Open main menu

Pump and Gravity Water Filters

Need help getting started? Read our four-part guide to backcountry water treatment:
Part 1: Proper Hydration
Part 2: Keeping Your Water Supply Safe
Part 3: What’s in Backcountry Water?
Part 4: Methods for Making Water Safe

Top Picks

How we choose: The best pump and gravity water filters highlighted here were selected based on 322 reviews of 34 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a pump/gravity water filter that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Platypus GravityWorks Filter System 4L

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (20 reviews)

OMG! Seriously? If you haven't already drooled all over one of these like a lifeless zombie online or in your local shop for hours by now than you've probably already bought one. Here's why you should too. It's perfect in almost every way. Period.

Reasons to Buy

  • NO PUMPING! This is the best part. Hands down.
  • Super fast! This thing is quick. Before you get your cook pot set up it's ready to go.
  • Light. Like Feather light.
  • Small. Fits anywhere you want it to.
  • Large capacity. 4 liters at a time is plenty. Really.
  • Versatile. Rig it up with your own bladders. I don't care.
  • Easy to clean. Back wash and done.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Hmmmm. I'll get back to you on that.
  • Oh. Not 4-season. You freeze it, you broke it.

I could just list everything above in the Pros column but I have to get something in here too.  The Platypus GravityWorks Filter is a God send. It filters out everything I'm worried about accidentally ingesting plus... No more endless trips to hand pump out of the stream! No more iodine and chlorine tablets or boiling or any other negative thing any experienced backpacker can come up with when it comes to getting their potable water. It's a drag. Well, no more. Because these guys invented something called "Gravity".

Read more: Platypus GravityWorks Filter System 4L reviews (20)

Katadyn Pocket

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (16 reviews)

With more thought than I ever imagined, I cast my Katadyn Pocket's intake hose into the most vile, disgusting, putrescent, foulness I could possibly imagine…

Reasons to Buy

  • Filters microorganisms larger than 0.2µ
  • Silver impregnated ceramic element is effective against bacteria and protozoa
  • Filter reportedly filters up to 50,000L; 13,000gal
  • 20 year warranty period
  • Cost… Priceless!

Reasons to Avoid

  • Filter and "trail-necessary" equipment weighs 590g; 21oz
  • Carrying Case, if carried and I do, weighs 73g
  • Fairly large with dimensions of (cm): 24 x 6; (in): 10 x 2.4
  • Price… but well worth every penny!

Water: a transparent, tasteless, odorless liquid!? Hmmm, think again. I, once, with little choice, filtered water from an abandoned cow trough full of the most nauseating putrescence I've ever encountered, the only possible water source available! With more thought than I ever imagined, I cast my Katadyn Pocket intake hose into the most vile, disgusting, putrescent, foulness I could possibly imagine. A horrid faction of life defying blight (in retrospect, it may not have been that bad, but at that time…).

Read more: Katadyn Pocket reviews (16)

Platypus GravityWorks Filter System 2L

user rating: 5 of 5 (6 reviews)

I've used the Platypus GravityWorks for about a year now. Extremely easy to use and the best part... It requires NO pumping. It's also lighter compared to some of the other water filter systems out there (especially when you ditch some of the hydration connection components that may be unnecessary based upon each individual's hydration carrying method).

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey compared to pump options (Saw the Katadyn Hiker PRO at the time of this review for 60 bucks at REI)
  • The Sawyer option comes with the million gallon guarantee, while the Platypus has a filter life of 1,500 liters.

While writing this review, I am resigned to note that whatever I write, I'll probably not get anywhere close to Bill S's review, in terms of attention to detail, quality of the review, etc. etc. Actually, his review was part of the reason why I chose the GravityWorks system in the first place. But here are some of my personal experiences with the GravityWorks 2L: Effectiveness: So far, I've had nothing but good experiences with the GravityWorks. I've never gotten sick from the water I've consumed from water treated with the GravityWorks, but I've also only used the product domestically in the United States.

