Whatever situation you may find yourself in, having clean and safe drinking water is essential. There are studies that indicate you can survive up to 3 weeks without food but only about 3 days without water depending on individual situations. In the following reviews, I present what I feel is the best water purifier filter for camping, hiking, and survival.
You’ll find there is a wide range of water filtration and purification systems on the market. The science behind the technology has advanced considerably over the years and you can now buy portable water filters and purification systems that will satisfy all of your purification needs. They are easy to use and can turn virtually any water source into fresh clean drinking water.
CLAIM YOUR DISCOUNT:
As the owner of this website, I’ve found special deals and discounts for some of the products and services I mention throughout. When you use any of the links on this page to make a purchase, I may get a small commission and you are getting a great deal. There’s no added cost to you whatsoever. Full disclosure.
There are various types of water purifiers and filters available. You have the Hand Pump filter, Straw and Squeeze type filters and the Gravity fed filter. Here is a quick look each purifier/filter reviewed:
Hand Pump Water Purifier Filter
|Removes bacteria & parasites
|Reduces bad taste
|Filter pore size
Straw / Squeeze Water Purifier Filter
|Removes bacteria & parasites
|Reduces bad taste
|26,400 gal. membrane
264 gallons carbon
|7 ounces per minute
|3 liters per minute
|1 liter per minute
|1 liter per minute
|Filter pore size
Gravity Fed Water Purifier Filter
|Platypus Gravity Works
|Removes bacteria & parasites
|Reduces bad taste
|9 - 12 liters per hour
|1.75 liters per minute
|10.4 liters per hour
|Filter pore size
Before I get into the different options available to you, there are a couple of terms that I use throughout the reviews that you need to be aware of. For those that may not know, filters and purifiers are not the same as they have different meanings. Below is a breakdown of the differences to keep in mind when deciding on what is the best type of system for your needs. Whatever your choice may be, you will be prepared for any situation.
The purpose of a water filter is not to kill the creatures, but to capture them and prevent you from ingesting them. They’re rated by the size of the largest particle that’s able to pass through the filter pores. The effectiveness is determined by what is known as pore-size efficiency.
Most filters are measured and rated in microns; one micron is 1/1,000 of a millimeter. Any water filter with a micron size of one or less will remove parasitic eggs and larvae from the water as well as protozoa. To remove bacteria, the micron size must be less than 0.4 microns.
The filters reviewed are all at least 0.2-micron filters that can safely remove 99.9999% bacteria, protozoa, and sediments.
Some filters contain activated carbon to remove dissolved chemicals and improve taste and eliminate odor.
If you’re concerned about viruses, you can easily purify filtered water by using water purification tablets or a SteriPen UV water purifier.
It all depends on the type of purifier, they may or may not remove particles. The benefit is that purifiers add a layer of protection and it kills viruses which could slip through all filters except for the smallest micron filters. There are four different methods for purifying water:
1. Chemicals like iodine or dissolving tablets
2. A powerful UV light
3. Boiling the water
4. Or through multiple and various filters
Each of these will purify your water but if you’re looking to have filtered water with no sediment, the best option is to use a filter that also kills viruses. In addition, it can take up to 60 minutes for tablets to work, require a heat source to boil the water, and UV lights may require filtering (depending on the level of sediments).
The following is a review of the best water purifier filter for camping, hiking, and survival. There are three categories; Hand Pump, Straw/Squeeze, and Gravity.
MSR MiniWorks EX Purifier System
The MSR MiniWorks microfilter is yet another quality water filtration system. It’s a reliable hand pump that will satisfy all your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. For backpacking purposes, it weighs in at 16 oz without accessories. That’s a tad heavy if you’re planning an extended trip to the backcountry.
The ceramic filter with a carbon core meets NSF protocol P231 for the removal of bacteria (99.9999%) and protozoa (99.9%), throughout the life of the filter which is 2,000 liters (528 gallons). This makes for a reliable filter for a reasonable length of time and ensures clean, reliable, and taste-free water.
