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Looking for a good quality portable water filter?
You’ve come to the right place.
If you spend a lot of time hiking, camping, or traveling, you need an easy-to-carry portable filter that can provide safe drinking water on the go.
Portable water filters come in various forms, such as a bottle, straw, or a pouch.
Most portable water filters remove bacteria, protozoa, and viruses from water, allowing you to safely drink water from streams, rivers, and lakes.
In this buying guide, we recommend the best portable water filters you can order online. We’ve included several types of filters to meet different needs, including hiking, camping, and international travel.
If you are looking for a water filter you can use in your home kitchen, RV, boat, or off-grid home, take a look at our water filter pitcher reviews.
Despite its name, the Survivor Filter PRO is not just for apocalyptic situations – it’s also perfect for camping, hiking, and emergencies.
The Survivor Filter PRO filters down to 0.01 microns.
It easily removes impurities like sediment and TDS. Most importantly, the filter also removes over 99.9% of protozoa, staph, viruses, and bacteria.
Whatever kind of water you have access to, the Survivor Filter PRO can clean it up. This includes groundwater, lake water, tap water of questionable quality, and water from rivers and streams.
Survivor Filter PRO is also great for international travelers who are not sure they’ll find safe water where they are headed.
Survivor Filter PRO uses a 3-stage filtration system to target a broad range of impurities. And not just bacteria and viruses but also chemicals and heavy metals that might be present in the water.
The three filters also do a great job getting rid of odors and tastes in the water.
Survivor Filter PRO is a plunger-style filter. It’s a bit tedious to use, but it works great and offers much faster water flow than a gravity filter.
It produces about 500ml of filtered water per minute.
Everything you need is provided with the filter, including a cup, tubing, filters, and a carry bag.
The filter is all-plastic. But don’t worry about durability; the body is made from tough ABS plastic. A lifetime warranty guarantees it’ll last long.
Operating the Survivor Filter PRO is not as straightforward as a straw filter or gravity filter.
For one, the floaters the manufacturer includes don’t work very well. You have to hold the intake tubing underwater while you operate the plunger.
We recommend filling a large bottle with filtered water, so you don’t have to keep pumping more every time you want to drink water.
Another complaint from customers was about the filters. After you’ve come back from your camping or fishing trip and want to put the filter away, you need to make sure all parts are dry.
But the filters take forever to dry. Some users still found them wet after three weeks. It’s likely not the fault of the manufacturer, but it’s an inconvenience and a potentially dangerous one since mold and bacteria can develop on the filters.
Survivor Filter PRO is a great choice if you are looking for a good quality portable filter you can use in any situation, including camping, fieldwork, hiking, emergencies, and even at home.
Zombie attack, asteroid destroys half the earth or just stranded in the wild? Whatever survival situation you might face, the miniwell gravity water filter is the best portable filter to have with you.
The filter is super easy to use – no pumping or pulling on a straw – and easily removes most of the bad stuff from dirty water.
The miniwell gravity filter comes with a 3-liter dirty water reservoir bag, a 1-liter collapsible water bottle, and a filter and tubing that run between the two.
You add water to the reservoir and then hang it from a tree using the included strap. The bag has a closure system that keeps bugs and dirt from getting into the reservoir.
You then attach a tube to the bottom of the bag. Dirty water will run from the reservoir, go through the pocket-size filter cartridge, and come out of the outlet tube as clean and clear drinking water.
The included water bottle is collapsible. So when it’s not full of water, you can collapse it for easy storage and portability.
The filter uses 0.1-micron media. This is fine enough to remove sediment, some chemicals, bacteria, protozoa, and cysts.
The manufacturer doesn’t say anything about heavy metals, so we assume the miniwell filter doesn’t reduce them.
One thing we love about miniwell is that it works great for a group of people. Straw filters are great, but you can’t share it among a group.
With miniwell, you can collect enough drinking water for several people.
Another feature we love is that you can flush the filter, which extends its life. One end of the cartridge has a gasket where you can attach a water bottle or the collapsible water bottle.
Make sure the bottle is full of water then squeeze it to force water through the filter and out the other side.
However, even with backflushing, you’ll still need to get a new filter after 528 gallons. So keep track of how much-filtered water you use.
The only major complaint from customers is the lack of clear instructions. This makes set up harder since you have to guess where everything goes.
If you have trouble setting up or using the miniwell filter, watch this quick video from the manufacturer.
While it’s a great choice for survival situations, the miniwell gravity filter is also perfect for any outdoor and emergency situations where you need clean drinking water.
It’s small and light enough to carry with you when you go camping, hiking or for fieldwork.
If you hike a lot, you need a compact and light water filter that you can carry in your backpack or even pocket.
The Sawyer MINI Water filter is highly popular among hikers, campers, and backpackers. It’s a straw system, so it’s ideal for just one person.
