Enjoy the great outdoors? There’s nothing quite like getting out into nature and sleeping under the stars. Whether you’re a backpacker or a car camper, seasonal camping can be a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience – with the right gear, that is! In this guide, we’ll help you explore an important part of your camping gear: a drinking water filter. Find the best camping water filter for your needs in the guide below.
Why use a water filter for camping? There are many reasons, from safety to the taste of the water. The reality is that when you’re camping, you don’t really know the quality of the water source you have access to – even if you’re just in a local campground. Below, find camping water filter reviews and recommendations for specific products.
Quick Picks for the Best Camping Water Filter 2019
There are different types of water filters for camping, and various products make more sense for different types of camping. To help clarify, we’ve narrowed our recommendations down into categories: for backpacking, car camping/campgrounds, and versatile (useful for either style). Find full camping water filter reviews below.
Price Range: $$
The Survivor Filter PRO is the best camping water filter for folks who like to backpack or camp in the backcountry. For this style of camping, you don’t want a bulky filter to lug around, so these smaller pump-style units are a great option. And really, the Survivor PRO is a perfect option for backcountry campers.
This filter is rated to remove 99.9999% of viruses, bacteria and staph, as well as 99.999% of parasites and protozoa. Plus, it can significantly reduce lead, mercury and more – all while improving the taste of your water. And these aren’t just empty claims – this filter has been lab tested by multiple independent laboratories. The manufacturer is even willing to show test results to interested customers!
Pump-style filters like this are fairly easy to use, although they do take more work than gravity filters. This one in particular is small enough to backpack with, but efficient enough to use for groups and/or cooking. It can filter at up to 17oz per minute, so within 5 minutes you could have enough clean water for cooking or drinking water.
Lastly, the manufacturer really stands behind this product. It comes with a satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime warranty. If you are ever unsatisfied with the product, you can send it back for a full refund!
Price Range: $$$
The Go Berkey is a portable gravity water filter from Berkey, one of the leading companies in the water filter industry. Berkey water filters are widely considered to be some of the most effective filters for home use, and this particular model is designed to be used on-the-go. It’s compact and stylish, and weighs just 3 pounds.
To be clear, this isn’t an ideal filter for backpacking. It’s still relatively large at 14″ high. But it’s great for camping trips at campgrounds, because you can set it up on the picnic table and leave it there for a continuous supply of clean drinking water. The kit also includes a pump feature, so you can pump water out of nearby streams. However, the filter itself works by using gravity – so you don’t have to pump to push water through the filter.
This unit comes as a complete kit. You get the Go Berkey unit, filters, a carrying case, a water bottle, and a pump. The filters are the same long-lasting, highly effective filters used in the full-size Berkey filters.
Key Features: Great for both backcountry and campground camping; easy to use; very fast; high capacity; great for cooking & drinking water
Price Range: $$
The Platypus GravityWorks 4L is the best camping water filter for folks looking for a versatile option. This unit works great for backcountry camping because it’s lightweight, but it’s also great for campground use because of its high capacity and ease of use. If you want a one-size-fits-all solution, this might just be it!
This is a gravity filter, which means there’s no pumping required. Just fill up one bag, hang it up in a tree, and let the filter do its work. This unit is also quite quick, filtering a full gallon in just 2-3 minutes. That makes it great for cooking and supplying drinking water to larger groups.
And most importantly, this filter is effective. It can filter out dangerous contaminants including 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa. The Platypus holds EPA certification for many contaminants, so you can trust that it’s effective at removing harmful parasites and bacteria.
For more options, check out our guide to portable water filters.
Going camping? Here are some water safety tips for The Great Outdoors!
Consider the Source – where are you getting your water from, and is it safe to drink? This will really depend on where you are camping, and where you are in the world.
- Is campground water safe to drink in your area? It could be, but be sure to check with the campground manager and look for any signs posted
- Is it safe to drink water from a stream or river? NO, unless it is filtered and purified with a good filtration setup. Even though backcountry water sources like streams may look crystal clear, they can be contaminated with all sorts of bacteria, parasites and other nasties. Do NOT drink unfiltered stream, lake or river water.
- Is it possible to simply bring water from home? If you’re car camping for just a night or two, you could fairly easily pack a couple big jugs of water, if need be.
Cook Safe – It’s important to filter your drinking water to ensure it’s safe – but it’s also very important to treat or filter the water you use for cooking. Even if you’re boiling water, it’s still best to use filtered water for safety. Every step of the cooking process should use filtered water, from rinsing off veggies to cooking noodles.
Clean Safe – Once you’ve eaten a meal, it’s time for everyone’s favorite: cleaning the dishes! Make sure to use safe-to-drink water for doing the dishes – otherwise you may be contaminating dishes you’ll later eat directly off of!
Want more info? The Center for Disease Control maintains a great resource guide for camping water safety.
Water is the most essential contributor to human health. It’s a big statement, but it’s true. You can go weeks without food, but without water, you could perish in as little as a few days. We need reliable access to clean drinking water in order to stay hydrated and healthy, and camping is no different. Here’s why it’s important to filter your water while camping:
Safety – Water can carry all sorts of contaminants, parasites, viruses and other nasty things that you do not want in your system. Drinking contaminated water can lead to all sorts of health problems, but the most common is diarrhea. If you’re camping at a campsite, diarrhea is unpleasant but not particularly dangerous. In the backcountry, that all changes as diarrhea can cause dehydration, among other issues. One report showed that diarrhea from contaminated drinking water lead to around 45% of the emergency wilderness evacuations reported by backcountry hikers. Although it’s most important for backpacking, water filtration is still important for campgrounds. Campgrounds don’t always have the cleanest water – for instance, in 2016 strains of extremely dangerous E. Coli bacteria were found in a California campground’s drinking water supply.
Pack Weight – If you’re a backpacker, you’ll want to limit the amount of weight you’re carrying. Considering that a single gallon of water weighs more than 8 pounds, you really don’t want to have to carry drinking water for your whole camping trip! A good backcountry camping water filter allows you to source from stream and river water without worrying about infection.
Taste – Quite frankly, some campground water just doesn’t taste good. Campgrounds don’t necessarily have the best water delivery systems in place, even if they are connected to municipal water supplies. And if you’re camping in the backcountry, at times you may have to drink water that looks quite dirty – and you’ll definitely want a filter for both safety and taste.
With so many different options out there, how did we choose the best camping water filter? Here are the factors we focused on:
Filtration Technology – The actual technology and design of the filter is obviously quite important. We considered several different styles, based on the type of camping, to pick the best options. We stuck to units that utilize effective, proven filter tech to produce reliably clean and safe drinking water.
Size & Weight – For some options, we considered the size and weight of each unit. This is because many campers (and particularly backpackers) like to pack light. For car-campers, it’s not as big of a deal – but it’s still nice to have a reasonably sized filter.
Value & Quality – We don’t recommend cheaping out on camping gear, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a small fortune. We focused on products that provide a great middle ground, and which offer excellent quality at a reasonable price.
Durability – The best camping water filter should last you for many camping seasons to come. We focused on units with a proven track record of durability and consistency.