Read more: Platypus GravityWorks Filter System 2L reviews (6)

Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter System

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Without a doubt Platypus has a very clear understanding of what its customers are looking for in a water filter, resulting in the Platypus Quickdraw Microfilter. From my perspective, it is the number one hollow-fiber membrane water filter design available today for solo through hikers or anyone looking to buy their very first water filter. The well designed Quickdraw Microfilter is a hollow-fiber membrane water filter that takes a few evolutionary steps from an integration and maintenance perspective over other water filters currently available that use similar technology. Every aspect of its design is well thought out, resulting in a filter that performs well, provides multiple interfaces for dirty water containers, and can be maintained in the field without additional special tools.

Reasons to Buy

  • Solid construction and good flow
  • Is compatible with Smartwater bottles
  • Light
  • Good clear instructions
  • Clean side cap is attached with long life hinge design
  • Materials used have a nice feel/texture—Thermoplastic elastomer
  • Cap from filter mates with cap from bag
  • Can attach to multiple preexisting bottles
  • Waterproof cap designs make it easy to keep in your sleeping bag on a cold night that might damage the filter due to freezing

Reasons to Avoid

  • Tight path into filter may trap small debris that won’t easily be cleaned out with shake or backflush method
  • Round design can roll away

The Quickdraw Microfilter is a hollow-fiber membrane filter recently introduced by Platypus that from my perspective is the first filter design that really takes into account how these types of filters are actually used and maintained out in the field. While the hollow-fiber membrane used in this filter is not new, each and every feature of this filter is well thought out and delivers a design that reflects how people want to use and maintain a water filter.   The Quickdraw Microfilter is designed to filter out bacteria, protozoa, and particulates larger than 0.2 microns, but is not intended for use to filter out chemicals, toxins, or viruses.

Read more: Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter System review (1)

Katadyn Hiker PRO

user rating: 4 of 5 (51 reviews)

It's hard to look at water filtration as anything but a chore. At least it can be less of one.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy maintenance
  • Fast
  • Easy to use
  • Minimal pieces to fuss with

Reasons to Avoid

  • Plastic bits can get brittle and snap
  • Included zipper bag for "clean" parts will be useless in no time

There will be advocates that stump for total protection, who want a purifier. There will be those who do nothing at all and drink the water straight. Since I personally know more than 30 people who've had confirmed giardia cases that were actually a result of wilderness water sources, I have a few different kinds of filter for different kinds of trips. When taking a group and sharing my filter, I bring the Katadyn Hiker Pro. Like all filters, it will remove most bacteria and protozoa. Like all filters it will not remove viruses -- those require some chemical component.

Read more: Katadyn Hiker PRO reviews (51)

Katadyn Hiker

user rating: 4 of 5 (31 reviews)

A good alternative to treatment pills.

Reasons to Buy

  • Fills liter bottles quickly
  • The filter cartridge lasts a long time
  • Outlet fits neck of large and small liter bottle
  • 1 lb. total weight not too bad
  • Carry sack has been very durable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Properly hold the handle to avoid breakage

I have used the older PUR version of this filter for the past 20+ years to purify all our drinking and cooking water each hiking day. Find a flowing water source if possible, they say 20 feet of tumbling water is somewhat clean. I would not expect this filter to clean water from a stagnant pond that horses use.  I have tried treatment pills, but don't like the idea. I cover the inlet filter screen with a double paper coffee filter held in place by a rubber band. This keeps sediment out of the filter screen.

Read more: Katadyn Hiker reviews (31)

MSR MiniWorks EX

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (41 reviews)

This filter works great and is very easy to use. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a simple backwoods water filter.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Field maintainable
  • Makes dirty water clean and safe

Reasons to Avoid

  • Slow
  • Needs to be cleaned often

This filter has two parts. There is a foam filter at the end of the water intake tube. This foam removes large sediment and prevents debris from entering the filter system. It works well, but it's still a good idea to ensure that the water intake is not sitting in muck or surrounded by debris. The second part of this filter is the ceramic element (the part that actually filters the water). Water is pumped up the hose and forced through the ceramic element. This filter removes protozoa and bacteria as small as 0.2 microns.

