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Old 01-14-2020, 12:33 AM
hankbaker hankbaker is offline
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Default Water filtering/purification – which to choose?

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Hi Guys,

I am all new to backpacking and would like to get some feedback on the water filters/purifiers I have chosen below as I need help choosing which will be the most ideal for my upcoming trips.

A little background, I am all new to backpacking and have next to no gear at this stage. I have been car camping for many moons (its how I grew up) and am looking to get into backpacking as a way to get some real exercise, travel more and overall a way to just "get away".

So here are the water filter systems I am primarily considering, however please do feel free to recommend other solutions!

In order of most interested to least.

1) LifeStraw Mission Gravity Water Purifier

While I realize this is one the more heavy systems on the market its also a purifier as opposed to just a filter from my understanding. It claims to filter down to 0.02 which would mean no viruses or other really small things that could make one sick. As I will be primarily in the US to start its likely overkill, however I am looking to head outside the US next year which I believe it would be well worth it.

2) Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter System – 4 Liter

Basic gravity filter, gets good reviews and overall seems to be a good solution.

3) Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Sawyer Mini appears to be everyone's favorite, however I would then need to carry my "dirty" water in my bladder and have this inline. While that doesn't sound too bad I am concerned that after a week or two my bladder could be rather disgusting.

Using my bladder + Sawyer I believe it should work as a gravity filter as well which I could use for cooking or filling my Nalgene bottle, but I have read a few reviews noting it is slow to filter water when doing it this way.


– I need to filter water for 1-2 people.
– I am not looking to get into ultralight backpacking, I am looking for gear that is flexible and can meet my needs no matter where I roam (within reason ofc) and am willing to carry a little more weight to meet that requirement.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:40 AM
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ROCK6 ROCK6 is offline
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You can always get some simple chemical solutions for viruses if heading overseas, but most of the quality mechanical purifiers on the market are going to cost you.

I like the Sawyer Mini. My wife and I have been using them for several hundred trail miles. I have switched them out every couple of years, but that's mostly just out of habit, not performance related. I only had one that really dropped off on output. As long as you properly clean and backflush them after each trip, they'll last a long time.

That said, the Mini's are really just a solo filter. If I was expecting on having another person or two, I would stick with the older "Squeeze" as the output is far better. I typically carry two squeeze bags, a Platypus-type collapsible container (Evernew brand), a Smartwater bottle, and a hydration bladder. Lightweight and a ton of storage capacity. I also pack along a couple mini vials of Aqua Mira purification solution as backup or if in an area that has had a history of spreading the norovirus.

I use a hydration bladder, but I filter my water separate as I don't care to put dirty water in my hydration bladder. I do have a quick-connect setup where I can filter directly through my drinking tube and into my bladder without unpacking my pack. My preferred set up. If you go with a squeeze system, always pack an extra squeeze bag and if going overseas, I would likely pack three and make sure they're all new. That said, Sawyer's gravity bags are awesome and can be used as a squeeze bag and gravity bag better than the cheaper squeeze bags. I like the gravity systems for base camp stuff, but stick with the lighter squeeze bags for distance backpacking.

I have dozens of filters...Katadyn, MSR, Platypus, Sawyer, etc. I like the simplicity of the and proven performance of the capillary-type filters for trips above freezing. You can use them in freezing weather, but you have to take more precautions. If I was planning an extended expedition overseas, I would likely grab the MSR Guardian. Anything stateside or Canada, Sawyer would be my first choice.

Old setup with the Squeeze connected to my drinking tube to fill up my bladder in the back so I can avoid putting dirty water in my hydration bladder...

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Old 01-14-2020, 02:19 PM
IC_Rafe IC_Rafe is offline
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1/ Straws: big nono, unless you just want to lie on your stomach drinking from pools. Getting water for a meal or warm drink just doesn't work with them.

2/ 4l gravity system: If you're with a group, sure, otherwise it's overkill.

