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Best Portable Water Filter: The Top 10 Reviewed

If you enjoy backpacking, hiking, or camping, you may find that you need to drink from the water sources available to you. But drinking contaminated water directly from the source can be very dangerous to your health and can cause you to become sick because of bacteria and protozoa present in the dirty water. This is why a portable water filter is a great option for you. Portable water filters will successfully filter water so that bacteria is removed from the water you drink. There are many different types of water filters, and each type is slightly different. I will discuss each type of filter in this article, as well as some factors to take into consideration and why you should buy a portable water filter. I will also share the features that portable water filters have and our top pick for the best portable water filter on the market. Hopefully, this article will help you buy a portable water filter that is right for you so that you can safely drink clean water from rivers and springs wherever you are. Enjoy!

The Best Portable Water Filter on the
Market Today

In the chart below, you will find our top 10 rated portable water filter options. For a more in-depth review of each model, please click on "Read Review."

Product Image

Product Name

Rating

Review

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LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

4.6 out of 5

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Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System

4.6 out of 5

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Etekcity Water Filter Straw

4.5 out of 5

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Survivor Filter PRO Water Filter

4.5 out of 5

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Glacial Stream Portable Personal Water Filter Straw Purifier

4.6 out of 5

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Katadyn Vario Dual Technology MicroFilter

4.2 out of 5

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Emergency Water Filter, RISEPRO Portable Aqua Personal Filter

4.4 out of 5

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HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter

4.6 out of 5

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MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter

4.1 out of 5

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Survivor Filter Portable Water Filter

4.5 out of 5

Top Ten Rated Portable Water Filters of 2018

  1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  2. Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System
  3. Etekcity Water Filter Straw
  4. Survivor Filter PRO Water Filter
  5. Glacial Stream Portable Personal Water Filter Straw Purifier
  6. Katadyn Vario Dual Technology MicroFilter
  7. Emergency Water Filter, RISEPRO Portable Aqua Personal Filter
  8. HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter
  9. MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter
  10. Survivor Filter Portable Water Filter

Different Types of Portable Water Filters

There are many different types of portable water filters. The main types are straw filters, pump filters, gravity filters, bottle filters, and UV filters. Let's take a look at each type and how they work.

Straw Filters

Have you ever seen someone drink straight from a river using a straw? If so, they were most likely using a straw filter. It got its name because it looks just like a regular straw. This type of portable water filter is the most lightweight type of water filter available. In order to use this type of portable water filter, you have to get close to the water source. If you have trouble bending down low to the ground, this water filter may be hard for you to use.

So, how does this type of water filter work? Although it looks like a regular straw that is used to suck up liquid, it is not the same as the straws you have probably seen at restaurants. Unlike a regular straw, the filter requires a more powerful draw in order to work, but the filtration process is really easy and straightforward. Straw filters use cartridges made out of a hollow fiber membrane. These fibers are tightly woven together, so the water has to pass through many layers of fiber before reaching the actual straw you are drawing from. The water can pass through the tightly woven fiber, but all the bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the water are larger than the fiber holes, and they will be trapped and won’t be able to pass through. This prevents you from drinking the bacteria and other harmful substances that are found in raw water. There are a few cons using this type of filter cartridge. If the holes in the membrane get clogged with debris, sediment, and bacteria over time, you have to change the membrane regularly. In addition, this type of filter is not always effective at removing dissolved substances like chlorine, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals. Despite these two drawbacks, the straw water filter is considered the best portable water filter on the market.

Water Filter Pump

Water filter pumps, also called pump filters, are not as small as straw filters, but they are still small enough to fit in a backpack without taking up too much space. To use this filter, you have to connect a lead line to the water source and another line to a water recipient. A small hand pump draws the water. Similar to the straw water filter, the pump filter has small fiber membrane holes that allow the water to pass through, but not the bacteria. There are three types of pump filters: ceramic filters, fiber filters, and activated carbon filters. All three types have small holes that allow water to pass through but not bacteria. The activated carbon filter has very small pores that are even smaller than the pores of the fiber filter and ceramic filter. A disadvantage to a carbon filter is that the filter can become a bacteria breeding ground if the replacement filters are not changed often.

