Should you get a Lifestraw or a Sawyer travel water filter? How about neither? Some popular water filters didn’t make our top 5 travel water filters and you might be wondering why, well we have our reasons! And surprisingly it’s not because we are meanies and hate on random products.
Travel water filters that do work
We absolutely love water filters for travelling! It means less plastic waste from buying plastic bottles and we can get clean water wherever we are, unless we somehow get ourselves stuck in a desert.
On this page I have used affiliate links. This means we make a little pocket money if you buy anything through the links we have given. Don’t worry, it won’t cost you a penny and we will never suggest buying pants products and have done comprehensive research to pull this together.
Popular travel filters we don’t think are worth your money
Filter type: Gravity / squeeze filter
Why isn’t the Lifestraw Mission good enough?
Lifestraw Mission is a popular travel water filter. But we don’t think it’s up to scratch, although it filters down to 0.02 microns it doesn’t have a carbon filter to reduce chemicals and heavy metals.
Also users report very slow filtration rates and leaky valves which can lead to cross-contamination as well as loss of efficiency. It’s a no from us!
Filter type: Straw / squeeze filter
Why isn’t the Lifestraw Flex good enough?
The Lifestraw Flex will not filter out viruses as it only filters down to 0.2 microns. This means you could get something really nasty like Norovirus. It does have a carbon filter though.
We aren’t the biggest fans of straw filters, as they tend to not be that good. We have included one straw filter in our top 5 though, the Survivor Filter Straw. The reason the Survivor Filter Straw ranks in our top 5 is because it filters down to 0.05 microns and has a larger filtration capacity for the carbon and the ultra filters.
Why isn’t the Sawyer Select good enough?
It will filter out viruses and heavy metals (yay, no Norovirus!). However you only get 240 litres before having to chuck away the WHOLE bottle (except for the pre-filter). This is wasteful as well as expensive.
The earlier models (Sawyer Select S1 and S2) provide more filtration capacity. But do not filter out as much, so are non-starters.
The bottle is filled with foam inside so you can only fill about 60% of the bottle’s capacity, meaning you have to carry out the process several times to fill another bottle – a bit weird and not that helpful. And the foam will stay wet after using it, meaning it will weigh more when lugging it around (up to 2x according to a field tester).
According to user reviews, material from the foam comes out when you squeeze the water through, which isn’t great and can also clog the first filter. Some user reports suggest it takes a lot of effort to squeeze very little water out. It just sounds a bit faffy and not that great.
Why isn’t the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System good enough?
Again, this travel water filter only filters down to 0.1 microns so doesn’t remove viruses (which puts you at risk from nasty things like Norovirus).
Further, this one doesn’t have a carbon filter either. Some reviews say it gets easily clogged and suggest it takes a lot of effort to squeeze very little water out.
Why isn’t the Sawyer Squeeze good enough?
Again, this travel water filter only filters down to 0.1 microns so it doesn’t remove viruses and it has no carbon filter.
Reports suggest it is hard to fill the dirty water bag and that you need to use another container. A lot of reviews suggest it leaks around the connecting points, with some users suggesting it is often difficult to get water out and can be slow.
Why isn’t the Sawyer Gravity System good enough?
This one again doesn’t come with a carbon filter. You can opt for the 0.02 micron filter version although the few times I checked it was out of stock with Sawyer. Otherwise there is only the 0.1 micron filter which doesn’t remove viruses…
Filter type: Gravity filter
Why isn’t the Katadyn Gravity good enough?
The Katadyn Gravity filter only filters down to 0.2 microns which doesn’t remove viruses and it doesn’t have a carbon filter.
Filter type: Gravity filter
Why isn’t the Platypus GravityWorks good enough?
This travel water filter only filters down to 0.2 microns which doesn’t remove viruses and it doesn’t include a carbon filter.
Filter type: Pump Filter
Why isn’t the MSR Guardian Purifier good enough?
Again, this filter does not have a carbon filter. It is ridiculously expensive ($350) compared to models like the Survivor Filter Pro which offers far more for much less money.
Despite its huge price tag, the build quality is a bit suspect. User reports suggest varying issues from leaking O-rings, to the handle snapping and it getting easily clogged.
There is a cancer warning on its own website (?!). And it is way too big for travel.
Filter type: Pump Filter
Why isn’t the MSR Trailshot Pocket Sized good enough?
It only filters down to 0.2 micros so doesn’t take out viruses. Reviews report it being slow, sometimes not working after a few days and people experiencing various issues in the field with it (e.g the filter clogging easily).
There is a cancer warning on its own website. It doesn’t have a carbon filter.
Everything you need to know before you buy a water filter for travel
Find shopping for travel water filters confusing? It can be. There are just so many options available and it’s unclear which features you should or shouldn’t be looking for. We compiled a guide on everything you need to know before you buy a travel water filter, including what nasties you need your travel water filter to take out to avoid getting sick. Don’t waste your money on sub-standard travel water filters when there are some exceptional ones out there.
Best travel water filters
Okay, so we’ve had a good criticise of the above travel water filters. But which ones really work? We’ve compiled a list of our top 5 travel water filters:
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