I’m going to try to wade through the huge market of water filtration systems, from diy water filtration experiments (types like gravity filters) to advanced systems (such as, desalinator systems for salt-water treatments). The methods for ensuring clean drinking water while camping/hiking of living off-the-grid are improving and keep getting lighter and easier.
Factors to Consider Before Buying A Water Filtration System
Water filtration systems can be very confusing for the novice buyer, there are so many different varieties and things to consider. The basic factors for a water filtration system are based on simplistic factors such as size, ease of carry, weight, price and how long it takes to treat the water are easy enough, but when you start adding in other advanced questions like filter type, how long the system lasts, replacement parts availability and cost, effective rates, and which types of organisms they remove you will need to start researching your needs, environment and budget.
It is recommended that you treat all water you drink while hiking or camping, most risks are not visible and it’s always better to be safe then sorry. The most common types of water-born pathogens, bacteria and viruses include protozoa, e. coli, dysentery, hepatitis and rotovirus, which can all cause some pretty serious side effects on our bodies, mostly centered around the stomach and intestines.
|Threats||Types||Symptoms||Methods of Treatment|
|Protozoa||Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia lamblia.||Profuse, often watery diarrhea, vomiting, gas and intestinal discomfort. Most infections last 1 to 6 weeks; rare chronic cases can last up to a year. People with weakened immune systems need to be extra vigilant against contracting cryptosporidiosis.||Boiling, mechanical filtration/purification; UV light. Chemicals and halogens are effective against Giardia, but not alwaysCryptosporidium.|
|Bacteria||Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia entercolitica, Leptospira interrogans and many others.||Diarrhea and potentially prolonged intestinal discomfort. A more serious bacteria-caused disorder, cholera, is rare in the United States but fairly common in some countries. It is usually associated with dehydration. It can result in death if not quickly treated.||Boiling, mechanical filtration/purification; UV light; chemicals/halogens.|
|Viruses||Hepatitis A, rotavirus, enterovirus, norovirus.||Diarrhea, intestinal discomfort. Potentially a variety of other ailments.||Boiling, purification; UV light; chemicals/halogens (though contact time, ranging from 5 minutes to 4 hours, is required).|
What To Use To Purify Your Water
To purify your water you will want to use filter, chemical treatments or purifiers, or a combination of these items. Filter will eliminate certain bacteria and make your water taste better, but it provides no protection against viruses (such as rotovirus). Chemical treatments (water filtration tabs) can eliminate both viruses and bacteria, but takes a bit longer than filters and sometimes can make your water taste weird. UV Purifiers are effective against all bacteria, viruses and pathogens. These do not remove these things, instead they neutralize them, but they can be used with filters to remove some of these items too. Below is a table indicting what types of treatments work for which types of threats.
|Boiling||√||√||√||Water is boiled for at least 1 minute.|
|Filter||√||√||__||Water is strained through an internal element by pumping, gravity or sip/squeeze bottle.|
|Purifer||√||√||√||Same as a filter but may include a chemical component.|
|Ultraviolet light||√||√||√||Water is exposed to UV light; takes about 90 seconds per 32 fl. oz.|
|Chlorine dioxide||√||√||√||Tablets are dissolved in water; requires 15 minute wait time.|
|Iodine||√*||√||√||Tablets, crystals or tincture are dissolved in water; requires 15 minute wait time. (Important: not for pregnant women or people with a thyroid condition).|
*Table from REI
Types of Water Filtration Systems
The below water filtration systems have been deemed best in class for what they are used for. First we will look at personal water filtration devices that are portable and offer mostly basic functionality. It is no doubt that when this handy little LifeStraw came on the market it dominated it competition. Below I’ve outlined not only the LifeStraw, since it really is the best, but also the runner up, the Aquamira Frontier Water Filter. It is comparable in price and size to that of the LifeStraw, but looks quite a bit more rugged then the LifeStraw.
BEST IN CLASS WINNER
LIFESTRAW PERSONAL WATER FILTER
A Time Magazine Invention of the Year winner, LifeStraw contains no chemicals, no batteries and no moving parts to wear out. It features a high flow rate and weighs only 2oz. It is perfect for the Ultralight backpacker, camper, hiker, traveler, boy scout, hunter or for emergencies. Unlike many similar filters on the market today, LifeStraw has met EPA standards for water filtration in independent testing. LifeStraw has been used around the world under extreme conditions for humanitarian relief. Does not filter chemicals, salt, viruses, heavy metals, taste.
