Having access to safe drinking water is something we often take for granted. But while travelling, it’s not always safe to drink from the tap. For years, travellers would either have to buy bottled water or carry iodine to treat tap water – but not anymore!
Water Bottles with Filters
Thanks to improvements in filtration and purification technology, you can now have your own filtered water bottle for travel. Filtering your own water allows you to save money on bottled water. It reduces your environmental impact by limiting your plastic usage and it’s much quicker than waiting for iodine to take effect!
Whether you’re sourcing drinking water from a stream or a hostel tap, we’ve listed the best filtered water bottles for you.
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Best Filtered Water Bottles: Quick Answers!
- Best Overall Filter Water Bottle – Grayl Geopress
- Best Budget Filter Water Bottle – Water-to-Go Bottle (Use Coupon “backpacker” for 15% off)
- Best Filter Water Bottle for Hiking – Katadyn BeFree
- Longest Lasting Filter Water Bottle – Lifesaver Bottle
- Best Purifying Water Filter Bottle – Grayl Geopress
- Best Non-Purifying Filter Water Bottle – LifeStraw GO
- Best Lightweight Purifying Bottle — DrinkSafe Travel Tap
What’s the difference between a filter and a purifier?
Before we dive into the best filtered water bottles, it’s worth knowing the difference between a filter and a purifier.
At the most basic level, a water purifier offers more protection than a water filter. Filters remove bacteria, protozoa (a large single-celled organism) and particles from your water. Purifiers go one step further by removing viruses as well.
For more detailed information about filters and purifiers, jump to the ‘What Should You Look For When Choosing a Travel Water Bottle’ section of this article.
The Best Water Purifiers for Travel
- Best for: Drinking from taps or any water source close to human populations.
- Removes: 99.9% of viruses, protozoa, heavy metals, minerals and organic or inorganic particles.
1. Grayl Geopress Water Purifier – Our Top Pick!
- Price Range – $$$$
- Best Feature – Fast purification process
- Feature To Improve – Overall size and weight of the bottle
- Read: Full review of the Grayl Geopress (opens in a new tab)
- Read: Grayl GeoPress vs UltraPress (opens in a new tab)
Grayl are market leaders in filtered water bottles. The Geopress can purify 710ml of water in less than 10 seconds. Its patented OnePress technology takes a little more effort than other filters but once you’ve got the technique down, it’s easy enough.
Simply fill the outer part of the bottle with dirty water before reattaching the inner and pressing down on the rubber pads. You’ll need to put quite a lot of force through the bottle so find a flat, stable surface to do this on. Water is forced up through the filter and stored in the clean inner section of the bottle — leaving you with safe drinking water whenever you need it.
The bottle itself is made from hard BPA free plastic. It’s durable enough to survive a 10-foot fall onto concrete, while full of water — so it’ll certainly handle the rigours of travel. It features rubber grips on the sides and bottom, as well as rubber pads on top. These pads protect your hands during the filtration process, which can get a little painful if you’re filtering a lot of water at a time.
The side grips help you keep hold of the bottle but can make it hard to slide the Geopress into a mesh side pocket, or any tight space in your backpack.
Each filter can purify 250-litres of water before it needs replacing. You don’t need to keep track though, over time the purification slows down. When you notice it’s taking about 25 seconds to filter the whole bottle, it’s time to replace the filter. This can be done easily and Grayl is currently working on a zero-waste recycling process. As well as producing little waste, Grayl is a member of 1% for the planet which helps fund thousands of environmental projects across the globe.
Grayl also produces the Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier which has a smaller capacity but the same great filtering ability.
One of our readers said: “I used the Grayl bottle throughout my travels in India and Nepal, and can say I never got sick. I drunk tap water… although I didn’t quite go as far as testing it in the Ganges haha! Would highly recommend checking it out!”
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2. RapidPure Intrepid Water Purifier Bottle
- Price Range – $$
- Best Feature – Fast flow rate
- Feature To Improve – Filter needs to be replaced often if used as a purifier
The Intrepid Water Purifier from RapidPure makes our list thanks to its purification speed and efficiency. You’ll get over a litre of clean water per minute with this bottle! It can hold just over 700ml at a time so you’re unlikely to reach the filter’s maximum capacity but it’s there if you need it.
Using UltraCeram technology, the RapidPure Intrepid removes 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. There’s also a layer of activated carbon which helps remove bad tastes and smells from your water.
Unlike most purifiers, this system doesn’t rely on layers of mesh to clean the water. Instead, the UltraCeram acts as a magnet, pulling the pathogens out of the water. This means it’s effective after being frozen which is a rare trait in water purifiers.