The first thing you should know about the Sawyer Mini is that it doesn’t remove all the bad stuff that might be in the water – but it removes the worst of it that can make you sick.
The 2-stage filter removes over 99.9% of all bacteria and protozoa. This includes salmonella, E. Coli, giardia, and cryptosporidium. These are usually the most dangerous contaminants in water.
However, it is ineffective against chemicals, most viruses, and heavy metals.
But then again, boiling water also doesn’t remove heavy metals and chemicals. As long as you are not drinking water from a stream or lake that is polluted with industrial or farm waste, the Mini Sawyer is safe to use.
The filter can process up to 100,000 gallons before you need to replace it.
The Sawyer Mini setup is pretty simple. You attach a straw to the end of the filter cartridge and then suck from the other end. Dirty water passes through the filter and comes out clean.
You can dip the straw directly into the stream or lake or add the unfiltered water to the included pouch and then attach it to the filter.
You can also attach a standard water bottle.
The manufacturer recommends regularly flushing the Mini Sawyer to maintain strong water flow.
To flush, fill the included cartridge with clean water then attach it to the end of the filter that you suck from. Push the water through the filter to remove trapped impurities.
As we’ve mentioned, the Sawyer Mini does not remove heavy metals, viruses, and chemicals.
The Sawyer Mini filter also has some build quality problems. There are several reports of the O-ring that seals the reservoir breaking. Several users also say their bag tore after some time.
Our advice is to avoid tightening the filter onto the bag too tightly. Also, when squeezing water from the pouch, be gentle. If you squeeze too hard, you could tear the bag.
If the water is coming out too slowly, try flushing the filter to unclog it.
The Sawyer Mini water filter is a great choice for anyone planning to be outdoors for an extended period, whether it’s hiking, boating, or camping.
Prefer the compact design of a bottle water filter? We recommend the Sawyer S3, an easy-to-carry bottle that can filter out bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and other contaminants in water.
It’s perfect for hiking, backpacking, international travel, and everyday use.
The Sawyer S3 is part of the Select Series that also includes the smaller and cheaper S1 bottle.
Though the S1 filter bottle is cheaper and has a longer filter life, we think the Sawyer S3 is the better choice because it filters out more contaminants.
The S1 filter removes bacteria, protozoa, cysts, and chemicals. The S3 filter removes all that plus viruses and heavy metals. In other words, Sawyer S3 offers more protection.
Being a bottle, the S3 is easy to carry around. You can carry it by hand, put it in a bag, or attach it to your bike’s bottle holder.
To use it, you simply add water to the bottle, close it, and then squeeze to get clean drinking water.
The filter lasts through 400 uses.
We don’t recommend the S3 as a primary source of water. For one, it produces only a little drinking water squeeze. Two, it requires quite a bit of pressure to get water out.
It’s best for day hikes, day trips, and occasional travel. But for things like camping and emergencies, it’s not ideal.
The Sawyer S3 filter bottle is a great choice for anyone looking for an easy-to-carry water filter bottle that removes most of the bad stuff from water.
If you are looking for a straw water filter, LifeStraw Personal is the most popular. It has a simple design and is super easy to carry around. Most importantly, it removes over 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa.
The only downside is that you can’t store water for later use. So you need to make sure you are close to a water source or carry some dirty water with you.
The LifeStraw Personal filter focuses on removing four types of contaminants: sediment/turbidity, bacteria, protozoa, and micro-plastics.
So it should be safe to use in most outdoor situations.
Where it might not be so safe are water sources near industrial waste. LifeStraw Personal does not remove chemicals.
Also, don’t use it with water that might contain high levels of heavy metals like arsenic and lead.
LifeStraw’s design is super simple – there’s no reservoir, pouch, tubing, or plunger. You simply put the end of the filter directly in the water and suck.
This can be a lake, river, well or stream. Don’t use it for drinking ocean water – it will not reduce the high salt levels.
The filter is good for 1,000 gallons. So you can use it for years before you need to buy a new one.
To keep the filter in good condition the manufacture recommends backwashing it after every use. To backwash, suck some clean water into your mouth then blow it back through the filter.
LifeStraw works great, but it can be tiring to use frequently. It takes some effort to suck a good amount of water through the filter.
It’s perfect for emergencies, day hikes, and other short-term or unexpected situations. But for long term use, you may want to switch to a gravity filter or a plunger filter.
If you are looking for a portable straw filter, LifeStraw Personal is a solid choice.
Something we did not mention above: your purchase of LifeStraw helps provide safe drinking water to kids in poorer countries.
LifeStraw Mission’s large capacity, ease of use, and high filtration performance make it the best portable water filter for camping.
There’s no pumping or sucking needed – LifeStraw mission uses a gravity system to pass water through a filter cartridge.
