Regardless of your travel destination, you’re probably concerned about the quality of drinking water while traveling abroad. Local bottled water runs the risk of actually being re-sealed tap water, and filtration standards vary from country to country, leaving room for lots of uncertainty. Few things can spoil a trip more quickly than getting sick from contaminated water, which is why we made this informative guide to purchasing the best water filters and purifiers for traveling abroad. We’ll walk you through the differences between travel water filters and travel water purifiers, and we’ll recommend our top products in each category so you can travel hydrated and worry-free.
So what’s in our water?
Waterborne illnesses are caused by pathogens that are often invisible to the human eye, and they fall into three categories:
- Protozoa and cysts, such as cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia
- Bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter
- Viruses, such as hepatitis A, rotavirus and norovirus
Water filters work by physically straining out microscoping pathogens and will typically kill 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa, but viruses may be too small to be fully eliminated by filtration. Water purifiers, on the other hand, are designed to eliminate bacteria, protozoa and viruses such as Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Giardiasis, Cryptosporidium, E. Coli, Cholera, Salmonella and Dysentery, which can be found in 105 developing countries across Central America, South America, East Asia, South Asia, and the African Continent. However, most purifiers require your water to be clean and free from sediment before purification.
Do I Need a Water Purifier or Water Filter?
- If your water source is less than clear and filled with sediment, you’ll need a water filter to remove the bacteria and sediment in addition to a water purifier to remove any possible viruses.
- Fortunately, there are now several 2-in-1 options that provide both filtration and purification, saving you time and effort and providing peace of mind.
- If your water source has clear, sediment-free water, then you may be able to get away with just a purifier, which will remove bacteria, protozoa and viruses without filtration.
Our experts have spent over 20 hours of research identifying the safest water purifiers and filters to ensure that your water is free from bacteria, protozoa, viruses and other pathogens during your travels. Read below to learn more about our top picks and explore purchase options.
Best 5 Water Filters & Water Purifiers
1. Our Top Pick – Grayl Geopress 24 OZ Water Purifier & Filter
The Grayl Geopress Water Purifier is our top pick because it provides both filtration and purification in one. This is a game-changer because while most products only provide one or the other, the Grayl Geopress Water Purifier ensures that water from any source will be free from particulates, chemicals, bacteria, protozoa and viruses all in under 10 seconds. This is a must-have for international travel.
- All-in-one water filtration and purification – removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa, chemicals and heavy metals from water.
- Fastest-performing water purifier on the market – clean drinking water from any source in 8 seconds!
- SimpleVent drink cap prevents cross-contamination; comfortable grip and non-slip protection
- BPA Free, Environmentally conscious
The Grayl Geopress Water Purifier is the ideal water bottle for international travel because it provides filtration and purification all at once. In addition, you won’t need any external batteries, pumps or chemicals, making it a convenient one-stop-shop to hydrate while travelling.
The Grayl Geopress Water Purifier removes all waterborne pathogens, particulates, pesticides, chemicals and heavy metals, including microplastics, sediment, silt, chlorine, benzene, chloroform, lead, arsenic and chromium. The Grayl Geopress Water Purifier also removes 99.99% of waterborne viruses, bacteria and protozoa, including Rotovirus, Norovirus, Hepatitis A, E. Coli, Salmonella, Dysentery, Giardia, Cryptospordium, Giardiasis, Cryptosporidium and more. Improved smell, taste and texture of water are all added bonuses!
You can get started with the Grayl Geopress Water Purifier with virtually zero setup time, and it’s the fastest water purifier on the market, purifying and filtering contaminated water in as little as 8 seconds, so you’ll never be at risk for dehydration. Other water purifiers on the market require additional pumps, batteries, iodine or chemicals, but this water purifier is self-contained and ready to go.
Water filtration and purification in the Grayl Geopress Water Purifier happen in 4 easy steps!
- Rotate and pull apart the Inner Press from the Outer Refill
- Scoop water into the Outer Refill from your water source
- Reattach the Inner Press, and twist the SimpleVent cap ½ turn to allow air to vent during the purification process. Using any low surface, use your body weight to press down with slow and steady force
- Within 8 seconds, you have clean, purified water – free from bacteria, protozoans, viruses, sediment and other particulates!
The SimpleVent drink cap performs three functions – 1) vents air while purifying water, 2) protects against cross-contamination and 3) allows one-handed hydration through a fast-flow drink spout. In addition, the TopoGrip finish and SoftPress pads provide ergonomic, non-slip support for easy drinking and placing on surfaces.
Traveling with the Grayl Geopress Water Purifier means you’ll remain safely hydrated and will never rely on single-use bottled water during your travels. The replaceable purifier cartridge is rated for 350 cycles and is recyclable after use. The entire Grayl Geopress Water Purifier is BPA-free, made from polypropylene #5, food-grade silicone, TPE and ABS food-grade plastic.
