Water Filtration newbie-

I’m planning a kayak camping trip and really would like to avoid carrying more than a couple liters of water.

Can I or should I be able to buy a filtration device & use it for all my water needs?

If do, what brands/models would best fit my needs?

It depends…
on what type of water will be available to you. If it’s relatively clear and free of debris I don’t even carry a filter, but use chemical treatment instead. There are lots of different chemicals out there to chose from and they each have a different taste to them. Eventually you get used to drinking water with various “floaties” in it. If the water may be murky, muddy, or for some other reason cloudy I carry a Sweetwater filter. I’ve had the best luck with that on backpacking and paddling trips. Easy to clean and fix in the field and pumps far faster than other models I have tried (MSR, PUR). The attachments for Nalgene widemouth bottles and Platypus hydration bladders are nice features too. Just be sure to treat ANY water you drink. Giardia is a nsaty thing to get.

MSR mini works
I have used this for three years with no complaints. On river trips with heavy sediment I will fill my bailer with water at night and filter from it in the morning allowing the sediment to settle. Keeps the filter from clogging as quickly. The filter cartridge is also easy to clean in the field.

There are others that will also fit the bill, do a bit of research and go with the one that has the features you like the best. Weight, size, cost, and speed are some that I considered. Most important to me was being able to get it back in service if the filter clogged.

We had an older PUR filter that was not cleanable, only replacable. On the last day of a 6 day trip we ended up drinking lake water beacause of a clogged filter. We had no spare cartridge, as the unit was new at the start of the trip. Junk!


I too have and like the miniworks. It requires regular maintanance and cleaning but this is all easy to do in the field. The unit is tough and dependable.

Most groundwater sources in the US now have pathogens in them that will make you sick even if the water looks clean. You should alway filter your water. I speak from first-hand experience after catching giardia after drinking from a cold clear stream.

If you are going to be paddling cloudy water such farmland area rivers or Alaska glacial streams, purchase a unit with a ceramic filter. This allows you to clean off the accumulated grime from the outside of the filter as required for a nearly unlimited filter life. Katadyn units are representative of this class.

If the water is generally clear purchase a non-ceramic filter with a spong prefilter. The spong can be removed and cleaned easily. The PUR Hiker or MSR mechangical units are representative of this class.

If the water is very clear then any mechanical filter with a 2 micron or smaller pore size will work for you. All filters on the market should serve this goal.

Viruses aren’t normally a problem in the US but to be doubly safe also use a chemical after filtering out the solid particulates. Aqua Mira or the MSR Viox are examples of a good products.

95% of the time I use a PUR Hiker with a iodine post filter. I own a Katadyn for the occassional trip on muddy streams. I keep Aqua Mira in my refrigerator for ultra-light water travel in areas with clear water.

Another msr fan
I use a waterbag from campmor just a pleates well coated stuff sack with handles and a stour rim really. Letting it settle for a few hours is a good idea.

When the going gets weird and every ounce counts an iodine tablet followed by a neutralizer is the way to go to save weight.

Good advice and use both
All good posts. Remember that particulates in water prevent the chemicals from finding all the nasties, so it is good as users here say to do BOTH. Several companies got into major trouble with over stated claims and had to change their devices recently.

For shear reliabillity the MSR devices are hard to beat, a must on long river and backcountry trips, hard and repeated use. Get one that can be back flushed! Use a prefilter, use the clearest water you can find.

Research on Aqua Mira and the new MSR unit show that they have THE STRONGEST oxidizer, i.e., will do the best quickest job chemically speaking, and they have the least nasty effects on you. If used little most people not seriously affected by iodine and chlorine, but if you read up you see these are bad bad bad for you. Aqua Mira is actually not a chlorinator, but a O3 ozonator, so it is better for you, also light and compact.

Interesting web site
By backpackers, but it still applies. Appear to be good field tests. http://www.backpackgeartest.org/

Yes, as long as it’s fresh water
If it’s cloudy, you can let it settle in a container before filtering it.

I used to carry several gallons of drinking water with me, in addition to a filter. What a waste of space, and unnecessary weight! Now I keep half to one gallon water ready to drink and just filter every day. On future long trips, I will also carry some purification tablets as backup.

On a 1-month trip I did last summer, my paddling partner’s ancient Katadyne filter stopped working during our last week out. We had no other filter with us because our group had started out as 4 people with 2 filters but we split up for the last week. Because we wanted to conserve fuel, we poured several gallons of rainwater off a tarp and drank that (instead of boiling stream water). Purification tablets would have been a good thing to have in that case. Fortunately, neither of us got sick.

I use a Sweetwater Guardian filter, which cost about $55. Works very well. My husband bought one in 2002, which we have used on several trips. Then I bought one so that we always have a backup.

I will be doing some more research & shopping while the ice is still covering my favorite paddling spots. My biggest concern was being able to produce an ample and safe water supply on my trips.

Thanks to you folks, I now have some ideas on what to look for. Thanks!

RE filter

– Last Updated: Mar-15-05 4:20 PM EST –


of all the long distance paddlers ive met, all carried 3-5 gallons of potable water with them...
( a 5 liter wine box has a durable plastic bladder inside that can be used to carry water, and it will conform to any shape) i use a 5 gal foldup jug.

when I do pack a filter, i use the sweetwater filter with an added sedament trap filter... pumps very fast and its easy to field strip and maintain.

some backpackers use bleach in an eye dropper and add a drop or two to every quart of water.... some use polarpur iodine crystals.... some filter.. some go "commando" and drink from the stream like an animal. its a mystery why some get sick and others dont, Ive done all of them and never got sick.. many in the backpacking community believe that stomach cooties are mostly spread by casual contact such as letting someone reach into your gorp bag with their nasty hands, shaking haNDS, sharing cooking utensils,food, etc.

whatever you choose, you dont want to get Giardia.... its one nasty lil motha!!