The Best Lightweight Backpacking Water Purifiers

Katadyn Pocket MicrofilterWhen it comes to spending significant time in the backcountry, obtaining clean water is essential for your survival. Long trips demand that you purify water while on the trail rather than carry all the water you will need on your back. Remember that water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, so you will be severely limited on the amount that you can carry on your back, especially when you have all the other gear packed in your bag. So what are the lightest and best water purifiers out there to pack along for your trip (besides boiling your water)? Below, we will go over some of the best options out there.

Ultralight Water Purification Options – $10

[amazon_link id=”B0009I3T3S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus[/amazon_link]Iodine tablets and chlorine drops are the ultimate ultralight options available. [amazon_link id=”B0009I3T3S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Potable Aqua water purification iodine tablets[/amazon_link] are not only lightweight, but they are also very inexpensive. Amazon regularly sells them for under $10 for a bottle of 50 tablets. If you aren’t too fond of the taste that these tablets add to the water, get the combo with PA Plus, which neutralizes the bad iodine flavor.

[amazon_link id=”B000RELM6U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Water Treatment, 2 Oz, Part A and B, Chlorine Dioxide[/amazon_link][amazon_link id=”B000RELM6U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira water treatment drops[/amazon_link] are made up of chlorine dioxide. Part B neutralizes the chlorine taste, similar to the iodine tablet PA Plus. These drops are similarly priced and take up about the same amount of space. Super light and affordable! It does take up to 30 minutes to purify your water, so you will have to wait similarly to if you are boiling your water.

Straw-Like Filters – $15-$20

[amazon_link id=”B006QF3TW4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]LifeStraw Personal Water Filter[/amazon_link]When it comes to filtering out dangerous microorganisms without lugging around a huge filtering apparatus, small trail filters are lightweight, easy to use, and quick to deliver clean water to your body. The first option is the [amazon_link id=”B006QF3TW4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]LifeStraw personal water filter[/amazon_link] by Vestergaard-Frandsen. The LifeStraw cleans your water, has a filter life up to 1000 Liters, and weighs only 2 ounces! There are no moving parts to wear out, and no batteries to replace. The LifeStraw can be used to suck water right out of a puddle or creek, but the easiest way to use it is to scoop up dirty water with a cup or bottle and suck it out of that instead of getting down on the ground. Costing only $20 on Amazon, this is a great option for any outdoorsman.

[amazon_link id=”B000WG40ZS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]McNett Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter[/amazon_link]Another option is the [amazon_link id=”B000WG40ZS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Frontier Pro[/amazon_link]. This straw-like filter can clean up to 50 gallons of water from the trail, and only costs ~$15 on Amazon. The downside of these straw-like trail filters is that they don’t have the capability to fill a reservoir of clean water (you could always fill a reservoir with dirty water to drink out of with the straw filter). That means you will have to stay close to the water source while in the backcountry. But they are lightweight and very affordable!

Trail Filters – $20-$325

[amazon_link id=”B007EG2XHG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Capsule Water Bottle and Filter[/amazon_link]The [amazon_link id=”B007EG2XHG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira H20 Capsule water bottle filter[/amazon_link] is a perfect trail filter that fits inside its own water bottle. This allows you to store water and as you drink it, the water is filtered and cleaned. Filtering is instantaneous, has a 100 gallon filter life, and the bottle holds 25 ounces of water. This particular bottle costs around $20, and there are several others from different companies like [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle’s 28 ounce flip top filter and bottle[/amazon_link] (~$25), the [amazon_link id=”B00BWIWX9K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Berkey Sport portable water purifier[/amazon_link](~$20), and [amazon_link id=”B002RRYB4U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn’s MyBottle purifier[/amazon_link] (~$45).

[amazon_link id=”B0007U00YE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter[/amazon_link]If you are looking for a pocket filter that has the capacity to clean several thousand gallons of water and the ability to fill up large reservoirs with clean water, a more conventional filter is needed. If this is the case, the [amazon_link id=”B0007U00YE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn Pocket water microfilter[/amazon_link]is what you need. Weighing only 20 ounces and measuring only 10”x2.4”, the Pocket microfilter packs quite a punch in its small package. It also comes with a 20 year warranty, which is outrageously long in the water filter market. The price is pretty high (~$325), but you won’t need any other water filtration device with this bad boy on board.