BUY NOW: Grayl Geopress Water Purifier
Traveling with the Grayl Geopress Water Purifier means you’ll remain safely hydrated during your travels. The 2-in-1 filtration and purification system ensures your water will be free from bacteria, protozoa, viruses, sediment and other harmful waterborne pathogens within 8 seconds.
2. Runner-Up – LifeSaver 6000UF Filteration Purifier Kit
Our runner-up is the LifeSaver 6000UF bottle, which is another 2-in-1 filtration and purification system, again making it a reliable and trustworthy method of ensuring clean drinking water. It’s important to make sure that your water filtration choice eliminates all possible waterborne pathogens, which is why we like to rely on 2-in-1 filtration and purification resources that eliminate bacteria and protozoa as well as viruses. Although it filters water at a slower speed than the Grayl Geopress Water Purifier, it’s a worthy runner-up and deserves the second spot on our list of best water filters and purifiers.
- Protection from viruses, bacteria & protozoa
- Optional carbon filter included to remove chemical residues and odors
- Holds up to 750 ml at a time; lifecycle of 6,000 liters
- Convenient for international travel – no batteries or chargers needed
- Easy to use – fill with dirty water, use the attached pump to filter, and begin drinking!
The LifeSaver 6000UF Filteration Purifier Bottle & Kit is a 2-in-1 water filter and purifier that removes 99.99% of all bacteria, protozoa, viruses and cysts from contaminated water sources to produce clean and safe drinking water. This is an ideal water bottle for international travel because it holds up to 750 ml at any time and doesn’t require any additional set-up, batteries or charging devices.
The LifeSaver 6000UF Filteration Purifier Kit filters out all water-borne pathogens using a filter with holes 15 nanometers across, smaller than the smallest viruses which are 25 nanometers in size. This has the distinct advantage of eliminating the need for chemicals to treat the water to remove viruses after filtration. The purification cartridge removes bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi, and other microbial water-borne pathogens.
If you want to go the extra mile, the LifeSaver 6000UF Filteration Purifier Kit also comes with an activated carbon filter that eliminates a wide range of chemical residues including pesticides, heavy metals such as lead and copper, endocrine disrupting compounds and medical residues. The carbon filter will also remove chlorine and sulfur tastes and odors and will filter up to 250 ml.
Using the LifeSaver 6000UF is simple and intuitive. Unscrew the base, dip the bottle in your water source, and pump the water through the filter to a teat at the other end. You can purify up to 750 ml in under a minute, and you can drink your filtered and purified water directly from the LifeSaver 6000UF Filteration Purifier Kit.
If you’re traveling internationally and want to make sure that you’re protected from all possible waterborne pathogens with one simple tool, we recommend the Grayl Geopress Water Purifier or the LifeSaver 6000UF bottle.
If you’re traveling internationally and want to make sure that you’re protected from all possible waterborne pathogens with one simple tool, we recommend the LifeSaver 6000UF.
3. Lightweight Budget Filtration Option – LifeStraw Water Filter
If you’re traveling light, the LifeStraw Water Filter is the original ultralight travel-friendly straw filter. Weighing just 2 ounces, it removes over 99.999% of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics, preventing the majority of waterborne disease. The LifeStraw Water Filter is environmentally free – BPA-free, no chemicals, no batteries, and no additional moving parts. It’s durable, easy to clean, and has a very high flow rate.
- Removes bacteria, parasites & microplastics
- Durable and ultralight: weighs only 2 ounces (0.10 lbs)
- Long-lasting: filters 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters), enough drinking water for an individual for over 5 years
- Ultimate survival tool, no shelf life, easy to clean and store, used and tested all over the globe
- Gives back: One product, one school child, one year of clean water
How do you use the LifeStraw Water Filter? Easy! Insert the straw directly into your water source (a lake, a pond, a questionable cup of water), and simply begin drinking through the smaller end of the straw. The LifeStraw Water Filter will filter out all the bad stuff at a very high flow rate, and you’ll be drinking clean water free of bacteria, parasites, sediment and microplastics.
So how exactly does the technology work? LifeStraw Water Filter’s membrane microfilters are made of hollow fiber membrane technology, with microscopic pores sized at 0.2 microns in diameter. Dirty water enters one side of the straws and clean water passes through the pores while bacteria, parasites, microplastics, dirt and other firms of turbidity are blocked because they are too large to pass through the microscopic pores. As a result, safe drinking water flows into a clean chamber while the blocked contaminants stay out of the chamber. LifeStraw removes over 99.99% of bacteria, parasites and microplastics, including E. Coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.
If you need a water bottle to go with your Lifestraw, we recommend the 2-in-1 LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle.
It’s important to remember that LifeStraw Water Filter may not eliminate all viruses. We recommend pairing the LifeStraw with an equally lightweight and convenient water purifier, the Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifying Pen to ensure that all viruses are eliminated.
