The Benefits of a Portable Water Purifier

Whether hiking in the backcountry or travelling abroad, having safe water on demand is essential. A portable water purifier can eliminate bacteria, protozoa (cysts) and viruses that can cause serious illness.


Many models require little or no effort, but some can be a bit more involved. For the best experience, look for models that can filter and treat water quickly with minimal steps.


The size of a portable water purifier will depend on how many people it will be catering for and the amount of clean drinking water it will be producing. Ideally, you need a system that is as compact and lightweight as possible, while still providing a good flow of clean water and being capable of filtering and purifying enough of your chosen water source to keep you (and any fellow campers or hikers you may be travelling with) hydrated.

The most compact and lightweight travel water filtration systems are filters that don’t hold any water but instead sit in a bottle of your choosing and filter your water as you drink it, such as the Steripen Adventurer or the Sawyer Mini. The latter is a little more expensive than the Steripen, but it does have an extra feature – it can remove viruses from your water too, which is something that not all filters are capable of doing.

Gravity filters tend to be a bit larger in size and are best used for group camping trips or at basecamp. They come with containers or bags of varying capacities, and some such as the MSR AutoFlow XL have adaptable designs that can fit most storage vessels, including hydration bladders.

Some filters, like the CrazyCap, sterilize your water with UV light and don’t require any physical work on your part. This is a great option for backpacking and international travel, as it can filter viruses as well as bacteria, protozoa and cysts.

Purification Method

A water purifier removes pathogens from your drinking water. They can also remove heavy metals, chemicals and other contaminants that make the water taste bad or cause health problems. In addition, water filtration will keep the valuable minerals in your drinking water.

Many people use a filter or a purifier when traveling abroad in less-developed countries where the water treatment system is questionable. People may also bring a water purifier in backcountry zones when they know the area has a high concentration of humans who do not practice good hygiene near public water sources like lakes.

Some portable water purifiers are designed to filter out organic contamination while others are able to kill viruses and bacteria that filters cannot catch. For example, a filter with a ceramic core and carbon granules is effective at removing organic contaminants from the water. It can also adsorb chlorine and chloramines. It will not, however, kill cryptosporidium spores or most other viruses.

Other types of portable water purifiers can include the Miox pen, which creates an oxidant solution and injects it into the water. This is effective in killing most viruses and bacteria in the water but not cryptosporidium spores, which take about four hours to die. Other chemical treatments such as iodine and chlorine can be used in combination with filtering to kill viruses.


A portable water purifier can help you stay hydrated while you’re on the move, but it will cost you some money. The price you pay will depend on how much water you want to be able to filter and how long you’re going to use it for. The more expensive models will also be able to filter more water than the cheaper ones, so it’s worth spending a little more to ensure that you’ll have enough water for your trip.

A good portable water purifier will be able to remove contaminants that make the water taste bad, smell bad, and even contain viruses. Some filters can even kill viruses that can cause hepatitis, rotavirus and other dangerous diseases.

Some portable water purifiers are easy to use and require no maintenance, while others may need regular cleaning and charging. For example, a pump filter requires manual pumping, which can be hard to do while on the go, while gravity and UV filters require that you sit down and wait for the device to work. The easiest units to maintain are those that can be backflushed and cleaned in the field, such as the MSR Guardian Purifier.

Other portable water purifiers like the Grayl Geopress or SteriPen Ultra require minimal effort to operate, and are ideal for backpacking adventures. The former is a bottle that you fill and then put the cartridge into, while the latter is a battery-powered wand that you can swish in your water.


A well-designed, portable water purifier can give you peace of mind when traveling abroad, hiking in the backcountry or treading into a contaminated stream. It can protect you from the yucky microorganisms that cause weeks of stomachaches and other infections.

There are a plethora of options on the market, including filter straws, water bottles and UV filters. Most are relatively easy to use but they do require a bit of manual labour, such as pumping or hanging them up for gravity to work. Also, they may need occasional maintenance or replacement.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a portable water purifier is how many microorganisms it can remove. Viruses are too small for most filters to catch, so make sure you choose a product that also fights them.

Some products rely on adsorptive technology, whereby the element has a chemical attraction to the contaminants in the water. This means that only clean water passes through to the user. However, it doesn’t take long for the element to lose its effectiveness. So, the user needs to either keep track of how many litres they are drinking or know when to replace it.

Other methods rely on chemicals to kill bacteria, protozoa and viruses. Chlorine, for example, is effective at disinfecting water. It’s also over three times as effective as iodine and six times as effective as bromine at killing Escherichia coli.