- Award-winning LifeStraw has been used by millions around the globe since 2005
- Removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (>LOG 6 reduction) and surpasses EPA standards for water filters
- Removes minimum 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites (>LOG 3 reduction) and filters to an amazing 0.2 microns
- Filters up to 1000 liters of contaminated water WITHOUT iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals
- Comes in a sealed bag, perfect for storing for emergencies
Reg. Price: $20.00 – View More information on this Water Filtration System
Aquamira® Frontier™ Pro Ultralight Water Filter
Use this Aquamira® Frontier™ Pro Ultralight Water Filter as a straw, gravity filter, or attach it to your water bottles or water bladders. While drinking water from natural water sources, this filter protects against Crypto and Giardia. With a unique 2-stage electro-positive absorption technology, a replaceable pre-filter disk removes larger particles, and then pulls small organisms out of the water stream while still maintaining high flow rates and avoiding low pressure drops. Also effective in reducing chlorine and other harmful chemicals as well as bad tastes and odors.
Replaceable GRN Line bacteria Filter with up to 500 ml/minute flow rate -Miraguard™ Antimicrobial* Technology suppresses the growth of bacteria, algae, fungus, mold, and mildew within the filter media
- Connects to bottles, bladders, and gravity flow systems
- Includes 3 pre-filters to extend filter life
- Filters 50 gallons/filter
- BPA free, chemical free, and iodine free
- Filter made in the USA
Reg. Price $30.00 – View More Information on this Water Filtration System
UV Water Filter Systems are Neat Additions for any Camping Trip
This water purifier has been deemed on of the top sellers in the UV light department of water purification. This is great for camping. It’s not as portable, and it does need electricity, but it eliminates 99.9% of all threats in your drinking water. It’s a pretty neat looking device too, quite modern. And very reasonably priced too!
SteriPEN Classic 3
The SteriPEN® Classic 3 water purifier harnesses the power of ultraviolet (UV) light to purify drinking water Use AA alkaline batteries to purify 50 liters of water before batteries need to be replaced. Or, use lithium batteries to purify up to 150 liters per set! The SteriPEN® Classic 3 has a lamp life of 8,000 liters of water, so you can have clean, purified drinking water for over 7 years if used every day. The SteriPEN® Classic 3 eliminates over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
Dimensions – 7.3” x 1.7” x 1.7”
Weight: 2.9 oz (82 g)
Reg. Price $65.00 – View More Information on this Water Filtration System
Salt Water Purification at it’s best!
Katadyn is the leader when it comes to sea and salt water purification. This little device can make over 6 gallons of clean drinking water, from salt water per day. It’s durable and makes a great addition to ocean survival kits. It’s a little pricey, but if you need it, the price will justify itself. Katadyn also makes a larger version of this, and smaller fresh water version if sea water isn’t on your agenda.
Katadyn® Survivor 06 Desalinator
Going on an ocean adventure? Take along the world‘s smallest desalinator. It makes sea water drinkable in emergencies. The smallest hand-operated emergency desalinator in the world. Compact and lightweight. Trusted by militaries and individuals around the globe, the Survivor 06 is recommended for emergency life rafts and individual survival kits. Make over 6 gallons of drinkable water per day (Approximately 1 quart per hour).
Capacity: 1 Survivor 06 per 6 people Use: Easy hand operation, 40 pumps per minute Durable, designed for long-term storage. Approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and used by army troops worldwide.
Reg. Price: $1,000.00 – View More Information on this Water Filtration System
- Also available in a similar fresh water version — Katadyn Vario Water Filter – $75.00
- Also available in a larger size (up to 20 people) — Katadyn® Survivor 35 Desalinator – $2.200.00
Gravity Filters are Easy to Use for Campsites
I always found gravity filters a really neat and simplistic idea. That’s why this one made the list of “best of’s”. The Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter System is simple, and easily packs away inside a hiking backpack. Check out this system if you want a back-up source of water for your campsites, or just an easy way to collect and store water from any source.
Platypus GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System
- Filters four liters in 2.5 minutes
- Weighs in at just 10.75 oz (305 g) 8 liter capacity allows you to easily transport and store water for large groups
- Backflushes in four seconds, maintaining optimal performance with no additional parts or tools required
- Proprietary Platy zip opening collects water easily, even in a pinch or crappy conditions
- Clean storage reservoir with shutoff clamp allows for easy dispensing
- Meets all EPA and NSF guidelines for the removal of Bacteria and Protozoa, including Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Salmonella and Cholera Clip webbing strap for easy handling, lifting, and carrying
- Bold and color-specific “DIRTY” and “CLEAN” graphics for quick identification
- Corner mounted valve for better packing
- Field cleanable design
- Made in USA of US and imported parts
Regular Price: $120.00
There we have it, my picks for water filtration systems. Hope you enjoyed my review. I’m constantly updating this information as more and more products hit the shelves. Want me to try something — shoot me an email or comment. I love trying new products!