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!

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New To Backpacking? Get Started For Under $300

Are you interested in backpacking, but not willing to commit a large amount of money upfront until you know you are going to like it? Are you on strict budget? If you answered yes to either of these questions, this article will hopefully help you to see that you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get into this great hobby. Below, I will go over some of my favorite low cost (but still high quality) gear to consider.

For the sake of this article, we will assume you have no backpacking gear. That means you will need to buy a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and other items to keep you going, less the consumables (food, fuel, etc). Let’s say you have a strict budget of $300 to get all the gear you need to go on a summer weekend (3 day, 2 night) backpacking trip that is more or less on a flat trail.

Here is a breakdown of the items, and below will be more details of the gear choices:

  • Backpack$115 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack[/amazon_link]
  • Tent$110 [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2XT 2 Person Backpacking Tent[/amazon_link]
  • Sleeping Bag$40 [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Scorpion 45 Degree Ultralight Sleeping Bag[/amazon_link]
  • Water Prep – $25 [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 Ounce Flip Top Water Filter Bottle[/amazon_link]
  • Food Prep$10 – [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Stainless Steel Mess Kit[/amazon_link]
  • Total Cost = $300

Backpack – $115

[amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Internal frame Backpack, Forest Night, Medium/Large[/amazon_link]For the backpack, the Kelty Coyote 80 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]can be picked up off of Amazon currently for $115[/amazon_link]. That is a great deal for a backpack that boasts 78 Liters (4750 cubic inches) of interior space. This is more than large enough for a 3 day excursion. It is more suited for a longer trip, but at that price point, it’s hard to pass this deal up. Additional features in this pack include:

Bag Features:

  • Top loading
  • 420-denier polyester Ball Shadow body fabric
  • 420-denier polyester Oxford reinforcement fabric
  • Hydration compatible
  • Reservoir sleeve
  • Front-panel access
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Mesh water bottle pockets
  • Side compression straps
  • Load stabilizer straps
  • Spindrift collar
  • Ice-axe loops
  • Daisy chain
  • Key fob
  • Zippered waist belt pockets
  • Lid converts into lumbar pack
  • Carry handle

Suspension Features:

  • CloudLock II adjustable suspension
  • LightBeam II dual aluminum stays
  • HDPE frame sheet
  • Removable HDPE reinforced dual density waist belt
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Ventilating back panel
  • Load-lifter/stabilizer straps
  • Sternum strap
  • Patented Scherer Cinch

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 4,750 cubic inches (78-liters)
  • Weight: 5 lb. 9 oz.
  • Measures 16 x 34 x 16.5 inches (W x H x D)

Highlights of the Kelty Coyote 80 backpack are the price point, the capacity, removable waist belt and lid (converts into hip pack), and construction. The pack is on the heavy side at 5 pounds 9 ounces empty, but as long as it isn’t over packed for a 3 day trip, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Tent – $110

[amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2 - Tent (sleeps 2)[/amazon_link]The tent of choice is the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent. This is a lightweight 2 person backpacking tent that is also a very palatable price right around a hundred bucks. We chose the Apex 2XT tent because of the price, as well as a few features, such as: the 2 door design with 2 vestibules totaling 27 additional square feet, solid construction, and light weight (6 pounds 5 ounces). Here are some additional features and specifications:

  • Seasons: 3
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Floor dimensions: 7′ 6″ by 4′ 11″
  • Center height: 3′ 10″
  • Minimum weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces
  • Frame: Freestanding, shock-corded fiberglass
  • Vestibule: 2, with 13.8 square feet of storage each
  • Storage pockets: 2 mesh
  • Clothes line loops: 4
  • Flashlight loop: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime

This is great tent, and for the price, you won’t be disappointed. [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Pick yours up today[/amazon_link].

Sleeping Bag – $40

[amazon_link id=”B006WPZBA6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports FeatherLite +20 F Degree Ultra Light Design, Ultra Compact Sleeping Bag (84 X 32 X 20, Red)[/amazon_link]Since this is a summer trip, we can get away with suggesting a summer sleeping bag. And that is completely fair, because if you are new to backpacking, you probably don’t want to get into a cold weather trip right off the bat because you might ruin your outlook on the hobby. Start with a mild, warm weather trip to see if you like it first, then as you get more experience and become more adventurous, expand. Back to the sleeping bag of choice – [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Featherlite 20 degree ultra light sleeping bag[/amazon_link].

The price is right at $40, and the weight is also a bonus coming in at 3.4 pounds. This sleeping bag is nice because is compresses well and takes up minimal room. It is a synthetic fill sleeping bag, so even if it gets wet, it should keep you warm down to 30 degrees or so. It also comes with a stuff sack. Pick up one of these affordable 3 season sleeping bags today!

Food and Water Prep – $35

For cooking your food, this [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]stainless steel mess kit[/amazon_link] is just right. It offers a frying pan, pot, two lids (plates) and a plastic 8 ounce cup. At just over $10, all you need to have is a bed of hot coals and you can cook food or heat water.

[amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28oz Flip Top Advanced Filter Water Purification / Filtration Bottle[/amazon_link]As for purifying your water, the [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 ounce flip top water filter bottle[/amazon_link] is a high quality option that is affordable ($25). It removes 99.99% of bacteria, virus, contaminants, and pollutants from water. It can filter up to 100 gallons of water, depending on the quality of the water (dirtier water = less filtering capacity). It weighs just 11 ounces and you can fill it up from any body of water along the trail.

