Discover the Best Water Treatment System for You

· Reading Time: 9 minutes

Finding the right water filtration system will help meet your needs during an outdoor adventure and emergency

Whether you’re on the go, having an outdoor adventure, or in an emergency, make sure you stay hydrated with refreshing, clean water. But remember that water isn’t always just water. Often times, if you find your water source in the outdoors while camping, hiking, or if you’re lost, the water may be home to bacteria, protozoa, and even viruses that can harm you or your pets. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable filtration system on hand to neutralize these harmful microorganisms. But what type of filtration/purification method is right for you?

Water Filter vs. Water Purifier

There are three ways you can treat your water: you can filter it, purify it, or both (which is what we recommend). Filtering your water with a good microfilter eliminates sediment, protozoa, and bacteria.

Purifying your water typically means that you are killing the microorganisms. Although microfilters remove most of the microorganisms, sediment, and particles that cloud water, using a purifier in addition to the microfilter will make sure to neutralize all the microorganisms (including viruses).

To learn more about water contaminants and the difference between purifying and filtering water, check out our Insight article, “Water Filtration and Purification”.

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Depending on your activity, your water source, and how clean you want the treated water to be, you may only need a microfilter or you may desperately need a purifier.

Which water filtration system is right for you?


When choosing a water microfilter/purifier make sure you understand your needs.

  • Is your microfilter/purifier just for yourself, or will you use it to clean water for an entire family or group?
  • Will you be using the microfilter/purifier frequently for campouts and backpacking trips, or only at home or in an emergency?
  • Do you just need something to toss into your emergency kit?
  • Do you have easy access to a lake or stream?
  • Does the water need to be filtered/purified immediately or do you have some time to wait?

Knowing what your needs are will help you when choosing a filter and/or purifier. Let’s look at some options to see which one is the best fit for you.


So you’ve heard that it’s important to add a microfilter and/or purifier to your emergency kit, but you’re not quite sure where to begin. Cleaning your water can actually be really easy. Several treatment systems only require you to drop in some tablets or to simply place a light into the water source. The following filters and purifiers are some of the easiest to use.


The Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets are a great way to purify your water using a chemical treatment that leaves behind no chemical taste. See more about how these tablets work under the BACKPACKERS OR CAMPERS section of this post.


The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System is our most basic filtration system that filters out only sediment and large microorganisms from water. Simply insert the straw into your water source and drink. The water is filtered as it travels through the straw. The Frontier fits in to a pocket, a fanny pack, daypack, or emergency kit. For safety, use the Frontier with chemical treatments.


The Hydropack is a simple and powerful micro-filtration pack. Simply drop a pack into any fresh water source and in about 10 hours, get approximately 12 fl. Oz. of purified, electrolyte drink. The Hydropack eliminates bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

STERIPEN $49.95 – $99.95

The SteriPen is a great way to purify water on the go. Using ultra-violet light, the SteriPen neutralizes 99.9% of disease-causing microorganisms (including bacteria, protozoa, and viruses) in as little as 48 seconds. Its tapered neck allows water to be purified directly in narrow-mouth drinking bottles or other containers. The SteriPen works great to purify smaller amounts of water at a time. However, in order for the UV light to work, you need mostly clear water. The Steripen fits-all-filter is an inexpensive, wise investment to make cloudy water clear.


The MyBottle Microfilter is a lightweight, portable microfilter that removes particles, dirt, bacteria, and pathogenic cysts (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium) from water to give you a clean, fresh taste. Simply drink from the bottle—microorganisms and sediment will be filtered out as you drink. Includes a Carbon filter to reduce chemicals, eliminate odors, and improve the taste of water. The MyBottle Microfilter is great for on-the-go activities, outdoor adventures, or emergencies.


The MyBottle Purifier removes bacteria, protozoa, and viruses from your water. You get the compact, lightweight form of a water bottle with the confidence to drink from almost any water source. This is an extremely simple way to get clean, fresh-tasting water. Simply fill the bottle with water, drop in the purification and filtration straw, and drink.


Often times we aren’t just carrying a means to filter water for ourselves, but for our families or for a group of people. Although any good filter/purifier will do its job of treating the water, there are a few that are ideal for a greater output capacity.


The Reliance Fold-N-Filter combines water storage with water treatment so you can effectively filter, purify, and store up to 5 gallons (19 liters) at a time. Simply fill the collapsible jug with water and then press down on the container to quickly dispense clean, filtered water. The Reliance Fold-N-Filter is great to take camping, to use at home, or in an emergency. When not in use, the Fold-N-Filter rolls up and can store in a small space.


