The Best Water Filtration Bottles for Travel

Laura Lopuch

My husband is a superhero. He is amazing at many things: building a bird feeder from wood scraps, navigating German transportation system of above and underground trains. 

But his superhero power is something very different.

He drains an entire Nalgene bottle in a single swallow. 

Gulp.

All the water is gone.

At home, this feat is a cool party trick. On the road, it’s a well-trodden battlefield for marriage woes. In other words, I’m thirsty… but all the water’s gone. 

Gulp.

Enter our marriage therapist: the water filtration and purification bottle. Simply put, this handy water bottle makes icky, guaranteed-to-make-ya-vomit water safe and drinkable. 

Before we dive into which water filtration bottle is best for travel, a quick biology lesson. It’ll be fun. 

Why You Need a Water Filtration + Purification Bottle for Travel

Filters attack the visible gunk in your water, and some of the things you can’t see too. They transform muddy water to clear, pretty, cleaner drinking water.

If you’re camping or hiking, you’ll want a filter to get rid of twigs, mud, and other debris floating in mountain streams. But don’t be fooled into thinking that just because that stream is miles from town it isn’t contaminated. Giardia is a risk even in that seemingly pristine water source you’ve hiked to. 

If you’re traveling, or even out on a day hike not wanting to carry tons of water, you’ll want a purifier. It works on a microscopic level to cleanse your water of nasty bacteria. Water-related illnesses are linked to 1 of 3 types of pathogens (disease-carrying pests).

Purifiers rid your water of all 3 pathogens. Meaning you don’t get struck down by Montezumas Revenge in Mexico… or its international cousins found in other parts of the world. And, frankly, UV light doesn’t truly purify your water, by removing stuff like lead from your drinking water. 

The best combo for your travel water bottle? A filtration and purification team. So, you’re free to wander wherever your gypsy blood calls.

That being said, not many water bottles combine those two features into a double-whammy. On our list, Grayl is the ONLY water bottle that does.  

Grayl Ultralight Purifier Bottle ($60)

Grayl is my purifier water bottle of choice — sleek, sexy, and with a purifying method akin to a French press (which creates my other favorite beverage of choice).

Fill up the interior of this bottle with water, any water at all, slowly press down for 15 seconds, and ta-da, you have purified and filtered water.

No need to carry an extra water filter and pour your water over it, then wait, while you’re dying of thirst.

Grayl is a complete system in a design that looks a lot like a to-go coffee mug.

The full-spectrum filter is 99.9999% effective against viruses, bacteria and protozoan cysts. And if you get the purifying cartridge, it filters sediments too, so you don’t have to start off with clear water. Fill ‘er up from a stream or murky water source, press and drink.

Grayl offers two different kinds of filters depending on your purifying and filtering needs:

  • Purifier for the really uncertain water sources that cleans water of sediments and pathogens
  • Tap filter to remove sour tasting chemicals and create potable tap water

Each cartridge is good for 40 gallons or 150L.

Speed of Filtration

It takes roughly 20 seconds to go from yucky water to purified, clean water. Bottoms up.

Use it One-Handed?

Oh yeah. My one-year old has tipped back the Grayl for a drink.

Jenn, Packsmith’s editor, has EDS, which sometimes affects her strength and mobility. She uses her Grayl all over the world, but suggests this:

“Be aware that pressing it is best done with two hands and if you have mobility or strength issues in your hands, having a friend help might be good. For the easiest press, place the bottle between your feet and press down with the palms of your hands, using your weight for leverage.”

On The Road

Speaking from personal experience, it’s a godsend. When you pair it with a larger water bottle, the slightly-limited capacity isn’t an issue. As a bonus, the Grayl fits perfectly into the side water bottle pockets of your travel backpack.

Cleaning

Angela, on the Tortuga team, has been using Grayl for the past three years. She says:

“The original (with stainless steel inner) I had no problems with. The Ultralight with the plastic inner I seem to keep getting sick from — even when washing weekly. It seems to get mildew more easily than the original.”

Price of Filter Replacement

  • Purification Filter: $25
  • Tap Water Filter: $29.95 (2 pack)

LifeSaver Bottle Ultra Filtration ($148)

LifeSaver is a purifier and filtration combo device.

The purifier looks a lot like a normal water bottle, but it removes all bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi, and other microbiological waterborne pathogens without using any chemicals. This water purifier bottle filters out bacteria to a minimum of Log 6 (99.9999%), viruses to Log 4 (99.99%) and cysts to a minimum of Log 3 (99.9%). Also, it doesn’t use any batteries, power, or UV light.

Perfect for trips way off the grid.

Fill up the 750mL capacity with water, pump two or three times, and drink clean water. One filter treats about 6,000 liters of water.