SteriPen Battery Operated UV Germ Destroyers – $50-$150

[amazon_link id=”B003A1MURC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier[/amazon_link]There are several different SteriPen options on the market, ranging from the most affordable [amazon_link id=”B000PH013E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Classic[/amazon_link] and Traveler to the crank operated Sidewinder or the solar panel charging Adventurer Opti. What sets the SteriPen apart from the other options is the fact that you are not filtering out any of the organic or inorganic components of the water, which takes away some of the ‘flavor’ or ‘taste.’ Instead, you zap the water with a blast of UV rays to kill any harmful microorganisms, and then drink away. Depending on the model you purchase, the UV element will be able to treat several thousand half Liter portions of water. They are very lightweight (the Adventurer Opti, for example, weighs only 3.6 ounces), compact, and easy to use (cleans water in seconds). The only downside is they are reliant on batteries, unless you opt for the Sidewinder or solar charging models, which are heavier.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

When considering lightweight options for water purification on a backpacking trip, this list sums up the best options on the market today. Obviously your budget will dictate which option is most appealing to fit your needs. All of these options are lightweight and take up little room. The different SteriPens available are my favorite water purification methods while on the trail, but I also like to take a backup water purifier, such as the water tablets or one of the emergency straws (since they aren’t really adding any extra weight and might end up keeping me from getting dysentery in the backcountry). Remember that it is always a good idea to plan backpacking trips close to water sources, and unless you plan on boiling your drinking and cooking water you will need to bring along a water purification device. Use this list to get started on discovering your preferred method.

What is your preferred water purification method while backpacking? Did we leave your favorite water purification method or device off our list? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


SteriPen Sidewinder Water Purification System

[amazon_link id=”B0046RES06″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPEN SidewinderHand POWERED UV Water Purifier[/amazon_link]When it comes to purifying the water you drink while in the backcountry, there are many different options available to you on the market. SteriPen is leading the way in water purification technology, apparent by the different models available from SteriPen. The SteriPen Sidewinder is a fascinating and exciting water purification system. One of the drawbacks of the SteriPen concept is the reliance on AA or CR123 batteries. With the Sidewinder model, however, there are no batteries required for operation. Let’s look at how the SteriPen Sidewinder purifies your water, as well as features and specifications of the specific model.


The SteriPen Sidewinder utilizes a hand crank to generate the energy required to power the UV light bulb, which in turn kills waterborne bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, such as crypto and giardia. The water purification system includes a SteriPen pre-filter, to remove sediment and particulate materials from the water (so you aren’t drinking sand and dirt). Also included is a 1 Liter BPA free water bottle that mates with the rest of the apparatus. Basically, all you have to do is fill the water bottle up (can be any 1 Liter Nalgene style wide-mouthed bottle) with pre-filtered water, attach the bottle to the purifier, turn the whole thing upside down, and swirl the water while you crank the handle approximately 2 revolutions per second for 90 seconds, or until the LED flashes green. Click this link for How To Use A SteriPen Sidewinder.


  • Battery free
  • Weighs 16.6 ounces
  • 8,000 use UV bulb (purifies 8,000 Liters before needing a replacement bulb)
  • Disinfects 1 Liter of water in 90 seconds
  • Includes SteriPen pre-filter
  • Includes 1 Liter BPA free water bottle
SteriPen Sidewinder Diagram

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

SteriPen is truly one of the most innovative outdoor product companies out there today, as is evident by the products that they are putting on the market. While the 16.6 ounces weighs quite a bit more than the smaller SteriPen Traveler or Adventurer Opti, the reassurance that you won’t be without water if your batteries run out or die on you is worth the extra few ounces. It will basically last you forever (8,000 Liters of water is a lot of water), so you won’t have to worry about batteries or replacement filters. I never leave home without my SteriPen Sidewinder, whether I am going on a road trip or a 12 day backpacking trip in the Rockies. Every backpacker should have a SteriPen Sidewinder water purifier. It is as simple as that. Click the following link to get yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B0046RES06″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPen Sidewinder Water Purifier[/amazon_link]


SteriPen Traveler Water Purifier – Great Value On Water Purification

[amazon_link id=”B0041EB6EU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPEN Traveler 3-in-1 Water Purifier, Blue[/amazon_link]When it comes to value, the SteriPen Traveler water purifier is one of the best values on the market today in the arena of water purification. And this is something that every backpacker should be ready with while on the trail. Fresh, clean water is vital and essential for survival, and essential for an enjoyable backpacking trip. SteriPen’s technologies are ground-breaking with respects to water purification techniques, and the ease with which the SteriPen Traveler purifies a Liter of water is incredible. Let’s look at some of the features and highlights of this water purifier below.


