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The Best Travel Water Filters & Purifiers for Every Budget – Tested & Ranked

If you’re preparing for an international trip abroad, then a travel water filter or purifier bottle should be at the top of your list of essential packing items. 

Not only will you want to avoid getting ill from polluted water sources, but you’re probably also concerned about your environmental impact. A carefully selected water filter can help to solve both of these problems.

But what should you be looking for in a portable water filter and which are the best options on the market? 

I’ve personally trialed multiple portable water filtration and purification systems over the past five years of travel in South America and other parts of the world.

As a result, I’ve been able to identify which are the best for international travel and therefore make an excellent investment for your next trip abroad. 

An orange Grayl Geopress travel water filter sits on a rock in front of a river
The Grayl Geopress works well both in town and the woods.

Why do you need a travel water filter or purifier? 

Who doesn’t have a story of getting violently ill traveling abroad?

More often than not, it’s the result of untreated water, particularly as waterborne microorganisms are a real problem in developing countries, where poor sanitation can lead to untreated sewage entering drinking water supplies. 

Diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid can be transmitted through contaminated water and thus make you very, very sick. 

Diarrhea is the most common illness associated with drinking unpurified water. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: bring a portable water purifier with you on your travels, which quickly and easily filters out dirty water, leaving it safe for you to drink. 

What previous clients have said:

“Steph’s itinerary exceeded all expectations. She provided off-the-beaten-path hikes, great restaurants and accommodations, and very helpful local contacts. Due to the weather we had to deviate from our original plan, however Steph quickly responded to our email during the trip with further recommendations. Her service took all the guesswork out of planning our vacation and led to the most fun and unforgettable trip we have ever had!”

Catherine and Curtis
Traveled to Chile, December to January 2020

The problem with single-use plastic water bottles

What’s more, relying on bottled water – which is always safe to drink – presents its own problems. Reuters produced graphics to illustrate the scale of the problem, showing how every minute, one million single-use plastic bottles are purchased around the world.

This works out to 1.3 billion bottles per day or 481.6 billion bottles per year.  

Many single-use plastic bottles are widely recyclable. Unfortunately, most aren’t, and instead end up in landfill where they will take at least 450 years to degrade. Yes, seriously. 

Imagine you’re on a one-week international trip and you drink the recommended two liters per day. Each day, you purchase two single-use plastic bottles containing one liter of water; by the end of the week, you’ll have used 14 single-use plastic bottles.

But what if you’re on a two-week trip? Or a month? Or a year? Your environmental impact starts to build up – and so does the cost. 

Why travel water purifiers are a sensible economic choice

If you can expect to spend around $2 USD per day on bottled water, many of the purifiers listed in this guide will see you break even after just a two-week trip or one week if you’re traveling in a pair.

What’s more, your water purifier can be used on every trip you take in the future, making them an environmentally- and budget-conscious piece of travel equipment.

What is the difference between water purifiers and water filters?

Both “purifier” and “filter” are thrown around a lot, but did you know they actually have a crucial difference? 

Water filters – such as those like Brita filters you might find in your home – can remove impurities such as small particles and unpleasant odors such as chlorine (which is often used to kill micro-organisms in the water to ensure that it’s safe to drink in the first place). 

This type of system removes waterborne protozoa (parasites such as Giardia and cryptosporidium oocysts) and bacteria (single-celled organisms such as E. Coli and salmonella). 

However, water filters are unable to remove some of the most dangerous impurities in the water: viruses. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viruses such as rotavirus and norovirus are the smallest of all waterborne disease-causing microorganisms and can pass through filters with pore sizes of between 0.1 and 0.4.

Therefore, if a purifier has a membrane larger than this, viruses are not caught by the filter and instead pass right through with the water itself.

Water purification, on the other hand, removes all three of these classes of microbes and therefore provides complete protection to the drinker – thus stopping you from getting ill. 

A glass table holds a selection of different travel water filters
Which travel water filter is right for your needs?

Which type of travel water purifier do you need? 

It can feel like a herculean task when faced with the variety of travel water purifiers on the market to identify which is best for you and the type of international travel that you do. 

Add into the mix the range of prices, sizes, and exactly what they safely remove from the water, and you can be left feeling completely perplexed. 

