It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced backpacker or just getting into the sport, the most important item you need to have on your trip is clean drinking water. For a day hike, you can usually get by with bringing a bottle or two of water with you. If you’re heading out overnight, though, you’re going to need more water than most folks can comfortably carry. That’s where a good water filter comes in. With an appropriate filter, you can collect safe drinking water from virtually any source of freestanding water. Here are some of the best filters on the market.
This filter uses UV light to purify water. It’s incredibly easy to use and is probably the fastest acting filter on the list. You simply fill a one-liter water bottle (you can reuse any convenience store-style bottle for this) with water from your natural source and place your SteriPen inside. Then you just stir the pen around. After about 90 seconds, your water will be purified.
The Platypus GravityWorks is one of the best options for large groups. The kit comes with two bags. You fill one with dirty, unfiltered water and hang it above the bag that will collect the clean water. Then, as the name implies, gravity takes care of the rest. This is a great filter because it’s virtually effortless. You don’t have to worry about pumping or squeezing the bag—just rig it and forget it. The convenience comes with a price, though, because the GravityWorks will definitely add more weight to your pack than a traditional filter.
MSR Trail Shot
The Trail Shot is a great choice for those hikers looking to go ultra-lightweight. It easily pumps water from very shallow sources like streams and puddles—a feature most hikers will appreciate. This filter allows users to drink directly from it, fill water bottles and even hydration bladders.
This popular filter is lightweight and easy to use. You simply fill up one of the “squeeze bags,” attach the filter and then turn the rig upside down. Then you just squeeze the bag as the filtered water collects in whatever source you choose. You can even drink directly from the filter itself.