Don't Buy Bottled Water On Vacation! Here Are The Best Travel Water Filters
While many people are acutely aware of drinking bottled water when they travel to less developed countries, tap water in the United States can pose a problem as well. "Even though the water we drink in the United States is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act since 1974, the reality is we don't go far enough to protect our water for our health," explains Will Cole, D.C., an mbg Collective member and functional medicine practitioner. "In fact, only 91 pollutants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used." One study found 316 contaminants in water supplied to the public, including industrial solvents, weed killers, refrigerants, and perchlorate, a rocket fuel component. If you want to filter your water at home, mindbodygreen's guide has you covered. But what about when you hit the road?
Plastic water bottles present their own problems: A number of studies evidence carcinogenic compounds leaching from containers into the water, especially when exposed to heat (as they often are in transport). Then, of course, there are the environmental implications of using plastic bottles: Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our ocean, where they break down into particles called microplastics that wreak havoc on marine systems1.
The good news? A number of companies have identified the problem and have crafted innovative solutions to filtering water on the go. One, called GRAYL, is a leading voice among the adventure set, with a travel purifier that takes it a step further than even filtration. According to the company's co-founder, Travis Merrigan, a filter removes bacteria and protozoa while a purifier removes both of those elements and also viruses. With the GRAYL, you can filter water from not only hotel taps and airport water fountains but also murky lakes and mountain streams, making this bottle an ideal choice for those planning on summer outdoor adventures. The bottle can also make water in less-developed countries safe to drink and is one of the only on the market that can do so.
Another bonus is its purification mechanism: Unlike other models, the filter is at the bottom of a bottle that sits within a container vessel. You push down to purify the water and then drink freely from a mouthpiece at the top, whereas other models rely on your mouth's sucking to filter the water. This means you can purify water not only for your personal consumption but also to use for other purposes, like coffee or smoothies. The main drawback? It's far and away the largest model we tested. The diameter of the base is almost 25% larger than most other bottles, and it's about 10% taller. With a 24-ounce capacity, you'll always have clean water on hand, but its bulkiness makes it hard to slip into a backpack or purse for more casual outings. It's also made of polypropylene #5, food-grade silicone, and food-grade plastic, which make it lighter and easier to carry but also are of note for those trying to avoid plastic altogether (although it's worth noting your water will come into contact with the plastic in these bottles for significantly less time than a traditional purchased water bottle).
Aquasana is one of the most doctor-recommended brands for their in-home filters (and their shower model is beloved by beauty editors and influencers). They've created a travel filtered water bottle that removes heavy metals (including 99% of lead), chlorine-resistant cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium, chlorine, and bacteria. The bottle itself is made from stainless steel, and it's insulated and able to keep liquids cold for 24 hours. The filter functions through you sucking the water through the top, a mechanism that largely works well, although it can sometimes require a bit of effort and make conspicuous gurgling-noises. Also, because the filter works via drinking, the resulting water can't be mixed with anything or used for other cooking-type purposes. With a 17-ounce capacity, this bottle has a much smaller footprint than the GRAYL and can slip easily into a day bag of any sort.
Astrea makes the chicest-looking bottle, with a variety of eye-catching colors and beautiful, sleek profile. Their filter mechanism also requires a sucking action to work, although they house theirs at the bottom of a straw, so you drink from the bottle when it's upright rather than tipping it back. It's made from mostly stainless steel, with a plastic filter and plastic straw and mouthpiece. The filter is certified for removal of chlorine, zinc, lead, copper, mercury, cadmium, and chromium. They also have a filter subscription service, so replacement filters arrive at your doorstep every two months, with no additional work required on your part. Each bottle holds 15.5 ounces of water, the least of any of our picks, but the convenient flip-top lid makes it easy to fill up in almost any circumstance.
Whatever you decide on, you can drink easy knowing that you're contributing to your health—and that of the planet—with every sip.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.