Humans have been purifying their drinking water for thousands of years—well before the most well-known water filter of all time, the Hippocratic Sleeve was invented in Greece in 500 BC. Humans have always known how important it is to have potable water at their disposal to keep from getting sick. The only thing that’s changed is how water is purified and how effective that treatment is in transforming water from an impure to a pure state.
One of the greatest inventions to come out over the past few years are portable water filters. These filters are easy enough for anyone to carry them anywhere, which allows people in isolated locations to have access to fresh, pure water. We’ve reviewed some of these filters and we’ve discovered that they do an amazing job of cleaning water. So much so, we just couldn’t resist telling everyone about the best portable water filters.
Quick Summary of the Best Portable Water Filters
- Editor’s Choice
Lifestraw Personal Water Filter (Amazon) – Review
- Also Recommended
Sawyer Products SP160 Gravity Water-Filtration System (Amazon) – Review
- Also Consider
Katadyn Vario Dual-Technology Water Filter (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Lifestraw Personal Water Filter
This is the best portable water filter ever made and few people would doubt that assertion. Although it’s a straw filter that can only be used by one person at a time, it is capable of filtering up to 1,000 gallons of contaminated water. And it’s capable of cleaning that water without needing batteries, electricity, iodine, chlorine or any other chemicals. All the user has to do is suck water through it and it cleans it as it goes.
This filter is capable of removing 99.9999% of all waterborne bacteria and waterborne protozoan parasites. It’s also capable of removing particles that are as small as 0.2 microns, which far exceeds the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Unlike some of the other straw filters of the past, this product also has a high-flow rate, so the consumer can drink directly from the source without feeling like their trying to drink water through the mud.
Thanks to this portable water filter, no one has to worry about whether they have water for emergencies, camping, hiking or while they’re out in the wilderness. As long as there is some form of water, this straw is probably capable of filtering it and making it potable. This means that this is a great water filter for preppers and survivalists to put in their emergency kits, bug out bags, or prepper supply kit. It’s even in a sealed bag for easy storage.
It’s only two ounces, so it can be carried everywhere, and it’s only 9x1x1-inches in size. It’s a filter that’s made out of BPA-free materials and doesn’t taint the taste of the water with a plastic taste as it filters it. It’s no wonder this filter has won so many awards. It’s the perfect filter for our times and one that people are going to want to have around when they need it.
Also Recommended: Sawyer Products SP160 Gravity Water-Filtration System
Campers, hikers or any other outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for a filter that can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water, one gallon at a time, of course, is probably going to want to check this one out. Although this gravity feed system isn’t as easy to use as they claim it is, and it’s a bit difficult to hang from a tree branch to filter water, it’s otherwise a great model that delivers fresh, clean water when the user needs it the most.
This filter is capable of removing 99.9999% of all bacteria, and waterborne protozoa from water. That means that it will filter out E.coli, salmonella, cholera, cryptosporidium, and giardia from the water in only a few moments. With this filter, anyone can have access to potable drinking water, as long as they have access to some body-of-water. This body of water can be a creek, river, pond or lake—it doesn’t matter. It will deliver clean drinking water that can be used by multiple people at a time.
This system comes with a MINI water filter, a cleaning plunger, a 1-gallon water bladder, a gravity hose with adapters, and a cleaning coupling. Although it would’ve been nice if this unit had also been equipped with a pre-filter that could filter out sediment, it works pretty well if the user uses a bandana or coffee filter as a pre-filter. Our only real complaint with it is that its handle is meant to be held for the system to be used, and that can be a pain.
We also thought that this product was reasonably priced as well. It was as inexpensive as the Lifestraw, but it was cheaper than many of the battery-powered water filters available. All things considered, we think that all of these features mean that these filters are good for camping, packing in disaster kits, emergency prepping or backcountry traveling.
Also Consider: Katadyn Vario Dual-Technology Water Filter
Even though this water filter from Katadyn is one of the more expensive portable water filters available, it does provide the user with clean portable water on the go. This model was specifically designed for campers, trekkers, and hikers who need access to clean water on the go and this model is designed to give them an easy-to-use tool that delivers just that. This model is capable of filters up to 2-quarts of water per minute, so clean water is only a few moments away for just about anyone.
