Editors' Choice 2012: Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

Ultralight, affordable, and idiotproof. What's not to like?

Here’s proof that outside-of-the-box thinking doesn’t have to be complicated. This ingenious water-treatment device works like a simple toothpaste tube to squeeze water through a hollow-fiber membrane. Result: You get the effectiveness of a filter without the hassle of a pump. “It’s light, compact, fast, and ridiculously easy to use,” rejoices one tester. The soda-bottle-size opening on the Mylar bag (kit comes with 16-, 32-, and 64-ounce capacities) makes it easy to fill from all but the weakest trickles.

Then screw on the cylindrical filter element, which removes bacteria and protozoa, and squeeze or roll the bag to shoot a stream of water into your bottle (or mouth). Bonus: The bag system lets you filter anywhere, not just huddled over a stream as pumps typically require. It’s actually faster than most pumps, and has no complicated mechanism that can break. From California’s Lost Coast to the Andes, we had zero field failures. Packed, the setup is as small as a Red Bull can. And longevity? It’s cleanable, and Sawyer offers a million-gallon guarantee. $50; 4 oz. (with 32-oz. bag); sawyer.com