Purifier info needed

Hi all, I like to canoe and kayak camp on the Wisconsin river and some Illinios rivers. I have been thinking of buying a First Need water purifier and collecting as I go for drinking and cooking. I would like to do this and save about 25 lbs. as I often bring and use 3 gallons on a weekend trip.

Has anyone been doing this ? is the result nice fresh water or should I lug my own ? Thanks for your help. Bill

Many filters out there…
but a PURIFIER also kills viruses…

I use a simple MSR Waterworks filter (Been Backpacking for years)…screws to a nalgene bottle…that water is then used for cooking, basicly I’m a boiling water cooker on long boat trips…(that eliminates the Virus problem).

I still lean towards bottled drinking water when I’m going into placeas where the water is IFFY.

Don’t know
about purifiers, but I have been using a Katadyn gravity filter on the WI River, Lake MI, Flambeau Flowage, etc. for a couple of years. It is a great camp filter and requires no pumping.


MSR Miniworks
I’ll second the motion on MSR filters (mine is the Miniworks). Not the lightest or fastest, but it is completely field maintanable and very effective. I understand MSR now uses new filter cartridges that are even better than the original ceramics.

Typically I prefer to use iodine pills but on my recent trip to tapeworm-prone Isle Royale (the pills don’t kill tapeworm eggs that get into the ecosystem from wolf droppings) I used my MSR Miniworks for ten days and it never let me down.

Thanks everyone !!!

– Last Updated: Feb-24-06 1:00 AM EST –

Thanks to all of you that sent me advise on filtering water , I appreciate it, Bill

The FirstNeed
is a darn good unit. It is however a bit finicky after it has been used a bit. I always prefilter water through a bandana when using mine, it will save you countless fristration.

It is the only handheld (with the exception of the miox I think) water “purifier”. From the general ecology website “General Ecology’s water purifiers remove viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, plus many organic and inorganic chemical and aesthetic contaminants at the highest “purification” micron level (0.4 microns absolute) to provide great tasting water while protecting against water related disease… First Need Deluxe Water Purifiers… are certified to meet EPA Microbiological Purification Standard against cysts, bacteria AND virus!”

Basically drinking out of a river there are a couple of things to worry about, biologicals (crypto and giardia) and dissolved contaminents. In the US in a non-industrial river, crypto and giardia are what you need to worry about, the other things… the solution to pollution is dilution.

So its survey says: its a great filter and your water will be clean, but its overkill unless you are going to the third world, in my opinion.

Search the archives, many times this comes up. Also do an archive search for giardia, some good stories there.

Paddle On (when the water isn’t solid!)


I have a 1st need and like it ,
I have never been sick from any water that went through it. As for it being over kill, whats wrong with that? I would not want to take a chance and ruin a camping trip. But then again I am overly carefull anyways.

So, if we all agree that ther are SOoooooo many bad things in the water, why the ‘bleep’ do they make so many kinds of purifiers/filters that clean only certain things. One purifier won’t clean giardia, another won’t clean minerals, another won’t clean heavy metals.

So if you buy this system, you are safe from oil and sludge but die from giardia or tapeworms. But if you buy that system, biologicals are prevented but lead and mercury clog your kidneys and if you buy that system, you die from rattlesnake bites but are safe from cynaide.

Gosh all golly, listening to the salesman at my hiking store tell me the good and bad of each one made me think that I needed to buy a dozen different systems and run the water from one into the next then into the next until I had pure water, at a cost of $50 per pint and 16 hours filter-time.

Why not a single system that cleans EVERYTHING from the water and all you have to decide is what company you want to pay for.

I have
several filters. they all work fine. The major differances are back-flushable, scrubable, field serviciable or just cartridge replaceable…The first Needs is a back flushable and cartridge replace type filter…works fine but I stopped using mine several years ago because it plugged the soonest of any filter that I have and the cartridges, tho backflushable, are expensive for the amount of water pumped. Works ok for most clean/non silty rivers or lakes. A pre filter helps…eather a bandana or the sweetwater pre filter. I used a sweetwater for several years, another fine filter, easy pumping with a lever type handle. reasonable gallon / filter ratio. and reasonable priced replacement filter elements and they are scrubable within reason. I like it a little better than the First Needs, even tho they both work fine. Then we get to the one I dont have and that is the MSR…nice filter…field serviciable, scrubable ceramic filter element…the only reason that I don’t have one of these is that I skipped over it and dropped the $200 for the Katadin. another field serviciable, scrubable ceramic filter. I have both the camp gravity feed one and the pump one…both work very well. The problem with the camp one is that it’s bulky and slow…No good for backpacking, but ok for boat trips. All these filters work fine in the USA where Virus is not a very prevalent problem. The ability to field service and clean are nice if doing longer trips. But not necessary for weekend outtings where you can always get by with boiling if your filter clogs beyond any hope.

My preferance if budget is a major issue, would be the Sweetwater($45), then the MSR ($70 or $80), and finally the Katadin pocket filter ($200)

I’m not sure these prices are current, but I believe they are in the ballpark.

Best Wishes