Best portable water filter: 6 filters compared
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The Survivor Filter Pro stands out as the best overall portable water filter because it has a more effective three-stage filtration system that’s similar to almost the stationary household filters. It’s able to clear out more contaminants than the other options on the list, its flow rate is fast and it’s pretty compact and easy to carry. It's a great overall water filter that enjoys lots of positive feedback from users.
The Elekcity PS01 is our pick for the best value portable water filter because it’s quite affordable yet it’s still able to get rid of a wide range of contaminants. It’s especially effective at eliminating heavy metals and harmful chemicals. It also comes with a few extras like a 450ml pouch for carrying additional water away from the source.
Portable water filters are quite essential when hiking, camping, backpacking, or trekking. They are designed to filter water from natural sources like streams, rivers, and lakes hence providing you with clean, bacteria-free drinkable water when you’re out there in the middle of nowhere.
In no particular order, here is our pick for the best portable water filters you can find in the market, and everything you need to know about them including their pros and cons.
1. Survivor Filter PRO
- Independently Tested in the USA to show 99.999 percent filtration removal of tested Virus, bacteria, parasites and reduces heavy metals, unpleasant tastes and odors
- Proven protection against any unwanted objects in your drinking water; Reduces Heavy Metals and Improves taste, thanks to Dual Hollow Fiber Membrane (Ultra Filters) and Carbon Filtration - 20 times more efficient than the competition at 0.2 microns and none of the Competition Comes Close with Our Heavy Metal Removal
- Shell is ABS Material (Same Material Used on Car Bumpers), Polysulfone Medical Grade Ultra Filter (Same Material Used in Visors of Apollo Astronauts), Food Grade Activated Carbon and Handle Contains Steel Bar Inside for Extra Support. BPA Free
- Dimensions: 3.15 x 1.97 x 6.5 inches
- Weight: 10.9 oz (309 grams)
- Filtration capacity: ultrafilter (100,000 liters), carbon filter (2,000 liters)
- Flow rate: 17 ounces (500 ml) per minute
- Pore size: 0.01 micron
- Material: Shell (ABS material), ultrafilter (medical grade polysulfone), food-grade activated carbon, handle (plastic with steel bar inside)
Things To Like
- Highly efficient at removing contaminants – the Survivor Filter Pro utilizes a 3-stage filtration system which consists of a 0.1-micron ultrafilter (hollow fiber membrane), a carbon filter, and another 0.01-micron ultra membrane filter. The three filters together eliminate up to 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. The activated carbon filter also helps to clear out chemicals in the water as well as heavy metals that often contaminate water like mercury (99.5%) and lead (93%). Users mentioned that the filtered water is clear, tastes great, and has no bad smell either.
- Good flow rate – this unit is equipped with a pump that enables it to produce 17 ounces of clean water every minute which is a faster flow rate compared to most other portable water filters. It’s a great option for filtering water for a group.
- Long filter lifespan – you won’t be replacing the filters of this Survivor system frequently because they have a long lifespan. The carbon filter has a 2,000-liter capacity which is equal to a lifespan of 2-years while the ultrafilters have a 100,000-liter capacity each, which means they’ll be lasting for a very long time.
- Convenient to use – the Survivor Filter Pro is easy to use. It requires little effort to push and pull the pump, plus the tubing is long enough for convenient access to water sources. The outlet line also has a clip which helps secure it to whatever you are filling. There’s a float above the pre-filter too which helps to keep it far from the muck in still water.
- Made of durable material – many found this unit to be quite sturdy and durable. The shell is made from a strong ABS material and the pump handle has metal reinforcement inside it hence it’s not likely to break. The three filters are equally sturdy and the two screw knobs are well-integrated in the unit such that you won’t lose them.
- Considerably light and compact – although it’s not as compact and lightweight as some of the other options, this water filter doesn’t take up much room in a backpack. It’s small and comes with a case that makes carrying it simple.
- Easy to assemble – you won’t have difficulty setting up this unit because you only need to insert the filters and attach the hoses and you are done.
What Not To Like?
- It’s a bit hard to take apart – several users reported that it’s somewhat a hassle to disassemble the unit for cleaning.
- Pre-filter is susceptible to clogging – there were many complaints that the pre-filter tends to clog up fast and badly after processing a few liters of water which causes the flow rate to drop significantly. However, once you backflush it, it continues to work fine.