3/ Sawyer: use the bag which comes with it to fill your bladder system. One way is to put an extra connector in the line, and just attach the sawyer to that one, and push the water in without even opening the bladder itself. If you really want to keep your reservoir clean. (Which ROCK6 above me mentioned it seems, didn't read it till i finished typing :D)
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:58 PM
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Surviving Suburbia Surviving Suburbia is online now
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I'd also recommend carrying a small bottle of Polar Pure (iodine water purification) as a backup to the filter. You're up a creek if your filter freezes (although you should have the cartridge in your sleeping bag in freezing temps) or otherwise breaks. Could always boil water, I suppose, but that fuel is for food, not drinking water.

$13 on Amazon. Bottle is the size of half a Snickers.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:23 PM
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charliemeyer007 charliemeyer007 is offline
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Have at least one all metal water bottle or a fair size pot, I prefer stainless steel cost wise but titanium works too if you can afford them. Fire is cheap and you will likely need it anyway.

Depends where you go what as to what sort of contaminates you can run across. Abandon mine leaching stuff just around the bend or a dead cow in the creek behind the beaver lodge.

I always look for fish or bugs in/on the water.

Words I like to see on my water filter - silver impregnated ceramic with activated charcoal.

Polar Pure is good stuff - that last Amazon bottle a few days was a flop (it was posted in the deal of the day thread) - it was nearly empty with the bags and paperwork stained brown - they did refund my money. I keep it for nukes.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:49 PM
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Oops... I posted that. Sorry. Mine came the same way.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:35 PM
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mreddie mreddie is offline
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I filter my water fist with a bandana with grass and plant matter, bandana with charcoal then bandana with sand then boil
if I cant do this I use my lifestraw
next I will use Aquamira Water Treatment
or 2% iodine as a last thing
that's 4 ways I know I have good water to drink
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Old 01-15-2020, 12:37 AM
ajole ajole is online now
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I’m all about the MSR/Katadyn/PUR water filters with a prefilter and a pump.

Like the ceramics you can “restore” by scraping.

I carry a few purification items as well, JIC.

And of course...boiling is an option. Fire or gas stove, depending on what’s going on.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:53 AM
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ROCK6 ROCK6 is offline
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As Charlie pointed out, your water sources need to be taken into account...and it's not always obvious. In low lying areas, you may get run off if you know what's up stream (industrial or farming areas). As mentioned, even in old mining areas, you may have some leaching to be aware of.

Water that is heavy with silt, tannins, or a lot of detritus can be problematic for all filters, but the ceramic (silver impregnated ones) are easier to clean. The capillary filters like Sawyer, can require a lot of back flushing which can get frustrating.

Filters without charcoal will not change to taste of the water. I've been around sulfur springs and swampy areas and while the water is filtered, it may taste like rotten eggs or a$$ Activated charcoal works, but you have to manage it's use. They do have some inline filters and I carry a couple in my longer-term bags. Less for potential heavy metals and chemicals and more for avoiding water with a heavy sulfur content.

Every filter will have it's advantages and disadvantages (which is why I have about two dozen). Mechanical pump filters need just as much care as a capillary/gravity/straw filter, but for different reasons. Most filters that are marketed as purifiers to remove viruses often suffer from lower output rates...this is why I carry a backup chemical means to treat water, but you have to know the area and conditions to queue you when you need to add it.

Water filtering management is often overlooked as well. Just understand that a couple drops of contaminated water can get you sick depending on your tolerance. Keep output areas and containers/lids clean and away from non-potable water. For pump filters keep the hoses separate (input/output hoses).

Water collection is another overlooked aspect. Not all water sources are easy to get to and some are just a trickle or small puddle. If using something like the Sawyer squeeze, you need a small separate cup to collect the water and transfer it to the squeeze bag.

Some trails will have water access, but you have to hike a half mile down to it. It's nice to have a plan and system to carry water. As long as it's not extremely steep, I love the Sea to Summit 10L folding bucket; it's literally 1oz, and dries extremely fast. I can haul the water to the camp and we can filter and use water right there.

Even if the water is clouded with a lot of detritus, the bucket allows that stuff to settle at the bottom and helps clean up the top water for filtering.

From a "tactical" standpoint, I just don't like spending a lot of time at the water source, so I like the gray-water bags and bucket that allows me to spend as little time collecting and I can filter back at the camp site. That said, a good pump filter can be extremely fast as well. Not a big consideration for general backpacking...just habits developed over the years.