Keep in mind that there is still a small chance that some bacteria are small enough to pass through the ceramic filter and can contaminate your water. Another disadvantage is that the ceramic filter doesn’t stop organic compounds from contaminating the water. There is also a chance that some bacteria can pass through the activated carbon filter, despite its small pores.

Gravity Filters

Gravity filters are not as common as straw filters and pump filters. It is an extra unique water filter because you use two different containers which are placed above each other. To use this filter, you pour water into the first container. The filter cartridge will pull it through the container where water will pass through several filter mediums and will flow to the other container that is placed lower than the first container. Hence the name, gravity filter. Unlike some water filters, this portable water filter can filter out chlorine from water. Also, the filter cartridge can last for up to one year of use. With many other portable water filters, you have to change the filter cartridge often (like every few weeks or months). It is an extra plus that the filter cartridge on this type can go a year without needing to be changed. As with all products though, there are some disadvantages. First, it is larger than other types of water filters. If you will be carrying it in a backpack, it may be too large for you. Second, it has two parts. You have to be careful that you don't lose one of the parts, or you can't use it. Lastly, the first container can contaminate the second container if it is not stored properly. But all in all, the gravity filter is a good option to try when using non-potable water.

Bottle Filters

Most portable water filters filter out the dirty water, and then you need another bottle to store the water in. But with this type of water filter, that is not the case. This portable water filter is both the filter and the bottle. Even when you don't need to filter your water, you can take the filter cartridge out and use it as a regular bottle. Although it may seem dangerous to drink out of the same bottle that filtered the dirty water, it is actually completely safe. It works just like the other water filters, and prevents bacteria from entering the mouthpiece and water. Keep in mind though that it cannot filter out dissolved salts like fluoride and nitrates, nor does it reduce cadmium in dirty water.

UV Filters

UV filters are not as popular as other types of water filters. This type of portable water filter runs on batteries, so it will have a higher operating cost. One of the advantages of using UV filters is that they can effectively filter water and prevent bacteria and parasites from entering the clean water. It has been known to improve the water's smell and taste in dirty water. It is also quick and easy to use. Keep in mind that it does not affect heavy metals or chemicals like chlorine. Another disadvantage is that it runs on batteries, so you will need to replace the batteries once in a while, and that can cost money.

Advantages/ Reasons for Buying

There are so many reasons why you should buy a portable water filter. I will share some of the advantages in the following paragraphs.

Great for Backpackers, Hikers, and Campers

If you spend a lot of time outdoors either hiking, backpacking, or camping, then you know how important clean water can be. You also know how dirty the water can be, and even if it looks crystal clear, there are more than likely many bacteria in the water. Portable water filters are great for hikers, campers, and backpackers because not only do they filter the water you drink, but they are easy to travel with and use in areas of non-potable water.

Prevents You From Getting Illnesses

E. coli, salmonella, giardia, hepatitis A, and legionella pneumophila are some of the illnesses that you can get from drinking unsanitary water. By using a portable water filter, you are decreasing the chance of you getting sick. Portable water filters prevent bacteria from entering the water you drink. What does that mean? It means you can be relatively safe knowing you won’t get sick from the filtered water you drink while you are hiking, backpacking, or camping.

Considerations When Buying

When purchasing a portable water filter, there are some things that you will need to consider. Not all water filters are the same, so you will need to take the time to choose the one that is right for you. In this section, I will go over some considerations you should think about before you purchase a water purification filter system. Let's get started.

How Much Weight Do You Want to Carry?

It doesn't matter how much weight you can carry, what matters is how much weight is comfortable for you to carry. Some portable water filters are larger and heavier to pack. They may be awkward to carry, and therefore become uncomfortable. Although most portable water filters are small and compact, their weight can vary according to their design, the filtering technology used, and their construction materials. Make sure the weight is not too heavy for you.

Ease of Use:  How Easy Do You Want It to Be to Use?

Not all portable water filters are easy to use. Some models come with detailed installation and priming instructions, and you might have to take the instructions with you when you travel to make sure you set them up properly. Other models are very simple to use, and you simply have to draw water through them and drink it. If you feel that reading instructions on how to use it will be too hard for you, consider getting a portable water purification and filter system with few or no instructions.