BUY NOW: LifeStraw Water Filter
If you’re travelling light and want a straw-filter to insert directly into any water source, we recommend the LifeStraw Water Filter. It will remove 99.99% of bacteria protozoa but may leave behind some viruses.
The Steripen Ultra is a UV Water purifier that destroys 99.9% of protozoa, bacteria, and even viruses. This distinguishes it from filters on the market which destroy protozoa and bacteria but may leave behind some viruses. The Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for microbiological water purifiers and has been independently tested by the Oregon Health Sciences University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Maine. Safe to say it has our stamp of approval as one of the most reliable UV Water Purifiers on the market right now.
- UV Water Purifier eliminates bacteria, protozoa, and viruses within 90 seconds
- Purifies up to 1 liter at a time; filters up to 50 liters with each charge
- Conveniently sized to fit inside most containers and bottles
- Powered by an internal USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Lifecycle of up to 8,000 treatments
- Purchase comes with Steripen UV Pen, USB cable, carrying case and user manual
So how does it work? The Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier uses Ultraviolet (UV-C) light rays to remove bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, but since the Steripen is a purifier and not a filter, you’ll want to make sure that your water is free from sediment. Remove the lamp cover and push the button to treat 1 liter of water, or twice to treat half a liter. Place the UV lamp into the water and stir. While you’re stirring, the UV light is actively destroying the DNA of microorganisms and preventing further reproduction of germs. This process destroys 99.9% of bacteria, protozoa and viruses including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. This can take up to 90 seconds, and when you see the smiling face on the OLED display screen, you know your water is safe and ready to drink!
The Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier is additionally convenient because it’s easy to store and travel with at 7.3 inches in length. It’s the perfect size for most bottles, canteens, and cups. It doesn’t require any setup or external batteries – simply use the included USB cable to charge the pen via a charging port, laptop or solar panel. One charge will last up to 50 uses, and the battery has a lifespan of 8,000 uses.
BUY NOW: Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier
If you have access to clear, sediment-free water but are unsure of its contents, we recommend the Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier. It’s lightweight, easy to carry, and destroys 99.99% of bacteria, protozoa and viruses.
CrazyCap uses advanced 278nm deep UV LED to effectively sterilize your water and make it 100% safe to drink. Your CrazyCap purchase will come with the CrazyCap bottlecap, water bottle, portable charging station and carrying case. The CrazyCap also conveniently fits on most cola-style bottles available on the market.
- 278nm Deep UV Light allows you to purify water from any source
- Lab-tested and certified: 99.99% sterilization in seconds
- Two sterilization modes for normal and advanced sterilization
- Portless charger ensures a complete 360-degree seal
- CrazyCap is compatible with most cola-style bottle brands
CrazyCap uses deep UV spectrum in the range of 278nm to disinfect water; lab tests have found this light spectrum to have maximum disinfection capability. Even more, thanks to the recent development in UV LED technology, this special spectrum of light can now be produced without using toxic Mercury. When the UV-C light enters the microbial cell and destroys the active core (nucleic aids), cells without an active core will no longer be viable and harmful. Eventually, these dead cells convert into fundamental constituents such as CO2, water and some trace elements, leaving you with clean drinking water.
CrazyCap‘s deep UV water purification is effective against bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. It prevents a wide range of waterborne illness by effectively killing the germs (99.999%) from any questionable water source. It’s important to note that CrazyCap does not remove particulate matter and/or chemicals (such as Fluoride/Chlorine) from the water, so we recommend pairing this with another filtration system such as recommend another brand here and link out to it.
So how do you use your CrazyCap? First, fill the portable water filter with water from a questionable source. As noted above, the water should be free of debris and transparent to the deep UV light. Next, tap the touchpad sensor by resting your finger completely over the touchpad to select your desired sterilization intensity – tap the sensor twice for Normal Mode sterilization or 5 times for Crazy Mode Sterilization. We recommend Normal Mode for tap water and public fountain water, and Crazy Mode for water from lakes, ponds and streams. Within one minute on Normal Mode or two minutes on Crazy Mode you’ll have safe, clean drinking water!
The rechargeable CrazyCap will last 7 days on a single charge, and the charger will come included with your purchase. You simply place the charger on the cap, and the portless charging ensures a 360-degree water seal, avoiding cross-contamination from other surfaces.
CrazyCap is a versatile attachment – it conveniently attaches to 9 oz, 12 oz and 17 oz cola-style bottles and is compatible with brands such as MIRA, Simple Modern, Aorin, S’Well, Manna, HoneyHolly, BonBon, LiveLifeLong, Inosu, SunSella, Sportsneer, Chilly’s, S’ip, S’well, and more. If you have any questions about compatibility with a particular brand, the folks at CrazyCap encourage you to email them with questions, and we’ve found that they typically email back within 24-48 hours.
BUY NOW: CrazyCap UV Light Water Bottle
The CrazyCap UV Light Water Bottle is a versatile UV water filter that purifies water from any clear source and can also be attached to many standard water bottle sizes.