Water is one of the most crucial things to consider when you go for backpacking adventures like camping and hiking. And with advancing technology, water filters now come in a size which you can carry in your backpack easily! Carrying water is not always convenient, and unless you are willing to carry a bag for just water bottles, it is still insufficient to last an entire hike. Drinking water directly from the source is not safe as it contains toxins and other debris. With a water filter, you can easily purify water that you acquire along the way. Water filters are very convenient to carry and simple to use. With the use of water filters, you don’t have to worry about spending double the amount for bottled water at the start of every trail/hike.

Types of Water Filter for Hiking

There are different kinds of filters available- pump filters, squeeze or bottle filters, straw filters, gravity filters, and UV filters. Pump filters, squeeze filters, and straw filters are small and lightweight and are very convenient for backpacking for one or two-person trips, whereas gravity filters are for larger groups. Listed below are the details of some of the types of water filters available.

1. Pump filters:

Pump water filters are effortless to use and maintain. These filters are considerable in size but can be easily adjusted into a backpack taking less space. This filter works by having an intake hose that goes into the water and another piece attached to where you’re filtering your water. A small hand pump is required to obtain the water, and when you pump, the dirty water will go through the hose, through the filter, and then into the bottle or reservoir you are filling. Pump filters depend upon ceramic filters, fiber filters, or activated carbons. Like the straw filters’ hollow fiber membrane, fiber filters function the same. It automatically blocks the contaminants in the water from passing. Pump filters with ceramic filters provide mechanical filtration. These filters are absorbent and have holes in them. The filter blocks the contaminants but lets the water pass through the holes. Some bacteria are incredibly small, causing it to flow through the hole and into the water, which is a disadvantage. It also cannot prevent the pollution of water by natural compounds; therefore, they are usually combined with activated carbon filters. Within its atoms, the carbon, which is activated, contains countless numbers of tiny pores, and the water toxins remain behind on this surface. Activated carbon filters enhance the taste as well as the smell of the water, and one good thing about this filter is that you only need to replace these filters once in a year. This filter keeps the useful minerals in the water intact.


  • You can filter the exact amount of water you need.
  • The cartridge is replaceable.
  • You can filter water from shallow ponds or deep lakes.


  • Pumping can become a little tiresome when done for a longer time.
  • It can be more cumbersome and take more space as compared to other portable filters.

2. Squeeze or bottle filters:                

A squeeze water filter is straightforward, where you have something to fill with water, such as a bag. The filter is then attached to the bag. The water is then squeezed from the bag, through the filter, into your reservoir. The filters are built-in. Squeeze water filters are suitable for a clean water source, whereas pump water filters can be used for riskier water sources. Bottle filters are beneficial even without filtering the water you consume. By removing the bottle’s filter cartridge, you can make use of it like a normal water bottle when you’re convinced that your water is not contaminated and is safe for drinking. Some bottle filters are dependent on firmly activated carbons; however, most of them rely on fiber filters for purifying the water.


  • Since it has built-in filters, you can drink the water directly.
  • The cartridge of these filters is also replaceable.
  • It is lighter and cheaper than other filters.


  • The quantity of water is limited to the size of the bottle.

3. Straw filter:

Straw water filters are one of the lightest portable filtration solutions available. These filters typically look like large straws, and they work the same as well. These filters are easy to use. The filtration process is straightforward; you just have to draw the polluted water through the straw. The cartridges of straw filters are made out of hollow fiber covering. The fibers are woven together very tightly, so the water has to pass through a lot of fiber sheets to remove all the pollution in the water. Though the holes in the fibers are tiny, it is very absorbent. And because the holes are tiny, it traps all the bacteria and viruses in the water and allows only water to pass through. But, it does not do an excellent job at filtering dissolved pollutants like chlorine, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals.


  • It is quickly filtered and can drink the water directly.
  • It is lighter and does not take much space
  • It is also cheaper than other portable filters.


