Choosing a Portable Water Purifier

Water purification methods vary widely. Some use physical filtration, such as those that remove particulates based on size, and some use chemical disinfection.


Other options include gravity filters that attach to a bottle, as well as tablets such as iodine and chlorine. These products, however, are not effective against viruses.

Easy to use

There are many different types of water filters and purifiers, so it’s important to choose one that fits your environment, budget, and preferences. The type of filtration and purification technology, size, weight, and convenience should all factor into your buying decision. Some filters and purifiers use an element with microscopic pores that catch bacteria, protozoa (cysts), and viruses. Others use chemicals or ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms. Depending on your environment and travel needs, you may need to consider a system that also tackles viruses (which are too small for filter elements to effectively capture).

The easiest to use products are simple to set up and don’t require any assembly or special steps. Filter straws and bottles that attach to your water bottle are great for camping because they eliminate the need to carry a separate container. Gravity filters, like Platypus GravityWorks and Sawyer, have containers or bags that hold water as you filter, making them ideal for group camping trips.

When shopping for a water purifier, look for manufacturers who show testing certificates for their products. Some brands claim to meet EPA guidelines and NSF P231 standards, but only list the test results for the first litre of water they tested. This is not very reliable and leaves you with a product that doesn’t work beyond its initial use.


If you are backpacking or traveling, weight is an important factor to consider when selecting a portable water filter. The best systems offer a high-quality filtration capability without adding too much bulk to your pack or causing extra weight on your back. The best systems also feature a simple design with minimal parts and components to reduce maintenance and breakdowns.

For example, the Platypus GravityWorks dispenser uses gravity filtration to remove contaminants from your drinking water, making up to a quarter-gallon of water in less than one minute. This system is lightweight, reliable and meets industry standards for the removal of giardia, cryptosporidium, bacteria, E coli, and other pathogens.

Another great option is the LifeStraw Flex water purifier, which offers similar filtration capabilities to the Platypus model but at an even more competitive price. This system threads onto most standard hydration bottles (including Camelbak hydration bladders) and filters water directly into the bottle, saving you time and energy. This system also features a cleanable protector that extends the lifespan of the filter to 200-300 gallons and helps prevent the pump from clogging when used in muddy or sediment-laden water.

For the simplest setup, there is the basic on-the-go Lifestraw Peak Squeeze. This system is incredibly lightweight and doesn’t require any hoses or storage bags, but it does lack the ability to combat viruses (which can be killed by chemical treatment or ultraviolet light). If you want to protect yourself from viruses, we recommend purchasing a SteriPEN UV water purifier, which is handheld and can treat up to 30 liters in 1 minute.

Easy to clean

A portable water purifier is a self-contained device that eliminates pathogens from untreated water sources, making it safe to drink. It is usually used by people living in developing countries and disaster areas, as well as outdoors enthusiasts like campers, hikers, and survivalists.

While most water purifiers use chemicals to treat water, some also use filtration techniques to remove sediment and other contaminants from the water source. One such example is the Epic Nano dispenser, which uses gravity filtration to remove bacteria, protozoans, and viruses from water. It also removes giardia and cryptosporidium.

The Grayl Geopress is another great option, as it uses a similar system but does not filter out viruses. It is also very lightweight, so it’s ideal for backpacking trips or hiking in remote locations where you may have to draw from a silty river, murky pond, or muddy desert pool.

Some water purifiers have adsorptive technology that works by using an element to attract the contaminants in the water. This is much like static on a balloon, which sticks to the contaminants and allows clean water to pass through. However, this method can lose its effectiveness over time, especially in turbid or cloudy water.

When choosing a portable water purifier, make sure it is certified to remove all pathogens from the water. Look for a microfilter that has been tested and meets backcountry standards, such as the EPA’s guidelines or NSF Protocol P231. Also, look for a water purifier that can kill viruses with chemical tablets.


When you’re out and about, having reliable access to clean water is essential. The water found in untreated sources can have a nasty taste and the potential to carry bacteria or viruses that can cause health issues like cholera, botulism and dysentery.

A good portable water purifier will be able to remove these harmful pathogens from the drinking water. This is accomplished by either using a physical filter that physically traps the contaminants or by using a chemical or UV method to kill them. Both types of filters are designed to meet industry standards and a well-designed product should be able to eliminate bacteria, viruses, giardia and cryptosporidium from the water.

Most physical purifiers use a filtration system that uses hollow fiber membranes or an element that chemically reacts with the contaminants in the water. This effectively removes them and expunges the bad taste and smell. Some pocket-sized models, such as the LifeStraw Peak or the Sawyer Mini, are even able to tackle some viruses too!

Regardless of the model you choose, look for products that are tested with challenge test water. This is Type 3 water and is meant to represent the worst case scenario in the backcountry. If a product passes hundreds of litres of this grueling water then you can rest assured that it’ll pass your own backcountry water challenges!

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