How To Choose A Water Filter For Backpacking

When choosing a water filter for backpacking, several factors must be considered. First, you need to assess the type of water sources you will encounter on your trip, such as lakes or streams, and the potential contaminants in those sources.

Next, look for effective filters against bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Next, consider the filter’s weight, size, and ease of use, as these factors can impact your overall backpacking experience. It’s also important to evaluate the filter’s durability, lifespan, and maintenance or replacement needs.

Considering these factors, you can select a water filter that provides safe and clean drinking water on your backpacking adventure. I will provide tips on how to choose a water filter for backpacking. I’ll cover factors such as filter type, weight, size, and ease of use so you can make an informed decision and enjoy safe, clean water on your next backpacking trip.

Types of Water Filters

Regarding backpacking, water is a crucial thing to remember to carry. Therefore, carrying a reliable water filter is a good idea to ensure your water is safe. There are numerous types of backpacking water filters, each with strengths and weaknesses.

In this article, we’ll go through the various types of backpacking water filters to assist you in choosing the best one for your requirements.

Gravity Filters

Gravity filters are one of the many water filters available for backpacking. They use gravity to pull water from a dirty reservoir bag through a hollow fiber filter into a clean water reservoir or bottle.

The hollow fibers in the filter are small enough to trap waterborne viruses and bacteria but allow water to pass through, purifying dirty water in minutes.

Gravity filters are a popular choice for group or base camping because they are efficient. They allow multiple people to filter large quantities of water at once. Additionally, they are easy to use, fill the dirty water bag with unclean water and hang it up elevated above the clean water reservoir.

Pump Filters

One of the key benefits of pump filters is that they enable users to process precisely the amount of water needed. Additionally, pump filters can handle dirty water with a high level of effectiveness, removing harmful bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

However, it is important to note that pump filters require more maintenance than other systems since the element needs to be field cleaned regularly. Additionally, they tend to be heavier than other filter systems, which might be a disadvantage for some backpackers.

Nevertheless, a pump filter may be the best option for those adventuring internationally or in places with truly nasty water sources. Many pump filters have a larger filter element that can remove many contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.

Squeeze Filters

These filters typically come with a hollow fiber membrane as the primary treatment for removing waterborne viruses, bacteria, and protozoa from your drinking water. Here is a guide on choosing, using, and maintaining a squeeze filter during backpacking trips.

Using a squeeze filter is easy. First, fill up the soft bag or flask with dirty water. Next, attach the filter to the top of the bag or flask and carefully squeeze the bag to force the water through the hollow fibers. The clean water will collect in a separate reservoir or your hydration bladder.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you use the filter correctly. To prevent this, regularly backflush your filter with clean water to remove any trapped sediment or debris.

Before filling up the bag or flask, use a cloth or coffee filter to pre-filter water containing visible sediment. However, they can have a lower flow rate over time, and regular backflushing is necessary to maintain their effectiveness.

UV Purifiers

These devices use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria, protozoa, and viruses in the water, making it safe to drink. UV purifiers are particularly effective for clear water sources, so they may not be the best option in murky or silty water areas.

However, if you can find a clear stream, lake, or reservoir, a UV purifier can quickly and easily purify the water with no chemical aftertaste. There is a possibility that they may malfunction in the field, so it’s important to have a backup purification method on hand.

Chemical Treatments

One of the most significant ones is chemical treatments, which can effectively remove bacteria and viruses from water sources. Chemical treatments’ main advantages are their simplicity, portability, and lightweight design, making them ideal for lightweight backpacking trips.

Chemical treatments use a combination of chemicals to purify water. This process often involves the use of Iodine Water Purification Tablets or Aquamira drops, which work by killing bacteria and viruses. These treatments can be highly effective, killing protozoa like Cryptosporidium as well.

However, one of the disadvantages of using chemical treatments is that they can leave behind a chemical taste and odor in the water.

Inline Filters

Inline filters are a popular and versatile option within the water filtration market. Their primary use is in conjunction with bottle, straw, and gravity systems, and they can be easily adapted to suit the individual needs of backpackers.

As one of the easiest filters, inline filters are becoming an increasingly popular choice for those who want to enjoy clean drinking water on their outdoor adventures.

It is important to choose the most optimal inline filter according to the water source in the travel area. For example, if backpacking in North America, the primary treatment method would be a hollow fiber filter due to the prevalence of silt and other particulate matter in the water.

On the other hand, for international travel, a filter with a pre-filter and chemical treatments such as chlorine dioxide may be necessary to safeguard against waterborne viruses and bacteria. However, choosing the most optimal inline filter according to the water source is important to ensure optimal filtration results.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Filter

Safe drinking water is one of the most important elements to consider when embarking on a backpacking trip. Unfortunately, the wilderness has limited access to clean water, so choosing the right water filter is crucial.

But with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which one is best suited for your needs. This article will discuss the factors to consider when choosing a backpacking water filter to ensure access to safe, clean drinking water on your next adventure.

1. Amount of Water Needed

When planning a backpacking trip, determining the water needed is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience. The amount of water required will depend on various factors, including the trip length, activity level, and availability of water sources along your route.

