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When you’re out wild camping or taking an adventure into the backcountry, there’s little more important than considering how you’re getting the right amount of hydration.
Keeping topped up with good, clean, fresh drinking water is of paramount importance, especially if you’re spending days away.
Luckily, advancements in filtration technology means there are a number of different water purification options on the market for backcountry and wild campers these days - we’ve taken a look at a selection here.
What to look for in a camping filtration system or portable water purifier
In our mind, there are three very important buying judgments to make when purchasing a good filtration system.
Firstly, there’s the purification technology (the better quality this is, the bigger the impact on the price), secondly there’s weight and portability and thirdly there’s how easy they are to use, fill up and operate. We’ll be looking at these individual elements.
The last thing to say before we go into the products is that there are a lot of options on the market! It might take a little bit of research and asking questions to find the right one for you.
It’s also worth remembering that this is a buying guide only - although most of these products were tested we can not totally 100% guarantee their effectiveness and we’d recommend and suggest that if you’re anticipating using one of these products in the wild, you consult a doctor or an expert prior to use.
Get kitted out for your camping and backpacking adventures.
We have detailed guides to the best backpacking tents for your adventures here. Want to steady your stride? These are the best walking poles for hiking.
Keep it comfy with the best camping folding chairs, and sleep on the best air beds around, as listed here. And keep things illuminated with a great camping head torch.
Best water filters for camping at a glance
- Best for ultimate purification: MSR Guardian
- Best for light-weight camping: SAWYER PRODUCTS Mini Water Filtration System
- Best for larger groups: Platypus Gravity Filter 4.0L Water Filter
- Best for value for money: Katadyn Micropur Forte Tablets
- Best personal water bottle for filtration: LifeStraw Go 650ml
- Best for day hikes: Salomon Soft Flask XA Filter Bottle
MSR have a habit of creating superlative backcountry camping equipment, and although you’re paying a fair amount of money for it, there’s very little that can beat the MSR Guardian for serious water purification.
It works on a pump system, and is conveyed into a filter system that the US military provided technology to help develop.
If you’re heading out into the serious wild, where finding good quality water might save your life, this is no doubt the option we’d choose.
Not only does this have a 99.9% effectiveness against bacteria, including salmonella, leptospirosis, cholera and E.coli, it’s also incredibly easy to operate and to carry around with you.
Simply fill up the included pouch with water from a wild source, screw the filter on to the bottle and then squeeze the water into the bottle for consumption.
The whole system also weighs less that 100g, so is definitely worth considering if you’re looking to save some weight.
If you’re in a big group camping and you’re staying in one place for a while, this 4L option is one of the most simple options you could choose.
We like how easy it is to operate - with a simple bag to bag feed that works by gravity - simply just hang it up somewhere and when you return, the bottom bag will have clean water to drink.
Cleaning is also magically easy too - just tip it up the other way and allow clean water to flow through the filter in the reverse direction.
This is a slightly different option, but definitely worth considering if you’re short on space or after a bit more of a budget buy. There’s 100 tablets here in one pack, and you only need one tablet to purify 1 litre. After about 20 minutes, the water will be free of bacteria and viruses.
Obviously there’s no filtration process here, so if the water has bits in or is cloudy, it won’t fix that, but you’ll be safe in the knowledge that the water in question has been treated.
If you’re on a solo camp or hiking in an environment where space is at a premium, there’s little on the market with more convenience than the Go 650ml option.
We’ve been using this system for a little while, and love the fact that its simplicity enables filling up from almost any water source straight to the bottle as the water is filtered through the drinking straw.
The filter in the straw is also in itself good for 4,000 litres, with the carbon capsule which improves taste destined to last around 1,00 litres.
Replacements are available.
Removes 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria, including E-Coli and waterborne protozoan parasites, including Giardia & Cryptosporidium.
For small amounts of water and short day hikes, this is an affordable and easy option, similar to the LifeStraw above.
The difference with the Soft Flask however is that it shrinks as you drink the water, acting like a water pouch and making it easy to see how much you’ve got left.
The added benefit here is that it also packs up very small when empty and can be fitted into small daypacks and rucksacks.