When camping or hiking, it is imperative to keep your body hydrated to promote its functionalism and efficiency. Dehydration is the term used to describe the lack of enough water in the body. It often results in muscle crumbles and a lack of enough energy as well as concentration.
Unfortunately, most of the water sources found outdoors are contaminated with disease-causing pathogens that could cause many diseases such as typhoid. It is therefore recommended to invest in the best water filter for backpacking in the current market and carry it during this kind of outdoor expedition.
What is the Best Water Filter?
Water filters are fitted with special filters that help to get rid of the disease-causing pathogens in the water. Just like any other backpacking item, there are some factors that you need to put into consideration when scouting for one to get value for money. To help you find the best survival water filter in the market with ease, we will compare two different filters that are used to purify water in the wild as well as at home. It is our sincere hope that this information will help you make an informed decision in the end.
Water Filters vs. Water Purifiers
Most people use these two terms interchangeably not knowing that they are different. Understand the difference will greatly help you to make the right decision and cushion you from the various waterborne diseases. Let us get down to business and look at how each of these functions and the main differences that you should know.
Water filters are engineered to clean water by physically straining the protozoan cysts and bacteria such as E. coli, Shigella, Campylobacter, and Salmonella. The most dangerous protozoan cysts found in plenty in water include Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium. These bacteria and protozoans are a major concern for people who love spending time outdoors in Canada, and the U.S. Drink water that is contaminated with either of the two is highly discouraged due to the many health complications that could arise.
Water purifiers are also designed to combat viruses that love hiding and breed in water and other moist places in the wild. One of the benefits of a water purifier is that it can filter out even the tiniest viruses that other equipment is unable to deal with well. If you intend to go hiking or camping in remote areas, be vigilant of viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus, and hepatitis A.
How Water Filters and Water Purifiers Work?
Knowing how a water filter or a water purifier works will help you to use it correctly when you are alone in the world. More importantly, if it develops any complications, you will be in a position to repair it like a professional. The first thing to note is that filters and purifiers have an internal cartridge or element that has microscopic pores for trapping debris, bacteria, protozoa, and viruses as the water runs through the element to the collection area.
Most of the water purifiers in the market rely on chemicals such as iodine to kill the viruses that the elements are unable to catch. Over time, the element gets clogged up with stained matter and other forms of debris. Based on this fact, it is recommended to replace the element with a new one regularly.
There are also manufacturing companies that use activated carbon in the elements of their products. One of the pros of using activated carbon is that it has the superior capability of getting rid of not only viruses and bacteria, but also unpleasant tastes from leaf tannins. More importantly, it can reduce the level of contaminants such as industrial chemicals and pesticides from the water.
Do You Need to Invest in a Pre-Filter?
Most of the water sources found in the wild contain high amounts of glacial sediments, leaf debris, and mud. These natural components may not cause any harm to your body but could affect the effectiveness of the filter to purify the water. Having a pre-filter at hand will help get rid of them and prepare the water for the final treatment using the water filter.
Ideally, the pre-filter is designed to get rid of large particles from the water thereby making the water treatment process more accurate and efficient in removing the disease-causing pathogens. Some filters come with one, if not; you might have to purchase one separately especially if you are using a UV filter.
It is also important to point out that the pre-filter will promote the durability of the element inside the filter since it will have to deal with less debris.
Types of Backpacking Water Filters
As the name suggests, a pump filter has a suction system that sucks up water from the water source forcing it up a hose and into the filter. The specifications vary from one filter to another, and so it is important to check the specs to get value for money.
- Can be used to process only the amount of water that is required at a given point
- It allows one to fetch water from shallow water sources
- The internal cartridge or element can be replaced
- Pumping up the water is a physical activity that could be very tiring especially if the element is old
- You will still need to purchase field cleaning elements
These kinds of filters rely on the gravitational force to clean water. All you need to do is fill the water reservoir with water and hang it upside-down on a tree and wait for the water to trickle down through the element into your water bottle. Most of them have an inline filter, but the setup process varies from one model to another.
- Gravity does all the hard work for you
- Make it easy to treat large amounts of water at the same time
- The cartridge or element can be replaced
- Finding a place to hang the reservoir can be a daunting task on some terrains
- The treatment process is slow and time-consuming than the pump filters
- Getting enough water from shallow sources to fill the reservoir can be an uphill task
- Still require purchasing field cleaning elements
Ultraviolet Light Purifiers
They have a pen design and rely on ultraviolet rays to kill the bacteria and viruses in the water. The modern ones will automatically produce the UV light and switch itself off when the water inside the bottle is completely purified.