How Fast Do You Want It to Filter Water?

Not all portable water filters filter water at the same flow rate and speed. Some will produce a couple of ounces of clean water every minute, while others can produce nearly 20 ounces of water in the same amount of time. Consider if you want it to filter water quickly, or if you don't mind waiting a little while. If you will be hiking or camping with a large group of people, it may be nice to have a portable water filter with a quick flow rate to clean the water quickly and that can produce several gallons of clean water free from contaminants.

What's Your Budget?

Before you begin shopping for a portable water filter, set a budget. Then, try to find a water filter that is around your budget. Note that not all portable water filters are cheap. Some can cost nearly $100. The cheapest portable water filter on the market is the straw filter. It has a simple design and therefore does not cost much.


Pros

  • plus
    Quick way to filter water
  • plus
    Relatively inexpensive
  • plus
    Portable 

Cons

  • close
    Some types don't filter out all kinds of bacteria and other contaminants
  • close
    Filter needs changed
  • close
    Not good for massive amounts of water

Features

Portable water filters have many features. From the way they operate and how you drink from it, to how it prevents you from getting illnesses found in the water, the features that portable water filters have are endless. Let's take a look at some of their amazing features.

Ease of Use

Each and every water filter is different, but most of them have one common feature: They are easy to use. Some portable water filters, like the straw filter, is used by just sucking the water out of a stream. Others are slightly more difficult to use, such as the gravity filter that requires two containers to work. But all in all, portable water filters are fairly easy to use.

Allows You to Drink from Rivers, Lakes, and Other Water Sources

If you are a camper, hiker, or backpacker, you may find that a portable water filter will work great for you. It is important to stay hydrated when hiking, so a portable water filter will allow you to drink from any water source you find.

Can Remove Bad Smells and Taste from Water

Although each brand and type is different, a lot of portable water filters can make your water smell and taste good. This is because it can remove the many chemicals in the water, and therefore improve the taste and smell.

Stay Healthy While Backpacking/Hiking/Camping

Like I said earlier, portable water filters prevent you from drinking bacteria that can be found in the water. Let's take a closer look at what illnesses it prevents you from getting. E. coli (Escherichia coli) is one of the infections that you can get from contaminated water. You will have a fever, vomit, and experience abdominal pain and diarrhea. The symptoms of E. coli might appear right away, or they might appear within a week of the contamination. Giardia Lamblia is another parasite found in the water that will cause giardiasis. Giardiasis causes nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Another infection that leads to fever, diarrhea, nausea, and muscle cramps is salmonella. Hepatitis A is caused by a virus that can be found in water. The infection can lead to nausea, stomach pain, fever, and jaundice. And lastly, legionella pneumophila is a bacteria that causes an infection known as Legionnaires’ disease. It is a form of pneumonia. The infection leads to fever, muscle aches, cough, and it may result in death if untreated. These are just a few of the illnesses/bacteria that you can get from drinking contaminated water. By using a portable water pump, it will significantly lower the chances of getting an illness from drinking unhealthy water.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for the best portable water filter is the Glacial Stream Portable Personal Water Filter Straw Purifier. This portable water filter is a straw water filter, which is considered the best portable water filter on the market today. You can learn more about straw filters by reading what I wrote earlier under "Different Types Of Portable Water Filters."

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Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you decide which portable water filter would work for you. In this article, I shared the top ten best portable water filters available on the market. I then went over the different types of portable water filters. As you can see, there are many different types. The main types of water filters are straw filters, pump filters, gravity filters, bottle filters, and UV filters. Although each type works well and has many advantages, the straw filter is considered the best portable water filter because it is lightweight and easy to use. Next, I discussed the advantages and reasons for buying a portable water filter. I also went over some considerations you should think about before purchasing your own filter. Such considerations include how much money you are willing to spend, how fast you want it to filter water, and how lightweight you want it to be. After discussing some considerations to keep in mind, I also went over the features, and our top pick for the best portable water filter. So go get shopping for the best portable water filter for you. And have fun in the outdoors knowing that you will have water available that is safe for you to drink!