When viruses are a concern, the chlorine-based Aquatabs®purification tablets add viral defense. Together they provide safe reliable water in a compact system that’s great for backpacking and international travel.
The downside is that it takes a little more time and force to pump than some of the other filters (roughly 2 minutes per liter). The upside is more time between cartridge replacements.
The MiniWorks EX is compatible with a variety of water containers such as Nalgene, Camelback, and MSR Dromedary Bags. Just like the Katadyn Vario, the bottom screws on threaded lids, or water can be pumped directly into a hydration reservoir drinking tube, virtually any container.
Pros – Reasonably priced, has a good track record, removes viruses
(with included chlorine tabs), effective against bad taste, good volume
(528 gallons) before filter replacement
Cons – On the heavy side (16 oz without accessories), take a little
longer to pump (2 minutes per liter), physically harder to pump,
doesn’t filter heavy metals & most chemicals
Survivor Filter Pro
If you’re looking for one of the best micro-filter on the market, the Survivor has a filtration level of an unbelievable 0.01 microns, the highest level available on the market today for any kind of portable water filter. This is accomplished by a “Triple Filtration” system (Cotton Mesh Filter, Carbon Filter, and UF Filter (Medical Grade).
Water passes through 3 separate filters: 0.1-micron UF Pre-Filter Membrane then Carbon and then a final 0.01-micron UF Membrane Filter. The Survivor Filter was tested independently in the USA at multiple labs to show 99.999% filtration removal for the tested virus (Phi X-174), staph, parasites, and bacteria. Also filters 99.5% mercury and 93% lead removal which matches or exceeds most home systems.
The Survivor Pro will certainly satisfy all of your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. It weighs in at 12.8 ounces and has a flow rate of 500ml (17 OZ) per minute. You can pump filtered water into an attached cup, clean container, or any portable hydration pack. Works well for filtering large jugs of water for the whole family or small group.
Also comes with a backwashing syringe system for easy cleaning in the backcountry. The filter can treat 100,000+ liters (over 26,000 gallons) of water depending on water quality and its BPA free.
Survivor Filter Pro comes with a “Lifetime Warranty”. Survivor Filter is based in North America and they will cover all manufacturing and other defects with their warranty.
Pros – Filtration level of .01 microns, removes viruses, filters heavy
metals, effective against bad taste, lifetime warranty, can treat
Cons – Can take a while to pump, pump arm can break, hollow fibers
of the “pre-filter” might get clogged (when using a dirty source), does
not filter chemicals
If you are looking for the best pump-style water filter out there, the MSR Guardian is for you. It’s pricey but well worth the investment. Developed in conjunction with the US military, the Guardian uses Hollow Fiber technology to filter protozoa, bacteria, particulate, and the kicker; this filter removes microscopic viruses from the water.
Most filters have a pore size of 0.1 – 0.2 microns; the Guardian has a microscopic 0.02 microns. This purifier can be used in the murkiest conditions anywhere in the world, filtering out the toughest microbes so that you can hydrate without worry. The only downside, it doesn’t have a carbon filter to remove chemicals or odors. It does not filter heavy metals or chemical contamination.
The Guardian is very well-constructed and with its rugged design can withstand freezing and drops up to 6 ft. It’s fast and easy to use; it pumps at a rapid 2.5 liters per minute, treats up to 10,000 liters of water, and can handle heavy use, and harsh environments.
In general, pump-style filters can be quick to clog depending on conditions and require cleaning and backwashing to work efficiently. MSR has developed an ingenious way to deal with this issue; they divert 10% of the water on each pump stroke flushing the filter element to eliminate the need to backwash.
The way the Guardian is set up, you are able to direct the intake hose to any water source, even small puddles and hard-to-reach areas. The hose also has a mini-filter screen to keep larger particulates sitting in the water from entering the filter. It also comes with an adaptor that fits most wide-mouth water storage containers. You can also easily screw on a Nalgene bottle to the bottom of the filter or simply pump it into any water storage container.
