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Tested: 6 Compact Water Filters for Backcountry Mountain Biking

Tested: 6 Compact Water Filters for Backcountry Mountain Biking 2020-10-12Leave a comment

electrical bike Examined: 6 Compact Water Filters for Backcountry Mountain Biking

Bikepacking or bikecamping, gravel driving, and backcountry exploring are experiencing an enormous surge in recognition. It’s just like the millennial era’s leisure back-to-the-land motion. We benefit from the city way of life through the week however in relation to the weekend, we’re off into the land of no pavement, no reception, no civilization, and thus, no facilities.

If you happen to’re pondering of heading into the backcountry on two wheels, chances are you’ll need to spend money on a water filtration or purification system. Certain, you’ll be able to carry all of the water chances are you’ll want, however that will get heavy and cumbersome shortly. And consuming straight from a river, lake, or stream is ill-advised. Even the clearest water might be teeming with micro organism. 

Fortunately, transportable techniques have come a good distance. Not solely are they extremely efficient in making the water human-safe, they’re additionally lighter and extra compact than ever earlier than. 

Water filtration and purification techniques are commonplace within the mountain climbing market already, and there are tons to select from. Prioritizing compactness, weight, and ease, I selected to evaluate techniques with the fewest variety of attachments whereas additionally contemplating the restricted area of a waist pack or backpack. This meant excluding pump or gravity-bag primarily based techniques, that are environment friendly for filtering bigger portions of water however they’re additionally fairly cumbersome. 

Additionally, a fast notice on the distinction between purification and filtration. Water filters, like nearly all of the techniques reviewed right here, will successfully filter out 99.99% of micro organism (like E. coli) and protozoa (like Giardia). They gained’t, nevertheless, filter out viruses (like hepatitis). If you happen to’re touring in North America or Western Europe, this isn’t a priority. However in case you’re touring in some growing nations, you’re going to need to again up your filtration with a Dioxide tablet or a SteriPen as talked about beneath.

Methods included on this evaluate

SteriPen American Purple Cross UltraLight UV Water Air purifier

I included the SteriPen on this evaluate as a result of earlier than beginning this challenge, this SteriPen had been my private go-to for bikepacking and backpacking journeys.

It’s in regards to the dimension of a multitool and thus, simply suits in your hip pack, bag, and even jersey pocket. It’s the smallest within the bunch and it’s additionally the one air purifier included on this evaluate, which implies it kills micro organism, protozoa, and viruses. 

Nonetheless, it’s additionally the one gadget on this evaluate that’s battery-reliant and partially product of glass and subsequently doubtlessly fragile. If you happen to run out of battery or one way or the other break the gadget, you’re effectively… S.O.L and left hoping for a powerful abdomen.

I’m subsequently hesitant to completely suggest it for journeys within the far backcountry in case you don’t have a backup or buddy whose water filtration or purification system you’ll be able to borrow. 

With that stated, I personally haven’t skilled any breakage or digital failures myself, and this little UV mild appears to be going robust. 

The way it works

The SteriPEN depends on a brief wave UV mild to purify water. The UV mild disrupts the DNA inside micro organism, viruses and protozoa, stopping them from reproducing, and thereby making the microbes innocent and protected for human consumption. In clear water the SteriPEN will destroy over 99.9999% of micro organism, 99.99% of viruses and 99.9% of protozoa.

The best way to use it:

  • Be certain the interior battery is totally charged (this mannequin prices by way of micro USB).
  • Take away the clear cap.
  • Place the lamp in water. 
  • As soon as the metallic water sensors are submerged, the UV lamp will routinely activate.
  • Stir till the inexperienced LED turns from flashing to strong — about 90 seconds.
  • The sunshine turns off when faraway from the water. 
  • Wipe the lamp clear, put the cap again on and also you’ll have one other 7999 activations earlier than needing a bulb substitute. 