To make things simple, water purification systems can be broken down into the following types of products:

UV water purifiersSteripen AdventurerVery fast and easy to use
Can be used to purify as much water as you need up-front
Needs batteries (which are a very specific type and hard to find)
Requires an additional water container for purified water
Doesn’t work with murky water
Bottle water purifiersLifeStraw Go or Water to Go bottles Works with murky water (including from puddles!)Purifies as you drink, so you only have access to one bottle of purified water
Purification cartridge must be replaced periodically when it becomes clogged with particles
Squeeze purifiersSawyer MiniCan be used to purify as much water as you need up-front
Works with murky water (including from puddles!)
Can take a while to purify water and the squeezing process can require a lot of muscle power
Have been known to break easily
Purification cartridge must be replaced periodically when it becomes clogged with particles
Press purifiersGrayl GeopressCan be used to purify as much water as you need up-front
Works with murky water (including from puddles!)
Can take a while to purify water and the pressing process can require a lot of muscle power
Purification cartridge must be replaced periodically when it becomes clogged with particles
Generally bulkier and heavier than other available water purifiers
Gravity purifiersSawyer One-Gallon Gravity Filtration SystemWorks with murky water (including from puddles!)Generally bulkier and heavier than other available water purifiers $$$
Chemical water purification Lightweight to carry and inexpensive
Quick and easy to use
Leaves the water with a nasty after-taste
Not very effective against parasites (such as cryptosporidium oocysts)
You need to wait a while before drinking treated water
Boiling Costs next to nothing (well, the price of the gas or electricity used to boil the water)
Is a fast process (although I’ve found it can take a long time to boil water in South America where it’s rare to find a kettle)
Water can be left with a metallic flavor from the pan or kettle in which it’s boiled.
It can take longer to boil water at altitude

Which water purifiers for international travel exist on the market?

There’s a wide range of different options available at different price points and for different styles of travel. 

I have personally trialed all of the water purifiers listed – except for two as indicated – and vouch for their effectiveness based upon this. 

A Steripen travel water purifier sits next to its fabric travel case and instructions
The Steripen Opti comes with a case to protect the delicate UV light.

UV water purifiers: Steripen Adventurer

Trialed by me: yes

Full Specification
Weight 70g (2.5oz) without batteries
Purifier type Ultraviolet light
Amount of water filtered at a time Up to 1l (34 oz)
Kills 99.9% of protozoa, 99.99% of viruses, and 99.9999% of bacteria
Speed Purifies 0.5l (16 oz) in 48 seconds; 1l (34 oz) in 90 seconds
Number of treatments Can run 50 treatments per set of batteries and up to 8,000 treatments in total
Battery type CR123A, which cost $1 USD per battery
Cost of new filter N/A
Recommendations Must be used with a bottle with 4.4cm (1.75in) diameter such as a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle (also available on REI|Backcountry). Not ideal for backpacking/outdoors hiking where you plan on purifying water with floating particles as these can’t be killed by the UV light.
Buy it REI or Amazon

The only portable UV water purifier on this list, the Steripen Adventurer kills all bacteria, viruses, and parasites found in water and does so almost in the blink of an eye. Seriously. 

It looks a bit like a pen that you dip into a bottle full of untreated water. At the click of a button, you begin to “stir” the water using the Steripen and in just 90 seconds, you’ve purified a liter of water.

A light on the body of the device lets you know exactly when to stop stirring and whether the water has been successfully purified or not. 

To use the Steripen Adventurer, you need to buy your own wide-mouthed water bottle to use with the purifier (I’ve found the Nalgene water bottle to be an ideal size for this), meaning you can ensure that you have enough water for a day’s hike or drive if you fill up a couple of water bottles. 

It’s also handy if you’re sightseeing around a city and don’t want to purify loads of water in one go; just purify a small amount, ask for your bottle to be filled up from the tap in a restaurant, and purify the water you need. 

It’s also the lightest portable water purification system on this list, weighing in at only 70g – although you will need to have your own water bottle at hand. 

Some reviewers have claimed issues with the battery and that it has failed at crucial moments; I have not personally faced any such issues during my four years of ownership. 

Things to consider about the Steripen Adventurer

The main negative about the Steripen Adventurer is the fact that the batteries it requires are really, really weird (like seriously, I’ve never seen them before) and saw me buying a large box of them from Amazon (and of which I’ve used about four because the batteries do seem to last forever). 

Secondly, it is a delicate piece of kit with the UV light easy enough to break if you don’t take care of it – although this isn’t an issue that I have faced.