How you use the bottle will determine how frequently you’ll need to replace the filter. If you don’t require your water fully purified and are happy with just filtering out bacteria and protozoa, the filter will last almost 900-litres before it needs replacing. However, the purification properties only last for around 110-litres.
When the filter gets close to the end of its life, the flow rate will slow dramatically. This lets you know it’s time to replace it.
This bottle opens at both ends which makes it easier to clean. The downside is, the bottom is prone to leaking if it’s not properly secured. You need to pay attention and keep the bottom tightened throughout the day.
For hiking and camping away from large groups of people, this bottle is a great choice. The straw filter is easy to use and the firm plastic construction is hard-wearing. However, if you want a long-lasting purifier to take on your backpacking trip — and especially if you don’t want to carry extra filters — there are better options.
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3. Lifesaver Water Bottle 4000 Ultra Filtration
- Price Range – $$$$$$
- Best Feature – Longevity of filter
- Feature To Improve – Cost
There’s no beating around the bush on this one, the Lifesaver Water Ultrafiltration Water Bottle is an expensive bit of kit. But for the money you get longevity. The 4000UF model will purify 4000-litres of water before you’ll need to replace the filter. And the 6000UF model? 6000-litres!
The BPA free, hard plastic bottle is also built to last. Its rugged construction means it’ll handle almost anything you throw at it.
To use the bottle, tip it upside down and unscrew the bottom. This is where you add the dirty water. After reattaching the bottom, begin to pump. This forces the dirty water through the filter, which removes bacteria, viruses, cysts and parasites, making it safe to drink. The bottle can store 750ml of clean water.
Thankfully, there’s an indicator on the filter to let you know when it needs replacing. Trying to keep track of thousands of litres of water would be a bit of a headache!
As well as the purification filter, the Lifesaver features an activated carbon filter. This removes bad tastes and smells from your water. It should be replaced every 250-litres but that’s not a requirement for safe water — it only affects the taste and smell.
Lifesaver also produce a slightly smaller bottle called the Lifesaver Liberty. This bottle is also pump action but comes at a lower cost than the original.
4. DrinkSafe Travel Tap
- Price Range – $$
- Best Feature – Lightweight collapsible bottle
- Feature To Improve – Flow rate is slower than the competition
At just over 100g when dry, the DrinkSafe Travel Tap is the lightest purifier on our list. It comes with an 850ml collapsible bottle that can be rolled or folded almost flat when not in use. This makes it the perfect choice for minimalist travellers.
The filter can last up to 3000-litres, making the Travel Tap one of the most long-lasting purifiers available. It removes bacteria, viruses, protozoa and other pathogens. There’s also a second stage carbon filter in this set-up. It needs to be replaced every 400-800-litres and a spare is included.
When the main filter reaches the end of its life, the auto-shutdown feature kicks in. This slows the flow rate dramatically, letting you know it’s time to replace the filter.
The collapsible bottle makes it super easy to force water through the filter for a fast flow rate. The filter can also be removed and the bottle used as a standalone if required. This means, if you’re in an area with safe water, you can stop using the filter to extend its lifespan.
Also included in the setup is the insulated pouch. This protects your bottle from knocks and scrapes, as well as keeping your water cool. It will also help stop your water freezing if you’re in cold conditions.
5. Water-to-Go 75cl Bottle – Best Budget Choice!
- Price Range – $$
- Best Feature – Leak-proof Guarantee — your money back if it leaks
- Feature To Improve – No auto shutdown or indicator on the filter
The simply designed Water-to-Go bottle purifies water to the highest standard, removing protozoa, bacteria, viruses and heavy metals. The straw style filter requires a lot of sucking, and the flow rate is super slow, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind this bottle brings.
It can hold 750ml of water and the wide mouth makes topping up from any source an easy task.
The old model (pre-2020) had issues with leaking around the lid and mouthpiece. But as of 2020, the lid has been fully upgraded and Water-to-Go now offer a leak-proof guarantee with their bottles.
The filter on the Water-to-Go bottle has the shortest operating life of the bottles we’ve discussed so far. At just 200-litres, it needs to be replaced frequently. If you’re travelling for a couple of weeks, you’ll be fine but any longer and you should take spare filters. Thankfully, replacement filters are cheaper than the competition’s.
The downside of these filters is the lack of an auto-shutdown feature. They continue to let water through even when they’re not working at efficiency. When you notice the taste and smell of the water changing, it’s time to change the filter.
