Finding the balance between clean water while traveling and maintaining a sustainable ecological footprint can be challenging. Travel water filters offer a great alternative to purchasing bottled water for those on the go. During our travels, we’ve been in our fair share of places where finding clean water was a challenge. And during travel in countries without drinkable water, travel water purifiers have been indispensable. Travel water purifiers are small, easy-t0-use, and offer an even healthier alternative to bottled water, even when taken from the nastiest sources of water. The number one rule when traveling to foreign countries is “don’t drink the water.” A travel water purifier can change that.
Travel water filters kill bacteria, cysts, viruses, and strain out pollution. And having access to clean water on-demand, even in the most remote destinations, is a blessing. And you can add to all that the knowledge that you aren’t contributing to the horrifying levels of plastic pollution that are filling beaches, oceans, and streams.
Picking The Best Travel Water Filter
Travel water filters come in a few forms. There are water purifier bottles that combine both a water bottle with a filter, and there are water filter straws that can be used independently without a water bottle. Between those two types of travel water filters, there are a lot of options. Good portable water purifiers not only filter water to be safe and drinkable but also leave the water with a clean, refreshing taste.
A great portable water filter offers the convenience of portability along with safety and sustainability. Water filters for travel need to be light, tough, and most-of-all, reliable. And for most travelers, a water filter for travel shouldn’t break the bank either. These units don’t last forever, so they need to be affordable enough that you can continue using them in all of your adventures.
Luckily there are only a few great travel water filters that meet all these needs. Here are the top five travel water filters worth buying.
The Best Portable Water Purifiers For Travel
1. GRAYL Ultralight
The Ultralight travel water purifier from GRAYL is a straightforward, convenient, and feature-packed filtered water bottle. The integrated water bottle and filter makes the Grayl Ultralight travel water filter convenient for nearly every type of travel and outdoor experience.
To use the GRAYL water filter you simply fill the bottle, press the inner filter down and then drink the clean water directly. It’s fast, easy, and doesn’t involve waiting minutes or sucking from a narrow filter straw. The portable water purifier cleans out 99.99% of water-borne bacteria and viruses. The unit works very much like a french coffee press. The whole process only takes about 30 seconds before you can drink freely from the bottle.
There are limitations to the GRAYL Ultralight. The first is the capacity. The filter takes up quite a bit of room in the bottle. Because of this, each fill-up can only hold about 16oz (>500 ml) of water. This means that you may have to fill up often, especially when it’s hot. It also means that if you’re in dry areas, you can’t carry a lot of water with you. However, if you are traveling where you have easy access to water, the speed and convenience of the GRAYL Ultralight make it a great option. If you need a bottle that can handle more volume, consider the GRAYL Geopress.
Another limitation of this unit is the cost of filter GRAYL Ultralight filter refills. Each filter is good for about 150 liters (30.6 gallons). But overall the GRAYL Ultralight is a solid, convenient, and all-around great choice.
2. SurviMate Filtered Water Bottle
The SurviMate filtered water bottle is built to take on any situation. This travel water filter can handle anything from urban travel to the Ganges with its range of four unique filters that help you adapt to any travel circumstance. The SurviMate replaceable filters last an impressive 8 months. This means that you don’t have to have filter angst. You can just enjoy some fresh, clean water wherever you are.
The features of the Survimate travel water bottle filter include a UF membrane filter, coconut shell activated carbon filter, antibacterial beads, and a medical-grade PP cotton filter. This combination gives this travel water filter the most comprehensive portable water filtration system on the list. The filter eliminates heavy metals, harmful chemicals, viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. And the replacement filters won’t break the bank either.
3. LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottles
LifesStraw is one of the most prominent names in portable water filtration. They’ve adapted their unique water filter straw design into various formats. Many of these are focused on the travel water filter market. I’ve tested several Lifestraw models out and found that the LifeStraw Go seems to offer the best combination of functionality and convenience for travel lovers.