I know it should be common sense, but as long as weather isn't below freezing, I store my filter somewhere on the outside of my pack for fast access that also allows it to air dry as I'm moving. Your location will dictate how much water you need to carry, but I really try and just limit it to 2-3 liters when backpacking, so every couple of hours I'm filtering and refilling. Having hiked during droughts, limited water sources or forced to camp with no nearby water sources, having that additional capacity to haul more water becomes important and can be done without any major weight penalty when they're empty.

I did a 106 miles (no resupply) on the AT back in May. I brought two squeeze pouches, one was used and it blew out on day two. My backup (2L) was new and was fine for the rest of the trip, but I also pack a 1.5L or 2L collapsible water bottle that will thread onto the Sawyer if needed as well as the SmartWater bottle. Worse-case, I could go in-line filter with my hydration bladder and of course I had the Aqua Mira chemical solution. Lots of options in case of failures without piling on much weight.

If I was seriously going on a longer trip and further from civilization and wanted to stick with something like the Sawyer, I would likely choose their 2L gravity bag. It can still be used like a squeeze bag, but is more durable (built like the MSR Dromedary bags). As mentioned, I would likely forego the SmartWater plastic bottle and choose a lightweight titanium bottle as well. One thing I will say about the Sawyer Mini's is that I would recommend you check them out at home before taking them in the field. They're inexpensive enough and light enough that you could actually pack a spare if you're really concerned...but never had one fail, I just had one that didn't get cleaned up and back flushed after a trip and the output was poor and I couldn't fix it. The larger Squeeze Sawyer is much more robust.

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Old 01-15-2020, 09:50 PM
273andme 273andme is offline
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Ive been looking into survival filter they have a few models. (straw, mechanical and battery powered). filters can be cleaned and/or replaced. Probably order some this week.

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Old 01-15-2020, 11:00 PM
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Uncle Billy Uncle Billy is offline
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Don't buy the Katadyn Pocket. Too heavy and fragile. I wasted my money, around 3 bills for a filter... As Rock6 said, get a couple Sawyer Mini's and you're good to go. I went almost twenty years with the bandana and boil method and it didn't really hurt me but the convenience of a multi function unit (you can suck right out of a puddle or use a screw that fits onto almost every plastic bottle is quick and (dirty) clean. I scrapped the collection bag in favor of a simple plastic water bottle.
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Old Yesterday, 12:26 AM
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ilgar ilgar is offline
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Another popular purifier is General Ecology First Need XLE, that also comes with a gravity bag but at it's core it is a pump system designed to feed cleaned water into a screwed on bottle (whatever the Nalgene size thread is, that's the most common way to pair it).
It has a prefilter as well. It is heavy though and I'd not use it in snowy/below freezing temps. I'd say it's a camp use item just like gravity systems.

you may also want to look into prefiltering in general whether using a millbank bag or paint strainers or cheesecloth. they extend the life of the main filter and remove turbidity.

ultimately, i would want to not fully trust any filter especially in below freezing temps and carry a metal pot with fire making kit. I have a personal lifestraw that I use when encountering unfrozen creeks while on the go (keep it warm inside jacket). The sawyer mini is good for this on the go use as well. You don't need to lie down to drink with a staw. I use the pot or collapsible vinyl bucket to scoop a bunch of water out and then drink out of it.
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Old Yesterday, 10:18 AM
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merlinfire merlinfire is online now
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so i've tried a few of these

my impressions of pump filters like the katadyn is that they work well enough for 1-2 people. it takes some time (active effort) to filter any significant amount of water, if you are planning on refilling 4-5 liters be prepared to pump it for probably 15 minutes. however it's a solid method

the gravity method works but in my experience there's always been leaks at one or more connections. tried different times with different adapters and bags. granted, it still worked. just didn't seem really robust, kind of fiddly.

either of them should work, but you will need a "dirty water bag", for both. yes you can pump directly out of a stream but that's a huge hassle. fill the bag, then go have a seat.

the straws seem like a good idea but imo they are last ditch survival gear, not practical outdoors gear. much rather boil water
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