Thirdly, you cannot use the Steripen for murky water as suspended soil particles in the water can shield microorganisms from the UV light, thus preventing them from being killed in the process. 

Therefore, if you plan on backpacking a lot on your trip or taking water from backcountry water sources that could have been contaminated by humans, this isn’t a great option for you. 

Finally, it’s also one of the most expensive of the water purification systems available (coming in a tiny bit cheaper than the Grayl). However, in my experience, you get what you pay for. 

Check out my full review here: Why the Steripen Adventurer is the best backpacking water purifier.


I’ve personally used the Steripen Adventurer for close to five years and find it the most convenient and easy-to-use travel water filter for travel on the market.

90 seconds is all you need to purify a one-liter bottle of water and remove protozoa, bacteria, and viruses, leaving water that is perfectly safe for you to drink immediately. 

It’s ideal for using with contaminated tap water in developing countries but not a great choice for backcountry hiking because it can’t filter out sediment.

Independent tests have also shown that the quality of the water that is filtered is not as good as the Grayl Geopress. 

Buy the Steripen Adventurer Opti on Amazon or buy the newer Steripen Ultra UV on REI

A blue Lifestraw water purifier bottle
The Lifestraw Go is a popular water purifier among backpackers.

Bottle water purifiers: LifeStraw Go

Trialed by me: no

Full Specification
Weight 222g (7.84 oz)
Amount of water filtered at a time Just under 650ml (22 oz)
Purifier type Bottle
Kills 99.999999% of bacteria and 99.999% of protozoa and 99.999% of microplastics
Speed Instant; the straw that you suck is the cartridge through which the water is purified as you drink
Number of treatments The cartridge can purify 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) in its lifetime; the carbon filter lasts for only 25 gallons (100 liters) and, for regular use, needs to be changed every three months.
Battery type None
Cost of new filter From $25 USD
Recommendations This is best for backpacking (outdoor backcountry hiking) in areas where you are taking water from streams and other water courses that should be free of human interference.
Buy itREI or Amazon

The LifeStraw Go is often touted by backpackers as the best water filter for traveling abroad because of its ease of use and accessible cost.

This is a bottle water purifier, which means that you fill the bottle up, re-insert the straw filter, and then suck through it. The water is purified as it travels up and into your mouth. 

The process is therefore instantaneous, requiring no time, planning, or effort on your part. 

Inside the filter cartridge itself, activated carbon removes unpleasant chlorine or other odors from the water.

It also comes with a carabiner clip so that you can easily attach it to your bag while out sightseeing in a city or to your rucksack when you’re on the trail. 

Things to consider about the LifeStraw Go

However, there’s a big but for any travelers. 

The LifeStraw Go doesn’t remove viruses from the water. While the company doesn’t actually claim it will, I honestly didn’t know this vital piece of information until I started researching this article. 

As a water filter bottle so regularly recommended to backpackers, this is a crucial bit of information that lots of people seem to have missed. 

Tap water in developing countries (and all across South America where I’ve traveled) is rife with viruses; throughout this continent and the world in general, 1 in 3 people (that’s 2.2 million people) don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water according to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF

Therefore, the LifeStraw Go leaves you open to stomach upsets and other serious illnesses.  

What’s more, you will need to replace the cartridge in this purifier on a regular basis if you plan to use it long-term on a trip.

The manufacturers recommend every three months – and you’ll know when it’s time to replace the bottle as it’ll start becoming increasingly more difficult to suck water through the straw.

This is costly (effectively the price of buying a brand new LifeStraw Go), so is definitely something to consider. 

A friend of mine who reviewed this product for me also mentioned how the filter is prone to leak when placed in direct sunlight or when it’s at altitude.

On the place she had an incident where the bottle leaked, leaving her seat wet for the entirety of her flight, which isn’t exactly ideal. 


The LifeStraw Go doesn’t remove viruses so isn’t safe for day-to-day travel use in developing countries where tap water isn’t safe to drink. 

A lot of people ask which is better, the Grayl or the Lifestraw Go, but it’s not even a fair contest as they’re aimed at different things (read my Grayl Geopress review below to learn more).

Instead, this is a great water filter bottle for hiking in backcountry destinations where the river water is unlikely to have been tampered with. It’s affordable and easy to use. 