The old filter can be fully recycled at home by following the simple instructions that come with the bottle.
There’s also a 500ml version of the Water-to-Go bottle available.
One of our readers, Charlotte, had this to say; “I use a Water-to-Go bottle and it’s amazing! Have used it to drink tap water all over India, Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia so far. Saved me so much money and plastic. I even filled it from streams and waterfalls while hiking!”
Travel Water Bottles with Non-Purifying Filters – Top 4
- Best for: Drinking from water sources away from human populations. Backcountry hiking or trekking. Try to use fast-flowing water sources if possible.
- Removes: 99.9% of bacteria, protozoa, minerals and organic or inorganic particles. Some also remove heavy metals and bad odours when combined with carbon filters.
- Does not remove: Viruses, particles smaller than 0.2 microns.
1. LifeStraw Go
- Price Range – $$
- Best Feature – Fits very well into most mesh water bottle pockets
- Feature To Improve – The lid is not the most leak proof we’ve seen
As one of the most well-known water filter companies, LifeStraw have been market leaders for years. Huge portions of their profits are poured into community projects and since their inception, they have provided over 3 million children with clean, safe water.
The LifeStraw Go is their entry-level filtered water bottle but it’s not a purifier. The hollow fibre filter will remove protozoa, bacteria and particulates. Whilst the accompanying carbon filter removes heavy metals, bad tastes and odours. Remember though, the filters do not remove viruses.
The Lifestraw Go is built to last. With its hard, BPA free plastic construction, the bottle will comfortably handle extended backpacking trips. It’s available in 650ml and 1-litre models, each of which uses the straw filtration method.
The filter can be removed, enabling you to give the bottle a thorough clean. If you’re in an area with safe water, removing the filter allows you to use the Lifestraw Go as a standard water bottle, saving the filter’s efficiency for when you really need it.
The main filter lasts around 4000-litres before it needs replacing. The carbon filter, on the other hand, will need replacing every 100-litres. You can still use the bottle if you don’t have a replacement carbon filter as the main filter will still clean your water — it just won’t remove smells and tastes.
Lifestraw also produce the Flex, which includes a collapsible bottle, as well as the Lifestraw Universal which can be attached to any bottle. They also have the LifeStraw Go Stainless Steel which uses much less plastic in its construction.
South East Asia Backpacker community members rave about Lifestraw. Jamie who was travelling for 5 months across Southeast Asia had this to say; “It’s been brilliant and helps us use a LOT less plastic bottles.”
But Erika raised some concerns about the usability of the product…
“Mine and my boyfriend’s leak all the time! You have to keep them upright which is a pain in the butt if you’re flying etc. I got sick in Myanmar and it is unclear whether it was food or water from the bottle… A water bottle that leaks is such a no go when you’re constantly on the move in my opinion! But 100% for the sustainable options – SO much plastic littering this whole region, it is devastating.” – Erika
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2. Katadyn Be Free — Best For Hiking
- Price Range – $$
- Best Feature – Lightweight
- Feature To Improve – The soft bottle can take some getting used to
The Katadyn Be Free collapsible bottle folds down super small and weighs less than 70g, including the filter — astonishing for a 1-litre bottle! Being able to squash it down so much means you can fit it into even the fullest backpack.
Katadyn recommend replacing the EZ-Clean Membrane filter every 1000-litres. But this is only if you look after it. You need to clean the filter regularly for it to last this long. Thankfully, it’s an easy task. Simply shake or swish the filter through clean water to dislodge any particles — this frees up the pores and allows clean water to flow freely.
The squeezable bottle means you can filter large amounts of water quickly, with a flow rate of 2-litres per minute. Just force water through the filter by putting pressure on the bottle. You can then store clean water in another container, or drink it straight from the Be Free.
Thanks to its lightweight, collapsible design, the Katadyn BeFree is popular among hikers and campers.
Katadyn also produce a slightly smaller 600ml version of this bottle.
One of our readers had this to say; “4 months in SEA with Katadyn BeFree HydraPak and haven’t bought a single plastic bottle. The best thing is, if you don’t want to use it, it does not consume any space!”
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3. WaterWell Travel Water Bottle
- Price Range – $$
- Best Feature – Auto shutdown when the filter reaches the end of its life
- Feature To Improve – Flow rate is quite slow
The WaterWell Travel Bottle is a solid budget choice. With its sleek design, this rugged BPA-free plastic bottle will last multiple trips and the long life filters ensure you have access to clean water wherever you go.
