Water is an essential element to life. Almost every living thing in our world is dependent on water. In fact, the average human body is made up of 55-65 percent water. This is the reason why our ancestors built their settlements near bodies of water.
However, with the passage of time, we are now seeing the deterioration in quality of our water sources. Crystal-clear lakes and rivers are now hard to come by with the advent of pollution, neglect, and abuse. That is why these water sources can no longer be trusted to be safe and potable.
How dire is the situation now? Take a look at what TheWaterProject.org has to say:
According to the same source, simply investing in clean water alone can let young children around the world gain more than 413 million days of health.
This is why there is a growing need for water filters at home, while on the move, during disasters and for other emergencies. You can’t always expect to have tap water in every possible situation or even be able to buy a bottle of distilled water.
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Thanks to a pinch of engineering, a whole dollop of science, and several scoops of research, we now have the best portable water filters for camping, trekking, and just about any other adventure you can think of. And there are a lot of these portable water filter systems to choose from. The best thing about it is that they are within your reach via Amazon.com.
From a myriad of portable water filters out in the market today, we have chosen 11 of them for their uniqueness, consumer popularity, and sturdiness. We shall provide a portable water filter comparison for you to make an educated choice on the one that will best suit your needs.
It must be noted, though, that most if not all of these portable water filters have their limitations.
1. These are filters, not purifiers. They do, however, have the ability to filter from 0.5 to 0.2 microns. They could also block some of the more common bacteria present in water sources like E. coli, protozoans, and even the deadly Ebola virus. Nevertheless, it would still be best to boil your filtered water or use purification tablets if you want pure and safe drinking water.
2. Some of them are not capable of handling dissolved chemicals in water. This means trying them out in chemically-contaminated water, water exposed to radiation, or even urine is out of the question.
3. These filters cannot make salt water potable, unless (for some of the filters mentioned here) you purchase an add-on desalination filter. If you are looking for portable desalination units you can check out our list right here.
Let us now look into these portable water filter reviews and determine which item is the best fit for you and your lifestyle:
Ceramic water filters are probably among the most popular variants of handy water filters around. The ceramic element of these devices proves to be very effective in filtering naturally-sources water. Ceramics are porous on a micro-scale, meaning that contaminants the size of microbes cannot pass through this particular kind of filter.
The downside is that the ceramic element of these water filters tends to make them bulkier than their counterparts. Also, these particular filters sometimes have a tendency to break even with the most care given in handling. You’re essentially carrying little vases or plates around!
Nevertheless, these ceramic-based products are probably the best portable water filters around when it comes to longevity and the ability to bring down water contaminants to almost nothing in your drinking water. They can also work long-term and can be shared by a group of people.
Amazon.com gives us a rundown of some of their most popular portable filter brands that use ceramic elements:
This particular brand has at least two settings to choose from. In the Faster Flow mode, you can collect up to two quarts of water in a minute.
In the Longer Life mode, collection is slower at one quart per minute. (We recommend, though, that if not in a dire situation where water is needed ASAP, just use the Longer Life mode.)
There is also an Ultra-fast flow mode where you can collect up to two liters in a minute, but then you may be putting too much stress on the filters.
This Katadyn water filter variant has a replaceable carbon core that takes away any icky taste and smell from the collected water. The ceramic element can easily be cleaned, thus extending its life and usage.
However, one user noted that this particular brand has a “plastic inlet barb” that unnaturally sticks out of the unit, thus making it a bit cumbersome and prone to accidents.
Make sure you don’t get that barb hooked on anything in your bag; otherwise, it’s goodbye, Katadyn Vario Water Filter and all the cash you spent for it.
Another thing to watch out for is the O-ring near the base of the paper filter that serves as the separator between contaminated water and the filtered water. If this part becomes nicked or disfigured then the dirty and clean water could mix. Once again, that spells goodbye to your hard-earned moolah! Either that or you may have to contact the manufacturer for a parts replacement.
Nevertheless, the KatadynVario Water Filter is one very useful and portable water filter, camping- or trekking-wise.
This little dude, weighing in at around 1.5 pounds, is around the same size as most ceramic-based portable water filters. Reviews on this, however, note how strong the pumping action is on the MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter, and how light this product is compared to the Katadyn series.
A wider surface area and its AirSpring Accumulator part enable faster pumping of water, enough to collect up to one liter in a minute. This product will assure the user of safe drinking water in the shortest possible time.
This product also has a ceramic filter and a carbon core that will ensure that your filtered water tastes as good as it looks after filtration. Plus, it also fits snugly onto the neck of a Nalgene bottle for better water transfer and collection.
Of all the pros discussed, there was only one con mentioned among the reviews – while the ceramic element can easily be cleaned, it is very fragile. Thus, extra care should be given in handling, storing and transporting this water filter. Portable and very useful, that’s the MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter.