The Katadyn Base Camp Gravity Filter is a great microfilter to use for groups, families, or at a basecamp. This pump-free water filtration method can provide 2 gallons of water in just 15 minutes (and up to 200 gallons of water before its element needs replacing). Simply fill the water bag and hang for a convenient, easy way to treat a large amount of water.


The Katadyn Combi is a perfect fit for high capacity needs in outdoor use and for preparedness. See more under the BACKPACKERS OR CAMPERS section


The Gravidyn is a great way to filter your water with its 3 two-stage cartridges. It removes bacteria and protozoa while reducing chemicals for a clean, fresh taste with Carbon. The Gravidyn is ideal for groups of people. It has a 2.5 gallon water container and is used by international relief organizations as group equipment to prepare drinking water. There’s no need to pump or stir with the Gravidyn—gravity does all of the work.


The Expedition Water Filter is a nearly indestructible microfilter built for times you need high volumes of water—and fast. It filters up to 26,000 gallons of water in its lifetime, filtering 2 liters in roughly 30 seconds (or about a gallon a minute). This is a great microfilter to use for groups such as extended families, neighborhoods, church or civic groups, and schools.


For camping enthusiasts, and especially for those who love backpacking and hiking, having a filter or purifier that is compact, lightweight, and easy to use on the go is crucial. Anything heavy or bulky takes up precious space in your pack and adds more weight to your load. The following microfilters/purifiers will clean your water without adding much extra weight.


This chemical treatment is a great way to purify water while hiking, camping, or in an emergency without having to deal with the chemical taste. The Micropur tablets are lightweight, compact, and easy to use. One tablet will treat one quart (1 liter) of water. The pack comes with 20 tablets that are effective against bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. These are the only EPA-registered tablets on the market. These tablets are great to have on hand for a variety of situations to help purify water or to use in tandem with a filter.

Note:  Treatment time is 4 hours

$49.95 – $99.95

The SteriPen is a great addition to backpacks or camping gear because it’s lightweight and small enough to pack in a crevice of your pack. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


The Katadyn MyBottle Microfilter is a great microfilter to take on backpacking expeditions or while camping. It’s used for one person, and you can drink straight from the microfilter itself, which gives you more room to pack other gear since you don’t have to pack a microfilter and bottle separately. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


Like the MyBottle Microfilter, the MyBottle Purifier fits easily into a backpack for outdoor adventures allowing you to drink straight from the bottle you purify your water in. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


The Katadyn Hiker filters out protozoa and bacteria from water and prevents early clogging. Ideally it’s used for emergency kits, camping supplies, or to take while hiking where a lightweight, portable microfilter best fits your needs. The Hiker can filter up to one quart per minute. Simply place the pre-filter in a water source and pump.


The Vario Microfilter is a premium drinking water system that filters bacteria and protozoa from water. The Vario is easy to use and great for a variety of conditions. This microfilter offers you the option to have a high water output when the water is clear. When water is murky, you can adjust the microfilter to activate and extra layer of filtration for longer life. Like the Hiker Pro, the Vario features carbon filtration to keep water tasting fresh and clean.


The Katadyn Combi’s ceramic cartridge makes it perfect for high capacity needs in outdoor use and for preparedness. It eliminates disease-causing agents such as bacteria, protozoa cysts, algae, spores, and sediment. It can provide up to 13,000 gallons of filtered water. This is a microfilter that will last. The Combi includes a carbon cartridge to reduce chemicals and bad taste and comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.

This microfilter works both outdoors and indoors. With the optional Faucet Adaptor (WP F455), you can connect the microfilter to your faucet for clean water in a camper, cottage, or boat.


The Pocket Water Filter is the most rugged, longest-lasting microfilter available. This microfilter is ideal for long backpacking trips or campouts. With its lifetime warranty, the Pocket Water Filter removes harmful microorganisms and sediment providing up to 13,000 gallons of treated water over its lifetime. Simply place the intake hose and pre-filter into the untreated water source, connect the output hose to your water container, and pump.

The Pocket Water Filter performs in the most challenging conditions and is easy to clean. It can be cleaned over and over again which is why it lasts so long. This is the best choice if you are looking for a microfilter for life.


Looking for something a little more suited to your expertise? Need an upgrade that will last you a bit longer than a basic water filter/purifier? These microfilters are built provide the best protection with the highest durability.


This purifier is a fantastic upgrade to the Katadyn MyBottle Microfilter. With the MyBottle Purifier you eliminate bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


The Hiker Pro is a high performance version of the Hiker. It’s an all-conditions microfilter that removes bacteria and protozoa from water. It’s efficient, lightweight, and reliable making it ideal to take camping, hiking, or to use in an emergency. Simply place the pre-filter in a water source and pump.

