If you camp with any regularity, you’re probably looking for the best water purifiers for camping. After all, when you’re enjoying the great outdoors, access to clean, drinking water is incredibly important (as is saving money). That’s why we scoured the web to find 7 incredible water purifiers that you can take along with you on your camping trips. There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best backpacking water purifier, and after an entire weekend of researching, we’ve finally found our seven favorite water purifiers. This is one of the best camping gear accessories you must have.
Of all the products we researched, the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter was our favorite as it met every requirement we looked for—compact and portable with at least 0.3-micron filters. It filters up to 4000 liters of contaminated water and removes up to 99.99% of waterborne parasites and bacteria, making it a handy companion for those going off the beaten path. As it measures 8.7x1x1 inches, it won’t take up much space in your bag. Read on to learn more about our seven favorite choices.
Top 7 Best Water Purifiers for Camping Compared
#1 LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: The award-winning LifeStraw filters up to 4,000 liters of water without batteries or any moving parts. Measuring only 8.7x1x1 inches and weighing two ounces, it is a camping and hiking essential for any outdoor enthusiast.
- Eliminates 99.99% of waterborne bacteria
- Filters to 0.2 microns
- Weighs 2 ounces
- Requires a powerful draw
- Only filters up to 264 gallons
- Customers report issues about the neckband/string
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter has small hollow fibers with pores measuring 0.2 microns, allowing it to remove bacteria, parasites, and microplastics as you drink directly from the water source. It makes an excellent alternative to chemical treatments like iodine tablets and bulky purifiers. It requires no batteries or pumping, but it does demand a more powerful draw compared to the average straw.
A single purchase of the LifeStaw Personal Water Filter can last a lifetime as it has no expiration date. Due to its compact and portable size, it can fit perfectly in a small emergency kit. As opposed to the best water filters for the home.
#2 Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sawyer Mini can filter up to 100,000 gallons of contaminated water with its 0.1-micron filtration system; much more than what the LifeStraw is capable of. It’s ideal for camping enthusiasts looking to spend more time in the great outdoors.
- Filters up to 100,000 gallons
- Eliminates 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa
- Has a collapsible 16-ounce squeeze pouch
- Requires a powerful draw
- Straw is too short for drinking water directly from the source
- Filling the plastic pouch is challenging
Sawyer water filters and purifiers are usually lightweight and reliable, the Sawyer Mini being a miniature version of the Sawyer Squeez Water Treatment System. The Squeeze filter is a bit heavier than the Mini. Sawyer’s lightest water filtration system weighs only 0.2 ounces, much like our top pick. Its filtration system comes with tiny hollow fibrous membranes with pores measuring 0.1 microns in size, allowing it to also remove harmful bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics effectively. The fiber membranes are sealed in a special case to prevent physical damage.
Every Sawyer product goes through rigorous research thrice before hitting the market to guarantee that no pathogens can pass through. Unlike our top pick, the Sawyer Mini comes with a reusable pack that can store 16 ounces of water. For your home needs, check out the best whole house water filter systems.
#3 LifeStraw Go Water Bottle with Two-Stage Filter
Award: Best Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: The 23-ounce BPA-free LifeStraw water bottle has a two-stage filter that can eliminate 99.99% of waterborne bacteria, chlorine and odor, all for a reasonable price. If you want a water filter for camping that won’t break the bank, this is a must-have.
- Leaves zero aftertaste
- Eliminates 99.99% of bacteria
- Has 23-ounce BPA-free bottle
- Activated carbon filters only 26 gallons
- Requires a powerful draw
- Some users have reported filtration issues when not used regularly
Without the need for chemicals, you can eliminate waterborne protozoans and bacteria using this LifeStraw water bottle. Thanks to its two-stage carbon filter, it can effectively remove odor and chlorine in your water supply. It even leaves no aftertaste.
The bottle can store up to 23 ounces of water, making it larger than the Sawyer pouch and more convenient. Since the bottle itself is a lot more firm than the pouch, it’s easier to add water inside it. Measuring 3.1×3.1×9.2 inches and weighing 7.8 ounces without water, it is not as compact as other products on the list, but it does have a carabiner for hands-free adventuring. Another great camping accessory is the best tactical flashlight.
#4 Survivor Filter Pro
Award: Best for Professionals
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Survivor Filter PRO is made with heavy-duty ABS material and a three-stage filtration system that removes bacteria, protozoa, and even viruses, making it more powerful than some home purifying systems. It’s the perfect camping companion for outdoor pros who take camping seriously.
- 500ml per min. flow
- Heavy-duty ABS material
- Triple filtration technology
- May require extra filter cartridges
- Some users have issues with clogging
- Some users report pressure issues
The Survivor Filter Pro has three filtration stages. The 0.1-micron filter removes algae, protozoa, E.Coli and the like, while the carbon filter reduces chemicals and other heavy metals. A third internal filter also eliminates viruses. It has a fast flow rate, 17 ounces per minute, allowing you to fill large jugs effortlessly.