With something so lightweight at 7.4 ounces, no one would expect that the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter could possess so much filtering power.
This product’s highlight is its silver-impregnated ceramic element that could filter microbes up to 0.2 microns. The presence of silver in the ceramic element is crucial to killing off undesirable microbes and pathogens due to silver’s antibacterial properties.
Its relatively small size also makes this water filter a wonderful companion not only during camping, international travel and even during humanitarian missions where safe drinking water is scarce.
The Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter is quite compact, thanks to its stainless steel body. Even its ceramic filter is built to process up to 13,000 gallons of filtered water. It’s also easy to clean.
The only downsides to water filter are: (a) it doesn’t do well in freezing conditions; and (b) assembly and disassembly of the product could be a bit more tedious compared to other water filters in its class.
Nevertheless, its durability makes up for much of its shortcomings. The Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter becomes the best portable water filter around for the size, price and filter longevity.
This water filter from the Katadyn lineup of products is similar to its sister, the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter; only a fraction bigger and heavier, weighing a little more than half a kilo.
This Katadyn variant also has the impregnated ceramic filter that is sturdy and is easy to clean. With an activated carbon core, it could also produce up to 13,000 gallons of filtered water. Moreover, this one has a measuring gauge that tells when the filter element should be replaced.
This product comes in resistant plastic and silicone to weather the toughest terrain, making it suitable for jostling in a camping pack.
Microorganisms also have no chance against the ceramic filter’s micro-pores which can filter up to 0.2 microns.With the add-on kit, this product can be attached to a faucet so filtering tap water will not be a problem and could be used even at home.
This product is also your best bet during emergency situations when there is a shortage of safe drinking water. Just be ready to shell out a respectable sum for this best portable water filter system.
Here is the mother of all recommended portable water filter systems with a ceramic filter – the Katadyn KFT Expedition Water Filter.
For relatively large and mobile groups, this can be your bet for the best portable water filter. Survival, especially during disasters or emergencies, is very crucial. This is where this product comes in. Imagine saving not just one life or two, but a community of lives with this durable and portable water filter system. It is the ideal product for use by relief organizations and extreme trekkers.
Just like its fellow variants under the Katadyn series, it comes with a silver impregnated ceramic plate that will filter up to 26,000 gallons of water before requiring replacement. Water output is a whopping one gallon per minute, thus making it the water filter with the highest flow rate among all the products in this category.
For all its heavy-duty work, it only weighs 183.4 ounces. Leave it to the Swiss to create products like this that will withstand all kinds of wear and tear while saving and improving lives. All these grand features don't come for free...
These particular types of water filters are just so handy it’s almost criminal.Why? These babies filter AND collect water. By the time the water hits your mouth, all you’ll take in is safe and potable drinking water with none of that icky taste. There is no fuss in bringing them around with you in your camping trips – they are so lightweight and don’t require tedious assembly/disassembly.
Let us examine them more closely:
How can you not love this wonderful portable water filter bottle that only requires you to scoop water from a water source, screw the cap with the filter back on, and sip? You get a sports bottle and a hard working filter in one with this product.
The bottle’s design is leak-proof, is BPA and phthalate-free, and can hold up to 670 mL of water.
The portable water bottle filter, meanwhile, can filter up to 1,000 liters of water before requiring replacement. It could also filter almost all known bacteria, viruses, and other microbes up to 0.2 microns – even the deadly Ebola virus stands no chance against this little bottle.
The technology behind this lies in its hollow fiber membrane which allows water to seep through and keep contaminants and other water-borne yucky stuff out. Plus, the bottle has a carabiner that allows you to hook the product onto your backpack, or even on your clothing for uber-portability.
This bottle with a water filter has a light!
That light is there for a reason. First, it provides illumination for an LED display that indicates when the water placed inside this product is already safe to drink.
Second, it can serve as a flashlight, and chances of it getting lost in the dark are minimized. It even has an SOS flashing mode for emergencies.
However, more than the nice light, this portable filter water bottle boasts of ultraviolet technology in purifying water. In only 90 seconds, you will already have 750 mL of purified drinking water that is ready to drink. The light and the UV sorcery are all found on the BPA-free bottle’s cap.
For even more water sorcery, note that the cap has a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can be recharged from any USB source.
The only shortcomings of this product are as follows:
Nevertheless, it has a light!
Amazed? Dumbfounded? You’ll be even more thrilled to know that you’ve got all this sorcery in probably the best portable water filter bottle around.
Even more lightweight than the mobile water filters-cum-water bottles are the water filter straws. They are so handy; you can just place them in your pocket and whip them out when the need to drink potable drinking water arises. If you want to take your drink from a bottle or drink straight from a water source, these water filter straws are just the products for you.