Pros – Incredible fast water flow (2.5 liters per minute), filters out
viruses easy to use, very durable, self-cleaning
Cons – Expensive, heavy (17.3 oz without accessories), does not
filter heavy meal or high chemical concentration, no carbon filter to
improve the taste
Katadyn Hiker Pro
The Katadyn Hiker Pro is a classic and reliable hand pump that will satisfy all your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. For backpacking purposes, the Hiker Pro is the lightest of the pump-type water filters weighing in at 11 oz, and 13.4 oz with accessories.
The Hiker Pro uses a micron glass fiber filter with activated carbon and can filter up to 200 gallons ( depending on water quality). It filters out both bacteria and protozoans like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The filter is not effective against viruses, heavy metal,s or chemical contamination.
There is a removable filter protector that extends the cartridge life in challenging conditions. The glass-fiber element is pleated for increased surface area to handle silt and muddy water.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro has quick-connect fittings that enable the simplicity of one-step filtering directly into most reservoirs or bottles. Plus, a cleanable filter protector allows on-the-go maintenance. You can refill your water supply quickly with a flow rate of 1 quart per minute.
If a lightweight pump-style filter is your preference, the Katadyn Hiker Pro is the best choice for all your backcountry needs. The ultra-long tube and smaller intake can get into nooks and crannies that other hand pumps can’t get into, accessing all sorts of water source sizes from small to large.
As mentioned, this filter does not remove viruses. However, viruses are very rarely found in North America or when traveling to foreign cities. If you have virus concerns, once the water has been filtered use either the Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification tablets or invest in a SteriPen Aqua UV Water Purifier.
Pros – Lightweight and affordable hand pump, easily reaches the water
sources, the filter treats a moderate amount of water before replacing,
effective against bad taste
Cons – Is lightweight but takes up space in a backpack, pump handle
can break, replacement cartridges are a bit pricey, doesn’t filter viruses
The Katadyn Pocket is a high-quality, long-lasting hand pump. Despite the name, this filter won’t easily fit into your pocket. The Katadyn Pocket is a rugged and durable water filtering system that will satisfy all your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. Although, with a weight of 19 oz without accessories, is not a good choice for lightweight hiking or backpacking.
The Katadyn Pocket filter is designed with longevity and reliability in mind. It is made with solid metal pieces and a silver-impregnated ceramic filter, it can treat over 13,000 gallons before needing a replacement cartridge, and it comes with an amazing 20-year warranty.
The filter removes particles, bacteria, cysts, and parasites .2 microns including protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium. The silver-impregnated ceramic filter inhibits bacterial growth inside its pores. Included are 2 abrasive pads to clean the pores of the field-maintainable ceramic filter. The filter is not effective against viruses, heavy metals,s or chemical contamination.
Although the Katadyn Pocket is pricey, it is essentially built to last forever. Constructed of metal pieces it’s certain to outlast the plastic components of other less expensive but long-lasting ceramic filters. The ceramic filter can take many cleanings before requiring a replacement cartridge.
As stated, this filter does not remove viruses. However, viruses are very rarely found in North America or when traveling to foreign cities. If you have virus concerns, once the water has been filtered use either the Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification tablets or invest in a SteriPen Aqua UV Water Purifier.
Pros – Very long-lasting, 20-year warranty, constructed of durable
material, high volume before cartridge replacement (13,000 gallons)
Cons – High upfront cost, on the heavy side, takes a little muscle to
operate, doesn’t filter viruses
The Survivor Filter is a solid durable unit and for the price offers various ways to filter water. Use as a straw-type unit, attach to a water bottle (some, not all), or the available plastic collapsible canteens designed for the Survivor Filter. It can also be used as a gravity system. The Survivor Filter will satisfy all your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. At 3.5 ounces it will work especially well for hiking and backpacking.
A key feature of the Survivor Filter is that it has proven protection against viruses. The filter was tested at multiple labs in the USA to show 99.999% filtration removal for the tested virus (Phi-X 174), staph, parasites, and bacteria. With a 0.05 Micron filtration, bacteria will never get into the mouthpiece of your device. Also filters 99.5% mercury and 93% lead removal which matches or exceeds most home systems.