The SteriPen Traveler water purifier system consists of a small ‘pen’ sized apparatus 7.6 inches in longest dimension weighing 5.7 ounces (including 4 AA sized lithium batteries). The idea behind the SteriPen is to zap your unclean water with UV light for a certain amount of time. This kills all the microorganisms inside your drinking water, rendering it safe to drink. The life of the batteries depends on their quality. Lithium or Nickel Metal Hydride AA batteries are recommended, and will generally give approximately 200 uses. The UV light bulb is rated for 3,000 treatments, which is an incredible lifetime compared to the life of a water filter.

The most amazing feature of the SteriPen is the taste of the water you get. It is completely unfiltered or untreated with chemicals. We all know what iodine pills or chlorine does to the taste of water. Filter removes not only microorganisms, but also the material in water that adds natural flavor. So chemicals add bad taste to water, and filtering removes the particles that give water a good flavor. The SteriPen Traveler just kills the harmful microbes in your water, leaving alone the taste. Note – You will still want to pre-filter your water with a handkerchief or coffee filter to remove sand and sediment.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

The SteriPen Traveler water purifier is one of the best values of water purification on the market today. It is so easy to use, and all it takes is 90 seconds for 1 Liter to be completely safe to drink. There are no messy hoses to attach, and no water to pump through a filter. Just fill your bottle, dip in the UV bulb, gently stir for 90 seconds until the light goes off, and viol la! You have fresh, clean water to re-hydrate with. Click the following link to purchase your SteriPen Traveler water purifier today!

[amazon_link id=”B0041EB6EU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPen Traveler Water Purifier[/amazon_link]


SteriPen Adventurer Opti – Water Purification At Its Best

[amazon_link id=”B0044DDQEG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPen AdventurerOpti Water Purifier (Black with Green Accents)[/amazon_link]Water purification is a very important consideration when planning a backpacking trip, especially when the trip is more than a few days. You won’t last long on the trail without fresh, clean water, so it is vital to have a method for purifying water while on the trail. When it comes to water purification, there are many different methods for obtaining clean water. Iodine tablets, boiling water, and water filters have been the most popular methods in the past. But with improved technology and innovation, SteriPen has developed a ground-breaking new method for purifying water – utilizing UV light to kill harmful microorganisms. All of this is done with a small, handheld device called the SteriPen. One of their best selling models, the SteriPen Adventurer Opti, is an award winning water purifier that every backpacker should take with them. Let’s look at some of the features below.


The SteriPen Adventurer Opti is the lightest SteriPen on the market, weighing in at only 3.6 ounces with batteries. Compare that to the weight of a small backpacking water filter, and you will see why this water purification system was named a Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice award winner in 2011. The SteriPen Adventurer Opti utilizes a UV light bulb to kill all microorganisms that could be in the stream, river, or lake that you are pulling your water from. For half of a Liter, it takes 45 seconds, and a full Liter takes only 90 seconds.

The UV light emitted from the SteriPen Adventurer Opti kills:

  • giardia
  • cryptosporidium
  • bacteria
  • viruses

It is important to remember that this is NOT a water filter. Use a coffee filter or bandanna to remove sediment from the water before zapping the microorganisms with the UV light.

The Adventurer Opti can be coupled with an optional solar charging panel, which can fully charge the provided rechargeable CR123 batteries in 4-6 hours. These rechargeable batteries are capable of purifying 40-50 treatments before needing to be recharged.

Other SteriPen Adventurer Opti highlights:

  • 3.6 ounces of total weight (including batteries)
  • 6.1 inches of maximum dimension
  • 100 treatments from disposable CR123 Lithium Batteries
  • Up to 8,000 treatments from UV bulb
  • optical sensor doubles as a flashlight (3 minute bursts)
  • fits most wide mouth water bottles

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

It is easy to see why the SteriPen Adventurer Opti was chosen by Backpacker Magazine as an Editors’ Choice award winner in 2011. This water purifier is simply one of the best options on the market today. There are tons of accessories for the Adventurer Opti available as well, like the solar charging panel, 12V car charger, and the SteriPen pre filter. I also noticed that the taste of the water was phenomenal when purified with the SteriPen. Sometimes water filters remove everything from the water, leaving it with the taste of bottled water. The SteriPen just zaps the water with UV light for 90 seconds, and doesn’t remove anything. It allows you to enjoy the sometimes wonderful taste of nature. If you are an avid outdoorsman, this is the water purifier for you. Click the link below to buy this award winning ultralight backpacking water purifier now.

[amazon_link id=”B0044DDQEG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPen Adventurer Opti Water Purifier[/amazon_link]