The Survivor Filter Pro is a great option if you want a portable water filter that can perform a more thorough filtration like a household filter. It’s able to remove microbial contaminants (bacteria, protozoa, and viruses), heavy metals, and chemicals. Moreover, it comes with a lifetime warranty and you won’t be changing the filters often due to their long lifespan.
Overall Score: 18/20
2. Etekcity PS01
- SAFETY TESTED: Etekcity water purifier has been tested by German TüV SüD Examination Institute and meet EPA Water Quality Standards.
- ADVANCED FILTRATION DESIGN: Pre-filter to defense large contaminants. Ion-exchange resin to remove chlorine, heavy metal ions, THMs. Activated carbon to eliminate odors. 0. 01Μm hollow fiber UF inline Membrane to filter 99. 9999% waterborne rubbish
- DEPENDABLE ACCESSORIES: Prepared with a Foldable Water Pouch(480ML, 16oz) with D type hook, an Extension Tube(70cm), a Syringe(back wash device), an Inlet Mouthpiece(pre-filtration device with 1 PP Cotton Pad), additional Four PP Cotton Pads
- Dimensions: 7.09 x 5.12 x 1.89 inches
- Weight: 2.1 ounces
- Filtration capacity: 1,500 liters
- Flow rate: 400ml per minute
- Pore size: 0.01 micron
- Material: plastic, carbon, plastic
- Warranty: 1-year
Things To Like
- Impressive filtration performance – the Etekcity PS01 is able to effectively remove different kinds of contaminants, especially chemical compounds. The pre-filter traps silt, rust, and other large sediments while the ion exchange resin and the activated carbon filter clear out chlorine, VOCs, heavy metal ions (up to 99.99%), and organic and insect contaminants. The 0.01-micron hollow fiber UF membrane gets rid of 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoa in the water. It’s a robust filtration process like that of the Survivor Filter PRO which users attested that it produces very clean water that has no foul taste or odor.
- Decent filter lifespan – this filter is rated to process 1,500 liters of water before requiring replacement. It’s a decent capacity that is equal to a lifespan of 1½ years for a single person.
- Includes a fold-up pouch – you get a 480 ml pouch with this filter, so you can collect and carry additional water with you for filtration later. The pouch is squeezable to allow water to filter through faster and it’s foldable when empty for easy storage. It also has holes and a carabiner to provide easy portability.
- Several useful accessories – the package includes a long 70 cm extension tube that attaches to the bottom of the filter to allow you to draw water out from sources that are difficult to get to. There’s also a straw cap that fits most standard water bottles hence you can collect water in a bottle and then drink through the straw/filter.
- Lightweight and compact design – the Etekcity filter straw is highly portable as it weighs only 2.1 ounces and even with all the accessories included, the weight is around 4 ounces. Thereby, it’s extremely easy to carry.
What Not To Like?
- Doesn’t remove viruses – unlike the Survivor Filter PRO, the Etekcity doesn’t eliminate any viruses from the water.
- Hard to drink water directly from it – many users complained that sucking through the straw is a tedious process. The flow rate is slow (400 ml per min) and it has no pump hence it requires more drawing power to attain a steady flow of water which is exhausting especially if you’re parched. Plus, you have to prefilter the water first to ensure it’s clear, otherwise very little water would flow through the unit.
- The pouch has a small capacity – the pouch is a little inconvenient for long trips due to its small capacity, it holds just 16 oz (480 ml) of water. To open it fully is difficult too as it’s made using a robust plastic material which makes it hard to fill it in a lake or creek. It’s not durable either – it can burst at the neck seal/inlet if squeezed with lots of force.
- Hard to clean – a small syringe is provided for cleaning (backwash) the filter but it appears to be a bit tedious process as you have to use it around 10-15 times and manually shake the filter between the back flushes to get it properly cleaned. The syringe is as well not very durable – the plastic used to make it is thin and not sturdy.
- The carrying case is essentially useless – Etekcity has included a carrying case in the package which some found to be useless since it tears easily.
Despite having several downsides, this Etekcity water filter straw works effectively with regards to removing harmful contaminants. Using it is a bit of a hassle but it’s a highly portable water filter that’s especially ideal for clearing out chemical contaminants and bacteria in the water.
Overall Score: 16/20
3. MOKO P2985 Portable Water Filter
- Lightweight, portable water filter purifier for hiking camping or other outdoor situations, turns rainwater, lake, river water into clean and drinkable water WITHOUT iodine, chlorine immediately.