Buy the Lifestraw Go on REI or Amazon

A black and green Water-to-Go water bottle sits on a rustic wooden bench amid yellow flowers
The Water-to-Go bottle purifier in its natural environment.

Bottle water purifiers: Water to Go

Trialed by me: yes

Full Specification  
Weight 138g (4.86 oz)
Amount purified in one go Just under 750ml (25 oz)
Purifier type Bottle
Kills Removes 99.99% percent of water contaminants, including viruses, parasites, and poisonous metals and chemicals
Speed Instant; the straw that you suck is the cartridge through which the water is purified as you drink
Number of treatments 200 liters; the manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every three months if you’re filtering two liters per day.
Battery type None
Cost of new filter $13 USD
Recommendations An affordable option for traveling abroad, although you’ll want to keep it upright to avoid leaking and be careful not to drop it.
Buy itAmazon

The Water to Go is another water purifier bottle.

When I first came across this brand, I was really impressed with the price of their products. This is a top water purifier as it’s one of the cheapest models on the market and can filter all of the nasties that you don’t want to have in the water: bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, as well as filtering out heavy metals such as lead and other harmful chemicals. 

It’s also designed to make sure that the water tastes good; inside the filter cartridge are activated carbon particles to reduce any unpleasant taste or odors in the water. 

If you buy it on Amazon, it comes with a replacement filter, which you’ll likely need after three months of use, while additional replacement filters are relatively affordable at around only $13 USD a pop.

Things to consider about the Water to Go

While the Water to Go is probably up there as the best filtered water bottle for international travel, there are some downsides.

Many users have reported that the bottle does leak if it isn’t kept completely upright – which is a bit of an issue if you’re using this water filter bottle for travel, as keeping a bottle upright is nigh on impossible.

Some reviews have also noted how it’s not a very durable water filtration bottle, so you’ll want to make sure that you don’t drop it (the Grayl Geopress, below, is a far sturdier alternative). 

With the larger bottle, it’s also hard to see how much water you have remaining as the plastic is opaque (the smaller 500ml bottle is clear so you can see this), which can be annoying. The black design isn’t great for hot countries anyway as it causes the water to heat up rapidly. 

For me, the bottle is a little on the small side (I don’t like to travel without a one-liter water bottle), particularly as it can be hard to get the final hundred milliliters from the bottom of the bottle – so capacity is never fully 750ml. 

This isn’t designed to be a squeeze purifier (check the Sawyer Mini below instead for that), so you can’t use it to purify water into a glass – instead, you’ll be drinking from the water bottle throughout.

If this is a game changer for you, I’d recommend the Steripen Adventurer instead.  


This is among the cheapest and most affordable portable travel water purifiers and delivers with speed, capacity, and ease of use. It’s also significantly lighter than the comparable LifeStraw Go and has a slightly larger capacity. 

However, you’ll want to keep it upright to avoid leaks and I would avoid the black design if you want to keep your water cool. 

Buy the Water To Go on Amazon

Someone squeezes the blue bag of a Sawyer Mini water filter, pushing the water onto some plants
Sawyer acknowledges that the squeeze bag on the Mini can be delicate.

Squeeze purifiers: Sawyer Mini

Trialed by me: yes

Full Specification
Weight 104g (3.70 oz)
Purifier type Squeeze
Amount of water filtered at a time Around two minutes to purify one liter of water
Kills 99.99999% of bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa. It also removes 100% of microplastics
Speed Two minutes for one liter of water
Number of treatments 100,000 gallons of water or a lifetime of drinkable water
Battery type None
Cost of new filter The manufacturers claim the filter never needs to be replaced
Recommendations This is a great option if you’re wanting to use it for backcountry hiking where water sources are uncontaminated
Buy itREI or Amazon

The Sawyer Mini is the cheapest and one of the most lightweight water purifiers on this list.

Like the Steripen Adventurer, you can filter water in advance as you squeeze dirty water from the provided container through the filter and into your own bottle. 

It also should last a lifetime, with no need to replace the filter cartridge – at all. This is because you can flush the filter out using the small syringe that comes with the filter.

This is the only filter on the list that should never require replacing and, for the price, this makes the Sawyer Mini incredibly hard to beat in many respects.

You can also link it up to a hydration bladder such as the Platypus and suck the water directly from the bladder through the filter. Similar to the LifeStraw Go, this does require some effort because of the resistance provided by the filter. 

