The 6 Best Camping Water Filters

a photo showing how water from stream can be purified using a camping water filter

Drinking water is one of the two things required to sustain life. Being able to access clean water while camping or hiking for extended periods of time may get tricky. Depending on your camping situation, you may not be able to bring in all the drinking water you'll need. The recommended amount of water a single person should drink every day is about a half-gallon, and that weight can add up quickly. When you are active and expending energy, such as you do when hiking to and from a campsite, you need to increase that amount. How can you enjoy a relaxing hiking and camping trip and still have the energy and space needed to bring all that water around with you at the same time?

The solution is you don't have to take all the water you need. Instead, you can invest in a good camping water filter to ensure you have clean drinking water whenever you need it. Being able to utilize naturally occurring water sources as you work your way through a trail is a game changer for saving time and space, as well as providing peace of mind that you can drink from any water source safely. What are some essential features to be on the lookout for in a water filter? Continue reading to find some helpful tips.

Comparison Table

Product

Weight

Processing

time

Replacement rate

Our Rating

Price

Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

2 ounces

Less than five minutes

Can process up to 10 gallons of water in the field before it needs to be backfilled, which can be done in the field.

[amazon fields=”B015CM9JNE” value=”button”]

Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter

11 ounces

Less than five minutes

Can process up to 1150 liters of water before the filter needs to be replaced.

[amazon fields=”B075TTTX2R” value=”button”]

Platypus Gravity Works

10.7 ounces

1 liter per minute

Can process up to 1500 liters of water before the filter needs to be replaced.

[amazon fields=”B07B4GLMB2″ value=”button”]

SteriPEN Classic

6.3 ounces

1 liter per 90 seconds

Can process up to 150 liters of water before the batteries need replacing.

[amazon fields=”B00V7P1R86″ value=”button”]

Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

Unknown

30 minutes

Each tablet treats approximately 2 liters of water. It comes in 30 or 60-count tablets.

[amazon fields=”B01IIRD2MO” value=”button”]

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

2 ounces

Instant

Each filter can cycle up to 1,000 liters with regular backflushing.

[amazon fields=”B006QF3TW4″ value=”button”]

Product FAQs

water being pouring on a glass

Image via Pexels

1. What Is the Difference Between a Water Purifier and Filter?

2. How Does a Camping Water Filter Work?

3. How Can You Choose a Camping Water Filter?

Overall Price Range of Camping Water Filters

water pouring on a glass

Image via Pexels

The price of a water filter will vary based on the type of system it utilizes (ultraviolet, carbon filter, etc.) and the amount of water it processes. You can expect to pay anywhere between $9 to $120 for the products reviewed below. You can find camping water filters at camping and outdoor stores such as REI, Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops. You can also find them online at these same retail outlets, as well as Amazon and Walmart.

How We Came Up With This List

Let's face it, when you want to go camping, you don't want to be bogged down in more details than necessary. If you're a camper and hiker who likes to live more with nature and take as little as possible, this becomes even more important to your method of recreation. We are here to help you decide between the hundreds of choices of water filter systems out there. Instead of staring at endless examples of filters, we've provided a select few below that meet the following criteria: weight, length of time it takes water to be ready, price, pros and cons, and reviews.

The 6 Best Camping Wat​​​​er Filters

1. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

[amazon box=”B015CM9JNE”]

Where to Purchase: REI, Amazon, Walmart

Pros

  • Lightweight and included bladder folds up almost flat. Comes with two 16-ounce reusable bladders and two drinking straws.
  • Can also attach to regular water bottles or the straw can be used to drink directly from the source of water.

Cons

  • The filter must be cleaned more often than the company recommends in order to keep it in working order.
  • The O-ring used to create the seal can snap leaving you in a bind if you don't have a backup water filter.

2. Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter

[amazon box=”B075TTTX2R”]

Where to Purchase: REI, Cabela's, Amazon

Pros

  • Utilizes a carbon filtration system to clean water, not only to remove bacteria but also to remove any unpleasant taste.
  • You can clean the filter while still out to help get the full life out of it.

Cons

  • The pump can become increasingly difficult to use, and the filter seems to clog quickly, even with regular backfilling.

3. Platypus Gravity Works

[amazon box=”B07B4GLMB2″]

Where to Purchase: Amazon, REI, Backcountry, Cabela's

Pros

  • Large capacity (4 liters) for filtering water for a group. No physical effort after the originating bag is hung in a tree (also known as the “dirty” bag).
  • Bags are labeled so you won't accidentally mix them up during the next use.
  • Folds almost flat and takes up less space than a 1-liter bottle.

Cons

  • The plastic may not always seem strong enough to withstand the weight of the water.
  • It may stretch when hung.

4. SteriPEN Classic

[amazon box=”B00V7P1R86″]

Where to Purchase: REI, Backcountry, Amazon, Bass Pro Shops

Pros

  • This ultraviolet light pen is battery operated and can purify bottles of water in a matter of seconds.
  • No chemicals used means no aftertaste.
  • Can be used to purify up to 8,000 liters of water with a single filter.

Cons

  • Must use a prefilter if the water is murky or dirty as the SteriPEN can only process clear water. 
  • The unit can break easily if dropped or accidentally knocked against a hard surface.
  • Customer service is hard to reach and unreliable.

5. Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

[amazon box=”B01IIRD2MO”]

Where to Purchase: REI, Backcountry, Amazon

Pros

  • Has a three-year shelf life and can be used effortlessly.
  • No chemical aftertaste, clean water.
  • Processes large amounts of water at a time for larger families or groups if necessary or it can be used for an individual water bottle.
  • Either way, it offers options and variety.

Cons

  • Some customers complained that they received an outdated product or that the product was not packaged correctly.

6. LifeStraw Pers​​​​onal Water Filter

[amazon box=”B006QF3TW4″]

Where to Purchase: REI, Walmart, Amazon, Target

Pros

  • Use the straw to drink directly from the water source or use it to filter into a bottle. 
  • Makes even the darkest and dirtiest water taste like fresh spring water.
  • No chemical aftertaste.

Cons

  • Takes a certain amount of effort to get the water flowing.
  • Must allow the straw time to be submerged in water before trying to utilize it (the filter needs to be thoroughly saturated).
  • Requires safe water to prime it.

The Verdict

water source

Image via Pexels

Being sure you get the right amount of water at any time is critical, but that urgency doubles when you're out hiking in the woods. Unless you can carry a significant amount of water with you, which isn't always practical, you are going to need to invest in a portable camping water filter of some kind. There are a number of styles to choose from, and once you get your first, you may go back to get a second. When taking all the reviews and specifications into account, we decided to name the Sawyer Products MINI Filtration System as the best filter to take along on a camping trip. It was the only filtration system that even came close to being perfect. Sawyer makes a variety of water filter products, so if you enjoy the MINI, you can go back and order more feeling confident you made the right decision.


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