H2O filter/purifier/tablets

Tell me the where/what/best/why/what for

Talking about 6 to 10 day trip, cannot pack water, what is needed for drinking, dishes and hygeine.

As always, thanks in advance!



cannot pack water?
where are you going and in what conveyance that you can’t pack water? what is the water like where you’re going? it’s hard to answer your question without more info.

more input needed. cannot understand how you are unable to pack water, but o.k…

same boat
I’m in a similar situation. I’m planning some backcountry trips in Utah this summer where water is scarce. You should find some way to pack water (MSR makes some good bags) but of course water is heavy so I’m getting a filter. I’ve decided on the Katadyn Hiker filter (used to be made by Pur). It’s small, good output, and not terribly expensive. Does about 200 gallons of water before it’s time to replace the filter, so it’s good for moderate use. Probably a little too short-lived for super heavy use. I’ve also heard good things about the MSR MiniWorks.

can’t carry water - - -
i use these from REI. they hold 2.5 gallons and pack easily into a kayak. i’ve gone on month long expeditions using these … you’re only going for 10 days. at the recommended gallon per day per person (i never use that much) you should have no difficulty carrying enough H2O.


Let me re-phrase…
For a back-country trip, numerous portages, 6 to 10 days. Do you carry water, purify/filter etc.?

Generally one would think drinking from the lake directly to be a questionable idea. Geographically let’s say the BWCA, never been there but hoping to do so this year.

Sorry for being too general earlier.


What I would do… and have done, is…

– Last Updated: Feb-08-04 7:20 PM EST –

Fill up acouple "hydration packs" & canteens. When those go empty fill them up again with a "purifier".

I and the people I camp with do this on our 2-4 day hikes & paddling trips & have done it this way "religiously" for years. Or you could do it the "old fashioned way"- Boil it & strain it through a cloth. All you need then is a cloth & those don't take up much space ;)

Now to answer your question (in my manor). "Should I use a purifier or filter?".

Ready? Here goes:

Say what they are slowly & think about it... That should answer your own question:

P-u-r-i-f-i-e-r (This "purifies" the water in question)......

F-i-l-t-e-r (This only "filters" the water in question)......

WHEW, that was easy......

Seriously though, have fun on your trip! Also, if the purifier (or filter) is an "in-line" then you can remove the filter section & use it as a "bilge pump" and leave that "big ole, clunker of a bilge pump" behind & save on room....

Paddle easy,



I would highly recommend a micro filter of some kind, unless you plan to go on a trip (soon) outside the US or Canada. If you’re going overseas, pick up a purifier.

With that said, let’s look at some brands. I would look at two; Katadyn and MSR. Both of these brands are pretty universal and you should be able to find replacement filters at any decent outdoor store.

Katadyn makes a dozen micro filters, but I would look at the Hiker: This is their best seller and my favorite; it uses a pleated fiberglass filter, which doesn’t last as long as the ceramic filters, but filters water at a much faster rate.

MSR makes a couple filters, but my favorite is the Miniworks EX: This filter is an age old design of theirs, updated last year so it’s a little faster than it used to be. It has a ceramic filter, so its nice because you can take it out and clean it. It’s like a new filter every time. The down side, it’s a little slower, and if dropped the filter element can break especially if the temperature is cold.

Cascade Designs recently absorbed MSR, so filters formerly listed under the brand name Sweetwater, now carry the MSR label. The MSR Sweetwater Microfilter is also a ceramic element filter that is slightly lighter and faster than the Miniworks. The filter element is cleanable, and because of it’s construction it is less likely to break when dropped.

I own a discontinued Sweetwater filter named the Walk-a-bout, and I also own the hiker under its original manufacturer name plate (PUR). I use the Walk-a-bout when I go solo or tandem, or are responsible for my own water. I carry the hiker for larger groups, and both for groups over 8. I always carry a bottle of Potable Aqua (iodine tablets) as a back-up in case the filter breaks.

