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The 10 Best Camping Water Filters [2023]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

776 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

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Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Access to clean water is vital if you want to stay safe in the great outdoors. A camping water filter will remove waterborne bacteria, protozoa, and viruses and also reduce chemical odors and toxins.

Affordable, compact, and incredibly useful, these water filters can be an absolute lifesaver while you are away from home.

Things To Consider With Camping Water Filters

Because not all water filters are the same, you should consider the following before you buy:

Type

Water Filter Type
Straw filters can be used to drink directly from the water source. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

There are some really fancy water filters available that promise to turn even the murkiest of river water into something that is clean and safe to drink.

When you are camping, you don’t need whistles and bells, but you do need an effective, reliable filter that’s compact enough to carry around with you. The most popular types of filters for camping are:

  • Straw Filters — These can be used to drink directly from the water source, and they feature a built-in element that filters all the nasties out of the water before it hits your lips. They are lightweight, easy to use, and great for solo trips, but they can be difficult to clean between uses.
  • Pump Filters — These require you to physically pump water from the source in order for it to pass through the filter to provide you with clean, fresh drinking water. An excellent choice for adventures where water may be scarce, the pump function allows you to extract water from puddles and shallow water sources.
  • Gravity Filters — These types of filters need to be hung up high and can get heavy when full, but they offer effective filtration on the go. You simply need to fill the reservoir and wait for it to filter through. Most models come with 2 separate reservoir bags, one for clean and one for dirty water, and with a built-in filter, they can be very effective at removing bacteria and dangerous chemicals from the water.

Flow Rate

The flow rate refers to how fast the water will flow through the filter, and this is usually measured in liters per minute.

A fast flow rate ensures quick and easy access to clean water when you need it the most, although most filters have a flow rate of around 1 liter per minute, which is more than acceptable, even in extreme conditions.

Size

Water Filter Size
Straw-style filters are small and lightweight to carry. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Your water filter will need to be small enough to fit in your pocket, backpack, or kit bag. Straw-style filters are long and cylindrical and can be slipped easily slip inside side pockets, pump filters can be a little bit bigger, and gravity filters require reservoirs to work efficiently.

Hot Tip: Generally speaking, larger filters tend to be better quality and will provide you with more water, but plenty of smaller models out there will more than do the job you require when there is no clean drinking water close at hand.

The 10 Best Camping Water Filters

1. High-performance, Portable Water Filter

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Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

Perfect for use while hiking, camping, and being prepared for emergencies, this high-performance water filtration system is compact but powerful.

The 0.1-micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just 2 ounces. It is capable enough to remove 99.99999% of all bacteria, including salmonella, cholera, and E. coli, as well as 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, and 100% of microplastics.

Easily attached to your water bottle or hydration pack, this filter is rated up to 100,000 gallons.

What We Like

  • This is an easy and efficient way to filter water

What We Don’t Like

  • The straw is quite hard to drink from

2. Self-cleaning Water Filter

MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier Pump

This military-grade water purifier pump weighs in at just 17.3 ounces and measures a compact 8.2 x 4.7 inches.

Designed to remove viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and particulates from contaminated water sources virtually anywhere on earth, this super-efficient little water pump can treat up to 10,000 liters of water while being able to withstand freezing weather and dangerous conditions.

The pump is able to self-clean on every stroke, meaning there is no backflushing or filter-scrubbing required, and with the ability to clean up to 2.5 liters per minute, this is an awesome choice for backcountry adventures.

What We Like

  • Excellent filtration system for year-round use

What We Don’t Like

  • It is quite expensive

3. The Best Straw Filter for Solo Use

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LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

These little LifeStraws are incredibly popular and do an awesome job. Easy to use, the micro-filtration membrane can remove 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, and 99.999% of waterborne parasites, including giardia and cryptosporidium.

With a microbiological filter that can provide 4,000 liters (1,000 gallons) of clean and safe drinking water, this must-have travel accessory is also able to remove the smallest microplastics found in the environment (down to 1 micron) and reduce turbidity down to 0.2 microns for safer and cleaner water every time.

What We Like

  • Brilliant little water filter

What We Don’t Like

  • It does take a fair bit of suction to get the water to flow the first time

4. Pump Filter for Use in the Wilds

Survivor Filter Pro – Hand Pump Camping Water Filter

Designed to offer 99.999% filtration removal of viruses, bacteria, and parasites, this would be an awesome addition to any outdoor adventure kit.

A dual hollow fiber membrane and advanced carbon filtration reduce heavy metals to improve taste and filter up to 0.2 microns.

With a super-fast flow rate of 500 milliliters (17 ounces) per minute, it can be used directly from a freshwater source, pumped into an attached cup, or pumped into any portable hydration pack for added versatility.

This water filter is efficient and effective; it’s made from super-tough, yet incredibly safe material and components to ensure that it can stand up to use in any environment.

What We Like

  • Great for handling dirty water

What We Don’t Like

  • It feels a little cheap

5. The Best Gravity-based Water Filter

LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag

This advanced LifeStraw can be used in 5 different ways — as a personal straw filter, with the included soft bottle, an inline filter with most hydration packs, a gravity system, or simply attached to most disposable water bottles.