Things to consider about the Sawyer Mini

However, as with the LifeStraw Go above, the Sawyer Mini doesn’t remove viruses from the water.

Therefore, it’s really only recommended for backcountry hiking trips with reasonably clean and reliable water sources, rather than something to use when you’re traveling through developing countries and drinking tap water that’s potentially contaminated with waterborne viruses.  

I also found this pretty hard to use for one main reason: the bag tears pretty easily if you’re not super careful when you’re squeezing.

This is something that the manufacturers highlight as being an issue (and subsequently, you should be more careful) but was a real deal-breaker for me and the main reason that I opted instead for the Steripen Adventurer

I also found that, because of the degree of care you needed, the whole process takes a lot more time than it needs to (around two minutes, and a lot of pressure, for a liter of water).

This isn’t helped by the fact that the filter cartridge can clog easily and you need to backflush the system using the provided syringe to enable it to work again. 

On balance, neither my dad or my brother have faced similar issues when using the Sawyer Mini and it has rapidly become my dad’s water purification system of choice.

That said, if you’re just starting out with the Sawyer Mini, you’ll want to invest in a couple of spare bags in case you do spring a leak. 


This is a great little water purifier at a supremely accessible price, but the fact that it doesn’t filter out viruses means that it’s not ideal for travel.

Instead, this is probably the best water filtration system for backpacking and backcountry hiking, but only in areas where the water sources are unlikely to be polluted with waterborne viruses. 

Sawyer has just recently launched their new Select Water Purifiers and Filters range, with the S3 range aimed toward international travel as it removes bacteria, protozoa, viruses, heavy metals, and chemicals (including pesticides).

It’s a lot more expensive than the Sawyer Mini (coming in at a similar price to the Steripen and Grayl) but looks like it could be an excellent alternative. 

If you’ve tried this new product, please let me know your experiences!

Buy the Sawyer Mini water filter on REI or Amazon

An orange Grayl Geopress travel water filter in its packaging in a natural setting
The Grayl Geopress is one of the best water purifiers for international travel.

Press purifiers: Grayl Geopress

Trialed by me: yes

Full Specification
Weight 550 g (19.4 oz)
Purifier type Bottle press
Amount of water filtered at a time 710 ml (24 oz)
Kills 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of protozoa, 99.99% of viruses, 100% of microplastics, and heavy metals such as lead and arsenic
Speed 20 seconds to filter 750ml of water
Number of treatments 350 presses; equivalent to 250 liters
Battery type None
Cost of new filter $30 USD
Recommendations Great travel water filter but add your own carabiner clip so that it can be attached to the side of your rucksack for ease of use
Buy itREI, Backcountry, or Amazon

The Grayl Geopress is a very different type of water purifier from those discussed above.

It’s a bottle that you fill with water, before inserting the filter cartridge and pressing down, thus forcing the water through the cartridge in one swift movement.

It’s a really popular bit of gear for travelers because it does eliminate all bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, meaning it’s a reliable source of fresh and safe drinking water. 

What’s more, the Grayl Geopress has a capacity of 710 ml, which is comparable with all of the bottle water filters available on the market.

Finally, the water bottle itself is the most durable of those in this guide and you can guarantee that dropping this bottle isn’t going to cause serious harm to the filter. It also won’t leak, even if it’s stored upside down. 

Things to consider about the Grayl Geopress

However, my biggest issue with using the Grayl Geopress is how small the capacity of the bottle is. 

While they claim that it filters 710 ml, I found this to be less because of the dribble of water at the bottom of the bottle that ends up being out of reach of the cartridge and therefore doesn’t get purified. 

What’s more, I’ve found that the act of pressing the water through the filter genuinely starts to hurt my hand after a while. You need some serious guns (US readers: muscles!) to work this filter and it can feel like a bit of an ordeal to be doing this multiple times per day. 

It can also get extremely tough to press if the water has lots of sand or silt in it, so you’ll probably want to try and pre-filter this (a handkerchief or similar piece of cloth can be useful for this). 

Note that at altitude, I’ve also found that the filter cartridge starts trying to remove itself from the bottle due to the pressure, which caused some leaking. Therefore to avoid this, you may want to ensure that it’s not completely filled before you fly. 


The Grayl Geopress left my hands hurting, however, independent testing has proven that it provides some of the cleanest water post-purification, blowing the Steripen Adventurer out of the water.