About Purifiers vs. Micro filters

The only thing that Purifiers remove from water that micro filters do not is a virus. Viruses are usually much smaller than the standard of .02 microns that all micro filters must meet to be sold in the US. The two viruses that are at issue are Polio and Hepatitis A. Polio has been eradicated in the US and Canada so it’s not an issue. Hepatitis A is of some concern, but according to the CDC not a single case of Hepatitis A has been linked to micro filtered water in North America. The BWCA has never had a reported case.

Microbes such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Protozoa, and Bacteria are all removed with a .02-micron or smaller filter.

If you desire a purifier instead, the only currently available portable purifier is the First Need Deluxe By General Ecology. All others have been found not to meet EPA standards for purification that is 99.95% purified 99.95% of the time.

Hope this helps some,


Water Filter
I didn’t use to carry a water filter into the BWCA / Quetico. Used to drink right out of the lakes, and some still do. But now I carry a filter just for drinking water. A few too many folks that I knew ended up getting Giardia in the BWCA and it wasn’t much fun for them for weeks later. I like my First Need filter. It filters fast enough to be practical to supply drinking water for my usual group size of six. It amazes me that it can clear dark tannin stained water and actually make it taste good. Everyone in my group carries a 1 liter water bottle on the portages and hangs it near them on the gunnel when traveling. The bottles gets filled with filtered water before heading out in the morning, again at lunch, and on hot days more often.

I have been using Aqua Mira the past 2 years with good results. No pumping, no filters to clog. Just mix and treat the water. The only thing, if there are particulates in the water they are not filtered out. In Canada, I have not had a problem.

Where in Utah are you going? If it is the Green you need to know the water is VERY silty/muddy and it will clog a filter in one use! Some kind of prefiltering and or settling will be necessary. Most people just drink the mud (locals) or carry their own water.

Purifiers, filters, etal.
If I recall correctly, the FDA regulates whether a system can be qualified as a purifier or just a filter. Regardless, go with a system that is rated to at least .3 microns to be safe. You don’t want to be deep in the back country when you get to shake hands with that slim percentage of organisms that are smaller than 5 microns. As far as which purifier, if you’re tough on your gear, stay away from ceramics. Otherwise, ceramics are great. They last longer typically, and they’re back flushable so you can get the crud out if it clogs. Also, consider having a backup method in the group. I’m fascinated with the sublimated iodine method personally, but here’s a good site to check out that pretty much runs the gambit: http://www.bagelhole.org/section.php/Water/

Have a great time for all of us that will be stuck here in the “civilized” world.


gravity filter
Ok - I’ll admit that I haven’t used on of these - yet. However, after pumping many gals through a ceramic filter, I’m going to swallow my pride and fork over the $$ for yet another piece of gear, if only to save the aggravation and time of using the pump. The thought of filling a blivet with water, hanging it in a tree, and turning in for the nite, to wake up to several gallons of easy water is too good to resist anymore. I’ll bring my pump along for backup (hell - it weighs less than half pound).

collapsible bucket

– Last Updated: Feb-10-04 7:31 AM EST –

Good point about filters getting clogged. Never filter directly out of a lake or stream if you don't have to. To avoid this, I would suggest getting a collapsible canvas bucket (large). When you break camp, you can gather water in the bucket and let it sit until most of the sediment can settle out. Meanwhile you should have leftover water in that canteen or camelbak that you've also brought along :)

I use the sweet water system, it’s a filter and a purifier depending on how you set it up, it also plugs right into my Camel bac. It has a ceramic media, but its indestructible, heck the Military uses IT! It also has a natural “Pumping” stroke when you use it, I have used others that Cramp your hand and fingers trying to pump water through them. Or they use flimsy paper filters… I have used my Sweet water system for years now and the filter media is STILL good. Of course I haven’t been using it in places where the water is extremely turbid. But they have a Pre filter for that too.

wrap a piece of coffee filter around your filter element - beats spending 10 bucks on a piece of charcoal impregnated foam!