Reviewing The Best Camping Portable Water Filters For The Money Of 2021

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Female is swimming and drinking creak or river water in summer

Last Updated On July 20, 2021

How the Cheap Portable Water Filter is Saving Lives in Savage Camping Scenarios.

Venturing out into the wilderness can be exciting and empowering. Yet it can also present many challenges like being far from stores and amenities. Even the lack of reliable cell phone connection and limited food and water rations can be terrifying.

If I’m planning for an upcoming camping trip, one of the first things I itemize is my water supply. Mainly because (a.) Water is kind of important.

It keeps me alive, and I usually include a few intense activities on my trips. And (b.) calculating water supply is always challenging. For me, it seems like the most cumbersome item to bring on a trip.

I suggest that If you’re in the process of allocating water supply. Try and include or purchase a portable water filter. It won’t replace a full tank or gallons of water.

It also doesn’t work unless you have some water to use it on. However, this necessary survival tool has saved my skin on more than one occasion.

The military elite, special operations, and humanitarian emergency workers all swear by them. Open up their backpack, and you’re most likely going to find a portable water filter rather than just a water bottle.

What is a portable camping water filter, a filter for life?

A passing hiker once told me that having a water filter is like having a superhero ability. Although one of the more subtle superpowers she admitted.

She felt that it gave her the ability to create drinkable clean water, and improve water quality anywhere, anytime.

The best backpacking water filters are functional and often used in last resort situations.

Camping water filters are easy to use tube-like devices. The portable styles are ordinarily compact, light, and made of plastic or rubber.

Their duty is to remove 99% of parasites and pathogens from a water source. They do this by using one or more purification methods.

The best backpacking water filters can also remove toxic elements or suspended solids from water. These unwanted materials include; lead, nickel, copper, mercury, iron, and chromium.

Keep reading for an explanation of how some of the more popular methods of purification work to turn natural water sources into clean drinking water.

Why there is no excuse for not having a backpacking water filter.

2018, records from the National Center for Health Statistics show that 1 in 15,700 hiking injuries resulted in death. At first, these numbers would appear quite small. Especially when you take into account, there are 44 million hikers in the US.

Concerning is that most of the hiking and camping-related deaths were due to dehydration.

Extreme thirst can make your mind do some strange things. This includes memory loss, lack of concentration and focus, and cramping. But imagine this scenario.

Your far from camp and have been wandering around dense bushland for hours. The only thing you may be holding is a sad empty water bottle and without clean water, out of the blue, you see an oasis.

Far from paradise, its just a stagnant green creek. Without hesitation, you react without thinking, guzzling down as much water as you can.

It’s easy to overlook what lives in the waters of a still creek, lake, river, and even puddle. Drinking the lifesaving water may seem like a good idea at the time, especially in a dehydrated state.

But unknowingly, it might be doing you more harm than good.

Inland bodies of dirty water are stale, often teeming with bacteria and protozoa, larvae, and worms. Additionally, pathogens like Cholera, Hepatitis, and Cryptosporidium can live in bodies of water.

It’s plausible for a body of water to be contaminated by chemicals and sewerage.

Taking one sip can cause diarrhea, gastrointestinal, and respiratory issues. This may accelerate dehydration and one’s physical decline. The thing you were trying to cure in the first place.

So what purification methods are available in a portable water purifier.

Open travel case with a multi chemical purification system of a camping water filter

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all when it comes to buying a portable water filter. Packable filters will market themselves based on their unique scientific approach to purification.

Each purifying method has its own set of pros and cons. Fortunately, higher-end filters will use a combination of purification methods. These include filtration, carbon activation, UV, and flocculation. Let’s explore a few ways below.

Activated carbon filter attraction.

Stickiness is one way to describe how Activated Carbon filtration works. The process requires water to flow through or near carbon materials such as wood or charcoal.

The carbon component is highly porous and positioned in blocks of up to 0.5 to 1 microns. Heavy impurities within the water will stick to the carbon component.

What’s left is cleaned water. Carbon purification excels in neutralizing taste, smells, synthetic chemicals, and sediments. Unfortunately, this method cannot remove waterborne viruses. Due to this reason, carbon purification is often coupled as a complementary method.


This water filtration system is a popular purification method in retail portable water filters due to its simplicity. Microfiltration requires the sourced water to pass through a fine barrier of 0 2 microns to 0.5 microns wide.

The barrier is housed within a replaceable cartridge of the filter. It is typically made up of layers of permeable material such as cloth, ceramic, coal, or foam. Micro filtration can filter water pathogens like Cryptosporidium and larger bacteria.

Unfortunately, filtration may allow smaller parasites to pass and make it through to the final product. So like carbon activation, it’s considered a complementary water purification method.

Ultraviolet cleansing.

Ultraviolet water treatment is an effective method of water purification. It’s claimed to be one of the best portable water filters as it can remove 99% of bacteria found within outdoor water.

UV water filters work by emitting intense radioactive light found within its chamber.

As the water source passes through, the flow rate hit with over 250 nanometers of light. This reading alone is more intense than radiation recorded from the sun.

When focussed on waterborne germs, the prolonged light exposure disintegrates the DNA of virus molecules within the water. Effectively rendering them sterile and ineffective.

As useful as UV is on bacteria, it misses the mark on removing heavy metals and chemicals.

Chemical sanitization.

Female hiker takes a break on the edge of lake to filter water using portable pump filter

While using chemicals to purify and cleanse water might sound counter-productive. Chemical sanitation is effective in removing viruses such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Common cleaning additives include Bleach, Iodine, Chlorine, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Silver Ion.

Unfortunately, once the waters flow rate is treated with any one of these chemicals, it will need to be removed. Leaving them in will likely result in illness and a bad taste.

Chemical sanitation then becomes a two-step process. A neutralizing chemical such as a vitamin C or Ascorbic acid will need to be added after to remove the initial cleansing chemical and its aftertaste.

Choosing a portable camping water filter—things to consider.

  • Always look for the labels on the water purifiers packaging that confirms it has been quality tested. Each country will have its own criteria for the water filter to meet its standards.
  • Make sure to choose a portable water filter that utilizes multiple methods of purification. Having a dual UV light and carbon activation filter is ideal. This will ensure that you eliminate bacteria while removing harmful chemicals.
  • A multi-method camping virus water filter will be more expensive. In some instances, it may be bulkier, adding more weight to your camping inventory.
  • An upside is that a higher end gravity filter system has the capacity to filter liters of water (great if you want to fill water bottles to go) whilst not sacrificing on water quality.
  • Think about how the portable water filter will work when you are in an emergency. Hand pump filters may need a lot of manual labor, while a chemical filter will need extra time for chemical reactions.

Water is for everyone, why I preach that you should never leave home without a portable water filter.

Close up of hand filtering water from rapid river using portable water filter

If someone told you that a simple item like a personal water filter that costs less than $20 could save your life, would you buy it? I know what my answer is. There is no reason not to. When faced with a life-threatening situation, one of the first things you need is access to clean water.

On a quirkier note, I do have some friends that like to taste the water bodies of places they visit. Similar to those people that collect sand from different beaches they visit. But each to their own, I guess.

To wrap things up. There is no best portable water filter In my opinion your best to go with a combination of a couple of methods.

To me, it’s clear that an essential human right should be the right to drink water without having to think about if the water is going do to harm. So when this doesn’t apply a Camping Water Filter is a solid backup.

Curious to find out about a healthy snack to eat with some water? Click here to read about tasty Pemmican recipes.