Best Camping Water Filters: Top Picks For 2019

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Spent ages trawling through Google but still not clear on the best camping water filter for your needs?

Or perhaps you’re after a water purification system for your next hiking trip abroad?

Water filters and water purification systems for camping and hiking are invaluable in places where you’re not familiar with the water supply, as they provide you with a supply of water that is safe to drink.


What’s In Your Water?

There may be times when water you encounter in the wild is completely fine to drink, especially at higher elevations with limited human traffic or herds of animals or cattle.

However, it’s impossible to tell by sight if water is contaminated in any way, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and make use of the one of the best camping water filters on the market or a good purification system.

When out camping or hiking, the main waterborne pathogens you could come into contact with in water are:

  • Protozoa: This group includes Giardia and Cryptosporidium, single-celled parasitic organisms that can cause really nasty intestinal problems. Cryptosporidium can be quite resistant to water treatment
  • Bacteria: E. coli and Dysentary are just two common examples of bacteria that can live in water. They are generally easier to filter out and treat
  • Viruses: Examples include Hepatitis A and rotovirus. It is generally thought that that viruses are not as large a threat in places like the UK, US and Canada, but on other international trips, viruses can become a much larger concern. Very small in nature, viruses are often not filtered out with a lot of water filters for camping.

Once you are familiar with what could be in the water and the risks, you can then choose a camping water filter or purification method that suits your needs.


A Camping Water Filter vs a Water Purifier

A camping water filter forces water through an actual filter. This filters out bacteria and protozoa, but typically does not kill viruses.

They can also filter particulate matter such as sediment and can also often improve the taste of the water.

Popular Camping Water Filters:

  1. Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filterbest camping water filter
  2. MSR AutoFlow Gravity Water Filterbest camping water filter
  3. Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

Water purifiers for camping or hiking on the other hand is a method that is approved for eliminating viruses, as well as the bacteria and protozoa. Purification usually involves chemicals, so it can affect water taste. Chemical purification also doesn’t filter our matter such as sediment or tiny dead insects.

A popular example of a water purifier for camping or hiking is the:

Unfortunately, there is no catch all system that provides the perfect solution, which is why many manufacturers recommend carrying a hiking or camping water filter and a chemical purifier.

This is the most likely solution to eliminating all harmful possibilities in the water.


Selecting the Best Camping Water Filter For Your Needs

Generally, camping water filters fall into the following types.

Being familiar with these will help you decide which is the the best water filter for your needs.

Pump Camping Water Filter

A common choice, pump water filters simply pump water from the source into a container.

The filter removes protozoa and bacteria, plus if the filter has an iodine system built-in, it will kill viruses too.

These filters can pump as much or as little water as you require, so are equally effective for single or groups use.

A best-selling popular choice is the Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filterbest camping water filter.


Gravity Camping Water Filter

Gravity water filter products clean the water by using gravity to force it through a filter. This negates the need for pumping, essentially saving you time.

They filter water quickly and products usually come with 2 or 4 litre bags.

Gravity water filters are perfect for groups or where larger amounts of water are required quickly.

A popular, bestselling, gravity water filter is the MSR AutoFlow Gravity Water Filterbest camping water filter.


Filter Straws for Camping

Filter straws treat the water directly as you drink it through the product’s filter straw.

They are very compact, don’t weigh much, plus are inexpensive, making them a good cost effective option. They are also chemical free, lasting up to 1000 litres and excellent for personal use.

A leading product is the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter (see full review here).

The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is also extremely popular and as well as a straw option, can also filter water via a pouch.


Chemical Drops and Purification Tablets for Camping

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Already mentioned, these purify water through chemical means in order to kill anything living in the water, which has the advantage of killing viruses.

They are light weight and effective for treating larger amounts of water, but can leave a chemical taste.

A popular example are the Aquamira Water Purification Treatment DropsAquamira Water Purification Treatment Drops.

Ideal for longer trips and group water treatment, this popular chlorine dioxide kit treats up to 120 quarts (30 gallons) of water.

The lengthy shelf life of 4 years is unaffected by partial use of bottles.


UV Light Water Filters for Camping

The UV light process is used by mechanical products that purify water by ultraviolet light, which, like purification drops or tablets, can kill viruses.

UV light filters do require batteries or chargers to work and are not the best choice for situations where a lot of water is required, as they can only filter a limited amount of water in one go.

A best-selling product is the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier.


The Verdict – Best Water Camping Water Filter

When choosing the a camping water filter or a purification system, always consider where you’re travelling to.

If it’s close to home and somewhere you are pretty sure the water is unlikely to be affected by viruses, you’ll probably be fine with choosing one of many water filters for camping available.

Try the Katadyn Hiker Pro or a lighter weight filter such as the MSR HyperFlow Microfilter Water Filter or the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System.

If you’re really not sure, or are travelling internationally, it’s wise to take both a water filter and purifier or opt for a product such as the Steripen Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier, a handheld ultraviolet water purification system, which claims to destroys over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.



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