Never throw it away thanks to the 3 Removable Internal Filter Stages – Membrane Ultra Filter which Lasts up to 100,000 Liters (26,417 Gallons), Replaceable Carbon Filter that lasts up to 1000 Liters (264 Gallons), and is simple to change. There is also a Cotton Pre-Filter which last 264 Gallons. For the type of filter, it produces a flow rate of 7 ounces per minute.
Unlike most filters, the Survivor Filter comes with a Lifetime Warranty that covers all manufacturing and other defects.
Pros – Lightweight, low cost, filters out viruses, filters heavy metals,
effective against bad taste, very versatile filter, Lifetime Warranty
Cons – Slow flow rate (7 ounces per minute), can leak when attached
to water bottles, clog easily (depending on water condition), does not filter chemicals
The LifeStraw water filter is one of the most popular personal filters on the market. It can provide up to 1000 gallons of clean safe drinking water and will satisfy all your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. Works great for hiking and backpacking as it weighs in at 2 ounces.
The LifeStraw has a microfiltration hollow membrane that removes 99.99% of waterborne bacteria (including E. coli and salmonella), and 99.99% of waterborne parasites (including giardia and cryptosporidium).
The filter also removes the smallest microplastics found in the environment (down to 1 micron) and reduces turbidity down to 0.2 microns All claims are verified with laboratories using standard testing protocols set by the US EPA, NSF, and ASTM for water purifiers.
The filter does not remove chemicals, heavy metals, dissolved solids, or viruses. However, viruses are very rarely found in North America or when traveling to foreign cities.
Make an Impact: For every LifeStraw product purchased, a child in Africa will be provided with safe drinking water for an entire school year.
Pros – Lightweight, low cost, easy to use, can carry it with you
everywhere, no need to pump donates to an African child in
need for safe drinking water
Cons – Not good for a group setting, can only be used as a straw,
get on hands and knees to reach the water source, cannot
put clean water in another container, doesn’t filter viruses,
heavy metals or chemicals
The Sawyer Mini is an awesome lightweight filter. It will satisfy all your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. The filter works especially well for hiking and backpacking as it weighs just 2 ounces. A key feature is that it is filter rated to 100,000 gallons of fresh clean drinking water.
The high-performance 0.1 Micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your hand. I like the fact that the Sawyer Mini is extremely versatile; it attaches to an included drinking pouch, standard disposable water bottles, and hydration packs, or use the included straw to drink directly from your water source. Also included is a cleaning plunger to backflush the filter to maintain a high flow rate.
The Sawyer Mini removes 99.99% of all bacteria (salmonella, cholera, and E. coli); removes 99.99% of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium); also removes 100% of microplastics. 100% of MINI units were individually tested three times to performance standards by Sawyer and tested by independent and qualified research laboratories.
The filter does not remove chemicals, dissolved solids, or viruses. However, viruses are very rarely found in North America or when traveling to foreign cities. If you have virus concerns, once the water has been filtered use either the Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification tablets or invest in a SteriPen Aqua UV Water Purifier.
Pros – Lightweight and easy to use, very versatile, 100,000 gallon
capacity straw feature easier than LifeStraw, low cost
Cons – The included pouch (soft bottle) is not the strongest, not the
best for a group setting doesn’t remove viruses, heavy metals, or chemicals
Etekcity Water Filter Straw
As the name suggests, the Etekcity Water Filter Straw is a straw-type portable filtration water filter. It will satisfy all your water purification needs for camping, hiking, and survival situations. The filter works especially well for hiking and backpacking as it weighs just 2 ounces (4 ounces with accessories).
As with the Sawyer Mini, Etekcity is extremely versatile; the filter kit comes with a foldable water pouch for collecting water, a longer straw to attach to the filter, and a syringe for cleaning and lifetime extension. The filter can also be used with a standard water bottle.
This filter will provide up to 396 gallons of safe drinking water from any source like creeks and streams whether clean or dirty. Has a respectable approximate flow rate of 1-1.1 liter per minute.