Whilst this is not a purifier and therefore does not remove viruses, it will remove pesticides and herbicides better than most filtered bottles.
The bottle can hold 700ml of water and will filter this at a rate of 450ml per minute. It’s a little slower than many of the bottles we’ve discussed and this can be irritating if you’re super thirsty. But, it’s much better than drinking dirty water!
The straw filter needs to be cleaned regularly to ensure its ongoing efficiency. This is easy to do using the backwashing syringe that’s included. After around 1000-litres, the filter reaches the end of its life. Thankfully at this point, it slows down and eventually stops letting water through. This prevents you drinking contaminated water that you believe is clean.
The filter can be removed which allows you to properly clean the bottle. WaterWell also include a reusable straw that can be used in place of the filter if you’re in an area with clean, safe drinking water.
For those of you who want a bottle that packs down even smaller but still has the same great filter, check out the WaterWell Foldable Squeeze Travel Water Bottle.
A member of our South East Asia Backpacker Community group had this to say about the WaterWell Travel Water Bottle; “I have this one and it has been great – no sickness at all!”
4. ÖKO Original with Level 2 filter
- Price Range – $
- Best Feature – Stylish design
- Worst Feature – Short lifespan on the filter
ÖKO’s original bottle is made from hard-wearing BPA-free plastic. It’s easy to grip, holds up to a litre of water and has a classy stylish design.
Ensure you opt for the level 2 filter version of this bottle. The level 1 filter only affects the taste and smell of your water. It does not remove any pathogens or particles.
The level 2 filter needs replacing every 450-litres, which means carrying around extra filters if you’re on an extended trip. However, the filters are relatively cheap at less than $20USD each and they’re the smallest filters of any bottles we’ve seen.
It’s claimed that the level 2 filter removes viruses but with a pore size of 2 microns, this is unlikely to be effective.
As supporters of water.org, ÖKO is helping bring clean water to millions of people across the globe. By choosing this product, you will be directly helping those without access to safe drinking water.
The ÖKO original is also available in a 650ml version which is slightly cheaper.
How do you care for your filtered water bottle?
- Each bottle comes with different instructions on how to prepare and maintain the filter so that it operates at full efficiency. Take care to read these instructions carefully. You don’t want to waste a filter because it gets clogged or was not primed correctly.
- As a simple rule, most filters will need to be cleaned out regularly by either backwashing (forcing water at pressure back through the filter) or by running a few litres of clean water through them.
- Most filters only work when they’re wet, so you’ll need to prime them, as per the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Remember to carry spare filters (if necessary) if you are travelling for long periods, otherwise, your filter bottle becomes nothing more than an expensive waste of plastic.
- Do not filter saltwater, juice, or any other kind of drink unless your filter is specifically designed to do so. Normal filters cannot handle this. They will get clogged up and stop working quickly.
What Should You Look For When Choosing a Filter Water Bottle For Travel?
When it comes to choosing the best filtered water bottle, there are a few key things to bear in mind.
The 3 Different Qualities of Filtered Bottles
The type of bottle you need will depend on how and where you’ll be using it. Does it need to remove viruses? Or will you get by just removing bacteria, particles and protozoa from your water?
The answer to this question will dictate the quality of the filtered water bottle that you require.
Low Quality ‘Water Softener’ – Designed to improve taste only
Some filtered water bottles are designed simply to just soften the water by removing harmless minerals. This affects the taste of your water but won’t remove any nasties.
The Camelbak Groove or Bobble Classic are examples of this kind of filter. They’re honestly no good for travel — especially if you’re worried about the quality of the water. Bacteria and viruses slip straight through a water softener.
Medium Quality ‘Water Filter’ – Designed to remove particles and some bacteria (not viruses)
Better quality filters such as the LifeStraw GO will remove minerals, particles, protozoa and even bacteria.
If you want a filtered water bottle that’s suitable for wilderness trekking, this is the one for you. As long as you’re away from large groups of humans or animals, a filter that removes bacteria, parasites and protozoa is perfect. This makes water filters ideal for long hiking or camping trips, especially if you’ll be drinking from rivers or lakes.
High Quality ‘Water Purifier’ – Designed to remove particles, bacteria AND viruses
Finally, the most effective type of filter is the water purifier. If you are going to be drinking from sources close to human populations, be it rivers, lakes or even from the tap, (we got really sick in Goa, India from brushing our teeth with contaminated tap water!) then you’ll need a top-quality purifier.
The human body is an amazing breeding ground for viruses and we spread these everywhere we go. Somewhat surprisingly, hotel water tanks can be some of the most infested places!