Lifestraw Go is a 23-ounce water bottle with an integrated LifeStraw filter. The bottle can be used with or without the filter. This means that you don’t need a separate bottle for when you’re in an area with good, clean drinking water. You can also remove the straw itself and use it to drink water directly from a water source without using the bottle at all. This is perfect for those looking to cut down weight and bulk in their packs. The filter itself uses activated carbon to filter out 99.9% of bacteria and organisms while also lowering the amount of chlorine, odor, and aftertaste.
One thing I love about the LifeStraw Go portable water filter is its lifespan. One filter is good for about 4,000 liters (1,056 gallons) or 3 months. However, because the filter is two-stage, the LifeStraw carbon stage filter that removes chlorine and odor particles is only good for about 100 liters.
4. Seychelle Extreme Water Filter Bottle
Although there a lot of great filtered water bottles for travel out there, what I like most about the Seychelle Extreme water filter bottle is it’s focus on more than just biological contaminants. The Seychelle Extreme also filters out radiological contaminants. The Seychelle Extreme also targets agricultural runoff and industrial chemicals. This means that it’s safe even after major disasters. This water filter bottle also filters out the standard bacteria, parasites, and water-borne viruses as well.
The Seychelle Extreme filtered water bottle can handle extreme environments. Its soft-squeezable plastic design makes it comfortable to use. Yet it remains durable, even under the harshest uses. It also comes with a handy neoprene insulated sleeve that allows the water bottle to be easily hooked onto a belt or backpack.
5. Brita 20 Ounce Sport Water Bottle with Filter
From the makers of your favorite fridge water filter comes the clean, convenient, and stylish Brita Sport water bottle. Brita has been making filters for decades, and they’ve found a new market in travel water bottles. These sport water bottles with filter are lightweight and easy to carry. The unit uses an activated carbon that not only removes pollutants and bacteria but also removes unwanted taste and odor.
The Brita filter is tiny. This means that it doesn’t take up a lot of the water space within the filtered water bottle. And it works very well. The flip-open straw is easy to drink from. And it offers great flow. One portable Brita filter cleans as much water as about 300 disposable water bottles.
Honorable Mention: Best Travel Water Purifier For Urban Travelers
The Steripen Ultra uses a UV lamp to kill and disinfect drinking water. Unlike filtered water bottles and straws, you simply dip the lamp into a water bottle or cup, shake or stir for a couple of minutes, and drink. This unique travel water purifier runs on a battery charged via USB. But because of the UV format of this unique water purifier, there are limitations to its abilities.
Due to the UV lamp, the Steripen Ultra is not a travel water filter. Instead, it acts only to purify the water that the lamp is dipped into. Because of the lack of filter particulate matter like dirt can remain. The UV lamp of the Steripen Ultra kills nearly all bacteria and viruses within the water. Because of this, the purified water is unlikely to cause any illness. However, it may leave the water cloudy and/or dirty to look at.
The other limitation of the Steripen Ultra is that it relies on battery power. This means that, should you be on an extended remote trip with limited or no access to power, you could be left high and dry. Some of the cheaper versions of the Steripen use disposable batteries, however, this means you have to remember to carry batteries with you when you travel.
If you are traveling in areas where water is fairly free of sediment, the Steripen Ultra is a nice, easy travel water filter to carry with you. It also doesn’t have a limit to the quantity of water it can purify beyond the battery life.
Honorable Mention: Best Travel Water Filter For Backcountry Camping And Hiking
Survivor Filter Pro
If you’re looking at spending some time on long hiking or camping excursions, having a camping water filter that can be a workhorse without being heavy or bulky is a blessing. This is where the Survivor Filter Pro comes into play. This small and lightweight (just 8oz or 266 grams) has a three-stage filter that can handle more use than any other water filter on this list. The carbon filter can filter 2,000 liters (440 gallons). The other two filters in the chain can handle a whopping 100,000 liters (22,000 gallons).
The Survivor Filter Pro isn’t super fast. It takes about two minutes to filter 1 liter (34 oz) of water. However, because the Survivor Filter Pro is meant as a portable water filter for those doing longer excursions, it’s ideal for that environment. The unit is priced well and the hand pump makes it very easy-to-use. The biggest limitation of this portable water filter is the tube input. This can get clogged when filtering water from especially dirty sources and can be awkward to use from a tap.
