Turning Water Filtration On Its Head

By Dan Kidder
Managing Editor

The paradigm in water filtration has long been to take dirty water, filter out the bad stuff, and put the treated water into a container for storage or drinking. Well, four new products have changed that paradigm by capturing the untreated water for storage and filtering it on demand as you consume it. They have literally turned water treatment thinking and practice on its head. Because these filters do not use iodine or bleach, they leave nothing behind but clean tasting filtered water.

productpagegobottleLifeStraw Go
LifeStraw has long been an innovator in water filtration and a global good citizen. For every LifeStraw sold, a child in Africa receives a year’s worth of clean water. The LifeStraw Go consists of a standard 650 ml BPA-free Tritan water bottle with a built in LifeStraw. Dirty water goes into the bottle, and a flip up bite valve in the cap draws water through the filter, giving the user a clean drink with every sip.  It will filter up to 264 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced.


  • Filters up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water
  • Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (>LOG 6 reduction)
  • Removes 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites (>LOG 3 reduction)
  • Reduces turbidity by filtering to 0.2 microns
  • Lightweight

microfilter-olive_1Vapur MicroFilter
The Vapur water bottle was a smash success when it hit the market as it easily collapses down to a tiny roll when empty. It features an innovative flip up lid that incorporates a carabineer for easy attachment to your pack, and a molded sip straw built directly into the lid. Vapur has upped the ante by adding a hollow fiber filter with a 0.2 micron pore size and claims they can filter 132 gallons when used with non-turbid water.


  • Weight:  Bottle + Filter: 2.7 ounces Filter only: 1.1 ounces
  • Dimensions: 5.75”w x 10”h
  • Filter Technology:  Ultra Membrane Technology
    (Hydrophilic capillary membrane)
  • Performance: 99.9999% of bacteria
  • Pore size: Absolute .2 microns Flow Rate: 0.5L/min @ 0.2 bar
  • Filter Life: Maximum of 500 Liters

SP128-single-498x480Sawyer Mini
Of all of the filters we tested, the Sawyer Mini makes the most impressive capacity claim; over 100,000 gallons. Because it includes a backflush syringe, the Mini can be purged of sediments that will clog the pores of the filter tubes over time. According to Sawyer, this allows the Mini to keep filtering water long after other filters have clogged and need to be replaced. Additionally, the Sawyer Mini uses filtration tubes with 0.1 micron pores, allowing it to filter out even smaller micro-organisms and bacteria. The Mini consists of a collapsible pouch, the Mini water filter, a 2 ounce backflush syringe, and a drinking tube. The Mini filter can be screwed down to the pouch and squeezed either into another container or directly into the mouth. The drinking tube can be attacked to the intake valve and used to drink directly from the water source. It will even fit onto a standard disposable water bottle, so you can recycle those containers floating around from the convenience store. The Mini filters are also available in color coded four-packs for family use.


  • The MINI removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
  • High performance filter fits in the palm of your hand, weighs 2 ounces and filters up to 100,000 gallons (30 times more than comparable filters)
  • Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable bottles (28 mm thread), hydration packs, or use the straw to drink directly from your water source.

100453_BT_Exploded_sRGB_1500The Grayl Filtration Cup
The Grayl works like a French press coffee maker, pressing water from an outer container through a filter and into the inner cup. The Grayl G3+ Filter uses a triple ion charged mesh to capture the vast majority of micro-organisms and bacteria, as well as chemicals, heavy metals, and pharmaceutical contamination that can occur in regular tap water. The G3+ Purifier cartridge is suitable for travel in third-world countries and will filter viruses as well. Use the G3+ Filter at home to remove the chlorine taste of tap water.


  • Weight: 2.3oz (65g)
  • Size: 2.9” (7.3cm) H x 2.7” (6.7cm) W
  • Rate: Filters 16oz (473ml) of water in 15 seconds (2 L/minute)
  • Materials: BPA-free food-grade plastic and silicone, G3+™ filter media
  • Lifespan: 300 uses or 40gal (150L). Replace more frequently if heavy particulates in water.

Analysis: We tested each of these filters as well as we could without the use of a lab or risking our lives drinking out of water known to be infected with nasties. We did use each one on the trail and we drank without concern from mountain streams and from a flooded iron mine without issue. The Grayl is the heaviest of all of the filters, but it is the one I keep on my desk to give me tasty water all day long. It is also the one I would take if doing earthquake relief in Haiti or hunting in Africa.

The Sawyer has the highest capacity and is the lightest of the four, beating the Vapur by just a whisper. It’s small size and versatility gives it high marks, and its amazing capacity and the ability to backflush it, gives it first place among non-virus filters in this test.

Coming in second place, is the LifeStraw Go, for no other reason than their corporate citizenship. They spend a large amount of money to provide clean water around the world and make an excellent product that is used by emergency responders to natural and man-caused disasters around the globe.

The last place finisher came in strong, the Vapur is a fine filter and its light weight and compact size make it a first-rate choice for anyone on the trail or for emergency preparedness.

Any of these products will meet the needs of the camper or hiker looking to filter water on the trail, and are far safer than drinking directly from an unknown water source. Each meets different needs and performs unique functions, so choose the one that best fits your lifestyle and needs.