  • Extraordinarily compact, easy gadget
  • Comparatively fast remedy time (1L in 90 seconds)
  • Light-weight (simply 2.6 oz)
  • No pumps or squeeze baggage of equipment required
  • No chemical aftertaste
  • UV lights kills micro organism, protozoa and viruses
  • USD rechargeable 


  • Battery reliant
  • Partially product of glass and doubtlessly breakable 
  • Requires a large opening to successfully stir the water
  • Max 1L water quantity
  • Doesn’t take away sediment

⭐️ Obtainable on-line at Amazon.com.

Lifestraw Flex

The Lifestraw Flex, like all the opposite merchandise reviewed beneath, is a small however extremely versatile filter. With its 28mm screw-on functionality, the filter is suitable with a variety of ordinary plastic bottles and water bladders. It can be used inline with a hose-based hydration system, hooked as much as a gravity bag, or used as a straw to drink straight from a stream.   

The filter comes with its personal 22oz. soft-bottle, which may both perform as a squeeze bag to switch stream water into your bike bottle or bladder, or one may drink straight from the filter. 

Out of the packaging, I used to be instantly impressed with the softness and sturdiness of the squeeze bag. It’s in contrast to some other squeeze bag I’ve examined. Nonetheless, I used to be stunned to be taught that the filter goes contained in the squeeze bag, limiting not simply the amount but in addition the power to completely squeeze all of the water out by means of the filter. This undoubtedly proved to be an issue in testing, and sadly, the connection between the bag and filter was additionally a bit leaky. 

The filter itself appeared to work simply advantageous. The filtered water was clear and tasted good, however the circulate was slower in comparison with a number of the different squeeze bag techniques reviewed. It was quite robust to drink water straight from the filter as effectively, and whereas the inline compatibility with a hydration bladder is a good possibility, particularly for mountain biking, the circulate of water is only a bit too sluggish for my liking. It’s a must to suck quite laborious to get water by means of the hose.

Additionally notice that due to the filter’s placement contained in the squeeze bag, it took two fillings of the squeeze bag to yield 16 ounces of filtered water as I used to be unable to squeeze all of the water by means of the filter. 

The way it works

The Flex is a two-stage filter. There’s a microbiological hole fiber tube to filter out 99.999% of all micro organism and parasites and an activated carbon capsule that protects in opposition to lead, chlorine, and sediment whereas additionally enhancing the style. The microbiological filter has a 500-gallon lifetime whereas the carbon capsule lasts 25 gallons.
The filter is cleaned by means of backwashing with a syringe and the bag might be rinsed with clear water. 

The best way to use it

As described above, the filter can be utilized in varied methods, however on the bike, the squeeze bag strategy is probably the most generally used. 

  • You fill the squeeze bag with water out of your supply
  • Screw the filter on
  • Squeeze the water by means of the filter into your individual bottle or bladder 
  • Alternatively, you’ll be able to drink straight from the filter


  • Light-weight
  • Comfortable and sturdy squeeze bottle
  • Cheap
  • Versatile makes use of
  • BPA free


  • Leaky 
  • Filter goes contained in the squeeze bag
  • Sluggish circulate fee

⭐️ Obtainable at REI, Moosejaw, and Amazon.

Waterdrop Water Filter Straw

At seven inches lengthy, the Waterdrop Filter Straw is the biggest of the filters on this evaluate but it’s additionally arguably probably the most inexpensive because it ships with a number of equipment. Relying on which package deal you purchase, the filter comes with a number of squeeze baggage and/or a full gravity bag — all below $30. 

Just like the Sawyer and Lifestraw filter, the Waterdrop Water Filter Straw is a screw-on system suitable with most water or soda bottles. It comes with its personal 20oz. squeeze bottles and might be hooked as much as a gravity bag system as effectively. One may additionally use it as a straw to drink straight from a water supply. With its sippy-cup-like mouthpiece, it can’t, nevertheless, be used inline along with your hydration bladder and hose system.

The squeeze baggage are product of a inflexible, tear-prone plastic which looks like it could tear over time. The quantity of 20oz. can be smaller than most squeeze baggage on the market.