Read more: MSR MiniWorks EX reviews (41)

Katadyn BeFree Gravity 3.0L

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

I wanted a filtration system that was easier to use than the Sawyer. I found it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to filter and fill
  • Lightweight
  • Fast filtration
  • Collapsible and packs down very small

Reasons to Avoid

  • Life of filter

This system is super fast and easy. I used it on a weekend backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail and could not be more pleased with it. While the filter doesn't filter as much water as the Sawyer (you can filter about 1,000 liters before you need to replace the filter), the trade out is there is no backflushing necessary and it's much faster to fill the reservoir because the opening is bigger than the Sawyer (43 mm). It is very lightweight and easy to store when empty. The 3-liter size was perfect for giving me enough extra water at camp and still having enough left to fill my bladder system in the morning.

Read more: Katadyn BeFree Gravity 3.0L review (1)

MSR HyperFlow Microfilter

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (17 reviews)

The MSR HyperFlow Microfilter is a lightweight, cucumber-sized water filter that utilizes hollow fiber technology to provide remarkably fast water filtration. Resembling a compact bike pump in form and function, the HyperFlow delivers up to 2 liters a minute and mates nicely with hydration bladders, Nalgene bottles, and even soda bottles. The downside? It is susceptible to damage if dropped or exposed to freezing temperatures.

First Look: MSR HyperFlow Microfilter MSR HyperFlow MicrofilterWeight: 7.4 oz. (209 g)Size: 7 x 3.5 in. (19 x 7 cm)MSRP: $99.95Available: Spring 2008 Speed The HyperFlow’s claim to fame is its ability to filter water quickly: 3 liters per minute, according to MSR. In our tests, typical flow was about 2 liters per minute, although we never felt at a loss for capacity. Extremely aggressive pumping may provide additional flow, though we never felt the need. More notable than raw speed is the HyperFlow’s capacity.

Read more: MSR HyperFlow Microfilter reviews (17)

MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (1 review)

The MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit is a versatile water treatment device with easy pump and gravity flow setups built in. It could conceivably replace your filter, bladder hydration system and a water bottle for many outdoor activities. A couple of reasons I haven’t switched permanently to this system include weight not suited to a solo hiker like me, initial taste issues (like many bladder systems), and an issue with the pump spout/cap.

Reasons to Buy

  • Versatile—filter, reservoirs, pump, and gravity
  • Replaces filter, water bottle, and water storage
  • Easy to collect water (even trickles)
  • Easy to operate pump filter
  • Quick gravity filtering
  • Easy to change from pump to gravity
  • MSR quality construction
  • Reservoirs dry easily (large openings)

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavier/bulkier than other common options
  • Initial bad taste takes time to remove
  • Slight leakage at spout
  • Mesh bag keeps dirty and clean together
  • Filter not easy to keep in pocket (freezing temps)
  • Dirty reservoir can leak a little if stored full
  • Virus/chemicals not filtered (all filters)
  • String on small port too short

WAIVER:  This is not a recommendation for using or not using a filter vs other water treatment options. For those not familiar with the pros and cons of each type of treatment, please refer to Trailspace’s excellent review of these methods. QUICK VERSION I went into a lot of detail below, so if you are short on time or attention span, here is the quick scoop: I wanted to really like this filter, but the combination of weight/bulk, initial taste issues that lasted a while, and the leaking and weak cap connection reduced the rating for me.

Read more: MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit review (1)

More Reviews of Pump and Gravity Water Filters

Trailspace reviewers have shared 322 reviews of 34 different pump and gravity water filters.

Show All »

or add yours

Other Types of Water Treatment

Find more water treatment reviewed in these related categories:

Water Purifiers

Bottle and Inline Water Filters

Chemical Water Treatments

+2 more types

Review Your Outdoor Gear

If you've found this site helpful — or if we've missed something important — please consider paying it forward by some of your favorite outdoor gear.

Why? From professional gearheads to outdoor novices, everyone has an important point of view to contribute. will support the outdoor community and help others find the best gear.

Trailspace reviewers are outdoor enthusiasts like you: hikers, climbers, paddlers, backcountry skiers, and trail runners who share our experiences with the gear and clothing we rely on to get outside. Learn more about Trailspace