When we left for our year of travel we brought along an insulated travel water bottle. Randy doesn’t like luke-warm water, and this helped minimize the amount of luke-warm water he’d have to drink! Throughout the year however, our needs changed and we found ourselves wanting a companion for this insulated bottle. We needed a travel water bottle with filter to turn unsafe water into drinking water as much as possible. I went on a hunt for the best travel water bottle with a filter. This is why…
One of the things that’s had the biggest impact on me during our year of travel is the amount of waste we produce. It doesn’t matter whether we’re swimming on a deserted beach in Indonesia, wandering the Pyramids in Egypt, or looking out the window of a train in India, trash is everywhere. I’ve also come to realize that just because we don’t see it as much at home, it’s still a problem. We’re using up resources and discarding them as if it’s nothing. Exploring the ancient temples in Egypt got me wondering what archaeologist will find of our society 2000+ years from now. Rather than digging through the sand to find stone carvings and temples, they’ll find plastic straws and water bottles.
Using the odd water bottle here and there isn’t necessarily a big deal, but when we look at the numbers for a year of travel the amount is staggering. For our family of four, drinking 2L each would be sixteen 500mL bottles, or six 1.5L bottles a day. Over the year that would be 5840 small bottles, or 2190 big bottles. That’s a LOT of plastic bottles! At home, we’re admittedly better at recycling, although I’ve read that only 20% of plastic bottles are recycled in North America. In many non-Western countries, recycling is too expensive or simply not available. A majority of these bottles would eventually end up in the ocean. After cleaning up hundreds of bottles from beaches and the ocean, I’m not okay with that. So, what does a person do?
I’ve searched to find the best water system for traveling. This year alone we’ve used a lifestraw, encountered Water-To-Go bottles, bought 25L jugs of water with a funnel for pouring, boiled water in hotel kettles and let it cool, chosen filtered water at restaurants when available, and finally settled on our “perfect” system. All water bottles are BPA free (an absolute MUST for me)!
My Favourite Filter Water Bottle for Travel:
This is the filter bottle we’ve chosen, and we love it! It’s unique in that it doesn’t require the action of drinking to filter water. You simply fill the outer container to the line, and then press down on the inner container for 15sec and voila, safe water! This results in a lot more flexibility and is significantly easier to manage, especially when traveling with kids or multiple people. It’s also easy to know when the filter is finished because it becomes really difficult to press water through it. (It’s also difficult to press water through if the cap is screwed on tight, so make sure you unscrew it a bit before pressing the water!!)
The Grayl is relatively easy to use, does a great job of purifying water, and gives us the flexibility to filter a large quantity at a time and transfer it to our insulated water bottles. This means we aren’t dependent on a water source when we’re hiking in the Himalayas or Temple hopping in Myanmar. If there’s a fridge at our accommodation we’ll filter a few litres the night before and pop it in the fridge so it’s nice and cold to go into the insulated bottles the following morning.
One thing we’ve found is that the bottom “dirty water” container can leak when the bottle is pressurized. To avoid this we empty out any remaining dirty water before flying or driving into the mountains. I’ve also read that the filter tends to plug up quickly when used with sediment-filled water. We’ve only used it with clear water, and haven’t had any issues with reduced lifespan of the filter.
Initial Cost: $59.50 US (bottle & one filter)
Filter Cost: $24.50 US
Filter life: 150L
Cost per L of filtered water: $0.16US/L
Weight: 10.9oz (3.9grams)
Capacity: 16oz (473mL)
Removes: 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria, 99.999% of protozoa, sediment, chemicals and heavy metal.
Durability: Can withstand a 6ft drop onto a hard surface. Cannot withstand freezing, boiling water or microwave.
– BPA Free
– Dishwasher safe (everything except the filter)
– Easy to use
– Can press large quantities at a time decreasing dependence on water availability (requires other containers for holding the filtered water!)
– Has a clip to attach it to the outside of a pack
– Not insulated. Honestly, this is my only con! If the container was insulated it would be perfect, but then it would also be heavier, so I guess it’s a trade-off. That being said, it does a reasonable job of keeping cold water cool for a few hours.
You Can Buy It On Amazon Here!
Another Filtered Water Bottle for Travel (the Runner-up):
Although I haven’t bought one of these, I’ve used it on multiple occasions. It seems to be pretty popular and has a lot of great features. This was our top contender before we found the Grayl, but I kept hesitating because it leaks. A leaky water bottle is one of my biggest pet peeves, especially if I’m gonna be putting it in a backpack that also holds my laptop and camera! It’s still one of the best self filtering water bottles out there, but the leakiness means it’s a non-starter for me.
Initial Cost: $59.99 CAD ($39.99 US on Amazon) (75cl water bottle and filter)
Filter Cost: $29.95 CAD for twin pack
Filter life: 200L (50cL filters 130L)
Cost per L of filtered water: $0.14CAD/L
Removes: 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.999% of viruses and 99.99% of microorganisms, heavy metals and chemicals
Weight: 138g (with filter)
Capacity: 750mL (500mL also available)
– Largest volume
– BPA free
– Bottle is dishwasher safe (must remove the lid)
– Cheaper per L than the Grayl water system
– It LEAKS! (this is a dealbreaker for me!)