Nonetheless, the filter did ship with a number of baggage and the little carabiner clip is a pleasant added contact. 

The connection between the filter and supplied squeeze bag was good but when mounting the filter to a plastic water bottle, there was some slight leakage. Chances are high, nevertheless, that you simply wouldn’t possible be utilizing a disposable plastic water bottle in your mountain bike rides and so this wouldn’t be a problem. 

The water circulate fee was higher than Lifestraw however not so good as the Sawyer filters. The filter works effectively. The water tastes good and comes out clear and sediment-free. I type of just like the formed mouthpiece too and the truth that you don’t must backwash the filter with a syringe simply means one much less merchandise to hold, which is a particular plus. 

The way it works

The Waterdrop Water Filter Straw is a four-stage filtration system. The water enters by means of a pre-filter material which removes contaminants, then strikes by means of a hole fiber membrane which filters out the micro organism and protozoa. That is adopted by an activated carbon-fiber capsule to enhance style and odor and eventually, there’s a polyester membrane on the finish to take away any rust, sediment, and different particulates. The filter might be backwashed with out a syringe, and the bag might be rinsed with clear water. The straw can present protected consuming water as much as 100,000 gallons.

The best way to use it

As described above, the filter can be utilized in varied methods, however on the bike, the squeeze bag strategy is probably the most generally used. 

  • Fill the squeeze bag with water out of your supply
  • Screw on the filter
  • Squeeze the bag to push water by means of the filter into your individual bottle or hydration bladder 
  • Alternatively, you’ll be able to drink from the mouthpiece 


  • Contains a number of squeeze baggage
  • Cheap
  • Versatile makes use of
  • BPA-free
  • No must backwash with syringe


  • Comparatively low-volume squeeze baggage
  • Squeeze baggage are harsh and can put on out

⭐️ Obtainable on-line at Amazon.

Sawyer has a giant maintain within the out of doors water filtration market and carries a number of totally different filters made with adventurers in thoughts. Reviewed listed here are the Sawyer Squeeze, Sawyer Mini, and Sawyer Micro.

Whereas ranging in dimension, circulate fee and quantity, these filters are versatile of their software and can be utilized for a number of filtrations strategies, together with:

  • Inline along with your hydration bladder and hose system* 
  • With the supplied squeeze baggage
  • Together with a gravity bag*
  • Screwed onto a 28mm disposable plastic bottle
  • With a straw to drink immediately from a water supply

* The Squeeze wants an adapter to go inline along with your bladder hose or gravity bag.

Organized by once they had been launched, the Sawyer Squeeze is Sawyer’s authentic squeeze-bag filter system and in addition the most important at 5.5″ in size and three ounces in weight. Then comes the 5″ Sawyer Mini which weighs about 2 ounces, and the most recent addition, the 4″ Sawyer Micro, additionally weighing roughly 2 ounces. 

The Sawyer Mini is well the sleekest among the many three filters as the opposite two are quite squat. 

The Sawyer Squeeze can deal with probably the most quantity, has the quickest circulate fee, and comes with a lifetime assure. The filter ships with two 32oz. Collapsible Pouches, inline adapters, a straw, and cleansing syringe. The Squeeze is made for the widest vary of functions — from on a regular basis use on a faucet to mountain climbing to emergencies.  

The Mini and Micro are marketed as private gadgets and had been optimized for minimal weight and compact sizes. The Mini comes with the smallest squeeze pouch of all filters reviewed right here because it holds a mere 16oz. of water. Maybe the Mini’s main use was to be inline with an hydration pack because the hose connector factors are longest and no adapters are wanted. 

In dimension and circulate fee, the Micro falls someplace in between the Squeeze and the Mini, and comes with a redesigned pouch. Product of a softer but stronger materials than the usual Sawyer pouches, these weigh half as a lot whereas nonetheless sporting a quantity of 32oz.

In contrast to the Squeeze, the Mini and Micro filters usually are not assured for all times; as an alternative they’re meant to last as long as 100,000 gallons of water — which remains to be extra water than any of us will ever drink, even with day by day use. 