The Bottom Line

If you are just getting into backpacking, and you are worried that you won’t like it, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money on gear. I can tell you that if you like nature, exercise, the outdoors, and camping in general, you are going to absolutely love backpacking. But keeping your start-up costs low just in case you don’t is a good idea. The nice thing about all of these items is that they could all be sold used to recoup most of your money if you decide you don’t like backpacking. Another nice thing about all of these items is that if you do like backpacking, they are high quality products that you will be able to enjoy for a long time.

Use this list to find the right gear for your needs. This is just a list of the most essential gear items. I didn’t include hiking boots because they require such a specialized fit and vary greatly in price. For a flat 3 day hiking trip, sturdy tennis shoes should be alright. Other items might include a good flashlight, first aid kit, survival kit, GPS, fitted hiking boots, multi-tool or pocket knife, and a sleeping pad. They will greatly increase your comfort and safety in the backcountry. As always, happy trails!

Do you agree with this list? What would be your $300 starting setup? Leave a comment below. Thanks!

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MSR Sweetwater Purifier System

[amazon_link id=”B000BBF2UG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR SweetWater Purifier System[/amazon_link]The MSR Sweetwater purifier system is one of the most complete water filtration systems on the market today. The Sweetwater purification system couples the ability to filter particulates from the water as well as bacteria and most common protozoa, such as crypto and giarda, with the ability to inactivate 99.99% of all viruses, all while leaving your water tasting great in the process. The MSR Sweetwater is an award winning water purification system (winner of a “best of the best” 2009 Editors’ Choice Award from Women’s Adventure Magazine for ease-of-use and offering “extra protection and peace of mind.”) that would make a great complement to your backpacking ensemble. Let’s delve into the features below.

Features

The MSR Sweetwater offers comprehensive protection from waterborne microorganisms and sediment by:

  • removing 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria
  • removing 99.9% of common waterborne protozoan parasites, such as crypto and giardia
  • inactivating 99.99% of waterborne viruses
  • filters particulates

Because the MSR Sweetwater utilizes an activated carbon (charcoal) core rather than iodine, the water is left tasting fresh and chemical free. Another highlight of the filter is that it folds up to a very compact package, which makes it easy to pack into the backcountry. But the MSR Sweetwater is more than just a traveler’s water filter. With an output of 1.25 Liters per minute and a 4:1 mechanical advantage dual-action pump, this filter can serve the needs of several backpackers at your base camp. The filter can easily be cleaned in the field as well.

Specs

  • Weighs 14 ounces
  • .2 micron filter pore size
  • 1.25 Liters per minute
  • 75 strokes (pumps) per Liter
  • Cartridge life of 750 Liters
  • Cartridge life indicator
  • Water bottle adapter
  • Meets the US EPA water purification standards

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

The MSR Sweetwater purifier system offers the complete package when it comes to water filtration. With the ability to basically remove all harmful microorganisms from your water, as well as the ability to filter out sediment, this water filtration system will handle all of your backcountry water needs. Click on the following link to buy yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B000BBF2UG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR Sweetwater Purifier System[/amazon_link]

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Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter System

[amazon_link id=”B00453R308″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Platypus GravityWorks Filter[/amazon_link]The Platypus Gravityworks water filter system is one of the best water filtration devices on the market today. It is lightweight, easy to use, and provides you with fast, clean water no matter where you might be. The design is a seamless construction of materials and innovation, coupled with a long lasting filter element to provide you with many fresh Liters of water. As one reviewer writes, “the Gravityworks filter rules because you don’t have to actively filter the water.” Let’s look at the features and highlights of this water filtration system below.

Features

The Platypus Gravityworks water filter uses gravity to filter dirty water. Basically what happens is that you fill up the dirty reservoir and hang it from a tree. You connect the hose system (with integrated filter) to the clean reservoir and hang the clean one lower on the tree. In less than 3 minutes, you will have 4 Liters of clean water without pumping. The filter is just as easily cleaned at home, as you just reverse the process to flush the filter of particulates.

The system can be used to transport and store up to 8 Liters of clean water (4 in each reservoir), which is a massive amount of water and very useful for larger groups or base camps. The containers can also be used as backup bladder systems in case you spring a leak in your hydration system.

The entire filter system rolls into a very compact travel system, and weighs only 10.75 ounces, which is much lighter than most pump filter systems on the market today. Here are some additional specifications: (click here for use and instructions – Platypus GravityWorks Instructions)

Specs

  • Weighs 10.75 ounces
  • Filters at a rate of 1.75 Liters per minute
  • .2 micron filter pore size
  • 1500 Liter cartridge life
  • Effective against bacteria, protozoan parasites, and particulates

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

The Platypus Gravityworks water filtration system is hands down the best water filter on the market today. It is very light and compact, so packing one in an ultralight setting is easily done. It produces clean and fresh water. And best of all, no pumping is required! You might think that a filter that uses gravity would take forever and a day. But the Gravityworks filter is as fast or faster than a lot of pump models out there at 1.75 Liters per minute. Add all of these things up and you have what we recommend as the best water filter out there. Click the following link to buy yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B00453R308″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Platypus GravityWorks Filter[/amazon_link]

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