Before You Buy a Portable Water Filter
Kevin Felts 03.27.17
A portable water filter is a must have if there is any doubt about the quality of the water source. This could be hiking, backpacking, or a camping trip.
With so many portable water filter options on the market, narrowing it down to just one can be a daunting task. Do you need a filter or a purifier? What about a LifeStraw or water bottle filter? How much should you spend on a filter?
Let’s discuss a few of those topics. Hopefully, this will help narrow down your choices.
Filter or Purifier
One of the main questions I hear, “What is the difference between a purifier and a filter?”
Without going into all of the technical stuff:
Filter – For bacteria and protozoa. A regular water filter does nothing to remove or kill viruses.
Purifier – For viruses and bacteria. These either remove or kill viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. There are supposed to be purifiers on the market that are able to stop viruses.
Personally, if there is any doubt if the water has a virus in it, I filter and then use a Steripen. The Steripen uses UV light to kill viruses, bacteria, cyst, and protozoa.
Decades ago I used water purification tablets, but I have not used then in a very long time.
If you want detailed information about filtering viruses, see this page at the CDC – Water Disinfection for Travelers. Scroll to the bottom and there will be a chart detailing filter size needed to stop a virus.
LifeStraw or Water Bottle Filter
If hiking along a water source, the LifeStraw or a water bottle attached filter is better than nothing.
Using a LifeStraw:
- Everyone needs their own.
- Wipe the mouth piece off between users.
- Or, swap slobber.
Does a LifeStraw have a place? Sure it does. They are lightweight, take up little room in the pack, and are fairly inexpensive. As I write this article, I have a LifeStraw in my Maxpedition Condor II backpack.
As of March 27, 2017 the Lifestraw has a price of $19.95. For something that can filter up to 1,000 liters and only weighs 1.75 ounces, that is pretty good.
Portable Water Filter Cost
For a good basic portable water filter for personal use or with a small group, I would set a price of $100 or less.
My personal water filter is a very old Pur brand name from the mid-1990s. Katadyn bought the Pur line out of outdoor filters and the filter I have was later renamed to the Katadyn Hiker. Even though the filter was bought in the mid-1990s, brand new replacement filters work just fine.
With around 20 years of filtering water through my Katadyn Hiker, I do not remember getting a single stomach problem during or after the trip. The replacement filter has been changed out several times in that 20 years.