This model is 6.5-inches high, weighs just 15-ounces and has a 36-inch hose. It comes with a prefilter, a cleaning pad, and a deluxe carrying bag. This model uses a cartridge that removes 99.9999% of all bacteria and protozoan parasites, so the user can always be sure of the water they’re drinking. And because of its portable design, this model is extremely easy to take into the wilderness, it’s easy to use, and it’s easy to clean.
This is most definitely a water filter that many people are going to get good use out of. It’s a model that’s equipped with a carbon filter that can remove some chemicals from the water and it has a prefilter that helps to remove some of the sediment from water.
Taking its small size and filtering capabilities into account, it’s easy to see why some people wouldn’t mind having this water filter around their campsite or tucked into an emergency preparedness kit. The only real problem we had with this portable water filter was its price, but that’s a minor annoyance more than a real complaint. Overall, we do think that it’s a great model to have around for filtering water.
A Guide To Purchasing Portable Water Filters
We’ve tried to present to our readers a comprehensive list of the best portable water filters, but we do understand that some people are going to need some more information. Which is precisely the reason we decided to write this guide. We hope that it gives all of our readers the information they need to buy the water filter that best serves their needs. When used in conjunction with our recommendations for the best filters, no one should have any problems knowing what they need.
Step One: Decide On A Portable Water Filter Type
The very first step towards finding a great portable water filter is to decide which type is right for you. As far as portable filters are concerned, they come in one of 5 different models. There are Straw Filters, Pump Filters, Bottle Filters, UV Filters, and Gravity Filters. Let’s briefly examine one of these five types and see what they can offer in terms of portability, convenience, and of course, water filtering ability.
Straw filters are basically big straws that work on the same principle as straws do. The user places one end into the dirty water and then sucks through the other end. As the water passes through the straw, it’s also passing through a filter, and the result is the user gets to drink nice clean water.
- Removes most debris and sediment
- Removes most bacteria, viruses, parasites, and protozoa
- They are extremely portable
- Not great for groups of people
- Not efficient at removing chlorine or heavy metals
Pump filters aren’t the most portable water filters but they small enough to be placed in this category. They work by the user inserting a hose into water and then using a hand pump to draw the water through the hose and then through a filter.
- Improves the taste and smell of water
- Removes many different contaminants
- It may not filter out all bacteria
These bottles simplify the process of filtering water. And if the user doesn’t need to filter water, most of them allow the consumer to remove the cartridge filter and allow the bottle to be used as a regular drinking bottle.
- Removes viruses and bacteria from water
- Some can remove heavy metals, and other dangerous contaminants
- Does not filter out cadmium or fluoride
UV filters run on batteries and use ultraviolet light to remove contaminants from water. The main benefit of them is their effectiveness against bacteria and parasites, although they do tend to be more expensive than some other types of filters.
- Removes most bacterial, parasites, protozoa, and viruses
- Works extremely quickly
- Needs batteries to operate
- Doesn’t remove chlorine or heavy metals
Gravity Water Filters
These are designed to filter water without using power, either battery or muscle power. They use gravity to pass water through a filter, which can then be collected into a bag or other appropriate container.
- They remove most bacteria, protozoa, parasites, and viruses
- They can remove some herbicides and pesticides
- Some can filter out chlorine
- They are larger than other portable models
- They usually require some assembly.
- The user can accidentally contaminate the first container with the second one
Step Two: Consider Some Other Filter Options
Once the consumer has determined which portable water filter is right for their needs, they still are likely to have to sort through many, many different models. Search any type of portable water filter and you’re likely to see more than you can count. However, if you keep the following things in mind while you’re shopping, you can whittle down your selection until you find one that you like.
The Weight Of The Filter
Although the type of filter you choose is going to greatly determine the size of the filter you’re going to end up buying, but there will be variations among different models. For example, there are some extremely large straw filters, but there are also some models that are quite a bit smaller. Therefore, the consumer should purchase the model that’s small enough for their needs but still delivers the feature they need it to deliver.
It’s also a good idea for the consumer to think about the capacity of the filter. The capacity of the filter will determine how much water it can filter before the consumer needs to replace it. Some models can only filter 100 or so gallons before they need to be replaced, and others can filter thousands of gallons before they need to be replaced.
It’s also a good idea for the consumer to think about how fast the filter actually filters water. Some models are capable of filtering a quart or two a minute, and others can filter significantly less.
The final thing the consumer is going to want to consider is the cost of the unit. The end cost of the unit will depend on its speed, capacity, and functionality, so consumers should keep those things in mind as they determine whether a particular portable water filter will fit into their budget or not.