- Tested and approved by the TUV SUD Institute, this water purifier meets the highest standard raised by WHO.
- With advanced activated coconut shell carbon filter, this carbon filter cleans to 0.01 Microns, eliminating numerous contaminants including chlorine taste and odor, sediment, and waterborne contaminants. Offering you the pure, healthy, clean water.
- Dimension: 2.75 x 1.37 x 5.7 inches
- Weight:7.97 ounce
- Filtration capacity: 660 gallons (3000 liters)
- Flow rate: 0.13 gallons (600ml) per minute
- Pore size: 0.01 micron
- Material: Food grade Aluminum, Silica, PCTG (BPA free)
- Warranty: 1 year
Things To Like
- Effective 3-stage filtration system – its 0.01-micron hollow fiber membrane eliminates 99.99% of waterborne pathogens, bacteria, and other organic compounds. The sediment filter and the activated carbon filter get rid of numerous other contaminants such as VOCs, sediments, iron, chlorine taste and odor, and other harmful chemicals. Users attested that the water comes out clean with no foul taste at all.
- Fairly long filter lifespan – the MOKO filters can process up to 660 gallons (3000 liters) of water before requiring replacement. It’s a large capacity that’s enough to allow you to use the filter for 2 to 3 years depending on the quality of water you’ll be filtering.
- Easy to operate – using this filter is quite easy as it utilizes a pump. You simply immerse the inlet hose in a freshwater source and then just pump up and down to draw the water through the filters. The pump handle is sturdy and slides up and down smoothly requiring little effort to operate.
- Compact and easy to carry – the whole unit is very small and lightweight hence really simple to carry on a long outdoor adventure or backpacking trip
- Sturdy aluminum construction – the body is a robust aluminum construction that can last for a long time, it doesn’t feel cheaply made. The filter hoses also have just the right level of stiffness which is great since some tend to be soft hence often collapse upon suction
What Not To Like?
- Slow flow rate – although it utilizes a pump and it’s rated to produce 600ml (0.13 gallons) of filtered water per minute, several users found the flow to be pretty slow. It can take around 30 min just to get 2 gallons of filtered water. It’s a tedious process too as for every downward pump you get about a tablespoon of water – it’s ideal for solo use but not for bulk water purification.
- The tubing is a little short – the tubes it comes with are a bit short compared to those of other water filters, especially the one from the filter to the water source. You have to be closer to the source in order to draw out the water.
- Water sometimes leaks from the gaskets – there are several reports of water leaking from the gaskets when pumping. The screws seem not to be positioned evenly around the gaskets thereby causing the unit to leak water while pumping.
- The bottom of the casing tends to loosen – a few users mentioned that the bottom part of the casing (which is attached by two screws) tends to loosen or start separating with each pump due to the pressure of the piston which in turn would cause water to escape out.
The MOKO P2985 is a good option if you need a portable water filter with a pump mechanism. It’s suitable for solo use but not for groups due to the slow flow rate which requires lots of pumping to get a decent amount of filtered water.
Overall Score: 15.5/20
4. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
- Dimension: 8.66 x 0.98 x 0.98 inches
- Weight: 0.1 pounds
- Filtration capacity: 1000 gallons (4,000 liters)
- Flow rate: 1.7 liters per minute
- Pore size: 0.2 microns
- Material: BPA free plastic
- Warranty: 1 year
Things To Like
- Reliable filtration performance – the LifeStraw filtration process involves polyester textile pre-filters which help trap sediments and debris. They are followed by a 0.2-micron hollow fiber membrane that mechanically traps 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa found in water. E-coli, vibrio cholera, salmonella, shigella, giardia lamblia, and entamoeba histolytica are some of the parasites and bacteria that get eliminated by this filter.
- Long filter lifespan – the filtration capacity of the LifeStraw before it expires is 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters). It’s equivalent to a service life of 4 years or about 5½ years if you process 2 liters of water a day.
- Has a respectable flow rate – the unit can deliver 1.7 L of filtered per minute which is a high flow rate for a potable water filter, hence you get to quench your thirst faster when sucking water through it.
- Very compact, lightweight, and simple to use – the compact size and light weight make this filter highly portable and easy to use. It looks like a small straw and actually works the same way as a cocktail straw but with a built-in purification system. You simply immerse it into a source and suck water through it. It can also be easily stowed away into a backpack or pocket.
