With more and more people on the move, the devices we have been using in our everyday lives have adapted too — they’ve become smaller, lighter, and so easy that we can carry them around with us.

Although the tech industry is a leader in portable devices, the water filtration industry is also keeping up the pace, and innovative portable water filters are storming the markets.

Since these water filters are not connected to a municipal water supply and they don’t rely on water pressure, it begs the question whether they’re just as good as regular, plumbed-in filters?

In this article, we examine the best portable water filters and how they compare to traditional water filter systems.


Are Portable Filters Any Good?


Ideally, the fact that you can carry a water filter with you should not make it less efficient at removing contaminants. And just because a reduction in size can lead to a loss in filtered water output, this should not correlate with a hit in contaminant removal efficiency as well.

Luckily, stand-alone water filters can be just as efficient at removing contaminants as plumbed-in filters, so much so that some portable filters can even be used to filter untreated water sourced from rivers or lakes.

In fact, these “pocket filters” use the same filter media that can be found in plumbed-in filter systems, only that the cartridges are a miniaturized version of the filter cartridges you use in traditional filters.

Depending on the type and brand, portable filters can remove various health-related contaminants like viruses, cysts, bacteria, agricultural and industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and non-health related chemicals like sediments and taste or odour issues.

Therefore, portable filters can be a reliable substitute to traditional water filters, especially if you need access to clean water on the go.

Here’s a list of the best portable filters you can trust:


Gravity Water Filter Systems


If you were wondering how portable filters can work without water pressure, gravity is one way that these filters are able to filter your water.

The technology behind gravity filters is simple:

  • Unfiltered water is poured in the upper chamber of the system that houses the ceramic filters;
  • Untreated water seeps through the microscopic pores of the filters, leaving behind bacteria, sediments, chemicals, viruses, and other contaminants;
  • Filtered, ready-to-drink water ends up in the lower chamber of the filter, which is fitted with a tap for water dispensing.

There’s no plumbing required, no water pressure, you just have to let gravity do its work.

Of course, this process is slower than pressure-based systems, but the daily filtered water output of a gravity-fed water filter can meet the drinking water and cooking needs of a small family or group.

What are some reliable gravity water filter brands?

Gravity systems that remove bacteria, cysts, lead, volatile organic chemicals, viruses, heavy metals, herbicides, chlorine, and other industrial or agricultural contaminants include Doulton, Berkey, Coldstream, and PurePro. Some of these work with filter candles that also remove fluoride, others need a special fluoride filter for fluoride removal.

We recommend gravity filters for hikers and backpackers, but also for anyone who wants a reliable countertop filter for their vacation home.


Water Filter Bottles


Filter bottles represent another portable filter solution useful for day trips to urban or remote areas. Unlike gravity-fed systems, these have a small filter built into the neck or cap of the bottle.

The filter media in these bottles is some form of activated carbon, which adsorbs contaminants that are attracted to charcoal like chlorine, volatile organic compounds, and deals with taste and odour issues.

Some water filter bottles have a built-in pumping mechanism as well, which creates pressure and forces water through various filter media for further filtering.

These bottles range in size and efficiency. Some bottles only deal with contaminants that are typical for municipal water supplies like chemical disinfectants, others can also tackle viruses, cysts, herbicides, and other environmental pollutants.

Which water filter bottle brands should you consider?

If you’re looking to filter municipal water sources like the one in your office, gym, park, etc., you can use a Brita Fill and Go filter bottle that deals with chemical contaminants and taste and odour issues.

For off-the-grid use, we recommend the Lifesaver bottle, which can tackle contamination issues that are typical for water sources like rivers, springs, lakes, etc. 


Water Filter Straws


Water filter straws are another easy solution to filter water in the great outdoors. These straws have a built-in filter that filters down to sub-micron levels. They are capable of removing 99.99% of waterborne bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing contaminants.

Unlike gravity filters or filter bottles, these filter straws don’t have a container for water storage. To filter water, simply place the straw in a water source (lake, river, stream, etc.) and drink water through the straw. They require quite a bit of suction, but they are durable, crazy lightweight and a reliable solution in emergencies.

Brands that you can trust on this front include the Lifestraw Personal Filter, H2O Survival Straw, and the Survival Hax Micron.


Water Filter Pitchers


Water filter pitchers are suitable for at-home filtration, but you can also take them with you to your vacation home or when travelling abroad. They usually filter water as you pour it out of the pitcher and just like with water filter bottles, they work with activated carbon filter tablets and they’re available in various sizes.

Brita’s water filter pitchers are probably the most popular on the market, but other brands like the Soma 6-Cup Water Filter Pitcher are also a reliable choice.


Portable Filter Shopping Tips


Before you buy a portable filter, take your time to consider the following:

Purpose of Use: Are you going to use your filter with untreated water sources or municipal water? If you want a filter that you can use at home and doesn’t require any plumbing, you can choose a stand-alone countertop filter that’s designed for filtering tap water.

If you want a portable filter system that can filter untreated water sources as well, you can go for gravity filters or other emergency filter systems.


Level of Filtration: If you’re going to use the filter with water from rivers or lakes, make sure you buy a filter that’s capable of sub-micron level filtration (0,1 to 0,5 microns). This will ensure that your drinking water will be free of disease-causing pathogens.


Size: If portability is more important to you than storage, choose a filter that’s lightweight and fits into a backpack. Filter straws are probably the best choice for those who don’t want to compromise on filtration efficiency, but they also don’t want to drag a heavy system around with them.


Filtered water output: Consider filter durability and filtered water output aspects as well. Do you want your filter to produce an entire day’s worth of drinking water? You want your filter cartridges to last for the entire duration of your trip? Make sure you check these things before buying a filter.




Water can be a medium for many contaminants that may be dangerous to your health. If you’re travelling to an area with no running water a portable filtration system is your best bet against waterborne diseases. Although they have setbacks when it comes to flow rates, they’re a reliable and user-friendly way of getting clean drinking water no matter where you go.

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