The most beautiful camping experiences are often in the most remote places — and that means you may not have access to a supply of safe drinking water. This is where the best camping water filters come in. They allow you to create potable water without having to boil it first or add iodine tablets, which can alter the taste.
How To Pick Out A Water Filter
When shopping for filters, the first thing to know is that there's a difference between regular water filters and water purifiers. A water filter gets rid of bacteria and protozoa but not viruses. A full-on purifier, on the other hand, treats all three. In North America, viruses don't pose a major threat when camping; however, if you're traveling in developing countries, a water purifier is the best bet. Keep in mind that neither will desalinate the water, so if you're camping at the beach, you'll still need to bring your own water. In the list below, I've included a mix of both filters and purifiers.
Once you've decided between a filter and a purifier, think about the design you want. Traditional filters and purifiers use pumps, but there are also types you can push down, hang from trees, or simply fill and go. Some even operate like a straw that you can put directly into a lake or river.Just keep their capacity in mind. If you're only filling for yourself and you're close to a water source, 15 to 32 ounces (roughly the size of a standard water bottle) is sufficient.If you havemultiple people or your camp is far from the water source, on the other hand, you'll need a system with a larger reservoir (typically, a gravity filter would be best).
How To Clean Camping Water Filters
Most water filters have cartridges or filter components that need replacing. Check the life of the filter (usually rated in liters or gallons) to determine how frequently it needs to be changed. There are also several ways you can extend the life of your filter. Each brand has different guidelines, so it's important to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully. In addition to their care guidelines, Backpacker magazine suggests these best practices:
Look for clean, mud-free water when using your filter. This reduces the strain on the cartridge and helps extend its life.
After gathering the most mud-free water you can find, let it sit overnight so whatever solids remain can settle to the bottom. This keeps the biggest chunks out.
After each trip, rinse the filter with diluted chlorine (roughly one capful of bleach per one quart of water). Check the manufacturer instructions to confirm it's OK for your particular model.
Periodically use a toothbrush to gently clean the filter (check the manufacturer guidelines for this one, too).
Additionally, some filters can be backwashed by pumping clean water back the other direction. Check your user guide for device-specific guidelines.
Based on all of this, I've made a list below of the best water filters for camping in each category. Take a look to find the one that fits your adventures best.