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5 Great Gadgets for Making Clean Drinking Water in a Snap


Whether you’re backpacking through remote locations, visiting a foreign country, or working in a disaster zone, having access to clean drinking water is vital for staying healthy. Even when water looks clean, it can be rife with bacteria, microorganisms, and viruses that could cause sickness or even death.

Tech to the rescue. These days, removing those harmful elements is easier than ever. Here are five lightweight, portable gadgets you can carry with you to ensure a well-hydrated adventure.


Originally designed as an inexpensive and dependable way to provide clean drinking water for developing countries, the LifeStraw filters out 99.9% of all bacteria and protozoa found in lakes, streams, or rivers. As its name implies, the device operates much like a straw, allowing users to safely drink directly from any source of water that is available. Because it is effective, inexpensive (just $20), weighs just two ounces, and can filter up to 1000 liters before needing to be replaced, it’s very popular with backpackers and travelers, too.

Since it was first introduced a few years back, the LifeStraw filtering system has made its way into several other products as well. For instance, the LifeStraw Steel is a bit heavier (4.4 ounces) and more expensive, but its metal shell helps the straw endure extreme locations. Similarly, the LifeStraw Go is a $30 water bottle with a built-in filter, so you can immediately start drinking.


The product of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the GRAYL Ultralight purifying bottle is downright easy to use. Simply open the lid on the bottle and fill it from a river, lake, or sink. Then place the included filtering tube at the top of the bottle, and press it down into the water. As it descends, the water is forced through a carbon-based filter and comes out the other side completely safe and clean.

The whole process takes about 15 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest filtering methods out there. Since it weighs only 11 ounces and costs $60, it’s a lifesaver for backpackers and the outdoor-inclined.


Rather than filters, the SteriPEN Ultra relies on ultraviolet light to kill the dangerous elements lurking in our water. UV light renders 99.99% of those elements completely harmless, making this an efficient way to create clean drinking water on the go.

Fill a bottle with water, turn on the SteriPEN, place it into the liquid, and begin stirring. A built-in display tells you when to stop, but it usually takes about 90 seconds to treat 32 ounces of water. Weighing only five ounces, the SteriPEN Ultra won’t add much bulk to your bag, but that comes at a price—a cool $100 (though SteriPen offers cheaper options.) Also, depending on how long you’re traveling, this germ-killing pen might need a recharge.


Capable of treating up to one liter of water per minute—while weighing just 10 ounces—the Katadyn Hiker Pro offers excellent performance-to-weight ratio for those who like to travel light. Its filtering system removes microorganisms, chemicals, and bacteria, and even filters out stuff that causes bad taste. Small enough for a solo traveler yet efficient enough to support three people per day on an extended trip, the Hiker Pro offers one-step filtering, allowing you to fill up your Nalgene bottles and hydration bladders directly from the source without fear. For $85, this filter delivers a lot for only a little.


The MSR Guardian is without a doubt the best option for traveling to remote places. Sure, it weighs more than a pound and is bigger than any of the other purification systems on this list, but it is also incredibly fast and effective. The Guardian can filter 2.5 liters of water per minute, physically removing viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and particulates. On top of that, the device can treat up to 10,000 liters of water over its lifespan, which is the equivalent of nearly 3 liters per day, everyday, for ten years.

Built to withstand extreme environments and survive plenty of abuse in the field, the Guardian is super expensive at $350. But if you need a lot of clean drinking water while in the backcountry, nothing else compares.