Having constant access to clean water is a luxury we often take for granted, but while you’re travelling in Southeast Asia drinking water is something you’ll want to think about ahead of time. When you head out on your adventure each day, having a reliable filtered water bottle for travel will make a huge difference to your enjoyment levels, health and the environment!
4 Reasons a Water Purifier Bottle is a Good Idea for Travel
1. You will never go thirsty!
One of the best things you can do for your body when you travel is to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will stave off headaches and keep you feeling healthy, not to mention it gets pretty hot in Southeast Asia!
2. You can avoid dangerous illnesses
Whilst there are many countries in which locals can drink the tap water, it is not always advisable for travellers to do so. Our immune systems are not used to many of the bacteria within the water. Although unlikely to cause long term damage, these microbes can give backpackers a good dose of travellers tummy which does not make for a fun time!
There are other countries where the water is just not safe and even the locals won’t drink it if they can avoid it. Sanitation standards are not the same the world over, meaning dangerous bacteria viruses can run wild within water storage systems. Typhoid, Salmonella and Gastroenteritis are just a few examples of illnesses easily contracted from contaminated water. Having a purifying water bottle on hand will mean that you can avoid such illnesses wherever possible.
3. You are being a responsible traveller, mindful of plastic waste.
We have all seen the terrible images of plastic bottles littering the ocean and beaches. By filtering your own water you are avoiding the plague that is single-use plastic and helping to set a good example to others as you travel the world.
4. You will save money you would have otherwise spent on bottled water
Although you’ll find bottled water throughout Southeast Asia, relying on plastic bottles not only damages the environment (as we’ve seen above) but it will make a big hole in your daily spending budget! Therefore it definitely makes sense to invest in your own reusable water filter bottle before you embark on your explorations. This is guaranteed to save you money in the long run – I spent over $500 USD on water during a recent trip to South America, ouch!
What Should You Look For When Choosing a Travel Water Purifier?
1. The 3 Different Qualities of Filtered Water Bottles
There are many filter water bottles available on the market but when choosing which one to buy, you should be aware that they do not all do the same thing!
The type of bottle you will need will depend predominantly on how and where you will be using it. Do you need your filter bottle to get rid of particles, bacteria and/or viruses? The answer to this question will dictate the quality of the filtered water bottle that you require.
After that, you will need to decide what material you want the bottle to be made from and which filtration method you would prefer. Prices can vary wildly but don’t skimp on quality just to save a few dollars. You’ll only regret it when your cheap filter has failed and you cannot get out of bed!WaterWell Travel Water Bottle – A popular and affordable Water Bottle For Travellers.
Low Quality – Designed to improve taste only
Some filtered water bottles are designed simply to just soften the water by removing harmless minerals to affect the taste. The Camelbak Groove or Bobble Classic are examples of this kind of filter. Sure, your water will taste nice but any bacteria and viruses will slip through the filter easily and could cause you to get sick. If you are drinking from a questionable source, these bottles are no good!
Medium Quality – Designed to remove particles and some bacteria (not viruses)
Better quality filters such as the LifeStraw GO will remove minerals, particles, protozoa (a large single-celled organism) and even bacteria.
If you are going to be trekking in the wilderness, away from human populations, then a filter that removes bacteria, parasites, protozoa and particulates is perfect. (There is very little need for a strong purifier as viruses cannot survive in these environments.)
These medium quality water filters are ideal for drinking from natural water sources such as lakes or rivers and are perfect for long camping or hiking trips. However, they do not offer protection from viruses, so if your water source is close to large populations of people or animals (this includes tap water) then these are not the best choice of filter for you!One of the most popular filtered water bottles for travel: LifeStraw® filters particles and bacteria, but not viruses.
High Quality – Designed to remove particles, bacteria AND viruses
Finally, the most powerful type of filter is the water purifier. If you are going to be drinking from sources close to human populations, be it rivers, lakes or even from the tap, (We got really sick in Goa, India from brushing our teeth with contaminated tap water!) then you will need a top quality purifier. The human body is an amazing breeding ground for viruses and we spread these everywhere we go. Somewhat surprisingly, hotel water tanks can actually be some of the most infested places!
Viruses are much smaller than bacteria or protozoa so slip through all but the finest filters! Bottles such as the Grayl Geopress will remove bacteria, parasites, protozoa and particulates, PLUS any viruses within the water.
IMPORTANT – Look for water bottle filters that have a pore size smaller than 0.1 microns for the best protection.
2. Bottle construction
Some water filter bottles are made of softer, more flexible plastics which are really light and can be rolled up small. Although they save weight and space they may not be as durable over the long term as some of the alternatives.