Every considered one of these Sawyer filters labored flawlessly, but I choose the fabric of the Lifestraw squeeze bag over the plastic-y pouches that include the Waterdrop and Sawyer merchandise. These pouches will inevitably tear with frequent use. Nonetheless, they get the job finished, roll up tightly, and Sawyer sells substitute baggage in a wide range of volumes do you have to tear a pouch. 

Selecting one Sawyer mannequin over one other will come all the way down to your supposed use and precedence of circulate fee over dimension. In case your main use can be a filter inline with the tubing of your hydration pack, the Mini can be your greatest wager. The circulate fee is slower than each the Micro and Squeeze however it’s additionally sleeker and is assured to remain put inside your system. In fact, the Mini can nonetheless be used within the different filtration strategies as effectively in case you had been to depart your hydration pack at dwelling. 

The Micro is a do-it-all gadget in a compact package deal, greatest for single individual use of the squeeze bag methodology. 

The Squeeze has the quickest circulate fee and also will serve you effectively for off-the-bike actions. As a consequence of its dimension and want for adapters, it’s not excellent inline with a hydration pack, however it’s the very best filter if you want bigger portions of water. For instance, in case you’re bikepacking and cooking meals otherwise you’re filtering water for multiple individual. 

The way it works

The Sawyer water filtration techniques use expertise tailored from kidney dialysis filters. The Sawyer Hole Fiber Membrane Filters are composed of tiny “U” formed micro-tubes that enable water to enter into their core by means of tiny micropores on the sidewalls of the tubes. The 0.1 micron pores in these filters are so small that no micro organism, protozoa, or microplastics will move by means of.  

The best way to use it

As described above, the filter can be utilized in varied methods, however on the bike, the filters are greatest used inline with the tubing of your hydration pack or with a squeeze bag.


  • Use scissors to chop your hydration hose in two items
  • Insert the connectors of the filter into the hose items; the Circulation Arrow on the filter ought to level towards the mouth piece
  • Fill the bladder with water from you supply
  • Shut up the bladder and re-insert in your bag
  • Drink from the mouthpiece as regular 

Squeeze Bag Methodology

  • Fill squeeze pouch with water out of your supply
  • Screw on the filter
  • Squeeze the water into your bottle or hydration bladder, or drink straight from the filter


  • Squeeze bag and adapters included
  • Low packing weight and quantity
  • Versatile makes use of
  • BPA free
  • Good circulate fee


  • Squeeze baggage are harsh and can put on out
  • No activated carbon filtration for improved style or odor

⭐️ Examine Sawyer water filter models and prices.

Circulation Charges, as examined

Filter Time to fill 16 ouncesbottle, in minutes
LifeStraw Squeeze 3:25 (two fills)
Waterdrop  1:34
SteriPen 1:30
Sawyer Squeeze 0:30
Sawyer Micro 0:50
Sawyer Mini 1:00

Last notes

These filtration techniques are all efficient and in addition fairly related in model. Selecting a filtration system actually comes down to non-public desire, end-use, and whether or not you’re prioritizing circulate charges or compactness. 

With that stated, the Sawyer merchandise stood out to me as they tick all of the packing containers: environment friendly circulate fee, compact dimension, and flexibility. But, in case you’re driving in locations the place the water will get notably murky or funky, I do just like the added layer of activated carbon in each the Waterdrop and Lifestraw filters, which improves the style and odor of the water.

Additionally, please notice that hole fiber filters don’t do effectively in freezing temperatures. The inside fibers may break. So fatbikers, in case you’re headed out on a winter journey, preserve the filter near your physique to stop it from freezing, particularly at evening. And in case you’re going to make use of a SteriPen, deliver a backup simply in case you run out of batteries. 

Which water filter do you employ? We’d love to listen to from you within the feedback beneath. 

LifeStraw, Waterdrop, and Sawyer supplied related product samples for testing.

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