Taking along a portable water filter is something every camper or hiker should consider. Sure, you might be camping in a beautiful area with clear lakes and streams but those same lakes and streams that you are considering drinking from could be a stew of harmful bacteria.
Yes, no one likes to think about it, but nature really isn’t all that clean! Mountain streams and lakes can be full of microscopic pathogens caused by animal feces which can make you sick, causing stomach cramps and diarrhea – now who wants to deal with that on their relaxing camping trip?
Luckily, you can carry in a portable water filter and make great clean water for drinking and cooking. There are two types you want to look at:
Water Purifier – this will remove bacteria as well as viruses like hepatitis, and protozoan cysts. Typically a purifier does this by using iodine which renders these little critters inactive. However, there are some newer ones that use an electrostatic charge to purify the water.
Water Filter – this will remove bacteria and protozoan cysts, but not the viruses.
So if you don’t want to take any chances, go with the water purifier. Not all water is contaminated with viruses, but viruses may exist in water that has fecal contamination – do you know where all the woodland animals have been pooping? There is less of an incidence in North America, but if you are traveling out of the country, definitely get a purifier.
Choosing a portable water filter can be challenging. You want one that isn’t too heavy and won’t take up too much room in your camping gear. Also, it should be easy to use and capable of pumping enough water for your needs. Make sure you get one that won’t clog every 5 minutes as this can be very frustrating! Test it out before you take it along on your trip.
When filtering water, it is usually easier if you put the water in a pot and filter from there instead of trying to filter right from the stream. The first batch of water processed by a portable water filter might not taste ideal because of residual manufacturing chemicals in the filter. So you might not want to use it. Always get your water from still sources where there is little evidence of animal or human activity.