Best Backpacking Water Filters of 2024

Best Backpacking Water Filter: A man holding a HydraPak Flux™+ 1.5L water filter

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Looking for the best backpacking water filter for your next trip? No need to worry, you are in the right place.

Before choosing, you need to consider key factors for backpacking filters, like weight, effectiveness, ease of use, durability, and treatment speed.

Be sure to understand the difference between a water filter and purifier before deciding. More info about the distinction is at the end.

Now, let’s begin with the best and lightest choices available.

What Are the Best Backpacking Water Filters?

  1. Most Ultralight: Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System (1.51oz/43g)
  2. Best Overall: HydraPak Flux™+ 1.5L (5oz/143g)
  3. Best Value: LifeStraw Peak Series Solo (1.7oz/48g)
  4. Straw Option: LifeStraw Peak Series Personal Water Filter Straw (2.39oz/68g)
  5. Budget Option: HydroBlu Versa Flow Lightweight Water Filter (1.90oz/54g)

1. Most Ultralight
Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System

Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System

Key Specs

Weight: 1.51 ounces (43 grams)
Longevity: 100 000 gallons (378 541 liters)
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ High quality


❌ Slow for large quantities of water

The Sawyer MINI is a popular ultralight water filter for backpackers. At only 2 ounces, it packs easily without weighing down your bag. Setup is simple – just attach it to the included squeeze bag or standard water bottles.

Where it excels is versatility. You can easily filter untreated water directly into your drinking vessel from a stream. It removes bacteria and protozoa down to 0.1 microns.

The hollow fiber membrane is susceptible to clogging if not cleaned after use. Flow rate may be slower for large volumes. Most importantly, the activated filter does not survive long-term dry storage and can fully clog.

Provided it’s properly maintained between trips by thorough cleaning and air drying, the versatile Sawyer MINI conveniently filters clean water for lightweight backpacking. Just be diligent in care to maximize its lifespan. When treated well, it’s a reliable way to purify water on the trail.

2. Best Overall
HydraPak Flux™+ 1.5L

HydraPak Flux™+ 1.5L

Key Specs

Weight: 5 ounces (143 grams)
Volume: 1.5L
Longevity: 396 gallons (1500 liters)
Price: $$$


✅ Collapsible design

✅ High quality


❌ Relatively expensive

The HydraPak Flux+ 1.5L bottle offers ultra-light reusable hydration with built-in filtration. Its integrated <0.2 micron hollow fiber filter removes bacteria and protozoa from approximately 1,500 liters of water at an impressive rate of over 1L per minute.

Designed to fit easily into pack pockets when full and roll up neatly when empty, the Flux prioritizes space-saving storage. However, one downside is the lid – once filled, it can be difficult to open for a drink due to the lid’s flexibility combintion with full bottle weight.

That said, the Flux material and construction provides superb durability fit for long-term use. While a touch on the heavier side, its sturdiness makes it a worthwhile investment for those seeking reusable hydration without compromise to filtation quality or lifespan.

3. Best Value
LifeStraw Peak Series Solo

LifeStraw Peak Series Solo SOLO WATER FILTER

Key Specs

Weight: 1.7 ounces (48 grams)
Longevity: 528 gallons (2000 liters)
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ High quality


❌ Might not work with all European bottles

We tested the LifeStraw Solo on a couple backpacking trips and found it to be a great compact and portable water filtration option. At just 1.7 ounces, it easily fits in any backpack.

The 28mm threading allows it to screw onto most water bottles for fast and simple one-handed filtering – we were able to fill a liter bottle in 20 seconds.

We used it to effectively filter out bacteria and parasites from untreated water sources, as expected. With a capacity of 528 gallons (2000 liters), this filter will last us for years of continued use in the outdoors.

Just like when you travel across oceans, there is one thing you should know. The LifeStraw Solo may not fit onto all water bottles used in Europe. Sometimes the threading is different.

4. Straw Option
LifeStraw Peak Series Personal Water Filter Straw

LifeStraw Peak Series Personal Water Filter Straw

Key Specs

Weight: 2.39 ounces (68 grams)
Type: Filter
Longevity: 1000 gallons (4000 liters)
Price: $$


✅ High quality

✅ Sleek design


❌ Slow for large quantities of water

The LifeStraw is a highly portable water filtration option that packs essential peace of mind. Weighing just 2 ounces, it takes up minimal space yet offers critical functionality when water sources are uncertain.

Rather than filtering into a separate container, the LifeStraw allows for direct drinking from the source. This on-the-go usability is useful for refilling water bottles or in emergency situations.

