Best Portable Water Purifiers for Backpacking or Hiking

by eslevy17

Review the best portable water purifiers, for hiking, backpacking, travel and more. Compare the best and buy online!

For backwoods water purification, hikers and backpackers can choose all sorts of devices, from micro-filtration systems to UV lights, to chemical tablets or other means. Since purified water is essential to survival in the outdoors, this is a critical piece of equipment for any outdoor adventurer.

Check out the best portable water purifiers for backpacking, hiking, and all sorts of other recreational pursuits, and set off on your next adventure.

Water Filters vs Water Purifiers

Best outdoor water purification systems

Safe drinking water is absolutely critical when hiking, camping, traveling, or just living life in general, and when out in the wilderness, water purification systems are often the only way to ensure that something will be safe to drink.

But when choosing water filters or purifiers for outdoor use, it's important to know the difference between the two products, as it can often mean getting sick due to improperly treated water. Filters will remove the majority of harmful substances; purifiers will kill whatever is in the water, making them the safer of the two.

The best water purification systems will do both, removing potentially harmful heavy metals and other debris through a filter system, but also killing viruses and other microorganisms that are small enough to slip through filters unharmed. It's advisable to find one that will do both, or combine a filtered water bottle with a purification system to remove any potential impurities in the water.

So, what's the best portable water purifier for backpacking and other outdoor adventures? Read below for details, and a long-term estimate for water filtration cost per liter for each device.

Lifesaver Bottle Review

All-in-one water purification system

The Lifesaver bottle is an ingenious, all-in-one design that achieves completely pure, drinkable water with a filter fine enough to remove viruses and other organisms that most filtration systems miss. Best of all, you need only fill up the bottle, pump a few times, and you're ready to go. This makes it one of the easiest systems to operate.

The Lifesaver was actually designed for third-world use, but its simplicity, durability, and long-term low cost per liter are perfectly suitable for hiking and camping. It has a carrying strap, a watertight cap, and replaceable parts, and will shut down automatically when it needs a new filter.

It's a bit heavy at 22 ounces, but it's easily the best water purification system you can find, and despite its initial cost, it will be cheaper in the long run than anything else out there. Check out the buy one, donate one program, too.

Cost per liter: $0.05

Lifesaver Bottle for Sale

Click to buy from Amazon
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle with 2-Stage Integrated Filter Straw for Hiking, Backpacking, an...

Safe water on the go. LifeStraw Go uses 2-stage filtration within this refillable water bottle, so you have safe drinking water wherever you go. Now with a carbon capsule that r...

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Steripen Water Purifier Review

Lightweight backpacking ultraviolet water purification

One of the most popular water treatment devices out there is the Steripen, which uses UV light to kill any organism inside a water bottle. It's easy to use, battery operated, will last for thousands of liters before the bulb needs replacing, and is small and lightweight enough that you'll barely notice it, making it one of the best portable water purifiers you can find.

Because it uses light to kill organisms, it will not filter the water, so any heavy metals or other debris will still be there. However, filtered water bottles are rather easy to come by these days, so combining the two is a highly effective way of getting pure water without resorting to chemical treatments. Steripen even manufactures a Nalgene insert to accomplish this.

Since all you need to replace are the bulb and the batteries (and rechargeable batteries will bring the cost down even further), the Steripen is one of the cheapest water treatment methods available.

Cost per liter: $0.10

Steripen Water Purifiers for Sale

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SteriPEN ULT-MP-EF SterPen Ultra UV Water Purifier

Featuring a user-friendly, high-contrast OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display, Ultra is the most advanced UV water purifier around. With the ability to recharge Ultra via...

$109.95  $79.93

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MSR Miox Review

Salt treatment water purifier

The Miox is another popular device, which achieves low-cost water purification by running an electrical current through a little salt, creating a liquid solution that will purify a bottle of water. Because all it needs is salt and batteries, you won't have trouble finding replacement parts. It's exceptionally light, small, and easily portable.

On the other hand, it's fairly similar in size to the Steripen, which achieves much faster purification with fewer steps. Although the Miox does advertise itself as the cheapest way to treat water long-term, it's not the cheapest thing out there, but for long-term campers who want that sort of investment, it's definitely a good product. Just compare the competition and decide on what's best for you.

Cost per liter: $0.02

(Optional test strips will add to this cost)

MSR Miox Water Purifier for Sale

Click to buy at Amazon
MSR MIOX Water Purifier

No pumping and no chemical tablets. Create safe, drinkable water when you need it with the MIOX System! Great for camping and emergency preparedness! Don't take chances with ...

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Miox Water Purifier Accessory Kit

MSR Miox Accessory Kit - Replacement salt and test strips for the MSR Miox Water Purifier. Features: 50 safety-indicator strips. Salt - 1.5 ounces. Instruction manual.

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Katadyn MyBottle Review

All-in-one water purification bottle

Katadyn makes a wide range of backwoods water filters and purifiers, mostly consisting of pump filters, but we're looking at purifiers today.

The Katadyn MyBottle is a relatively cheap (short-term) water bottle that contains the entire filtration and purification system within the bottle, making it another one of those fill-up-and-drink models. It uses iodine to purify the water of living creatures, so it will need replacement filtration and purification cartridges when they cease functioning.

While the long-term cost is not particularly great, this is a pretty cheap water purifier, and wouldn't be such a bad idea for lighter use, like people who go camping once or twice a year. It's quite easy to use, and won't be much of an initial investment. Plus, when the cartridges run out, you can use it as a regular water bottle anyway. Just remember that for long-term cost efficiency, the Lifesaver bottle looks a lot like this, and will be cheaper over the long run.

Cost per liter: $0.25

Katadyn MyBottle for Sale

Click to buy at Amazon
Katadyn MyBottle Purifier, Blue Splash

The only EPA-registered water purifier bottle on the market!? The Katadyn MyBottle is one of the top portable water filters available. It supplies 7 fluid ounces of drinking ...

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Katadyn MyBottle Purifier Bottle

It doesn't look like much. That's the point. The Katadyn MyBottle Purifier is simple, but it gets the job done so well that it's the only EPA-registered bottle purification ...

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Choosing the Best Water Purifier for Backpacking

What to look for in the best water filter or purifier

Things to think about include size, weight, ease of use, long-term durability and cost-effectiveness, and convenience. It seems like the Lifesaver Bottle is the one to beat in every category but weight, making it one of the best water purifiers for backpacking, hiking, traveling, or whatever, and it's definitely worth a look when planning your adventures.

So, once you pick one up, make sure to put it to great use on all sorts of amazing adventures, whether it's Europe, Asia, Antarctica, or the trails behind your house. Have fun!

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Updated: 03/12/2012, eslevy17
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Top5best on 01/20/2015

As you said, portable filters are so important when we are backpacking or hiking. And the filters you recommended are also very great. Thanks for sharing.

top best reviews on 04/18/2014

Yes, you are right. Portable Water Purifiers are essential for hiking or backpacking, because you don't know whether water is drinkable or not.

best water purifier on 01/06/2013

Which one is Best Water Purifier in india? this question always come before buy water purifier for home. Aquaguard & Kent two Big Companies who manufacturer a good quality water purifier. if you are resident in india then you can get both product in every mojor city in india.

eslevy17 on 03/11/2012

Thank you! I like when I can put my backpacking knowledge to good use.

brlamc on 03/11/2012

I enjoyed this article on water purifiers, nice job.

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