– It’s black and the water gets hot in the sun
– Requires the act of drinking to filter the water
– There’s no way to clip it to a bag without buying a special pouch
– There’s currently no distributor in the USA and the replacement filters are really expensive on amazon.com (there are distributors in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Europe!)
You Can Buy it on Amazon here!
Stand-alone Water Bottle Filters for Travel:
Another option for a water bottle with filter for travel is a Lifestraw. Lifestraw has a number of different options including a system with a water bottle, or a straw on it’s own to use with a bottle (or stream)! We started off the year with a stand-alone straw, and used it a bit, but ended up sending it home before we even had a good replacement. It took a lot of effort to suck water through the straw (and was almost impossible for the kids, although it does get a bit easier with use), and it was too wide around to fit well into our S’well water bottle. This would be a better option for hiking versus traveling, but even then, I’d choose the Grayl system!
Lifestraw Go Specs (closest comparison to the Grayl)
Initial Cost: $44.95 US (bottle and filter)
Filter Cost: $24.96 US (2-stage), $9.95 US for carbon filter 2-pack.
Filter life: 4000L for waterborne pathogens, 100L for carbon filter (removes chemicals and heavy metals)
Cost per L of filtered water: $0.056 US/L
Weight: 5.9oz (168g)
Capacity: 22oz (650mL)
Removes: 99.9999% bacteria, 99.9% protozoa, chemicals, heavy metals and particles (not viruses)
– BPA free
– Not drop-proof
– Not dishwasher safe
– Lifestraw and Lifestraw Go do not remove viruses. (The Lifestraw Mission, Family and Community do)
– Difficult to use
– Requires the act of drinking to filter the water
You Can Buy the Lifestraw on Amazon Here!
So there you have it, the best water filter bottle for travel is the GRAYL (and a couple reasonable alternatives). HOWEVER, the system isn’t complete without the accompanying insulated water bottle and water storage system.
The Best Insulated Water Bottle for Travel
We’ve used a few different insulated water bottles this year, and this one is the best! We have the 20oz bottle and it’s the right size to fit in the water bottle pouch of a backpack. It keeps water cold for a whopping 50 hours!! I haven’t tested this myself, but it has kept our cold water cold for an entire day while out in the 40C degree heat in Egypt. It’s durable, chip-resistant (although ours scratched and chipped after a month of daily use) and produced by a company with the environment front of mind.
The other BIG benefit of this bottle is that the lid has a loop and can be clipped to the outside of a pack. This isn’t a feature we often use, but when we do, it’s invaluable. And as an added bonus, it comes in multiple different colours, sizes and even a kid’s version. Most importantly, it doesn’t leak!
The reasons I rate this one better than the S’well, is because of the lid design and the wider mouth.
Size: 12oz, 16oz, 20oz, 32oz, 64oz
Cost: $30.95 US (16oz)
Stay Cold: 16 oz – 30hrs. 20oz – 50hrs. The bigger the bottle, the longer it keeps liquid cold.
Stay Hot: 16 oz – 10hrs. 20oz – 24hrs. The bigger the bottle, the longer it keeps liquid hot.
You Can Buy It On Amazon Here!
This is also a fantastic water bottle from a company focused on doing good for the environment. Like the Klean Kanteen, it doesn’t leak, and keeps water cold all day. I love the variety of beautiful colours and designs available with the classic S’well bottles, and the finish seems to be a bit more durable than the Klean Kanteen. Unfortunately, the S’well lid doesn’t have a clip so it HAS to live in the side pocket of a backpack. S’well offers a Sport Bottle that has a lid with a handle, however, there are only 4 styles available and the sport cap is currently not sold separately.
We own a S’well and use it often. If it came standard with a different cap, or if the sport cap was sold separately, the variety of colours available would likely lead me to rate this one higher (what can I say, I like pretty things!!).
Size: 9oz, 17oz, 25oz
Cost: $35 USD (17oz)
Stay Cold: 24hrs. All sizes are rated for the same amount of time.
Stay Hot: 12 hrs. All sizes are rated for the same amount of time.
You Can Buy It on Amazon Here!
The Best Water Storage system for Travel
Platypus makes a number of collapsable water bottles, but the DuoLock is my favourite because of the clip on the side (are you sensing a theme here!). It comes in both 750mL and 1L sizes as well as a few different colours. We’ll press water in the Grayl, then transfer to the Platypus to put in the fridge. We drink this first every day because it’s not insulated! The nice part is, it folds up really small so it’s light and easy to tuck away when we’re done with it. It’s especially valuable for longer train and bus journeys when access to water can be sporadic.
(Platypus also makes a filtering water bottle, however I haven’t encountered it and the reviews are not very good.)
Size: 750mL, 1L
Cost: 750mL = $11.95 US, 1L = $13.95US
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