LifeStraws have proven to be exceptionally durable – one straw can filter over 1,000 gallons (4000 liters) effectively. However, one downside is that you need to apply significant suction to draw water through at a reasonable rate.

For travelers prioritizing compactness without compromising basic treatment, the versatile LifeStraw delivers essential hydration security. 

5. Budget Option
HydroBlu Versa Flow Lightweight Water Filter

HydroBlu Versa Flow Lightweight Water Filter

Key Specs

Weight: 1.90 ounces (54 grams)
Longevity: 100 000 gallons (378 541 liters)
Price: $


✅ Ultralight

✅ Great warranty


❌ Not the best seal with some water bags

The HydroBlu Versa Flow Water Filter is a versatile filter for outdoor adventures. Weighing only 1.9 ounces, it adds minimal bulk while offering multiple uses.

Use it directly on a water bottle, as a gravity filter attached to a bag, or even as a straw. This adaptation allows it to suit different situations on the trail.

It filters down to 0.1 microns, removing bacteria, parasites and microplastics. You can trust the water will be clean no matter how you filter.

The only minor issue is it may not seal tightly with some hydration bags, requiring an extra twist. But otherwise it functions reliably.

For the affordable price and various use options, the HydroBlu Versa Flow provides great value to ultralight backpackers looking for a flexible water treatment solution.

How to Choose the Best Backpacking Water Filter

When backpacking, access to clean drinking water is essential. Backcountry water sources may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that can cause serious illnesses like giardia, cryptosporidiosis, and norovirus.

To protect yourself, you need an effective water treatment system. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a backpacking water filter or purifier:

  • Type of Contaminants – Filters remove bacteria and protozoa, while purifiers also remove viruses. Assess if viruses are a concern and consider lightweight chemical purifiers like iodine or chlorine tablets. To learn more about chemical purifiers, check out our post here.
  • Micron Size – The micron size indicates the size of particles the filter can remove. 0.1-1 micron filters out bacteria. 0.01 micron or less also filters protozoa and some viruses.
  • Weight – Ultralight backpackers need the lightest system possible. Filter straws, squeeze filters, and chemical treatments are lightweight options. Gravity filters offer faster flow rates but weigh more.
  • Flow Rate – The faster the flow, the quicker you can filter water. Flow rates range from 0.5 liters to over 2 liters per minute. If hiking in a group, consider a faster system.
  • Filter Material – Common filter types are hollow fiber, ceramic, and carbon. Each has pros and cons for reliability, effectiveness, weight, and cost. To learn more about filter types, check out REI.
  • Maintenance – Some filters require occasional backflushing or cartridge replacements. Check how often maintenance is needed.

With criteria prioritized for your needs, you can zero in on the ideal backpacking water treatment system. Stay hydrated and healthy on your adventures!


How to choose the right backpacking water filter?

When selecting a backpacking water filter, it’s important to consider factors like the type of contaminants present, micron size needed to remove bacteria and protozoa, weight for ultralight trips, desired flow rate if hiking in a group, maintenance needs, and filter material reliability. Lightweight options include gravity filters, squeeze filters and chemical treatments, but choose one that safely treats water sources containing viruses if a concern. Assess your filtering priorities like effective contaminant removal, acceptable ounces, and faster flow to stay hydrated for backcountry adventures at varying paces and group sizes.

What is the average lifespan of a backpacking water filter?

The lifespan of a backpacking water filter can vary depending on the type and how often you use it. In general, most filters will treat around 100-200 gallons before needing to be replaced. Gravity filters tend to last the longest since they don’t have moving parts to wear down. Pump filters may only treat around 50 gallons before the pump wears out. Chemical treatments like chlorine tablets can treat over 1000 gallons. To get the most out of your filter, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Taking good care of it can help your filter hit the average lifespan when treating water on multiple trips each year.

What types of contaminants can backpacking water filters remove?

When camping and exploring the wilderness, it’s important to have safe drinking water. Backpacking water filters are an effective purification method to remove potential contaminants. Most filters can remove bacteria and protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium, making water safer for consumption. Higher-end filters may also remove viruses, offering a greater level of protection. Certain filters even reduce chemicals like chlorine for better taste. Choosing the right filter allows for purification of water sources during adventures, giving peace of mind. Consider a filter’s rated contaminant removal before setting off to stay well-hydrated on trips in the wild.

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At Hikinglite, we're all about helping you hit the trails with lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear that won't weigh you down. Our crew of content creators? Real outdoor enthusiasts who've logged countless miles on the trails.

Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

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