What’s more, it can filter water containing particulates, so can be used in practically any context and still guarantee safe drinking water in a matter of minutes. This makes it an ideal option as a water filter for traveling abroad. 

Issues remain in the fact that it doesn’t have space for that much water and it’s really heavy, which is the compromise for the quality of the purification system inside. 

Buy the Grayl Geopress on REI, Backcountry or Amazon

Gravity purifiers: Sawyer One-Gallon Gravity Filtration System

Trialed by me: no

Full Specification
Weight 4.5 oz
Purifier type Gravity
Amount of water filtered at a time 1 gallon
Kills 99.99999% of bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa. It also removes 100% of microplastics
Speed One liter in one minute
Number of treatments 100,000 gallons of water or a lifetime of drinkable water
Battery type None
Cost of new filter The manufacturers claim the filter never needs to be replaced
Recommendations A great item for backcountry hiking, particularly if you’re in a group
Buy itAmazon

Sawyer’s One-Gallon Gravity Filtration System is basically a one-gallon bag attached to the Sawyer Mini. You hang the bag in a tree or off your pack and watch as gravity pushes the water through the Sawyer Mini and into your receptacle of choice. 

Because gravity, rather than your hands, is doing all the work, this version of the Sawyer is a lot more durable. Additionally, the Sawyer Mini filter that comes with it has the same long lifespan – 100,000 gallons of water or, what the manufacturers claim is equivalent to a lifetime of water. 

This is a great option if there are a number of you on a trip, as you can quickly and easily filter water for cooking or drinking. 

Things to consider about the Sawyer One-Gallon Gravity Filtration System

However, as with the Sawyer Mini, this water purification system doesn’t filter viruses, so isn’t ideal for travel.

I saw some guys using one on the O Circuit in Torres del Paine and it was great for this type of situation: the water sources in the park are largely uncontaminated by humans or chemicals, so the water just needed filtering for sediment. 


Again, the Sawyer One-Gallon Gravity Filtration System doesn’t filter viruses, so isn’t a good choice for general travel. However, like the Sawyer Mini, it’s a great outdoor water filtration system for backpacking and backcountry hiking, particularly if you’re travelling in a group. 

Buy the Sawyer One-Gallon Gravity Filtration System on Amazon

Chemical water purification

Perhaps the most widely-used means of purifying water is through chemicals such as iodine or chlorine.

Tablets or drops can be bought at a very inexpensive price and need to just be added to the water you are trying to purify.

That said, you do need to wait from 30 minutes to four hours before it is safe to drink the water. 

Iodine purification tablets and drops don’t purify water from cryptosporidium oocysts and they can also leave the water with an unpleasant taste, although this can be circumnavigated with the help of additional tablets that neutralize the flavor. 


Chemical water purification tablets or drops are the ideal backup for any of the other methods identified in this guide. However, they are not a great solution for travel, particularly as you’ll want clean, drinkable water available at a moment’s notice. 

Get water purification tablets on REI, Backcountry or Amazon

A Steripen water purifier sits next to a silver metal water bottle on a rustic table
The Steripen Adventurer has been my go-to water purifier for years.


If you’re traveling and don’t have access to any water filtration system, boiling is the most reliable method of acquiring safe drinking water. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s necessary to boil water for one minute to ensure that all waterborne microorganisms are killed. 

However, in my experience, if there’s no kettle where you’re staying (something very common in South America), then it can take a long time to boil a few liters of water. 

You also need to do this in advance (this method doesn’t allow you to purify while you’re out and about), while the pan you boil water in can leave an unpleasant metallic taste in your water. 


Boiling water is a last-resort option for acquiring safe drinking water and one that, while functional, can take time and result in metallic-flavored water. 

I personally think investing in a water purifier is worth the cost for its ease of use and is the best way to get clean drinking water when you’re traveling abroad. 

Someone uses a Water-to-Go travel water filter to scoop water from a pond filled with waterlillies
The Water-to-Go water filter is one of the most affordable options.

Which is the best travel water filter for international travel?

The best travel water purifier for simplicity: I personally prefer the Steripen as I’ve found this the fastest and most reliable method of treating tap water throughout South America.

Not only can you purify one liter of water in 90 seconds, but this also requires practically no effort on your part. 

The Steripen Adventurer removes everything from bacteria to protozoa and viruses making potentially contaminated water fit to drink. You need your own water bottle in addition to the filter itself, but I’ve found this to be a reliable little device, which is also highly portable, lightweight and small. 