As it only measures 3.2x2x6.5 inches and weighs 8.2 ounces, you can easily fit it in a backpack or an emergency kit. Although this backpacking water purifier can filter water for a single person, it can also be used for large groups at a campsite. Another great runner-up is MyWell, whose MyWell Filter Faucet puts all the components above counter for $500. You can keep your water cool in the best coolers while camping as well.
#5 LifeStraw Family Gravity-Powered Water Purifier
Award: Best for Families
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Gravity filter has an 18,000-liter filter capacity, the largest of all the LifeStraw products that made it in our list. Since it is designed for heavy usage, it is the most ideal for families and large groups of campers.
- 18,000 L filter capacity
- Kills 99.99% of viruses
- Short and simple directions
- Breaks easily when dropped
- Not as compact as other LifeStraw products
- Some reported issues with the valve
Used by more than 13.2 million people worldwide, the LifeStraw Family straw exceeds EPA standards, removing 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoan cysts with 0.2 microns. As it is a gravity filter, you need to pour unfiltered water on top and clean water comes out from the bottom.
It has a 9 to 12-liter per hour flow rate, which is a bit slower than the Survivor Pro. Nevertheless, it gives you significantly more capacity without having to use chlorine dioxide and other chemical treatments. A single LifeStraw family device can give a family clean, drinkable water for three years. That’s enough to let you rest peacefully in the best sleeping bags.
#6 MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter
Award: Best for Hiking
WHY WE LIKE IT: With one replaceable cartridge, the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter can purify 2,000 liters of water at a rate of one liter per minute, giving you fast access to clean drinking water. It is the most convenient filter to use on hikes and other adventures while camping in the wilderness.
- Pumps 1 liter per min.
- Compatible with multiple water bottles
- Removes chemical smells and taste
- Can’t filter viruses
- Some have issues with pressure build-up
- Some reported concerns with maintenance
The MSR MiniWorks EX is equipped with the AirSpring Accumulator, which pumps one liter of water per minute without the need for any tools. It can remove 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa. However, unlike its sibling the MSR Guardian Purifier, it can’t filter viruses, making it ideal for camping trips only within North America and near clear water sources.
Aside from its fast filter rate, it has excellent compatibility with a range of water containers, also making it super easy to use for outdoor escapades. I would call it an essential piece of camping gear. Peaking of water, it’s also a good idea to bring one of the best umbrellas with you when camping.
#7 Katadyn Vario Dual Technology Microfilter
Award: Best Value
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Katadyn Vario has three filtration stages and two pumping modes—one that purifies water at a rate of two quarts per minute while the other filters one quart per minute. It meets the needs of different kinds of campers without burning a hole in your pocket.
- 2 pumping modes
- 0.2-micron filter
- Accessories included in your purchase
- Can’t remove viruses
- Heavier compared to other purifiers
- Some have issues with the instructions
The Katdyn Vario Dual-Technology Microfilter is an effective addition to your camping gear. With a three-stage filtration system, it can eliminate waterborne bacteria, chemicals, pesticides, and odors. Not only that, but it can also eliminate the horrible aftertaste from purifying water.
One of the two modes allows you to lengthen the useful life of the filter for dirty water by using the ceramic pre-filter. It also has pleated glass fibers that can be used in regular conditions. Using it along on hikes won’t be a problem as it is compatible with any standard water bottle opening unlike Katadyn Hiker and Katadyn BeFree that is only compatible with bottles that have a 42 mm opening. If you’re also going hunting, consider the best crossbow. If you’re not a crossbow expert yet, make sure your best disaster first aid kit is ready.
How We Decided
Camping has become increasingly popular recently, and to meet a diverse range of camping styles, we chose not to focus on just one particular type of water purifier. We have straw-type filters, gravity-type filters, and more on our list.
Portability, on the other hand, was an important factor in our decision-making process. We wanted purifying systems that were compact and lightweight and were easy to store and carry.
To make sure the purifiers can remove all the necessary contaminants, we chose products with at least 0.3-micron filters. Speaking of removing unwanted guests like insects, use the best UV flashlight to spot them before getting to bed.
Water Purifier Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
When purchasing a water purifier for camping, there are various factors to consider to find the right one that meets your needs. If you want to see the stars on your next camping trip, you may want to also bring along the best refracting telescope.
- Storage: If you’re camping in an area that’s far away from a water source, you might want to get a purifier that can store enough water for you to avoid making multiple trips. Instead of straw-shaped filters, consider gravity filters as they mostly come with storage bags for purified and unpurified water. Take note that storage won’t matter as much if you’re camping in an area with easy access to water. And if you want to protect your gear from getting wet, place them in the best waterproof bag.
- Capacity or output: Aside from considering how much water you need to purify at a time, you might also want to decide how quickly you want it to purify water. Some take about 30 to 45 minutes to disinfect water. Water filtration systems, on the other hand, can purify larger volumes of water in shorter periods.
- Purification method: Some purifiers can be used directly from a water source, while others have to be pumped using gravity to filter out the contaminants.