- Durable construction – the whole plastic material used to build it is sturdy and durable. Plus, an attachable Lanyard has been included for hanging it around your neck so that you can carry it hands-free.
What Not To Like?
- Not universally dependable – the LifeStraw doesn’t filter out viruses, chemicals, and heavy metals from the water, so it may not be ideal for use in rural areas where chemical contaminants like pesticides and PCBs, heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium, and viruses like rotavirus and Hepatitis A might be present in water sources.
- Takes effort to suck water through the filter – despite its fast flow rate, the LifeStraw needs a bit of hard work in order to draw water through it which can be annoying when you’re at high altitudes since it can get you winded.
- Not ideal for serving a group – this is designed for personal use because it’s meant to be used like a straw where you suck up water through it directly from the source. You can’t dispense the filtered water into a collecting vessel as is the case with most other water purifiers. This means you can’t share it among two or more people.
- Can’t work with a water bladder or disposable water bottle – the LifeStraw is slightly big to fit inside the opening of water bladders and standard disposable water bottles hence you can’t drink from them. Using it to drink from a tap could also be a problem as you’ll have to first fill a container with a wide opening and then drink from it using the filter.
- Requires frequent backflushing – sediments get often trapped inside the filter which requires you to blow them out the opposite end regularly to clean the filter and keep it functioning properly.
- Prone to freezing – since it uses hollow fiber membranes, the LifeStraw filter is susceptible to freezing which can cause it to stop working when used in such conditions.
As its name suggests, the LifeStraw is purposely designed for personal use and it’s a nice choice for filtering out bacteria and other microbial contaminants. If the problem is heavy metals or chemicals due to industrial or agricultural run-off, then you might want to consider the other filters above.
Overall Score: 14/20
5. Katadyn Vario Water Filter
- A simple turn engages a ceramic pre-filter for long life in dirty water or a pleated glass fiber filter in normal conditions
- Produces up to two quarts per minute in the faster flow mode and one quart per minute in longer life mode
- Uses a replaceable Katadyn carbon core and cleanable ceramic disc
- Dimension: 16 x 12 x 4 inches
- Weight: 15 ounces
- Filtration capacity: 530 gallons (2000 liters)
- Flow rate: 2 liters (2 quarts) per minute
- Pore size: 0.2 microns
- Material: Glass
- Warranty: 2 years
Things To Like
- Clears out many different contaminants – the Katadyn 0.2 micron pleated glass-fiber microfilter removes 99.99% of bacteria algae, protozoan cysts, and heavy metals while its ceramic pre-filter helps trap sediments and large particles. The carbon core (charcoal filter) reduces most of the unpleasant chlorine taste and odor as well as other chemicals like pesticides that are in the water. The resulting water is clear and has a good taste with no smell whatsoever.
- Moderate filter lifespan – with an average filtration capacity of 2,000 liters (500 gallons), you won’t be replacing the filter of this Katadyn unit frequently. It can last close to 2 years before the filter needs replacement.
- Very fast filtration process – the Katadyn offers one of the fastest flow rates on the market. It’s equipped with a pump that utilizes a dual-piston technology that can pump up to 2 quarts (2 liters) of filtered water in a minute making it ideal for family or group travels.
- You can adjust the filtration rate – apart from the high flow rate, this unit allows you to choose between two filtration speeds; a fast flow rate option (2 quarts per minute) which depends solely on the glass fiber filter ( the ceramic pre-filter is deactivated), and a slower flow rate option (1 quart per minute) which includes the ceramic pre-filter. Both options still give you filtered water at a faster rate than the other units on the list, which is impressive.
- Convenient and easy to use – the pump of the Katadyn is well designed to provide a smooth operation. It’s ergonomic and doesn’t take much effort to crank out clean water. The unit also comes with a long 36-inch outlet hose allowing you to easily access far-to-reach sources. An adaptor base is as well included in the package that securely attaches directly to the opening of a standard water bottle, thereby you don’t have to hold it to keep it secure as the bottle fills.
- Solidly built and easily portable – from the pump handle to the main body, this unit is well-built and durable. It’s equally compact enough to comfortably fit in a small backpack and it doesn’t weigh too much either.
What Not To Like?
- Reports of water leaks after a while – there are a good number of complaints from users that the o-rings start to fail after using the unit for a while which causes water to leak out, especially around the pump, filter housing, and the connection point between the bottom and top halves.
