Have you ever traveled somewhere without clean drinking water? And notices how much money you were spending on bottled water? How much plastic waste that produced? How much of a hassle it was?
Walked around thirsty looking for a place to get water? Or gone hiking carrying liters of water on your back?
One of the many privileges I often took for granted as a Western-European traveler was easy access to clean drinking water. At home, in the Netherlands, delicious clean water flows straight out the tap.
So when I started traveling outside of Europe and going on longer hiking trips, I was confronted with the struggle of finding something to drink. It either involved a lot of planning and lugging around water, or purchasing plastic water bottles. At home, I already had a simple reusable water bottle, but that was no use when the tap water would make me sick.
So, I started looking into alternatives and came across the greatest invention in sustainable travel gadgets (in my humble opinion): water bottles with a built-in filter.
These bottles allow you to safely drink from any water source, wherever you go. The perfect solution to my problem!
Over the years, I’ve tried out many of these water filter bottles, with different designs and systems. They all get the job done, but some are more user-friendly or convenient than others. To help you pick the best travel water bottle for your trips, I’ve reviewed and ranked the best filter water bottles for travel.
Disclaimer: for legal reasons, none of these companies are allowed to advertise their product as 100% safe, since accidents can always happen. That’s why every bottle on this list claims to remove around 99.99% of all waterborne pathogens. Those are still odds I am willing to take!
This post contains affiliate links. This means that I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you purchase any of the items linked on this page.
The Lifestraw Go is the first ever water filter system that I bought. I purchased it for my first backpacking trip to Southeast Asia, as I knew the tap water there wouldn’t be safe to drink, and I wanted to avoid buying bottled water all the time.
Lifestraw is one of the best-known brands of water filtration bottles. Their original product is simply put: a straw. The filter is shaped like a straw and works by sucking the water through different layers of materials that clean out parasites, bacteria, and pollutants. These filters have also been handed out by foreign aid organizations to people without access to clean water. You can use them to drink straight out of any source of sweet water, from a river to a puddle.
These days, Lifestraw has expanded their repertoire with a variety of products. Including home filtration systems, gravity bags, and bottles. The Lifestraw Go is a water bottle with a filter screwed into the top. You simply fill the bottle with water, and suck on the nozzle to pull it through the filter. Clean water, straight into your mouth.
While the system is simple, it isn’t always easy to use. Sucking the water through the filter requires a decent amount of force and air bubbles can block the water flow. It takes a few tries to figure out the optimal way to drink from the bottle, and it can be a bit frustrating if you’re very thirsty. That’s why I don’t think it’s well suited to outdoor travel, but works well in cities.
The bottle itself also has a fair bit of weight to it, but does hold 650 ml to 1 liter (depending on the size you buy). The filter consists of a microfilter membrane which lasts up to 4000 L and a carbon filter which lasts up to 100 L. All the parts of the filter and the bottle can be ordered separately and replaced. You’ll also have to keep an eye on the plastic spout cover, mine got a bit moldy after a while.
For every purchase, Lifestraw donates a part of the profit to their Give Back program, which provides clean drinking water for a whole school year to a child in need.
Best water bottle for: city trips
Because the Lifestraw Go was literally weighing me down, I decided to get a different bottle for hiking. The Lifestraw Flex has the same straw-like filtration system, but a different bottle design.
Instead of a hard plastic bottle, the flex is made of a soft and malleable material. It is lightweight, and as the name suggests, flexible. It’s more like a bag than a bottle and can fit into any small pocket. The Flex holds about 22 oz (0.7 L), so isn’t actually much smaller than the Lifestraw Go, but it feels completely different, and it less than half the weight at 89 grams.
The Lifestraw Flex is just as good at cleaning water, even though the filter is a lot smaller. The same filter can also be screwed on a regular plastic bottle and is compatible with other Lifestraw products, like the gravity bag.
One of the downsides of Lifestraw, is that while the filters make the water safe to drink, they do nothing for the flavor. I found they actually give the water a slight plastic taste, which some might find unpleasant.
However, if you’re looking to pack light, this is the perfect water bottle. It weighs next to nothing, fits in any small space and you won’t have to bring any bottled water on your trip.
