First Need Water Purifier

Priced: $125.00 Rated:   - 5 stars out of 5 by 11 reviews.
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First Need Water Purifier -

The First Need XLE™ Elite water purifier delivers convenient chemical-free water purification for outdoor adventures and international travel.

Made in USA.


  • Structured Matrix 3-stage purification technology provides natural and ecological removal of contaminants down to 0.1 micron nominal (0.4 absolute)


  • Attach the drink tube on your Camelbak® hydration reservoir (sold separately) directly to canister so you can refill without removing the reservoir from your bag
  • Direct Connect attaches unit snugly to many wide-mouth and narrow-mouth water bottles and hydration systems, sold separately

Traction and Grip:

  • Easy-grip, ergonomic handle provides comfortable pumping; double-action pump is field serviceable


  • Purifier is certified to EPA Guide Standard for microbiological purifiers against bacteria, cysts and viruses; removes giardia and cryptosporidia
  • First Need XLE Elite water purifer includes a lightweight storage bag
  • Adapters (not included) allow attachment directly to select Platypus flexible bottles and Nalgene water bottles with sport caps, sold separately
  • Use the included gravity feed kit for hands-free purification without pumping
  • Long, kink-free inlet hose provides consistent flow
  • Included prefilter removes larger contaminants before they reach the purifier; adjustable float lets you position the prefilter exactly where you want it
  • Fast flow rate of 1.89 liters per min. lets you enjoy clean, great-tasting water in no time at all
  • XLE Elite canister is more resistant to damage from dropping than previous versions; canister is also compatible with the First Need XL water purifer
  • 1 lb. weight includes filter canister (does not include storage bag)
  • Cleanout Port on top make it easy to clean the canister without having to remove hoses or reverse the flow of water; reduces the chance for accidental contact with dirty water
  • XLE Elite purifier is more durable and has a larger capacity than the previous model, the XL water purifier
  • Also removes dirt, unpleasant tastes and chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides
  • XLE Elite purifier's large capacity lets you purify up to 180 gal. before needing to replace the canister
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Average Price History: Price History
Review RatingNumber of Reviews
Dimensions:6.25 x 4.9 x 2.8 inches
Field cleanable:No
Filter medium:Structured matrix micro-strainer
Filter type:Pump
Housing material:Polypropylene
Output:1.89 liters per minute
Pump force:Unavailable
Pump strokes per liter:Unavailable
Removes/Destroys:Protozoa, bacteria and viruses
Weight:1 pound

Subcategories of Hydration:

Related Categories:

First Need

First Need Water Purifier Reviews:

Positive Reviews:

Glad we had it along

We boat-in only camp at back-country sites in Great Smokey Mountains National Park on Lake Fontana.
We researched this filter on the REI website and decided it would be a good fit for us and how we planned to use it. Glad we had it along on our first trip!
We had filled all our REI bottles with filtered water from home, and bought a 2.5 gal plastic jug of spring water as well.
The plastic jug was leaking by the time we got to the boat launch with our gear.
The filter worked great and provided nearly all the fresh water we needed for a weekend outing with our grandson.
We filtered lake water into 3 qt. sauce pans for making hot drinks, washing dishes and drinking. It saved us and our trip.
I will say that pumping got progressively harder as we pumped more water through it. We checked the filtration with the test kit that came with it. The filter was functioning properly. Pumping remains harder than when first used.
We presume this occurs the more one pumps water through the canister. The lake water isn't particularly funky. The sediment filter worked great keeping all of the stirred up sediment from coming through.
It is bulkier than other solutions we saw at the store and may not be the ideal option for backpacking. We focused more on volume than weight when selecting a filtration system.
For car or boat camping it does the job.
lunchpail at REI on 08/08/2013

