What to Look For in a Portable Water Purifier

Most travel water purifiers claim to tackle bacteria and cysts but some also remove viruses. Look out for a clear mention of virus removal in the specification.


Those that use adsorptive technology are among the easiest to use. The Grayl Geopress is an alternative, combining container and UV lamp into one unit and using less energy.


A pump is an essential tool for any backpacker, and there are several different varieties of pumps available. These pumps move a wide range of fluids, from water and wastewater to chemicals, oil, petroleum, and sludges. Each type of pump has its own advantages and disadvantages, and selecting the right one for a particular task can save time and money while improving productivity.

A reciprocating pump consists of two flexible diaphragms that are connected to each other by an air valve. Using mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical energy, the air valve opens and closes to control the alternating suction and discharge of the pump. This pump is ideal for use in high-pressure applications, such as water supply systems and sewage lift stations.

The inlet hose should be attached to the water source, with a strainer attached to prevent large debris from entering the pump. The other end of the hose should be connected to the intake pipe on the water pump, and the outlet hose should have an inline water filter or twin carbon filter attached to it. The inline water filter will eliminate bacteria and other contaminants, making the water safe for drinking.

A good portable water purifier should be durable, as it is likely to be subjected to a variety of conditions in the outdoors. A water pump that breaks during a backpacking trip can be a serious problem, so it’s important to choose a model that is built to last.

Gravity filters

A gravity filter is a stand-alone water filtration system that uses the force of gravity to remove contaminants from your drinking water. These systems are perfect for backpacking, camping, or emergencies, and they can filter up to 2.5 gallons of water per day. They also have a long lifespan with the right care.

Unlike pump filters, these systems don’t require electricity for operation and are easy to clean. However, they can still be affected by debris in the water, which means they require frequent back flushing or a full cleaning to keep them working effectively. Fortunately, most gravity filters can be easily cleaned at home by rinsing the filter with clean water.

The Propur ProOne Big+ is a great choice for those looking for a portable water purifier that can remove a variety of contaminants including fluoride, bacteria, cysts, and parasites. It is lightweight and comes with a clear water reservoir that allows you to see how much water is left at a glance. It also has a spigot that makes it easy to pour your filtered water.

The Big+ comes with an included silver lined filter that works by binding to the DNA of bacteria, destroying its membrane and preventing them from growing. It’s one of the most efficient and effective contaminant removal filters on the market, and it has undergone independent lab testing against NSF/ANSI standards for 200+ different contaminants.

Squeeze filters

For those who don’t like to pump and prefer a simpler, more hands-free option, squeeze filters may be the best fit. These are essentially small filter bags with hollow fiber membranes that make it impossible for bacteria, protozoa, and cysts like E. coli, giardia, and Salmonella cholerae to pass through into your water. These are a great lightweight insurance policy for any backpacking trip and can be used with a variety of bottles or in-line with your hydration bladder.

The Sawyer Squeeze system (also known as the Plus system) is a great option because it comes with multiple components, including two 64 ounce bags, a straw, and back-up parts like a cleaning syringe and gasket. This system is also a bit less expensive than other options on the list and has a projected life of 3,780,000 gallons of water filtered before you need a replacement cartridge.

The Aquamira Frontier Max is an excellent choice because it can be used alone, in-line with a hydration bladder hose, or as a gravity filter, making it very versatile. It can also be used to purify both fresh and saltwater and has a life-time warranty. This is a great option for hiking, camping, and travel as it can remove viruses, heavy metals, and microplastics from any water source. It can also be used in place of bottled water for backpacking, which is an excellent way to cut down on your plastic waste.

UV filters

In the case of UV water purifiers, you’re looking for a device that kills bacteria, cysts and viruses in your water with ultraviolet light. This process is quick and requires no physical effort on your part (though it’s best used in clear water). Depending on the brand, you can even buy models that will do this for you almost in the blink of an eye — just dunk them into a bottle full of untreated water and stir for a minute or two.

These types of devices tend to have more upfront costs than pumps or gravity filters. In addition, they can require regular battery replacement and/or access to a power source. Some can also be bulkier than other options, which may make them less convenient for backpacking or survival situations.

Also, since UV only kills microorganisms, it’s important to have other filtration methods in place for more comprehensive water treatment. For example, some pathogens like Giardia and Cryptosporidium have thick cell walls that UV light can’t penetrate, so a prefilter is needed to remove them. As with all portable filtration systems, it’s wise to pay attention to the contaminants that each model can and cannot filter out. Ideally, you want to find a purifier that can handle as many different contaminants as possible. You’ll also need to look at a product’s durability and portability.