Viruses are much smaller than bacteria or protozoa so slip through all but the finest filters! Bottles such as the Grayl Geopress will remove bacteria, parasites, protozoa and particulates, PLUS any viruses within the water.
IMPORTANT – Look for water bottle filters that have a pore size smaller than 0.1 microns for the best protection.
Some water filter bottles are made of softer, more flexible plastics which are really light and can be rolled up small. Although they save weight and space they may not be as durable over the long term as more rugged alternatives.
Metal bottles are also increasing in popularity but these are not as common as their plastic counterparts due to their weight and price.
Be aware not all plastic bottles available are BPA-free. Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical used in the production of plastics. Although safe in small amounts, larger quantities of BPA’s can mess with hormones and are linked to heart disease, fertility problems and impotence.
Different types of filter
- The straw filter
The most common type of filter is the straw filter. Water bottles that include a straw filter are usually made of hard plastic and have a mouthpiece. By sucking on the mouthpiece, you draw water through the straw filter. By the time it reaches your mouth, it will be clean and safe.
Many of these straws are removable. So if you are somewhere with safe drinking water you can take out the filter and just use the bottle. This preserves the life of the filter.
The main disadvantage with these bottles is the effort required to suck water through the filter. It sucks when you’re really thirsty — excuse the pun…
Yeah, it’s a laborious process, but it’s much better than the alternative: the dreaded traveller’s diarrhoea!
- The gravity filter
Gravity filters usually involve filling a reservoir with water and leaving it to drip through the filter of its own accord. Whilst they work more slowly, they allow you to filter large amounts of water with very little effort.
They’re great for groups, or if you need to filter large amounts of water at a time.
- The squeeze filter
Squeeze filters are very similar to gravity filters but rather than letting physics do the hard work, you need to squeeze the water through them. Some filters come with their own water bladders or collapsible bottles. Others can be screwed onto a normal plastic bottle.
- The pump filter
Pump filters require different amounts of effort depending on the product but are generally easier than straw filters. They require you to force water through the filter using the attached pump.
4 Reasons a Filtered Water Bottle is a Good Idea!
1. You’ll never go thirsty!
One of the best things you can do for your body when you travel is to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will stave off headaches and keep you feeling healthy, not to mention most of us travel in hot countries!
2. You can avoid dangerous illnesses
While it’s common for locals to drink tap water in most countries, travellers are not advised to do so. Our immune systems are not used to the type and amount of bacteria present in some water systems. Although unlikely to cause long term damage, these microbes can give backpackers a good dose of traveller’s tummy.
Of course, there are some countries where water is just not safe. Even locals won’t drink it if they have an option.
Typhoid, Salmonella and Gastroenteritis are just a few examples of illnesses easily contracted from contaminated water. Having a purifying water bottle on hand will mean that you can avoid such illnesses wherever possible.
3. You are being a responsible traveller, mindful of plastic waste.
We have all seen the terrible images of plastic bottles littering the ocean and beaches. By filtering your own water you are avoiding the plague that is single-use plastic and helping to set a good example to others as you travel the world.
4. You will save money you would have otherwise spent on bottled water.
Although you’re likely to find bottled water wherever you go, relying on plastic bottles not only damages the environment but it makes a big hole in your daily budget! Having your own purifier means you can cut one daily expense and see your money go further.
On my last trip to South America, I spent over $500USD on water. A good water purifier would’ve set me back less than 20% of that!!
Alternatives to filter bottles
In recent years, products such as the Steripen or Larq Self Cleaning bottle have bounded onto the market. Using UV light, these products can kill viruses and all but the hardiest bacteria swimming around in your drinking water.
The downside is that they don’t remove sediment, colouration or bad odours from the water. Although they prevent you from getting ill, your hydration experience may not be a tasty one depending on your water source.
You also need to remember to keep the batteries on these devices charged so you don’t get caught out. These products can be combined with simple carbon filters to change the taste and smell of the water.
Chemical treatments such as water purification tablets containing chlorine dioxide are some of the most effective treatments on the market.
Like the Steripen, they will kill off all but the hardiest of microorganisms but won’t be able to remove heavy metals or particulates from the water.
They also take much longer to make the water safe, 15 minutes is the minimum recommended time but this can stretch to 4 hours depending on the quality of the water.
It’s a good idea to carry a packet of these as a backup when travelling as they weigh very little. They can be packed away with your toiletries and will save you if you’re in a pinch!
Do you travel with a filtered water bottle? Let us know which is your favourite in the comments below!
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