life.
If you want a high-quality straw, you have some great options such as the Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Filter at around $60, which is highly versatile.
For a budget option, there are some great models in the $15-$20 range. We see this with the Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System and the Waterdrop Water Filter Straw, which have a fantastic quality level.
All these filters have a hollow membrane, and one of their advantages is that their end of life is very easy to notice. They can clog up, so filtration and backwashing are no longer possible. As this is the part responsible for your safety, it means you don’t have to worry about your filter allowing bacteria to pass through. Many of these filters have replacement active carbon filters. You should replace these according to the instructions. You’ll know that this type of filter isn’t working as your water will not taste quite as fresh.
Freezing weather can cause a bit problem for a filter. It can be used, but you have to take precautions in doing so. This includes making sure that there is no water sitting in the filter once you are done. When you have it stored away, it’s good to keep it wrapped up and close to your body heat. If it’s extremely cold, then you might want to look for alternatives. These include boiling the water, using a UV filter, and also purification tablets. The water won’t taste as nice when you’re using these methods, but at least you know it will be safe.
When you have a high-quality filter, you can use pretty much any water source. The likes of rivers, streams, and lakes are the best possible places as the water isn’t stagnated, and it has plenty of oxygen. You can still filter water from the likes of ponds, but use a filter that can get rid of bacteria, protozoa and viruses. The one place where you won’t be able to use your filter is with seawater. The only way to get rid of salt from water is either by distillation or reverse osmosis.
Over time, your filter is going to get clogged up, but a lot of that clogging may be due to fairly large particles. You can remove these via backwashing, which will help to give your filter a longer life. This is a fairly simple process with a pump as you can simply switch over the pre-filter to the outlet hose and pump the water through. Many manufacturers will provide you with a syringe that allows you to force water back through the system. These will both clear your filter and help to extend its life. An important note is that whenever you are backwashing, it needs to be done with clean water.
There are many great water filters on this list, but we think the Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System is the best one. It’s a simple-looking straw, but it’s extremely effective and versatile as you can drink straight from almost all water sources and fill up your bottles.
We also recommend the Waterdrop Water Filter Straw that boasts four-stage filtration and long filter life for those who need something affordable.
If you want a pump instead, then the Katadyn Vario Water Filter can be a brilliant option, especially with the high flow rate.
While these three options are great, it may be that you are looking for something slightly different. As soon as you get the best portable water filter for your needs, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ll never be without water.