Metal bottles are also increasing in popularity but these are not as common as their plastic counterparts due to their weight and price.
Be aware not all plastic bottles available are BPA-free. Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical used in the production of plastics. Although safe in small amounts, larger quantities of BPA’s can mess with hormones and are linked to heart disease, fertility problems and can cause impotence.
3. Different types of filter
The straw filter
The most common type of travel water bottle is the hard plastic casing with a straw style filter attached inside. To use these, you suck on the mouthpiece as you would with a normal bottle and the water is filtered through the straw on its way up. Many of these straws are removable so if you are somewhere with safe drinking water you can take out the filter and just use the bottle. This will preserve the life of the filter.
The main complaint with these bottles is the effort required to suck water through the filter. Although it can be a laborious process, the extra work is much better than the alternative: the dreaded traveller’s diarrhoea!
The gravity filter
Gravity filters usually involve filling a reservoir with water and leaving it to drip through the filter of its own accord. Whilst they work more slowly, they allow you to filter large amounts of water with very little effort.
The squeeze filter
Squeeze filters are very similar to gravity filters but rather than letting physics do all the hard work, you are required to squeeze the water through them. Some filters come with their own water bags that you can roll up to force the water through and others can be screwed onto a normal plastic bottle.
The pump filter
Pump filters require different amounts of effort depending on the product but are easier to use than the straw filter bottles. Once you have pumped the water through the filter it is usually safe to drink for up to 48 hours before you would be required to filter it again.
Filtered Water Bottle For Travel: 11 Best Options!
1. Grayl Geopress Water Purifier – Our Top Pick!
- Capacity – 710ml
- Lifetime – Filter cartridge will last 250 litres before it will need replacing
- Price – $89.95 USD
- Purifier – Yes
Grayl is one of the market leaders when it comes to filtered water bottles. Their purifying ability and patented OnePress technology make the Geopress one of the best bottles available. After filling the BPA-free outer bottle from any water source, reattach the second half and push down. Smooth consistent force will press the water through the filter, leaving you with safe, clean drinking water from any source.
The Grayl Geopress removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa as well as any other particles in less than 10 seconds. No more waiting for gravity-fed filters or having to suck hard for a small mouthful of clean water!
Over time, the purification rate will slow down. When it reaches around 25 seconds to filter the whole bottle, it is time to replace the filter. This can be done easily and Grayl is currently working on a zero-waste recycling process. As well as producing little waste Grayl is also a member of 1% for the planet which helps fund thousands of environmental projects across the globe.
Although quite a pricey investment, the tough Geopress bottle will last you years of travel. It has been designed to survive a 10-foot drop onto concrete (whilst full of water) which is much more punishment than your average backpacking trip will deliver!
Grayl also produce the Ultralight Water Purifier which has a smaller capacity but the same great filtering ability.
2. LifeStraw Go – The Popular Choice!
- Capacity – 650ml
- Lifetime – (Carbon filter life 100 litres (should be changed every three months) Hollow fibre filter life 4000 litres)
- Price – $34.99 USD
- Purifier – No
As one of the most well known and most charitable water filter companies, LifeStraw have been market leaders for years. Huge portions of their profits are poured into community projects and since their inception, they have provided over 3 million children with a way to drink clean, safe water. For every product you buy, they will provide one child with one year of good quality water. Read more about the LifeStraw brand in this article in Forbes.
The LifeStraw Go is their entry-level water filter bottle and is not a purifier. The hollow fibre filter will remove protozoa, bacteria and particulates. Whilst the accompanying carbon filter removes heavy metals, bad tastes and odours. However, neither will remove viruses. Bear this in mind when choosing your bottle.
LifeStraw does have alternative products that remove viruses, such as the LifeStraw Family but this is not a practical choice for travelling. It is bulky and designed to be used in humanitarian aid situations.
The carbon filter of the LifeStraw Go needs to be replaced every 100 litres and the main, hollow fibre filter will clog up and need replacing after about 4000 litres. If you are stuck on the road and your final carbon filter gets used up, the hollow fibre filter will still work as usual, removing all sorts of nasties from the water.
The hard, BPA-free, plastic bottle is robust enough to survive months of travel and you can detach the filter in order to give the dishwasher-safe bottle a good clean. If you do not want a hard bottle then LifeStraw also produce the Flex, which comes with a collapsible squeeze bottle. The main complaint from customers about many LifeStraw products is that the filters can take quite a lot of effort to suck water through. To counter this, the Flex can be attached to a gravity system so that you can sit back and let physics filter your water for you!