What we love most about LifeStraw Mission is that it’s perfect for individuals as well as groups. Whether you are camping alone, with your friends or your family, a single LifeStraw Mission filter is enough for all your drinking water needs.
The pouch that holds the dirty water has a capacity of 12l or 3.2 gallons. You fill it up, then hang it on a branch and attach the tubing and filter.
Water flows down from the bag through the tubing and filter by gravity.
The filter removes over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. So you are safe drinking filtered water from a stream or river. Anything that might make you sick is left behind in the filter. The filter also clears up turbid water by removing sediment and particulates.
Note that the filter cartridge does not reduce heavy metals and chemical contaminants. Avoid taking water from sources that might be polluted by industrial or farm waste.
The water flow is a bit sluggish, but you can fill up a large bottle for easier access to drinking water.
The filter has a lifespan of 4,755 gallons, after which you’ll need to get a new one. To keep the filter working well and prevent clogging, backwash it frequently. There’s a red valve on the side that you press to flush the filter.
The whole system is a bit bulky to carry around, but it comes with a shoulder strap and a carry sack. So you can easily take it with you on long hikes.
As we mentioned, the LifeStraw Mission filter is ineffective against dissolved solids, including salts and heavy metals. It also doesn’t filter out chemicals such as chlorine.
Another issue is the slow flow rate, which is not surprising for a gravity system. It takes 5-7 minutes to fill a 0.2-gallon bottle and over an hour to get three gallons of filtered drinking water.
You can set the filter up and draw a cup whenever you need a drink or, more conveniently, fill a large bottle.
If you want a filtration system that works well without batteries or chemicals and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort to get drinkable water, we highly recommend LifeStraw Mission.
Straw filters can leave your cheeks feeling sore from the effort of trying to pull water through the filter. Gravity filters require less effort but are slow.If you want a portable water filter that produces a lot of water without tiring you, get the Survivor Filter PRO X electric water filter.
At the touch of a button, it produces 17 ounces of clean drinking water per minute. You can collect three gallons of filtered water in about 23 minutes.
The Survivor Filter PRO X is essentially the same as the Survivor Filter PRO (our top pick), only that you press a button instead of operating a plunger. And boy, does it make a difference.
Once you set up the filter and put the intake tubing in the stream, you just press the button and leave the filter to do its thing. You can set up camp, prepare lunch, or take a nap.
The Survivor Filter PRO X works faster than any other portable filter – it can fill up a large bottle or pouch in a few minutes.
The only manual bit is backwashing the filter. You’ll need to use the included syringe.
As for filtration performance, the Survivor Filter PRO X has a 3-stage system that gets rid of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, staph, heavy metals, and chemicals.
One of the biggest concerns for campers and hikers will be the power. You don’t exactly have easy access to electricity when in the wild.
Don’t worry; the Survivor Filter PRO X is designed to work in any kind of situation. The easiest way to power it on the go is by using two AA batteries.
Alternatively, you can power it via USB using a power bank or solar generator.
If you are at home or in an RV, you can also power it through a wall plug. The USB cable and wall charger are both included.
To be honest, there’s almost nothing to criticize about the Survivor Filter PRO X. If anything, most customers are asking why it did not come sooner.
It filters water well and quickly, is easy to use, and the construction quality is top-notch.
The only downside is the price tag. As we expected, the Survivor Filter PRO X costs more than manual portable water filters. But we think it’s worth it.
If like many outdoor enthusiasts, you’ve been waiting forever for an electric water filter, the Survivor Filter PRO X is currently the best one around.
You don’t need to go camping or hiking to need a portable water filter. If you want a filter for everyday use at work, in school, or when traveling, we recommend the Brita 36390 bottle filter.
It’s designed specifically for filtering chlorine from tap water. You just fill it up with ordinary tap water than drink from it as you would any other water bottle.
It eliminates odors and tastes from tap water. The bottle is available in six different colors so you can choose the one that best fits your style.
If you hate the taste of tap water but find bottled water too expensive (and bad for the environment), the Brita 36390 is for you.
It consists of a bottle with an integrated straw filter. You add tap water to the bottle then pull it up through the filter and into your mouth.
Unlike most straw-style filters, this one is easy to operate. It’s as easy as drinking out of a normal straw.
Brita 36390 is meant for just tap water, so it doesn’t remove many contaminants. Its main purpose is to improve the taste and smell of water, mostly by reducing chlorine.
The carbon filter is good for up to 40 gallons, after which you’ll need to get a replacement.
The bottle itself is made from BPA-free plastic. It’s tough and doesn’t break easily. Several users say they’ve dropped it several times without a problem.
The lid fits well with little to no leaking.
No matter how well you rinse the filter, you should expect an unpleasant taste when you first drink water from the bottle.