Generally, planning for at least 2-3 liters of water per day per person is recommended. This amount should be sufficient for most backpacking trips and will ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day. However, if you are engaging in more strenuous activities or traveling in hot weather conditions, increasing your water intake to 3-5 liters per day is advisable.

2. Flow Rate

Flow rate matters when picking a water filter for backpacking. Flow rate refers to the speed at which water flows through the filter and into your drinking vessel. Selecting a filter with an appropriate flow rate is important, as it directly impacts how long it will take to filter your drinking water.

The flow rate is measured in liters per minute (LPM). Most filters will list their LPM flow rate, which is a useful metric to compare models and select the right one for your needs.

The relevance of the flow rate varies depending on the type of filter you choose. Gravity, pump, and squeeze filters are the most commonly used types of backpacking water filters, and flow rate is particularly important for these.

3. Ease of Use

One of the key considerations is the level of user-friendliness. After all, you don’t want to struggle with the device while you’re tired and thirsty from a long hike. Different types of backpacking water filters come with varying levels of ease when it comes to setup, filtering, and maintenance.

One of the easiest backpacking water filters to use is a gravity filter. The ease of use of a backpacking water filter also depends on its weight. Lightweight filters are ideal for backpacking as they don’t add much weight to your gear.

Some filters can be attached directly to water bottles, which makes them easy to fill up without bulky attachments. This type of filter allows you to hang the dirty water bag above the filter and let gravity do all the work.

It’s perfect for solo backpacking trips as it only filters a small amount of water at a time. Gravity filters have minimal setup time, and you don’t need much effort to get clean water.

4. Price

Price is another important factor when choosing a water filter for backpacking. Water filters range from relatively inexpensive models to more advanced and expensive systems. Determining your budget and selecting a filter that fits it while meeting your needs is important. Remember that the filter’s price does not necessarily reflect its quality or efficacy.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. How Do I Know What Water Filter To Buy?

To make sure you purchase the right water filter for your backpacking trip, it is important to consider the amount of water needed, flow rate, ease of use, and cost. Do a bit of research to determine which filter best fits your needs.

When selecting a model, consider factors like weight, size, setup time, and efficiency. If possible, read reviews from other hikers who have used the filter.

2. How Do I Know What Size Water Filter I Need?

When choosing a water filter for backpacking, it is important to consider the size of the filter. Be sure to select a water filter that is lightweight and compact enough to fit in your backpack.

Most filters come in different sizes, so you can choose one that meets your needs without adding too much extra weight or bulk. The larger the filter, the more water it can hold and filter, which is ideal for groups.

3. Which Is The No One Water Filter Brand?

One of the most popular water filter brands for backpacking is Katadyn. Katadyn has a wide range of products, from pump filters to gravity filters and squeezes filters.

The company is renowned for its quality and durability, making it an ideal choice for long-term use. Katadyn also offers a variety of accessories, such as water bottle adapters, hose connections, and more.

4. Does It Matter What Water Filter You Use?

Yes, it does matter what type of water filter you use. Certain filters may be more suitable than others depending on the kind of backpacking trip you’re taking and the environment you’ll be in.

For example, if you are camping in areas with very cold temperatures, a pump filter may not be your best option due to its potential freezing issues.

5. Should You Boil Or Filter Water Backpacking?

Boiling and filtering are effective ways to make water safe for drinking while backpacking. Boiling is the simplest method, requiring no special equipment or chemicals. Bring your water to a rolling boil for one minute, and you can drink it safely.

However, this method is not ideal for larger groups, as it takes time and energy to heat the water. Filtering is a more efficient method requiring less time and energy, but it requires a water filter. Be sure to select a filter that meets your needs and budget.


Choosing a water filter for backpacking is essential to ensure the safety and quality of the water you drink. Different types of filters and purification methods are available, and it’s important to consider your budget, the size and weight of the filter, and the water sources you’ll encounter on your trip. Remember to read reviews, compare features, and test your filter before heading out on your trip. Choosing the right water filter lets you enjoy your backpacking adventure with peace of mind, knowing that your water is safe and clean.


You may also like

How Often to Water Poinsettia

How Often To Water Poinsettia? Care Guide For Live Christmas Plant

The poinsettia is a popular holiday plant. Its bright red leaves and

​Read More
How to bath a dog without water waterev

How To Bath A Dog Without Water: 13 Steps (With Pictures)

A dog is a member of our family, and they deserve to

​Read More
How often do you water outdoor potted plants

How Often Do You Water Outdoor Potted Plants? – 12 Tips For Healthy Flowers

When determining if your plants need water, the finger-dip test remains the

​Read More
How often to water impatiens

How Often To Water Impatiens? New & Overwatered Impatiens Care & Tips

Impatiens (also known as busy Lizzy) are beautiful houseplants that are easy

​Read More
How often to water fruit trees

How Often To Water Fruit Trees? Young Fruit Trees Need Plenty Of Water

A fruit tree is a perennial plant that grows from a seed.

​Read More
How often to water an Orange Tree

How Often To Water An Orange Tree: Tips, Tricks, And Requirements

Orange trees are some of the oldest living things on earth. They

​Read More
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Check the articles below

December 9, 2023

The poinsettia is a popular holiday plant. Its

December 6, 2023

A dog is a member of our family,

December 1, 2023

When determining if your plants need water, the