  • You can only use it where there is a water source.
  • Can only be used by one person

4. Gravity Filters:

Gravity filters are for larger groups like campers and trekkers, where water is readily available, but it works slowly. They have a two-bag system where the bags are positioned above each other. The dirty water is put in one of the bags which will fall through a tube. In the tube, it falls through the filter and into the other clean filter bag. It is effortless to use as you just have to fill the bag with the dirty water and hang it somewhere and wait for it to filter. Here, gravity does all the work. Gravity filters depend on a mixture of activated carbon and ceramic filters to purify the polluted water. The gravity filter’s cartridges can be used for almost one year. You should also make sure to store the container bags properly so that the first bag does not contaminate the other.


  • It can filter an ample quantity of water for larger groups.
  • The cartridge can be used for over a year and is replaceable after.


  • It can be challenging to find a place to hang the filter.
  • The filtration process is slower than the other portable filters.

5. UV filters:

UV filters are a form of water purification method that neutralizes bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. The device looks like a pen. It is easy to use, as you just have to push a button and stir. The pen takes just around 60 seconds to filter the water in a bottle. It does not remove any particles or organic materials, so it is advised to use clear water. And it can purify only smaller quantities of water at a time.


  • The purification process does not take much time.
  • The device is small, so it is convenient.
  • It does not require any replacement or cleaning.
  • The filtration process is fast, takes around 2 minutes for 1 liter of water.


  • It requires a battery to function.
  • It can purify water in small quantities only.

The Best Camping Water Filters

Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

The lifestraw personal water filter is a low-cost, but very effective water filter. It doesn’t require batteries, and it has no moving parts. You won’t be stuck somewhere having to fix the filter. Additionally, it can filter up to 1000 gallons of water, removing 99.9999% of bacteria from the water. It weighs only 2 oz and is one of the most portable on the list.

MSR TrailShot Pocket Water Filter

One of the smallest on our list, the MSR TrailShot is a great size-friendly water filter for one or two-person trips. It removes 99.9999% of bacteria from the water, and all it requires is your hand to squeeze the suction pump. The MVR TrailShot allows you to drink directly from the source, or fill up a reservoir for on-the-go hydration. It can filter up to 2,000 gallons of water. Please note that this filter will not remove chlorine, iodine, or other chemicals from the water.

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter: This Sawyer Squeeze water filter comes with two 32fl. Oz filter bags and a cleansing coupling, as well as supplementary accessories for inline and gravity usage. It has a cylindrical fiber chamber filter that removes 99 % of bacteria and protozoa. The pouches are built of long-lasting Mylar foil, which is collapsible. Also, it can be used over and over again. The filter has a built-in cap from which you can fill water to a bottle, or you can also spray it into your mouth directly. The Sawyer Squeeze water filter comes with a syringe to back-flush the filter and also come with a mesh carrying bag. The Sawyer water filter is one of the best hiking water filters as it is small and can easily fit in the backpack.

Grayl GeoPress Water Purifier Bottle

This is a bottle-based water purifier; it has two bottles, one inside and one outside. It has a filter at one end of the inner bottle and a drinking spout with a screw-on top. This purifier removes bacteria, protozoa, and viruses from the water. This water filter is incredibly easy to use; you just have to fill, press, and drink. The cartridge for this filter is also replaceable. Grayl water purifier is among the best backpacking water filter.

Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier

This water purifier uses ultraviolet light to reduce bacteria, protozoa, and viruses from the water. This Steripen Ultra UV water purifier fits in wide-necked bottles and is rechargeable through USB. This device works by simply dipping it in a bottle or a container filled with water and stir. Then an indicator will signal when the water is purified; it takes about 90 seconds and turns itself off. The Steripen can be used for around 8000 times. It works only on clear water. This Steripen Ultra UV water purifier comes with a carrying case, USB cable, and an instruction manual.

Katadyn BeFree Water Filter: This filter can also be used as a gravity filter or squeeze filter. It is straightforward to use; you just have to squeeze the bottle or keep it upside down. It can filter up to 2 liters of water per minute. The Katadyn water filter is one of the best camping water filters that can be easily cleaned by simply shaking and swishing to remove the remains. It eliminates bacteria and protozoa from the water source.


Having access to clean water is very important when planning for backpacking, camping, or hiking. There are so many different kinds of portable backpacking filters available in the market for travelers and explorers. Unlike the water filters we use at home, these portable filters are very convenient as you can carry it anywhere you go. We have already discussed above the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of filters, so now you can decide for yourself which is the best camping water filter!

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