The following are our top choices for camping and backpacking filters. Check practically any review source and you’ll find that the following water filters are the lightest, most efficient, and easiest to use designs available. Plus they’re all made in the USA! Interestingly, our Editor’s Choice filter also happens to be the least expensive.
I know how hard it is to find honest recommendations and to narrow down American made gear. This is why I started American Gear Guide. I take my recommendations seriously and only recommend the best of the best. Of course this is my subjective opinion but I’m confident it won’t disappoint. Here are a few reasons to trust me:
Sawyer’s newest Micro Squeeze Water Filter has caused me to retire my good old Sawyer Mini Filter for backpacking and any other adventure. It has certainly earned our Editor’s Choice Award. The Micro weighs just 2.5 oz, has a much better flow rate than the Sawyer Mini, is easy to use and to clean, is very affordable, has standard water bottle threads (like SmartWater bottles), and it’s rated to filter up to 100,000 gallons! It’s so light that I take it places I normally wouldn’t carry a filter, like mtn biking, fly-fishing, and trail running. It’s awesome to drink out of any stream you come across, without worrying about the animals upstream. Long ago I used to carry pump filters, then progressed to water-treatment drops, or tablets when going ultralight; now I usually carry the Micro Filter.
You’ll likely want to add a better squeezable and hangable water pouch like the 2L Evernew bag which can turn your Micro into a great gravity filter! Note, the original Squeeze is still excellent. If you already own the Squeeze then there’s little reason to “upgrade” and some will prefer the somewhat faster flow rate of the OG over the slightly smaller size and 1 oz weight difference of the Micro Squeeze.
Last observed price range: $29
The GravityWorks is our Editor’s Choice for group water filtering when backpacking or car camping. It can filter 4 liters in 2.5 minutes without a single pump stroke; just fill one of the 4 liter bags and hang it up for ultimate convenience. It’s also lightweight at 11.5 oz, and it’s easy to clean. The GravityWorks comes with either 2L or 4L water bags.
Last observed price range: $110
Another fantastic gravity filter with extremely similar characteristics to the Platypus GravityWorks (both MSR and Platypus are owned by Cascade Designs). Since both the Platypus and MSR function, cost, and weigh similarly, I feel the Platypus is a better deal as it includes two 2L or 4L bags compared to the Autoflow’s single 2L or 4L bag.
Last observed price range: ~ $100
The MSR Guardian’s claim to fame is it’s ability to physically remove viruses that other filters can’t. It pumps at a quick 2.5 liters per minute, removes sediments, and self cleans. It’s also incredibly durable, and is the only filter unit here that could be frozen, thawed, and reused. If you’re in areas with viral contaminants then the Guardian is worth its price. That said, if you spend your time in areas without viral threats then I recommend the far lighter and cheaper Sawyer Micro Squeeze.
Last observed price: ~ $350
*Note, I left out the MSR Trailshot water filter which is inferior in speed, convenience, and longevity compared to the top filters shown above.
I always carry some Katadyn Micropur tablets in my backpack. Sometimes I run across water (especially in the desert) that is so full of sediment and so disgusting to taste that a filter won’t cut it; I’ll need chemical water treatment. Micropur tablets are one of the safest and best tasting purification tablets available.
Last observed price: ~ $14
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