This is because of the new filter. By the time you fill a second bottle, the water tastes fresh.
Brita 36390 is a great choice if you are looking for a stylish and easy to use a bottle that can filter the chlorine taste (and other tastes) out of tap water.
These are the most popular portable water filters, especially among hikers, campers, and preppers. They consist of a straw with a filter inside.
You suck on the straw to pass water through the filter.
The biggest advantage of straw water filters is portability. Most are small enough to fit in your pocket. So you can easily carry one when going on a hike.
On the downside, it can be tiring to use a straw filter since you need to suck the water with a bit of force to filter it.
You also cannot store filtered water for easier access. You have to suck water from a container or directly from a source such as a stream every time you are thirsty.
Another disadvantage is that straw filters are personal. You cannot share one with someone else, making them less than ideal for groups and families.
Gravity filters don’t require any effort to use – just some patience. They usually come in the form of a pouch that you add dirty water to and hang from a tree.
You then attach a tube at the bottom leading to a filter and an outlet.
Water flows through the tubing and filter by gravity. You can open a valve to let out filtered water when you need a drink or fill a large bottle.
The main advantage of gravity filters is the ease of use. No sucking and no pumping.
It’s also easy to collect a lot of filtered water for later use. The ability to store water makes gravity filters a good choice for groups. You only need one gravity filter when you go on a family camping trip.
On the downside, gravity filters are slow. It can take more than an hour to fill a 3-gallon container.
Pump filters have a plunger that you operate to force water through a filter. They require some effort to operate, but they are not as tiring as a straw filter.
They also filter water pretty quickly.
Electric filters use electricity to power a small pump that forces water through the filter. If you want a fast filtration rate with little to no effort, an electric filter is the best.
The main downside is that it requires a source of power. But most can run on batteries or a USB cable connected to a power bank.
Electric portable filters are also much more expensive than conventional filters.
A bottle filter is essentially a straw filter inside a normal-looking bottle. You fill the bottle with water then suck to draw it up and through the filter.
A bottle filter is the best if you want a portable filter for everyday use at home, in school, or at work. It is also great for short hikes and day trips.
If you want the smallest, most portable filter just for yourself, get a straw filter.
If you don’t want to suck on a straw or operate a plunger, we recommend a gravity-style filter or an electric filter. Get the gravity one if you are on a budget. Electric portable filters are pricey.
If you are on a budget but want a filter that works quickly, get a plunger-style filter. It’s a bit of work to operate, but it produces filtered water fairly quickly.
If you are traveling as a group, either friends or family, any of the filters except a straw filter are perfect.
Once you decide which type of filter you want, check what kind of impurities the filter eliminates from the water.
Because your only source of water might be a lake, stream, or river, portable filters focus on harmful microorganisms.
The cheaper filter eliminates bacteria and protozoa, while pricier filters also remove viruses. Viruses are smaller and need a finer filtration media.
If you are getting a portable filter for hiking, camping, Survival, or emergencies, the ability to remove microorganisms is essential.
Some filters have carbon media that reduces chemicals such as pesticides and industrial waste in the water. They also reduce heavy metals like arsenic and lead.
However, unless you plan to get your water from sources that are close to industries or farming operations, a carbon filter is not essential.
The most common source of heavy metals and chemicals in water is human pollution. If you are fetching water from a pristine stream up in the mountains, your biggest worry is microorganisms.
Check how many gallons the filter can process before you need to get a new one. The last thing you want is to be caught outdoors with a clogged filter that won’t work.
Some portable filters are designed to last a lifetime. They can filter thousands of gallons of water. Since most people only use a portable filter occasionally, you don’t have to buy a new one ever again.
Finally, check how easy it is to travel with the filter.
If you are going hiking, you need a small and light filter. Some portable filters come with collapsible pouches and bottles for easier portability.
If you are going camping in a vehicle, you can afford a larger filter.
The only thing you need to do to maintain a portable water filter is regular backwashing. Backwashing flushes out impurities trapped in the filter media.
It extends the life of the filter and maintains a good water flow.
How you backwash your filter depends on what type it is. Most portable filters come with a syringe that you use to push water through the filter. With others, you have to use your mouth to flush the filter.
Yes, most portable water filters are safe to use. They filter out impurities and germs that are likely to make you sick, including bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.
No. Viruses are much smaller and can only be removed by an ultra-fine filter. Filters with 0.01-micron media are the best for removing viruses.
No, you cannot. Portable filters are designed to remove microorganisms, chemicals, and some heavy metals. They do not remove dissolved salts.
Seawater will still taste very salty and is dangerous to drink since the high salt levels leave you dehydrated.
Portable filters are ideal for use with tap water and water from lakes, rivers, and streams.
Most companies offer frequent coupons and discounts on their water filters. Check their official websites or Amazon product pages for the latest offers.
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