The Etekcity Water Filter utilizes a 3 Stage Advanced Filtration system. The filtration process removes 99.9999% of bacteria and contaminants such as E-coli, Salmonella, chlorine, VOC, and organic and insect contaminant. And there is a pre-filter also available to provide a three-stage filtration if you are dealing with a turbid water source with a lot of sediments.
The 0.01-micron hollow-fiber UF membrane is superior to the filtration membranes (generally 0.2 microns) found in other such filters. The unit has been tested by the TüV SüD Institute and meets EPA Water Quality Standards. The pouch complies with the FDA’s Food Contact test in accordance with 21 CFR 180. 22 to ensure maximum quality and safety.
Like most filters, the Etekcity Straw does not remove viruses. However, viruses are very rarely found in North America or when traveling to foreign cities. If you have virus concerns, you can use a SteriPen Aqua UV Water Purifier or Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification tablets before use but would require a container.
Pros – Lightweight (2 ounces), low cost, a decent lifetime for a straw
(396 gallons), effective against heavy metal ions
Cons – Difficult to suck water through (0.01 Micron), water pouch
could be better quality, pre-filter clogs easily (depending on water quality),
doesn’t remove viruses or filter chemicals
Gravity Fed Water Purifiers
LifeStraw Family Portable Gravity Purifier
The LifeStraw Family purifier is very impressive and it will certainly provide your water purification needs for camping, survival situations, and in group settings. Although, it is not the best choice for hiking or backpacking as it weighs in at 1.6 lbs.
The award-winning LifeStraw Family is used by over 13,200,000 people worldwide and surpasses EPA standards for water purifiers: removes 99.99% viruses, 99.9999% bacteria, and 99.9% protozoan cysts to 0.02 microns and purifies 4755 gallons WITHOUT chemicals; Clean drinking water for a family of four for 3 years.
Designed to handle turbid and muddy water this purifier is easy to clean in the field, thanks to an integrated back-flush bulb. The bulb may begin to leak after frequent use. It also features an easy-to-remove and clean, 80-micron pre-filter. The included drawstring stuff sack provides easy storage and transport.
What I like is that the unit has a respectable flow rate of 9 -12 liters per hour, roughly 2 hours to fill a 5-gallon bucket. Of course, that all depends on the quality of the water used. At first, the flow rate may be a little slower until it has been used a couple of times. Very important to follow directions and keep the unit clean.
I also like the fact that the LifeStraw Family operates using gravity as the power source. No pumping or sucking a straw to get your clean purified drinking water. Simply add 2 liters of dirty water, go do something else, and when you return, voila, clean water.
For every LifeStraw filter purchased, a child in Africa will be provided with safe drinking water for an entire school year.
Pros – Purifies 4750 gallons of water, removes viruses, no pumping
or sucking involved, reasonable cost for the results, donates to an
African children in need of safe drinking water
Cons – May have a plastic-type taste, does not filter chemicals,
heavy metals, toxic or inorganic material, cumbersome to
hang, parts may leak
Platypus Gravity Works
If you’re looking for a gravity filter that can process a lot of water quickly, the Platypus Gravity Works is for you. The filter is easy to set up and works great for camping, survival situations, and in group settings. It can be used for hiking and backpacking as it weighs in at 10.9 ounces and comes with a handy bag for packing.
The Platypus uses hollow-fiber filter technology and meets all EPA/NSF guidelines for removal of 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa down to .2 microns, including giardia, cryptosporidium, E. coli, salmonella, cholera. There is a carbon filter accessory offered to make the water taste better.
One detail I like that stands out is the reservoirs feature SlimeGuard™ antimicrobial treatment for taste-free performance. The system can easily be cleaned by simply holding the clean reservoir above the unfiltered reservoir to backflush the filter.
What’s really nice about this filter is its exceptionally fast flow rate. This unit produces 1.75 liters per minute, that’s 4 liters in 2.5 minutes. The microfiber filer has a respectable life of up to 396 gallons of clean fresh drinking water.
As with the LifeStraw Family, I like the fact that it operates using gravity as the power source. No pumping or sucking a straw to get your clean purified drinking water. Even though the Platypus Gravity Works has a much faster flow rate, you could still fill the dirty reservoir and go do something else and return to your freshwater, ready for use.