- The pump can stop working – the pump seems to get air-locked at times which ends up causing it to slowly trickle water out or make it difficult to pump water through the filters. You have to take it apart and put it back together to pump water again.
- Requires a little more maintenance – the other disadvantage of this unit is that it features various components that require to be taken apart for maintenance over time such as cleaning and lubrication. There are actually 7 o-rings that do not come pre-lubed and there are a couple of other moving parts that need lubrication regularly to keep them working properly.
The Katadyn Vario water filter is a great option to consider if you want a fast and efficient portable water filter. It’s versatile as it’s able to remove a wide range of contaminants and offers the fastest flow rate on our list which makes it suitable for group or family use. It does have a few glitches but it appears to work fine for most users.
Overall Score: 17/20
6. Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filter
- Lightweight, easy to use portable water filter removes harmful bacteria, protozoa, cysts, sediment, and 100% of microplastics; Perfect for outdoor adventures, travel, or emergency preparedness
- High-performance 0.1 Micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just 2 ounces; 100% of Micro Squeeze units individually tested three times to performance standards by Sawyer
- Built-in and removable flip top sports cap; spray water straight into mouth or bottle from included pouch; also fits standard water bottles with 28 mm threads
- Dimension: 9.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
- Weight: 0.2 pounds
- Filtration capacity: 100, 000 gallons
- Flow rate: 540 GPD
- Pore size: 0.1 micron
- Material: Blend
- Warranty: Lifetime warranty
Things To Like
- Effective at removing microbial contaminants – the Sawyer’s water filter uses a tiny 0.1-micron hollow fiber membrane that effectively eliminates 99.99% of all bacteria (salmonella, E.coli and cholera) as well as 99.99% of all protozoa (giardia and cryptosporidium). The filter also removes 100% of microplastics in the water and it’s designed with U-shaped micro-tubes that help reduce chances of water re-contamination once it’s filtered.
- Very long filter life – you’ll be able to use this filter for quite a long time because it has a filtration capacity of 100,000 gallons before requiring replacement which is similar to more than 100 years of service life.
- Water flow is fast – many attested that the Sawyer takes less than a minute to fill up a water bottle and this is because it utilizes a squeeze mechanism rather than sucking water directly from the source. It can filter around 540 gallons of water in a day which makes it another suitable option for group use.
- Comes with three water storage pouches – you get two 32-oz and one 16-oz pouches with this Sawyer water filter which allows you to easily process more water and even carry extra unfiltered water away from the source with you. All the three pouches are reusable and collapsible when empty for easy storage.
- Simple to operate – using this unit is straightforward. You simply fill up one of the pouches with water, screw the filter onto it and squeeze the water directly into your mouth or into another storage container.
- Lots of use modes – the Sawyer comes with several attachments that offer multiple ways of using the filter. It includes an in-line hydration pack adapter which allows you to screw the filter onto the pouches, plastic water bottle or even to a faucet and filter the water. It equally includes a gravity tubing and hanging loop to allow for gravity-fed hands-free filtering.
- Lightweight and easy to pack – the whole package is really light and takes up little space which makes storing it in a backpack simple. The pouches also have loops tied on them hence are much easier to carry.
What Not To Like?
- Doesn’t stop viruses – if you are planning to filter water that’s heavily polluted by humans, then this wouldn’t be the right filter to use because it doesn’t remove viruses from the water. You may need a UV purifier or probably use chemicals to destroy the viruses
- The filter clogs frequently – the unit comes with a back flush syringe for easy cleaning but there were complaints that the filter clogs quickly, especially when filtering water that has high mineral content hence requiring regular back flushing which can become exhausting
- The pouches are prone to breaking over time – the water pouches seem vulnerable around the neck areas and could break/burst over time with heavy use (when squeezed hard every time)
- Getting water into the pouches is challenging – the pouches have small openings that makes filling them up difficult, particularly where the water source is very shallow and the water is still. You may need to carry an empty water bottle or a small funnel.
- Potential weakness to freezing – this filter isn’t ideal for use consistently in freezing temperatures because it can crack the element and in turn ruin the filter.
The Sawyer Products Squeeze water filter is an option you can consider if your primary concern is filtering out bacteria and protozoa contaminants. If the water source has high chemical pollutants or is heavily polluted by humans, then you may want to consider another filter that’s able to also remove chemicals and viruses.
Overall Score: 15/20