Honorable Mention: Best Filtered Water Bottle For Kids
Kiddo By Epic Water Filters
If you’re like us and travel with kids almost everywhere you go, you may want to consider the Kiddo. This model may not be as robust as GRAYL or LifeStraw models, so I wouldn’t want to use these in very remote regions. However, if you are looking for a convenient and fun filtered water bottle for kids in an urban setting, the Kiddo is a great option.
The Kiddo has a fun design and a wide-flow straw that makes it very easy for children. The Kiddo uses standard Epic Water Bottle filters too, so it’s easy to stock up and keep them handy.
Important Facts About Purchasing The Best Filtered Water Bottle
How Water Filters Work
Portable filtration systems are designed to clean water on the go. Whether this is by filtering directly as you drink or filtering small amounts of water at a time for you to easily drink afterward. Water filtration systems use a series of filtration and sterilization techniques to accomplish this. These setups can change from one manufacturer to the other, so don’t assume that all portable water filters are the same. Here are some the basics about what makes up a travel water filter.
Active Carbon Filter
Active carbon filters are one of the most common and effective methods of removing impurities from water sources. Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal has a limited amount of life. Because of this, activated carbon filters generally need to be changed more frequently than other filter types. Occasionally you may notice black fleck floating around in filtered water. This is actually flecks of carbon and they are completely harmless.
Activated charcoal has been processed to become incredibly porous. These tiny pores act to filter particulate impurities from water sources, allowing clean, pure water to course through.
Ultra Violet Light
UV light filters are relatively few and far between for portable water filtration systems. This is usually because it takes time to purify water using Ultra Violet light and because the system relies on a power source. UV light actively kills bacteria, protozoa, and viruses via germicidal radiation that is harmless to humans.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Travel Water Filtration Systems
If you’re interested in purchasing a water filter for travel, there are both advantages and disadvantages to using them. I’d love to say that everything is rosy and you’re life will instantly be perfect after choosing a travel water purifier. But there are some things you’ll need to get used to when using one.
Advantages of a Travel Water Filter
- Environment – This is by far the most important reason for choosing a water bottle filter for travel. By using one you are potentially eliminating thousands of plastic water bottles that will otherwise end up wasting energy in recycling facilities, or worse, ending up in landfills, or in the oceans.
- Value – The other advantage of not having to buy disposable water bottles if money. Replacement filters are far more affordable than disposable water bottles. investing your money in a water filter for travel means investing money in those trying to save the world rather than those causing the problems.
- Practicality -Having a portable water filter on hand means that you have access to clean water anywhere you go. If there isn’t a store nearby, just look for the nearest puddle, stream, or lake. No more stocking up on bottles; Just filter the water and drink.
- Convenience – If you are in remote areas, a water filter saves the time it takes to boil water. Getting clean water doesn’t mean starting a fire, getting water, waiting for it to boil, and then to cool down enough for you to actually consume it. Water filters also eliminate the need for disinfection tablets.
Disadvantages of a Filtered Water Bottle
- Weight – Even the best-filtered water bottle is heavier than it’s a non-filter alternative. I think the benefits far outweigh the weight issue, especially when you consider the amount of gear you need to carry to boil water.
- Speed – Many travel water filters take time to drink from. It’s not as fast as just pouring water from a tap and shooting it down the hatch. LifeStraw products, for example, require a bit of work to suck through.
- Size – A filtered water bottle is generally designed to filter water in small amounts at a time. Because of this, it’s rare for one to hold more than about 24 oz of water.
Which Travel Water Filter Would I Buy?
When all is said and done, my personal choice for the best travel water filter is the GRAYL Ultralight. I rarely travel in destinations where I’m more than a short distance from a water source, as such the small capacity of the GRAYL model is outweighed by its portability and durability. I’m not a big fan of sediment in my water, so I like that this filtered water bottle cleans out particulates.
The integrated bottle and filter also make carrying and using it a cinch. And the push filter method is far more practical for my uses than having to take hard sucks from a straw-based water filter.
Do you carry a travel water filter with you? Let me know your favorite model in the comments below, and tell me why you love it. You can also swing by our Facebook page and share a photo of your travels. We would love to hear from you.