Buy the Steripen Adventurer Opti on REI or Amazon

The best travel water purifier for every single circumstance: However, the Grayl Geopress comes a close second in the contest for finding the best travel water filter, despite a couple of reservations I have about the product.

This is because it removes practically everything from the water, including chemicals, hard metals, and microplastics and it even works with water containing particulates – something that the Steripen Adventurer isn’t capable of doing. 

The downside to the Grayl Geopress is the size and weight of the bottle and filter, which may put you off, but are something you can overlook in order to be guaranteed safe drinking water wherever you are on the road. 

Buy the Grayl Geopress on REI, Backcountry or Amazon

Looking for more recommendations for travel and backcountry hiking? Find out why the Big Agnes is my go-to lightweight tent and read my recommendations for what to pack for South America and hiking hotspot, Patagonia.


Saturday 25th of November 2023

Hi. Thank you for this valuable information. Can I please ask you a question, and thanks in advance if you can help :)

I plan on doing a year backpacking and hiking in South America next year, so I need something that works 100% on everything - bacteria, viruses, protozoa, floating particles. It looks like the Geopress is the only option that ticks all of these boxes, am I right? As you mentioned, the Geopress is heavy/bulky, so is not ideal for my situation as I need to be fairly lightweight.

In my case, what would you recommend? Would it be a good idea to use a Sawyer Squeeze, and have some purification tables to remove the potential viruses?

Steph Dyson

Tuesday 28th of November 2023

Hi Aidan, I travelled across South America just using my steripen and didn't get ill. If you want the belt and braces approach, the Geopress is the best option. I wouldn't use purification tablets as they make the water taste awful. Steph

Vance W

Friday 4th of August 2023

None of what you covered will prevent sickness in New Guinea. All of those items were good but it was the food not water that caused the problems in Port Moresby. I was sick the entire time until I went over to Rabaul on the other side of the country. Before I left the US I bought several of those items like the Lifestraw and grayl geopress. after 4 years of traveling in 32 country's I left them behind to lighten the bags. I mostly just found it easier to treat the reactions by traveling with pepto all the time. Or gaviscon in AU and nz. Even when I was a otr driver in the USA it was always the food not the water that caused the issues.

Steph Dyson

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

Hi Vance, the issue with food is typically as a result of the water being used (salad often makes people sick because of it being washed in water that has bacteria or viruses). Steph

Ryan Sainthill

Friday 21st of July 2023

Great article, I appreciate it! Thank you very much. I found out one filter but it is a bit bigger, so can anyone share some information with me if it is good to use this filter for walking or to buy another one?


Thursday 7th of April 2022

I love my Grayl! Great for foreign travel, I fill up with tap water, etc. all the time. Less worries about bottled water, as I found sometimes the hotel can be a little stingy. :) No issues pressing it, I just set it down and lean on it a bit. I don't try to hold and force it. A little heavy for backpacking, but I take it anyway. I carry a 1l. bladder and a couple of presses fills it up as well.

Steph Dyson

Friday 22nd of April 2022

Great, thanks for sharing! It's definitely one of the best options! Steph


Tuesday 29th of March 2022

I was very surprised to see your comment that LifeStraw doesn't remove viruses... as my research told me otherwise. I just double checked their website. They claim:

LifeStraw’s membrane ultrafilters are capable of removing 99.999% (log 5) of viruses, 99.999999% (log 8) of bacteria (including E. coli), 99.999% (log 5) of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.), and 99.999% (log 5) of microplastics.'s%20membrane%20ultrafilters%20are%20capable,(log%205)%20of%20microplastics.

So not sure where your information is coming from, but this definitely gives me pause and I will do more research to confirm before buying.


Monday 20th of February 2023

@paul, hello - on their detail data sheet info, it’s just the PURIFIERS listed that remove viruses [Lifestraw “Mission”, “Family” and “Community” product items]. The other Lifestraw products on that page are FILTERS and they do not remove viruses [“Lifestraw”, “Lifestraw Go, Play, Universal, Steel” and “Lifestraw Flex” ]. [pardon my emphasis with the caps but it helps me to keep it straight]. Here’s the URL:


Wednesday 1st of February 2023

@paul, I just checked your link and checked on their webpage too, and it doesn't say anything about virues. I was looking into it too as I would be interested if it removes viruses as well