The Platypus Gravity does not remove viruses. However, viruses are very rarely found in North America or when traveling to foreign cities. If you have virus concerns, you can use a SteriPen Aqua UV Water Purifier or Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification tablets before use but would require a container.
Pros – Fast flow rate, simple backflush (no extra parts), simple to use
(no moving parts), no pumping or sucking, effective against bad taste
Cons – Not too durable (grommets for hanging may fall out), flow rate
may slow (depends on source), require several inches of water, does not
filter viruses heavy metal or chemical
Travel Berkey Water Filter
If you’re looking for the best portable water purifier, then look no further. The Travel Berkey Water Filter system is perfect for camping and any survival situation. Even though it is portable, it is not suitable for hiking or backpacking.
This powerful Berkey system purifies both treated water and water from remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds, and water supplies in foreign countries. It removes 203 contaminants including, but not limited to; viruses (99.999%), pathogenic bacteria (99.9999%), Chloramine (below lab detectable limit), trihalomethanes (99.8%), pharmaceuticals (99.9%), pesticides (below lab detectable limit), heavy metals such as lead and mercury. See the full list here
The Black Berkey filter element had extensive testing performed at state- and EPA-accredited laboratories. The filters far exceed EPA and ANSI/NSF (Std. 53) protocols. The Black Berkey filters have been tested by the University of Phoenix, Spectrum Labs, and the Department of Toxicology and Environmental Science at Louisiana University.
Travel Berkey is made from a high-polish 304 stainless steel and holds 1.5 gallons of water. It filters approx 2 gallons per hour, you can easily provide enough water for a small group.
Each filter element has a life of 3000 gallons, that’s 6000 gallons for the 2 filter system. This is possible because of the Black Berkey filter elements’ unique ability to be cleaned up to 100 times using a 3M Scotch-Brite pad.
When you drink water that’s been filtered using a Berkey Black filter, you can rest assured that your water is clean and safe. The revolutionary Berkey purifier elements are so powerful that they can remove food coloring from water without removing any of the beneficial minerals your body needs.
Pros – Removes 203 contaminants including viruses, heavy metals,
filters up to 6000 gallons, very durable, thoroughly tested
Cons – Expensive, not for hiking or backpacking, directions
could be better, no way to see how much is left to filter
For any situation that you may find yourself in whether it be camping, backpacking, hiking, or any emergency survival situation, it’s imperative to be prepared and have clean safe drinking water. As I’m sure you’re aware, you need a quality dependable water purifier or filter to provide clean fresh drinking water.
There is such a wide range of water filters available on the market and many of them will satisfy all of your camping, hiking, and survival needs. Although, if you’re looking to remove viruses with a portable filter, your choices are limited you can always use purifying tablets or SteriPen once your water has been filtered.
If you haven’t done so, do yourself a favor and check out my reviews of the water filters and purifiers listed above. They will give you a better idea of what’s available for you to choose from and what the key individual features are. I believe that I’ve listed the best available filters with the best overall reviews.
Take Time To Learn Your Filters Maintenance
I suggest that once you decide on a water purifier or filter, take time to read and follow the maintenance instructions. It’s important to keep your unit maintained so that it continues to operate as expected.
Some filters will need to be flushed with clean water after each use. While the MSR Guardian flushes itself, other units with ceramic filters need to be scrubbed. Most will need to be protected from freezing.
It’s probably the last thing you want to think about when purchasing a new water purifier or filter but there is always the potential for malfunction. If this were to happen you can boil water, providing you have a camping stove or backpacking stove and the required fuel. It is always a good idea to carry a lightweight chemical treatment or a straw-type filter like LifeStraw or Etekcity as they weigh in at 2 ounces. Both are reviewed above.
Now that you have read through the best water purifier for camping, hiking, and survival review, it is my sincere desire that you have determined the best water filter for your personal situation. Some filters can be used for one person as well as in a group setting; a couple of the filters are best suited for group settings while others are good for just one person. Enjoy the journey!