We have two known brands of water filter straws that rank high among users in terms of dependability, smart usage, and value for money:
The Survivor Filter only weighs 3.5 ounces but is a heavyweight in terms of water filtration. Small enough to fit in a pocket, this product has an awesome flow rate of 200 ml per minute. That means that your face won’t turn blue from sipping through this straw.
This product also has an amazing filtering level of up to 0.05 microns which almost totally eliminates all known microscopic contaminants, compared to the standard water filters that could filter up to 0.2 microns.
You can take your water straight from its source or through any water vessel – even a soda bottle – because this portable water filter straw can screw on most bottles! It has a carbon filter that takes out any nasty taste in the water.
This product is a life-saving device. Grab one today!
Among the featured portable water filters here, the smallest of them all is the H2O Survival Water Filter Travel Straw. Weighing less than an ounce and with dimensions estimated at approximately the size of a pen, this amazing product can filter up to 70 liters or 18 gallons of water. However, it may take some using this water filter straw as suction is quite difficult.
The water that comes out of this straw is notably clean-tasting with no icky taste or odor. You can literally bring this anywhere with you – just make sure you remember where you placed it.
The manufacturers of this device claim to filter up to 0.01 microns of water, essentially blocking out whatever dirty, icky stuff comes with the water you may encounter in your travels. Its poly-iodine element also helps in sterilizing the water in as short as 0.5 seconds as it passes through the product. Rest assured that by the time the water gets to your mouth, the water will be the safest and cleanest ever to come out of a water filter.
Under this category is one product that gets the nod of backpackers and travelers – the Katadyn Hiker Water Microfilter. It is a portable water filter system that won't break the bank.
This particular product relies heavily on its active carbon core to sift all contaminants from water and to eliminate the muddy taste and odor.
What takes this portable water filter system a notch above its ceramic plate-based counterparts is the fact that it can provide the most water per one pumping action (one liter per minute). This makes it among the faster water filters in this list to collect water. It also helps that it has a very wide filter surface that allows for fast water output.
As for the weight, it is quite negligible at 310 grams; it could fit snugly in the side pocket of a backpack.
The Katadyn Hiker Water Microfilter is convenient to use for one to two people. Its AntiClog pleated cartridge also does not need too much maintenance or cleaning, unlike water filters whose ceramic plates require cleaning on a regular basis to keep them at an optimum functioning capacity. It would take years for you to need a replacement for this system.
This particular type of portable drinking water filter has Sir Isaac Newton to thank for its ingenuity and effectiveness in doing its job. All you have to do is hang the reservoir with its hose dangling.
After water is poured down the reservoir, gravity will help the water go down through a pre-filter in the reservoir then to a hollow fiber membranes inside the hose.
By the time the water gets to the other end of the hose, it will be devoid of coarse particles and microscopic pathogens. Plus, it will have no bad odor or taste.
One such product that uses this particular technology is the LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier. It is so versatile, it can be used at home, while on travel, or during emergencies. In fact, this product has already seen action in some areas of Kenya, Bangladesh, and Pakistan where access to safe drinking water is a problem.
This product has a flow rate of 9 to 12 liters in an hour, and is capable of hydrating a small community.
Possessing the capability of filtering out up to 99.99 percent of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, this product is a gem among many water filters. Portable and great in any situation that requires potable drinking water, the LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier can provide up to 4,750 gallons of water--that’s around three years’ worth of drinking water for a family of four.
The portable water filters stated above have their own strengths and weaknesses and it will be difficult to choose the best among them.
However, we can probably make a selection of notable water filters based on several criteria: effectiveness in eliminating all water contaminants, capability to provide potable drinking water to the most number of people, and portability.
The name of the game here is in the level of microns that these products can filter out. With a filtering capability of 0.1 microns, the portable drinking water filter that wins is the H2O Survival Water Filter Travel Straw. There is the little issue of difficulty in suction due to the microscopic porousness of the filters but the user can be assured of the cleanest and safest water around. This just isn’t the model for the thirstiest travelers.
Benefit to the most number of people. It’s a tie between two products – the LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier and the Katadyn KFT Expedition Water Filter. One is a gravity filter while the other is a ceramic-based filter.
Price-wise, the LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier is cheaper, but durability-wise, the stainless steel body of the Katadyn KFT Expedition Water Filter has the edge.
Once again, the H2O Survival Water Filter Travel Straw is a notch above the competition in this category because of its small size. You basically have a device which is around the size of a pen. It’s just so small, it could easily be misplaced. Nevertheless, bringing it around just about anywhere is not going to be a problem.
So take your pick among these wonderful water filtration devices the next time you decide to take on the wilderness or go island-hopping. They are your best bests to keep you refreshed with safe and potable drinking water anytime, anywhere.
It's better to see than to believe so here's a quick video of one of these fantastic products in action... Modern water filtration technology is truly incredible!