The Best Water Filters

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Letting your stomach "test" the tap water in a foreign country is often a quick one way ticket to Toilet Land, the dystopian alternative to Candy Land. It's not always because the local tap water is "bad" per se, but because it has bacteria that's different from where you're from and your stomach isn't used to it. To the locals it's fine, and if you stayed long enough you'd probably be fine too.

  • Never let your water filter freeze as that usually ruins its filtering ability.
  • Don't have access to a filter? Boil tap water for at least a few minutes first to ensure all bacteria are killed, use iodine tablets, or buy bottled water.
What we look for
  • A long lifespan aka filters a lot of water before you need to replace it
  • Removes harmful bacteria down to 0.1 microns at least
  • A fast enough flow rate so it's easy to drink from and fills bottles quickly
  • Small and packable so it's easy to travel with
  • Focuses on water from the tap instead of outdoor sources like rivers

Disagree? Know of another great option?

Sawyer Squeeze

Best standalone filter for travel

The Sawyer Squeeze stands tall above other water filters suited for travel. Let's compare it to the two other popular options: its smaller sibling the Sawyer Mini and the Lifestraw.

The Squeeze may be a bit heavier and heavier than the Mini (3 oz vs. 2 oz), but in exchange for that 1 oz you get a lot: 10x longer lifespan (1 million gallons vs. 100K gallons), a 3x faster flow rate, and less clogging. The faster flow rate is a big deal: it's the difference between sucking a thick milkshake vs. sucking water through a straw. Doing that dozens of times a day gets tiring.

Compared to the Lifestraw, the Squeeze's lifespan is comically longer: 14,388x. Yes, that's the right number (1 million gallons vs. 264 gallons). The Squeeze also filters out more gunk (0.1 microns vs. 0.2).

However, you do have to regularly backflush and clean the Squeeze, but it's not hard with the included syringe.

  • 3 oz (0.19 lbs)
  • Filters down to 0.1 microns
  • Lifespan: 1 million gallons if backflushed and kept clear regularly
Sawyer Squeeze

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier

Best integrated bottle filter

Having a filter integrated into a bottle can be more convenient on the go, and could mean the difference between actually using it and forgetting about it.

The GRAYL is the best integrated option because it can filter more organisms (viruses, bacteria, etc) compared to other popular integrated filters like the LifeStraw. They purposely omitted a straw so you don't have to worry about any mouthpiece harboring bacteria or a slow flow rate.

The only downside is that it's a bit more expensive, and you'll eventually have to replace the filter. You're paying for the convenience basically.

Note: GRAYL doesn't use a micron rating for its filter because it uses electroadhesion and ion exchange instead of a physical filter.

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier

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