Best water bottle for: packing light
Grayl Ultralight Compact
The Grayl Ultralight is the first filter bottle the company developed. It is small enough to fit most side pockets and cup holders and holds 16 oz (473 ml) of water. The filtration system is simple and elegant.
It consists two compartments and a cap. To use the bottle, you take the cap off and the inner compartment out. You then fill the outer compartment with “dirty” water up to the line. Take the inner compartment which has a filter screwed on at the bottom and place it inside the inner compartment. You then slowly push it down, filtering the water as it gets pushed through the filter. The inner compartment is now full of clean drinking water. Twist the cap back on to close the bottle.
And when I say clean, I do mean clean! The Grayl filter removes 99,99% waterborne pathogens (viruses & bacterias), particulates, and chemicals. This means the filter protects you from E.Coli, Cholera, Salmonella, Hep. A, heavy metals, pesticides, and more. So you can use this bottle to drink from any creek, stream, waterfall, lake, river, or tap, as long as it isn’t salt water.
Although the filtration system is simple, it can be a bit tricky to use. Pushing the filter down requires quite a bit of strength. The best way to do it, is by putting it on the ground and using your body weight to lower the inner compartment. It looks a bit awkward and not something you’re likely to want to do in the middle of a city. The 16 oz capacity also means that you might have to repeat this process a few times if you’re very thirsty.
On the upside, you can use the filtered water to refill regular bottles, and it is pretty lightweight. That’s why this is my favorite bottle for short hikes. The bottle is designed for outdoor use, so it’s sturdy. Each cartridge lasts up to 300 cycles, which is about 150 liters. Replacement parts and filters can be ordered, so the bottle lasts virtually forever.
Best water bottle for: short hikes
The filtration system is essentially the same, with two compartments and a cartridge that filters the water as you push it through. One major improvement, however, is the new cap. Where you had to remove the cap to fill and filter with the Ultralight, and were left pushing down on the rim of the bottle. The Geopress cap has a handle and a spout, which allows air through. This means you can leave it on, giving you much more surface area to press down on, which is more comfortable and speeds up the process. Just don’t be an idiot like me, and remember to open the spout before you start pressing 😉
The Geopress is also a bit larger, and has a capacity of 24 oz (710 ml). So you can filter more water in one go, and can go longer in between water sources. This is essential for longer hikes. The spout makes it easier to drink out of as well. Even the cartridge lifespan has been improved to 350 cycles or 250 liters, and it is just as effective in removing waterborne pathogens and particulates. The carbon in the filter even removes unpleasant odors and flavors.
Obviously, the bigger size and fancy new cap do weigh more, but it is worth it for the convenience. I think this is the perfect filter water bottle for any outdoor adventure, from hiking and rafting to camping. It’s easy to use and provides you with safe drinking water wherever you go.
Best water bottle for: outdoors
WaterToGo is a relatively new player on the scene. The UK company developed their water filters based on a NASA system, which filters out 99.9999% of harmful contaminants. This includes metals and chemicals, microplastics, bacteria, and viruses.
The bottles come in two sizes: 50 cl and 75 cl, and several colors. I own a small “Go” of 50 cl in green. The filters don’t last as long as those by Lifestraw and Grayl, but can convert a respectable 130 to 200 L. The filters should be replaced every 2-3 months, and can be ordered online.
The filtration system is similar to Lifestraw, but the water pours through the straw much more easily. This makes WaterToGo a more convenient option in my opinion. The bottles are also a lot lighter and have a cute design. The only downside is the size, at 50-75 cl, you’re going to need to fill up regularly. That’s why I find this bottle best suited to everyday use.
Price: €35.99 – €49.99
Best water bottle for: every day use
Final ranking of travel filter bottles:
A filter water bottle is perfect for sustainable travelers. It allows you to avoid the hassle, cost, and environmental impact from buying clean drinking water. It is also just so convenient to fill up your bottle from any water source, and safely quench your thirst.
Whether you’re going on a city trip or an outdoor adventure, these travel water bottles will help you stay healthy and hydrated. They are a worthwhile investment! So pick your favorite and try it out on your next vacation. Let me know how you like your new bottle in the comments. Or leave a tip for another filter water bottle I should review.
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