Finally, LifeStraw also produce a filter that can be attached to bottles you already own. This provides the same level of filtration for all of your favourite bottles!
3. Sawyer Personal Water Filtration Bottle – The Long-Lasting Choice!
- Capacity – 1 litre
- Lifetime – There is no limit on how long this filter can last
- Price – $49.99 USD
- Purifier – No
Sawyer is a favourite among long-distance hikers and backcountry explorers. Their reliable, everlasting filters and lightweight BPA-free bottles give peace of mind to all that use them. The Sawyer Personal Water Filtration Bottle is not a water purifier and therefore only removes bacteria, protozoa, plastics and heavy metals from water. It does not remove viruses.
The lightweight, sturdy design means that providing you look after the filter, it can last a lifetime and you won’t be stuck on the road without clean water.
Sawyer also produces the Squeeze which offers the same great filtration without the bottle. This palm-sized filter can be screwed onto any normal plastic bottle and also comes with its own 900ml pouch that can be rolled down when it is not being used.
4. Seychelle Filter Bottle (Advanced filter version) – Good Value Purifier in the USA, Expensive in Europe.
- Capacity – 830ml
- Lifetime – Filter needs replacing after 450 litres
- Price – $34.99 USD – £82 GBP in the UK
- Purifier – Yes
The filter is actually a purifier so it will remove viruses as well as bacteria, protozoa, heavy metals and organic matter, leaving you with crisp, clean water no matter the source.
Seychelle also produces a larger canteen that has the same filter attached.
All Seychelle products come with specific instructions on how to care for the bottles so follow them closely to preserve the life of the product.
5. WaterWell Travel Water Bottle – No Chance of Drinking Bad Water!
- Capacity – 700ml
- Lifetime – Filter needs to be replaced after 1000 litres
- Price – £29.99 GBP
- Purifier – No
The sleek stylish design of the WaterWell Travel Bottle is a good budget choice. The rugged BPA-free plastic will last multiple trips and the long life filters will keep your body free of bacteria and parasites. Whilst this is not a purifier and therefore does not remove viruses, it will remove pesticides and herbicides better than almost any other bottle available.
There is no fear of drinking through a worn-out filter here thanks to the WaterWell Travel Water Bottle auto-shutdown feature. Once the lifespan of the filter is through, it will no longer work at all. Whilst this could be mildly frustrating if you’re thirsty, the extra few minutes it will take to change the filter will be better than the few days you may have to spend in bed after drinking bad water.
For those of you who want a bottle that packs down smaller but still has the same great filter, check out the WaterWell Foldable Squeeze Travel Water Bottle.
6. Lifesaver Water Bottle 4000 Ultrafiltration – For Pump Action!
- Capacity – 750ml
- Lifespan – 4000 litres
- Price – $110.00 USD
- Purifier – Yes
The Lifesaver Bottle comes in with a hefty price tag ($110USD) but will provide you with lasting peace of mind. The BPA-free bottle is made for long-term use and will filter up to 4,000 litres of water. (They also have a 6,000-litre model at $119 USD too).
The effective pump action filter means you can trust the Lifesaver bottle to keep your drinking water clean and purify it from bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites and viruses. There’s an indicator which will let you know when it is time to change the filter cartridge.
Alternatively, Lifesaver also produce a bottle called the Lifesaver Liberty. This pump action filter bottle is actually cheaper than the original versions but is of smaller capacity.
7. Life Defender Best Water Filter Camping Bottle – The Survivalist’s Choice!
- Capacity – 700ml
- Lifespan – 1500 litres
- Price – $37USD
- Purifier – No
The Life Defender water bottle will serve you well during your travels and expeditions. It is designed to filter up to 1,500 litres of water, removing bacteria, protozoa, heavy metals and chemicals. It is not a purification device so does not remove viruses.
The BPA-free bottle is lightweight and compact which makes it easy to carry. It also comes with a free survival paracord bracelet with flint to add to your outdoor kit. Although, if you are travelling on a plane, leave this flint at home!
8. Aquapure Traveller – Unique Design Great for Cooking!
- Capacity – 650ml
- Lifespan – 350 litres
- Price – $45 USD
- Purifier – Yes
The Aquapure Traveller is ergonomically designed to be easy to hold and purify water at an unprecedented rate. This lightweight bottle will remove viruses, bacteria and protozoa as well as heavy metals and chemicals. It is especially good if you are going to be drinking from a water source that has potentially been contaminated by industrial waste.
The squeezable design means that you can easily purify water for cooking or brushing your teeth, an act which is much more challenging with some of the other bottles on this list.