- The treatment process is easy and provides drinkable water fast
- No element is required
- You will need batteries to run the UV production system
- Cloudy water reduces its effectiveness
- For large quantities, you will need to filter the water multiple times
Bottle filters offer a fill-and-sip system that is preferred by thousands of people from all across the globe. The bottle comes with an inbuilt filter or purification elements that clean the water as it passes through thereby preventing ingestion of viruses and bacteria. Some use UV light, but a large number of them have an internal element.
- Simplifies the water treatment process
- The element can be replaced at any time
- Lightweight and affordable than gravity and pump filters
- The amount of water that can be treated at a go is dependent on the size of the bottle
- You still need field cleaning water elements
The squeeze filters are similar to the bottle filters. The main difference between the two is that the squeeze filter has a small reservoir and you will need to force the water to flow through the filtration element by squeezing the bottle using your hands.
- The treatment process is easy
- Element or cartridge is replaceable
- Can work like the straw-style and gravity filter
- Lightweight, have a compact design, and more affordable
- The amount of water that you can treat is limited by the size of the bottle or reservoir
- It is important to purchase and carry field cleaning elements
Straw-style filters are best known for providing water on demand. The straw has an inbuilt filtration element that filters the water as you slurp it up from the source.
- The treatment process is easy and provides purified water in minutes
- Lightweight and affordable than the gravity and pump filters
- Water is only available when you are at the source since you will need to suck it up
- It is a 1-person treatment option
- Field cleaning elements are still needed
- Some of the models do not have replaceable elements
Top 7 Best Backpacking Water Filter – Reviews and Comparison
The Survivor Filter is a new water filter that has an excellent filtration element. This filtration system has been tested and found to be capable of removing 99.9% of viruses from water. All the internal components can be replaced in minutes. The activated carbon filter can last for up to 1,000 liters. It also has cotton pre-filters that make it easy for one to filter cloudy water.
- Has replaceable carbon filter and cotton filters
- Lightweight, compact design and ideal for multiple uses
- Has a squeeze system that makes it easy to use
- Can handle virtually all types of viruses and bacteria
- The amount of water that can be treated at a go is dependent on the size of the bottle
Katadyn Pocket Water Filter
Katadyn Pocket Water Filter is ideal for all backpacking and hiking expeditions. It has a compact design that makes it possible for one to carry around. It has a ceramic element that can remove protozoa and bacteria from water. The element can trap all particles that are larger than 0.2 microns to produce clean, drinkable water. It also has a round pump that makes it easy for one to collect water from shallow water sources.
- Round pump that makes it easy to get water from shallow sources
- The ceramic element that handles both protozoa and bacteria
- Compact design and durable
- Does not get rid of nasty wild water flavors
Sawyer Personal Water Bottle Filter
This 34 ounce BPA water bottle has an inbuilt hollow fiber membrane with an inline filter to get rid of waterborne bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.
It also can eliminate protozoa species such as cryptosporidium. The designs allow a high water flow rate and it is easy to maintain the field. The manufacturer has also added a backwashing syringe to enhance hygiene levels as well as two replacement straws.
- Can treat water for not only bacteria but also protozoa
- Has a backwashing syringe to improve the effectiveness of the filter
- High flow rate that gives one fast access to clean and clear water
- The amount of water that can be treated depends on the size of the bottle
- Can only be used by one person at a go
- Field cleaning elements will be required
- Available in only one color
Platypus Gravity Filter System
Platypus gravity filter system is a modern and top-rated product that can treat four liters of water in less than three minutes. It is lightweight as it is only 350 grams and this makes it possible for hikers to carry it.
It has an internal mechanism that allows one to back-flush it in four seconds thereby promoting its efficiency and performance. It also has a zip opening that makes it possible to collect water from sources even during challenging situations.
- Back-flush system that allows one to get rid of debris trapped on the element
- Special zip opening that facilitates water collection from shallow sources
- Can treat up to four liters of water in three minutes
- Compact design and lightweight
- Ideal for group camping since you can handle large amounts of water at a go
- Finding a high point to hung it can be a challenge in some terrains
Sawyer Water Filtration System
This squeeze water filter is designed for various outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and emergency preparedness. It comes with high performance and a strong filter that only weighs 2 ounces.