The Hiker Pro comes with a hydration pack adaptor, allowing you to filter water directly from the safe water hose into a hydration pack without having to remove the bladder! It also comes with a filter protector to extend the life of the cartridge in challenging conditions, and with a Carbon cartridge to help improve the taste of your filtered water. This is a great microfilter to pump and clean a larger supply of water on the trail or during emergencies.


If you’re looking for the ultimate microfilter, and one that you’ll keep for life, the Pocket Water Filter is for you. It is the most rugged, longest-lasting microfilter available. See more under the BACKPACKERS OR CAMPERS section.

With the variety of water filters and purifiers, you can find the one that’ll fit your needs the best.

Do you prefer any of these filters/purifiers over the others? Leave a comment and let us know!

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12 Responses

  • I just purchased a Cerydin Counter top type drip filter with 3 filters. Is there a COMPETE list available of aALL chemicals, harmful minierals, etc. available for this unit? I refer to Flouride,
    Chlorine, Leaqd, etc., etc. Thanx
    (II bought this unit fromn ESsentials this month)

    • Hi William,
      I talked with our Product specialist, Tim for an answer on this. The Ceradyn does not remove chemicals or minerals from the water. It’s primary purpose is to remove microorganisms that are .2 Microns or larger. However, our Gravidyn filter (the sister to the Ceradyn) takes out Chlorine in the water, but not Flouride. The Gravidyn can help to reduce the presence of chemicals, but not to completely remove them. Sorry that the Ceradyn may not have been what you were looking for. Please talk to our 1-800-999-1863 with further questions or concerns about your purchase.

  • I was asked if I knew of any type of water filtration system that would be good enough to use for a manmade chemical contaminant. Some like pesticides that get washed off farmland into a creek or river. Or any other type of manmade hazard. Do you test, or know of a company that would test, for such circumstances? Thanks in advance..

    • Kevin,
      Sorry it took me a little while to get back to you on this. It’s a tricky question. I asked Rob, our manager of Customer Service and company product trainer (he trains all the employees about the products) about this. We do not test for manmade chemical contaminants. The only products we know that could help to eliminate them would be our hydropak or to use activated carbon. Of course, these things would not help with a river, but with smaller portions of water. For more information, call us up and ask to speak to Rob Pedersen. He should be able to help you get what you need. The number is 1-800-999-1863.

  • thank you for this..I was pulling my hair our about getting clean wate, because we have a well. .So much information out there and much is not any where as complete or understandable as this. I will read this and be buying my water purification and filters from you.
    thanks again
    God Bless

  • What are the choices for emergency family preparedness for drinking water from our swimming pool that has salt water , not chlorine, system?

    • Earl,
      Great question. In order to remove the salt from your water, you will need a desalinator, a type of pump that removes salt from pool water. Or you’ll need to distill the water. Unfortunately, we do not sell desalinators, but Katadyn, the company we get our microfilters from does.

  • What are the differences between the Katadyn Pocket and Combi filters? It seems like both have ceramic cartridges that filter 13, 000 gallons to 0.2 microns. Only the Combi comes with the carbon to reduce chemicals. Is the Pocket compatible with a carbon cartridge? Which filter is better and why? Thank you for your time.

    • Michelle,
      Great question. There are many similarities between the Pocket and the Combi. As you state, the combi comes with a carbon chamber, but the Pocket does not. However, you can purchase a Katadyn Carbon cartridge to use with the Pocket. You can find one here: Basically, this carbon cartridge attaches to the hose that your clean water comes out of and uses the carbon to improve the taste. It’s specially made to fit into large mouth bottles. As far as which filter is better, it’s hard to say. They’re both good. It depends on your needs. For instance, the Pocket is made of aluminum, it’s more durable and compact, it’s good for hiking and expeditions. Whereas the combi is made of plastic, it’s bulkier, but it’s great for car camping, home use, or RV and cabin camping. The combi also has a sink attachment as well, so that you can filter water from your sink at home if your water source ever gets contaminated.

  • I purchased an Aqua Rain water filter a few years ago, and use it to filter water at the kitchen sink. Our water is municipal deep auqifer, and the Aqua Rain not only filters well (00.2 micron), but has the silvered carbon in the center to improve taste. It is a gravity type filter, so requires no pumping, and the ceramic filters can be cleaned and reused many times. It is stainless steel construction and can hold up to four filters, and is made in the USA.

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