Replacement filters can be quite pricey for this bottle, costing almost as much as the bottle itself so bear this in mind when purchasing!
9. Water-to-Go 75cl Bottle – Best Budget Choice!
- Capacity – 750ml
- Lifespan – 200 litres
- Price – $28 USD
- Purifier – Yes
Founded in 2010, Water-to-Go offers customers a chance to save money, drink safely and stop using so much plastic. The simply designed Water-to-Go bottle purifies water to the highest standard, removing protozoa, bacteria, viruses and heavy metals. The straw style filter requires a lot of sucking but it is worth the effort for the peace of mind that this bottle brings with it.
Although this bottle is made from tough BPA-free plastics, some users have reported issues with the long term durability of the product.
Unlike some of the other bottles on this list, the Water-to-Go bottle will still allow water through the filter after it has reached the end of its working life. The carbon filter will be the first thing to go so the smell and taste of the water will get worse when it is time to get a replacement. This is not dangerous and as long as you change it when you notice the change you will have no negative effects. The old filter can then be fully recycled at home by following the simple instructions that come with to bottle.
Water-to-Go also produce an even more affordable 50cl version of this bottle which fits perfectly into a handbag or small day pack.
10. ÖKO Original with Level 2 filter – Support a Good Cause!
- Capacity – 1000ml
- Lifespan – 375L
- Price – $30.99 USD
- Purifier – No
It is also claimed the filter will remove viruses but with a pore size of 2 microns, this is unlikely to be very effective.
Coming in a range of colours, the ÖKO original is also available in a 650ml version which is slightly cheaper.
As supporters of water.org, ÖKO is helping bring clean water to millions of people across the globe. By choosing this product, you will be directly helping those without access to safe drinking water.
11. Katadyn Be Free – Best for Hiking!
- Capacity – 1000ml
- Lifespan – 1000 litres
- Price – $44.95 USD
- Purifier – No
The Katadyn Be Free collapsible bottle folds down incredibly small and weighs less than 70g (including the filter) so you can fit it into even the fullest pack. It comes very highly rated from hikers and campers especially. The easy-clean filter can be well maintained without complicated backwashing methods and filters out bacteria and protozoa. It is not a purifier so viruses can still slip through.
The squeezable nature of the soft bottle means that it is easy to drink from and the effectiveness of the filter is not impacted by a high flow rate. It doesn’t matter how thirsty you are, the Be Free bottle will be up to the task.
Katadyn also produce a slightly smaller 600ml version of this bottle that fits perfectly into a day pack for those who just can’t afford to sacrifice the extra room.
How do you care for your filtered water bottle?
- Each bottle comes with different instructions on how to prepare and maintain the filter so that it operates at full efficiency. Take care to read these instructions carefully as you don’t want to end up losing your final filter because you have clogged it or not broken it in correctly.
- As a simple rule, most filters will need to be cleaned out regularly by either backwashing them (forcing water at pressure through the filter the opposite way) or by running a few litres of water through them as normal.
- Most filters do not work when dry so you will need to wet them before using. To do this, attach them to the bottle as normal and turn the bottle upside down. Leave it like this for around 15 minutes to ensure the filter is properly saturated before use. If the filter isn’t used very often it is likely to dry out again so you may need to repeat this process.
- Remember to carry spare filters (if necessary) if you are travelling for long periods, otherwise, your filter bottle becomes nothing more than an expensive waste of plastic.
- Do not filter saltwater, juice, or any other kind of drink unless your filter is specifically designed to do so. Normal filters cannot handle this. They will get clogged up and stop working quickly.
Alternatives to filter bottles
In recent years, products such as the Steripen or Larq Self Cleaning bottle have bounded onto the market. Using UV light, these products can kill viruses and all but the hardiest bacteria swimming around in your drinking water.
The downside is that they don’t remove sediment, colouration or bad odours from the water. Although they will prevent you from getting ill, your hydration experience may not be a tasty one depending on your water source.
You also need to remember to keep the batteries on these devices charged so you do not get caught out. These products can be combined with simple carbon filters in order to change the taste and smell of the water.
Chemical treatments such as water purification tablets containing chlorine dioxide are some of the most effective treatments on the market. Like the Steripen, they will kill off all but the hardiest of microorganisms but won’t be able to remove heavy metals or particulates from the water.
They also take much longer to make the water safe, 15 minutes is the minimum recommended time but this can stretch to 4 hours depending on the quality of the water. It is a good idea to carry a packet of these as a back up when travelling as they weigh very little, can be packed away with your toiletries and will save you if you’re in a pinch!
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