Water Filter Bottles for Travel: Use Less Plastic, Be a Responsible Traveler

(Last Updated On: September 29, 2021)

Refillable and reusable water bottles are the best way to avoid contributing to the horrendous problem of single-use plastic water bottle pollution. And we want to do our part to be responsible travelers and make the world a better place, right?

Right! However, simply carrying a reusable water bottle isn’t enough in places where the water isn’t clean, where we can’t just refill from the tap.

On the one hand, we understand plastic bottles contribute to environmental contamination.

On the other hand, we question: what are we supposed to do when the water where we travel isn’t potable? What if we can’t “just refill” from the tap? The solution is technology and innovation: travel water bottles that also purify water for us.

Filter Water Bottles for travel. A comparison review of water filter bottles appropriate for travel.
Purifying water on the Jordan Trail with my Grayl.

We’ve sought out some options for filter water bottles to use when traveling to use less plastic. There are plenty of lightweight, packable, affordable solutions for water purification on the market, and they come in many forms. So, no more excuses.

Here are a few options for water bottles and lids with built-in water purifying technology that you can take with you on your travels, so you can stick to your pledge of avoiding single-use plastic bottles. After all, this is one thing we can do to travel responsibly (not to mention the health benefits of making sure your water is clean!).

Good news: Some of these options will even be compatible with your existing favorite travel water bottle, so you may only need to change the lid.

This post contains affiliate links.

CrazyCap review
CrazyCap UV purifier lid – so fancy!

CrazyCap

How CrazyCap Works:

CrazyCap is simply a bottle cap that uses UV light to stop bacteria and germs from breeding inside your water bottle. Every four hours, UV rays in the cap automatically activate, keeping your water 99.9996% fresh and clean – and the bottle free from yucky mold, mildew, microbes, odors, and everyday funk.

Advantages to CrazyCap:

  • Easy portable (the size of the lid and a small charger)
  • USB charger
  • Only takes 60 seconds to purify water
  • Fits any bottle with the same design (though you still must buy the bottle with it). So if your favorite travel water bottle is this shape, you are in luck!

Disadvantages to CrazyCap:

  • It only fits this bottle style, so if this particular bottle design isn’t your jam, move on to the next option.
  • While it sterilizes and purifies water to make it safe to drink, it doesn’t remove bits and flavors that other purifiers can remove.
  • Since it is electronic, it depends on systems that can fail instead of simply wear out from use over time.

Where to Purchase:

Related: BLM Dispersed Camping: Camping For Free in the US

LifeStraw review
LifeStraw Universal lid on my Nalgene and my LifeStraw purifier straw.

LifeStraw

How LifeStraw Works:

LifeStraw’s membrane microfilters are made of hollow fiber membrane technology – a similar technology used in kidney dialysis. These membranes are made of small straws that contain microscopic pores of 0.2 microns in diameter.

Dirty water enters one side of the straws, and clean water passes through the pores while bacteria, parasites, microplastics, dirt, silt, sand, and cloudiness are blocked and unable to pass through because they are too large.

The result is safe drinking water flows into a clean chamber for drinking while contaminants are blocked. LifeStraw’s membrane microfilters can remove 99.999999% of bacteria (including E. coli), 99.999% of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.), and 99.999% of microplastics.

Advantages to LifeStraw:

  • A LifeStraw is one of the smallest ways to pack a portable personal water filter. When using the singular straw, you don’t even need a bottle – you can drink straight from a source or even a cup.
  • The LifeStraw Universal lids may fit your existing water bottle. I have a wide-top Nalgene and an EcoVessel bottle that I love and can switch out the lids on – BONUS!.
  • LifeStraw has so many variations of ways to filter water, from one straw to multi-gallon systems.
  • By supporting LifeStraw, you are supporting the planet – they are a Certified B Corp and Climate Neutral company.

Disadvantages to LifeStraw:

  • The straw can be hard to drink fast out of, and sometimes you really need to gulp!
  • Some LifeStraw products do not eliminate viruses.
  • Sometimes the straw can come apart from the lid – make sure it’s on tight.

Where to Purchase:

Related: Ninja Packing Tips: Packing list for Europe with just a 30L backpack

Grayl Geopress review
My trusty Grayl has been on the most backcountry adventures with me.

Grayl

How Grayl Works:

Like a french press: Fill. Press. Drink! As dirty water is forced through the purifier media, ion exchange permanently binds pathogens (i.e., virus, protozoa, bacteria). Activated carbon absorbs chemicals, heavy metals, flavors, and odors.

What you’re left with is purified water – ready to chug, sip, or store for later. With Grayl, you can purify water anywhere in the world.