With a hollow fiber membrane and a 0.2-micron pore size, it has been designed to remove 99.999999% of bacteria, 99.999% of protozoa, and 99.999% of microplastics.

The carbon fiber capsule improves taste while reducing chlorine, lead, and other heavy metals and is durable enough to offer longevity of up to 2,000 liters (500 gallons) via the hollow fiber membrane and 100 liters (26.4 gallons) via the replaceable carbon capsule. It is an excellent choice for more extreme adventures.

What We Like

  • Can provide 2 quarts of clean water in just 10 minutes

What We Don’t Like

  • You need to hang it from somewhere strong

6. Super-mini Water Filter

MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter

This mini micro-filter water filter pump is just the right size for hiking, backpacking, camping, and emergencies. Featuring both replaceable carbon and ceramic filters, it can remove bacteria, protozoa, organic compounds, and particulates to deliver clean, taste, and odor-free water.

With the ability to pump at a rate of 1 liter per minute, it is compatible with a range of wide-mouth bottles and hydration bladders, and a single replaceable cartridge can treat up to 2,000 liters of water.

Weighing in at just 1 pound and measuring a minuscule 7.5 x 2.75 inches, this is a highly portable and efficient water filter to keep you safe on the go.

What We Like

  • Highly durable and has been built to last

What We Don’t Like

  • It does need to be cleaned quite often to remain effective

7. Reservoir Filtration System

Platypus GravityWorks High-Capacity Water Filter System

Perfect for use in emergencies, this high-capacity, gravity-fed, hollow-fiber water filter system can remove up to 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa, including giardia cryptosporidium, E. coli, salmonella, and cholera.

With no pumping required, the reservoir fills easily and hangs from a tree to deliver 4 liters of filtered water in under 2.5 minutes.

This portable filtration system offers everything you need with a 4-liter dirty water reservoir, a 4-liter clean water reservoir, a hollow-fiber micro-filter, hoses, shutoff clamp, and storage sack included for clean water for washing and cooking on the move.

What We Like

  • Excellent filtration system for use in the backcountry

What We Don’t Like

  • Both bladders feel a little flimsy when full

8. Gravity and Water Straw Combo

Waterdrop Gravity Water Filter Straw

Designed to effectively reduce 99% of harmful substances from the water, this filter straw can provide as much as 100,000 gallons of drinkable water.

Perfect for use when hiking, camping, and traveling away from home, this filter is made from premium materials and features shell-activated carbon to improve the taste of your water.

With each straw weighing as little as 0.19 pounds and the bags only weighing just 0.29 pounds, these are lightweight and compact enough for your to carry everywhere with you.

What We Like

  • Great for family camping trips

What We Don’t Like

  • The filter can flow quite slowly

9. Pocket-sized Water Filter

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Katadyn Pocket Water Filter

This compact pocket water filter is an excellent choice for outdoor trips. The filter comes with a silver-impregnated ceramic element that is incredibly efficient against bacteria and protozoa.

The ability to filter all microorganisms larger than 0.2 microns easily produces clear and drinkable water. Complete with a round pump handle for easy pumping and an outlet hose that attaches to containers with a clip, this tiny pocket filter is perfect for everyday use in the wilds.

What We Like

  • Small enough to take everywhere with you

What We Don’t Like

  • The filter can crack if it freezes

10. Osmosis Filtration System

FS-TFC Portable Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

This awesome filter system has been designed to provide medical-grade filtration and can remove larger substances up to 0.0001 microns, including organics, metal ions, organic substances, and soluble salt in the water.

With a low-pressure hollow fiber membrane and reverse osmosis filtration, it is an excellent choice for use with saltwater and is suitable for use directly from the water source — it can also pump clean water straight into your water bottle.

The ergonomic design makes it easy to use, and the stainless steel construction has been built to last. With filters, a water pouch, silicone tubing, and a travel bag, this is a popular choice for serious outdoor adventurers.

What We Like

  • This filter system is well built and feels very solid

What We Don’t Like

  • It is a little complicated to use

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to go for a straw that lets you drink directly from the water or a family-size filtration system that you hang from a tree, having an effective water filter is a must-have for staying safe even in extreme conditions.

Affordable, portable, and easy to use, once you find the perfect filter for your next adventure, you’ll never want to be without it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you filter water when camping?

You can use chlorine or iodine tablets to filter water at a basic level when you’re camping. These tablets can be added to a bottle of water to purify the contents. While tablets are space-saving, a water filter will offer a better way to filter and purify your drink water. They can also handle much more water, and some even have handle pumps.

Are Brita filters good for camping?

Brita water filters aren’t ideal for camping as their primary purpose is to remove sediment and chemicals from hard water rather than filtering unclean water that you’ll come across in the wild.

Is it safe to drink campground water?

Don’t assume that all campground water is drinkable as you don’t know the source. If in doubt, it’s best to use a camping water filter to remove any bacteria or viruses.

How do I choose a camping water filter?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a camping water filter. Firstly, you need to consider what type of filter you need and where you will use it. Straw filters and pumps are great for when water is scarce, and gravity filters are best for when you aren’t on the move as much. It would be best to consider the flow rate and how big and heavy it is to carry.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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