This filter has a 0.1-micron hollow fiber that traps not only debris by also bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. You can connect it to the standard disposable water bottles, hydration packs, and even drinking pouches. The filter has been tested and proven to be capable of getting rid of up to 99.99% bacteria and protozoa.
- Has a high-performance filter that gets rid of 99.99% bacteria, viruses, and protozoa
- The filter can handle up to 100,000 gallons of water before replacement
- Ideal for a wide array of outdoor activities
- Can be attached to various water storage and carrying items such as hydration packs and disposable water bottles
- It is slow
- Field cleaning elements such as chemical tablets may be required
Camelback All Clear Purifier Bottle
This UV water filter is very user-friendly and ideal for both backpacking and hiking expeditions. The portable UV filtration system fitted inside the water bottle can kill all bacteria and viruses in seconds.
It is energy efficient and can do up to 10,000 cycles even during winter and other cold months. The manufacturer has also incorporated clear LCD readouts that make the water treatment process intuitive and simple even to people who have no prior experience. The UV bulb is protected from harsh outdoor weather conditions by a sturdy cap.
- Energy efficiency system that can perform up to 10,000 cycles
- The UV bulb is protected thereby making this product ideal for harsh terrains and weather conditions
- LDC readouts to make the water treatment process easier
- Kills up to 99.99% of bacteria and viruses
- Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
- If the batteries run out of power, you will have no access to clean water
- The amount of water that can be treated is dependent on the size of the bottle
Aquamira Water Treatment Drops
Aquamira water treatment drops are chemical tablets that are formulated purposely for treating water. They can kill waterborne bacteria as well as improve the taste of stored water. The tablets have a shelf life of 4 years, and one OZ of the liquid drops can treat up to 30 gallons of water.
- Treats up to 30 gallons of water
- Improves the taste of water that you store by killing any unpleasant odors
- Easy to use
- Are not effective after four years
- Not ideal for use when children who are under three years old are present as some parts pose a choking hazard
Frequently Asked Questions about Backpacking Water Filters
1. What is the durability of a backpacking water filter?
Well, there is no definite answer to this question since each manufacturer has a unique design and uses varying materials. That said, modern water filters are made from durable parts that can withstand harsh weather conditions. For instance, the UV bulb in some of the filters is protected by a plastic cap thereby making it ideal for hiking expeditions.
2. What is covered by a warranty?
Virtually all manufacturers offer a warranty that covers all parts of the product that cannot be replaced. It is recommended to read this document to know the specific parts of the filter that are covered by this policy to avert any inconveniences down the road.
3. Where should I purchase the element or cartridge?
As mentioned earlier in this article, the cartridge or element needs to be replaced regularly. The debris trapped on the surface lowers its efficiency. When planning to replace the internal element or cartridge, contact the manufacturer to get one that is compatible with the other components of the filter.
4. What maintenance is required?
The water filter should be cleaned and stored in a dry and well-ventilated area. This procedure will help to enhance the durability of the internal and external components as well as prevent the growth of molds on the element.
Which of These Backpacking Water Filters Should I Choose?
This is one of the most common questions that we get from our readers. We took time to test each of the backpacking water filters reviewed in this article to understand how each works. After carefully evaluating their efficiency and performance, we recommend the Platypus Gravity Filter System.
This product can filter up to 4 liters of water in less than three minutes and without compromising the quality of the water. The manufacturer has also incorporated a back-flushing system that gets rid of all debris trapped on the element. It has a zip opening that is tailored for collecting water from shallow sources.
It is an ideal choice for backpacking expeditions in any part of the world, and there is no limit on the type of water that it can treat. More importantly, the filtration element can get rid of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and all other waterborne disease-causing pathogens.
When going outdoors, a quality backpacking water filter will ensure that you get the best experience by providing you with quality water to keep your body hydrated and energized.
Be sure to purchase the product from an accredited store to get value for money and avert any inconveniences such as diseases down the road. In addition, remember to ask for a warranty from the manufacturer and read the user’s manual to learn more about how to operate the filter.
Finally, we would like to hear your personal experiences with the various backpacking filters through the comment section. You could also contact our support team for more details about any of these filters to make the right decision when shopping.