Advantages to Grayl:

  • The bottle has a built-in drink spout for fast chugging, a clip for carabiners, and is built for adventure (you can be hard on it and it is tough!)
  • By supporting Grayl, you are supporting the planet. Grayl donates a minimum of 1% from every sale to environmental charities and non-profits.

Disadvantages to Grayl:

  • The “press” part of the system can be tough to press down – use those muscles! And open the lid to let air flow.
  • The bottle itself is a bit cumbersome and may be too large for some pack setups.

Where to Purchase:

Related: 5 Steps to Planning a Long Distance Backpacking Trip

Katadyn SteriPen is a water filter for travel
SteriPen – great for carry-on packing!

SteriPen (by Katadyn)

How SteriPen Works:

Submerge the SteriPen in your water and stir for 48 to 90 seconds (depending on volume). UV light destroys viruses, bacteria, and protozoa – including Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

Advantages to SteriPen:

  • This is one of the smallest Personal Water Purifier systems out there.

Disadvantages to SteriPen:

  • While it sterilizes and purifies water to make it safe to drink, it doesn’t remove bits and flavors that other purifiers can remove.
  • Since it is electronic, it depends on systems that can fail instead of simply wear out from use over time.

Where to Purchase:

Katadyn BeFree review
Lake water becomes drinking water on the trail with the Katadyn BeFree.

Katadyn BeFree

How Katadyn BeFree Works:

Just fill up the flexible, foldable reservoir with water and drink through the straw. The filter removes bacteria, cysts, and sediment with its pore size of 0.1 microns (0.0001 mm). The reservoir is 100% PVC and BPA-free. It filters up to 2L of water per minute and is the perfect trail companion for getting clean drinking water anywhere.

Advantages to Katadyn:

  • One word: collapsible! This baby is super lightweight, the perfect trail companion.

Disadvantages to Katadyn:

  • Must be treated carefully because sometimes the bag can bust a leak (not the toughest on the market).

Where to Purchase:

LifeSaver Liberty

LifeSaver Liberty

How LifeSaver Liberty Works:

There are a few ways to use this filter water bottle – either by scooping up water within the shell of the bottle and using the pump in its base to purify its contents, and then you drink straight from the bottle, OR you can attach a hose to the base and pump water through the hose to fill up the bottle, OR you can attach it to a different bottle of your choice and pump water into that bottle, OR you can attach it to a hydration bladder and fill up the bladder via pumping as well. It’s very versatile! All of their products remove 99.99% of protozoa, bacteria and virus, instantly.

Advantages to LifeSaver:

  • Tried and tested, this product has been around for years and years.
  • Its versatile functions mean getting water in whichever way is the most convenient for you.

Disadvantages to LifeSaver:

  • It’s the most expensive one on our list, but you get what you pay for!

Where to Purchase:

Sawyer Squeeze

Sawyer Squeeze AND Tap Filter

How Sawyer Squeeze and Tap Filter Works:

Squeeze: Dip the reservoir into the water source (or fill from a tap), attach the filter to it, putting the hose into the bottle or vessel you want to drink out of, and squeeze the pouch until all the water goes through the filter into the bottle. Easy as that!

Tap Filter: Affix the filter to any tap (universal) and run the water through it. There is an attachment hose for tight spaces.

According to Sawyer’s website, this product is: “rated to 0.1 micron absolute filtration, the Squeeze Filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria such as salmonella, cholera, leptospirosis, and e. Coli, and removes 99. 9999% of all protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium (independent testing laboratory Hydration, LLC.; microbiological report S05-03). The Squeeze Filter also filters out 100% of microplastics.”

Advantages to Sawyer Squeeze:

  • Squeeze and tap filter are both super light-weight, best for ultra light packing.
  • Crushable/packable reservoir takes up zero extra space.
  • Super easy to use.
  • Lifetime warranty.
  • Can use the tap filter for boil alerts as well.

Disadvantages to Sawyer Squeeze:

  • Sometimes it’s hard to get the Squeeze reservoir to fill with water, you need to open it up to get water to enter.

Where to Purchase:

HydraPak Reservoirs

One last thing you need to know about is HydraPak reservoirs. These come in the form of the Stash 1L and Seeker 2L and go up from there. Also pictured here is my Expedition 8L, which I love for car camping.

Use reservoirs like these to store your extra purified water on the trail or in the car – they crush down as they empty, taking up hardly any space and weighing almost nothing. WORTH IT!

Related: 11 Unique Road Trip Gifts All Adventurers Will Love

HydraPak reservoirs in three different sizes
Store your extra water in crushable reservoirs!

As the topic of single-use plastic is growing, and more brands are doing their best to create products that will help the environment rather than harm it, more personal water filter bottles are coming out on the market.

Have we missed any that you swear by? Please share them with us in the comments! We appreciate any honest reviews and suggestions.