Solid and reliable

I use this filter for every backpacking/hiking trip where I know I will need to refill water.
What impressed me most about this product is how clean the water tastes. I am someone who needs to be encouraged to drink my H2O and the clean taste of the water that comes through this filter helps with that.
It is a well built, reliable filter system. Though it does take a bit of patience the first couple of uses, I came to appreciate the filter's versatility.
I have only 3 complaints, which for some trips could be deal breakers for some buyers:
1. It is very bulky
2. It is quite heavy
3. The replacement filters are really expensive

Overall, this is a great filter that produces great tasting water. Might be overkill for a solo trip but really nice for groups. The bulk and weight are worth the great tasting water. It is only the cost of replacement filters that leave me wanting to add a SteriPen to my kit as an alternative option.
vasocreta at REI on 10/10/2013

Great Water Filter

I went backpacking up Mt. San Gorgonio this fall and used this to filter all my water. Worked like a charm. My friend who was with me ended up using my pump as she didn't like hers at all. She going to buy one and give it as a gift to a family member and buy one for herself too. Well worth the extra weight. I looked for a long time to buy a good filter and i'm really glad I bought this one.
AustinHiking at REI on 10/10/2013

Epitome of a quality product!

Besides it being a bit on the heavy side, the filter works flawlessly and gives you fresh clean water from pretty much any source you will run into in the backcountry. I have not used the gravity filter option but it is a great feature in the unlikely event the manual pumping fails.

Now with the new design (backwards compatible!) it makes it easier to clean out and backflush. Adding more total capacity as well (150g - 180g). Great product!
OCtrailrat at REI on 06/06/2013


I own two of these and have used them in some mighty ugly water. The water taste great and is as clear as tap water. I like the way the filter can be tested to insure the filters integrity before use. It's easy to pump and fits the bottles I carry. I keep one in my wifes bug out bag and one in mine when we are not on the trail..LOVE IT.
Pete at REI on 05/05/2013

Worth the money

XLE Elite Water Purifier by First Need is worth the cost, it is very easy to use and clean. I love the fact I can use it in unlimited water sources and get water right away. I plan on picking up a couple more to leave in my cars in the event my family is in need of a fresh water source.
DCollins at REI on 11/11/2013

best to date!

Only hiker friendly water filter that I know of that is EPA certified to remove viruses.
(Not all viruses) so you can't just pump anywhere. But you can pump nearly any where. Also removes chemicals. The only one on the market I know about that I will keep in my pack.
Jerryhike at REI on 06/06/2013

Epic Water Filter

I've had my XL water filter and just recommended a friend to get the XLE unit. Both units have worked well on our outdoor adventures. I love the double action pumping that gets water flowing on each stroke. Easy instructions to backwash/clean as well as testing the filter.
CaptainRamvan at REI on 08/08/2013

Great filter

I've had this filter for several years of backpacking and adventuring. I've used it to clean stagnant, putrid puddles full of mosquito larvae. The water tasted great every time. I have the XL model and intend to replace the filter when mine is spent and keep on pumping!
johnnyhp at REI on 03/03/2013

Great product

Very simple, well made (in the USA). It's just a good filter. They've been making pretty much the same filter for decades. If it ain't broke don't fix it. No batteries no fancy lights. Pumping is easy. Fills a bottle quick and water always tastes great.
Milesonthetrail at REI on 06/06/2013

Negative Reviews:


I used a First Need filter my first 15 years of backpacking and loved it; I switched to Sweetwater after I wore out the First Need. After 15 years with the Sweetwater, I decided to switch back to my first love,First Need. My initial trip with the new First Need XLE Elite rendered it unusable...actually after only 2 days it clogged to the point where I could not pump it any more. We were fortunate to have an old cracked Katedyn as a back up. I will say that one of my companions had a brand new Katedyn that clogged as well. The stream from which we pumped the first night was rain swollen & silty, but we had no other choice. One might say that I tested the outer limits of the filter & it failed. On the positive side, the design of the filter is great making it easy to hold and use despite it being a bit heavy. Bottom line is that I need a new canister after only 2 days of use, but I am willing to give it a 2nd chance.
krrykth at REI on 08/08/2013