Dave Dean at Too Many Adapters applauds the thoughtful design of LifeSaver’s filter and cartridge:

“I’m a big fan of the failsafe filter and cartridge, which won’t let you pump water after they’re used up. That’s a much better approach than trying to remember how much water you’ve used, or using your stomach as a petrie dish to find out.”

Cost of Filter Replacement: $87

Top Competition (But Untested): LARQ Bottle ($99)

It’s curvy. It’s classy. It’s like Marilyn Monroe in water bottle form, complete with the sexy “Happy Birthday” rendition of UV-C light to purify your water. 

Meet your fancy-shmancy, high-tech water purification water bottle. Requires no batteries and no cleaning. 

By pressing the button on the top of the lid, you activate the 280 nanometer UV-C light which Quartz says neutralizes up to 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of viruses.

Wondering about this UV-C light? Me too. Apparently, it’s used in hospitals to sterilize the surfaces of patient rooms. LARQ cites testing by independent 3rd-party labs that verify UV-C LED is an effective solution to combat E.coli, Salmonella, staph, and MRSA pathogens.

However, LARQ doesn’t give you any protection against contaminants, like metals or chemicals, in your water. And it doesn’t filter water.

And… it’s not quite available yet, so no real-life reviews to share.

Speed of Filtration

Technically, it purifies water. Time for the purification process: 60 seconds.

Use it One-Handed?

At a lightweight 18-ounce capacity, you’ll lift this water bottle one-handed. Easily. And activating it takes one finger.

On The Road

Angela from Tortuga chimes in again:

“Why I’m intrigued by the LARQ is that it keeps the inside clean. So when I get mine, I’m planning on filtering water through my Grayl and then putting it in the LARQ to keep it clean. Clearly somebody needs to combine the two bottles. A benefit to LARQ is that once filtered, I’ll be able to add salt or other electrolytes and they won’t get filtered out like in the Grayl.”

Cleaning

Every 4 hours, LARQ activates on its own the UV-C light, ensuring no unwanted contaminants multiply — even if you aren’t available to press the button manually.

Cost of Filter Replacement: None

OKO H2O Advanced Filtration Water Bottle ($30)

This water bottle is designed to filter out bacteria in water with a two-stage filtration process. Research has shown that this filtration removed over 90% of E-coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium in water sources. 

According to Amazon’s discerning reviewers, this purification and filtration water bottle rated 3.7 stars out of 5. 

On The Road

I haven’t had the pleasure of using this water filtration bottle, so I’ll let those who have speak for it.

From backpacking: 

“I’ve now used the Oko on a five-day backpacking trip getting all of my water out of small lakes and tarns, one of which was used by dogs and humans for swimming. I’m pleased to report no gut issues after two weeks.”

To international travel:

“Purchased this to use while on vacation as we normally never drink the “local” water and opt to purchase bottled water while traveling (in the States or in Japan/Southeast Asia. I thought of bringing a Lifestraw but the convenience of having a ‘bottle’ was desired and the Lifestraw would be overkill for states with drinkable water.”

Cleaning

Dishwasher-safe with a wide mouth, so you can scrub its interior.

Cost of Filter Replacement: $12

Clearly Filtered ($50)

This stainless steel water filtration bottle is an unusual pick for our list, but it scored a place thanks to its claim of being “the most robust tap water filtration on the market.” It removes up to 99.99% of most chemicals and contaminants including Lead, Mercury, Herbicides, Pesticides (including Glyphosate – the cancer-causing chemical in Round-Up), and up to 99% of Fluoride. 

So, if you’re traveling in countries where you would normally drink the water, or you’re staying home, but the taste of tap water or potential chemicals, like lead, are your concern, this filtration bottle might be the one for you. 

 

Speed of Filtration

Matthew Karsten of Expert Vagabond reported that filling the bottle with tap water is very fast and easy:

“The water is instantly ready to be consumed. It gets sucked through the filter while you drink, like from a straw. The same is true using water from a river or pond while out hiking in the wilderness. There is absolutely no wait time with this filter. A huge plus.”

Use it One-Handed?

Back to Matthew of Expert Vagabond on exactly how heavy this stainless steel bottle is.

“Don’t get me wrong, this bottle is pretty light. But it could be even lighter if it was made from Titanium. This would add to its cost, but I’d be willing to pay for something that weighs less.”

So, maybe, think of this bottle — when full — as your on-the-road dumbbell and crunch out a few bicep reps. If only to make Zac Efron green with envy.

On The Road

A few reviewers complained the bottle leaked when on its side. No bueno for when you’re using it on the road.

But one reviewer reported the bottle is “durable, easy to clean, and easy to drink from.”

Cost of Filter Replacement: $25

TL;DR

The best water filtration and purifier bottles for travel are:

  1. Grayl
  2. LARQ (not released yet)
  3. LifeSaver Bottle Ultra Filtration
  4. OKO H2O
  5. Clearly Filtered

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