Going camping is one of the most fun activities you can partake in if you’re an outdoor enthusiast. Very few things can compare to moving off the beaten path with a group of friends and setting up camp. Bringing your own supplies is always important as a back up. But bringing some equipment to catch and prepare your own food in the wild can make things much more interesting. The problem can begin to arise, however, when it comes to having a reliable source of drinking water.
Of course, you can bring a massive amount of water with you. But that will slow you down and decrease the amount of other supplies you’re able to bring. So what’s the solution to this problem? Well, if you’re nearby a river or another water source, you could try boiling the water. Boiling water can certainly kill off plenty of biological pathogens. But that doesn’t actually mean it’s safe to drink. If the water is polluted with harmful elements such as lead then boiling it will not fix this problem.
Luckily, there’s a solution for this – the camping water filter. These are portable, lightweight devices that you can take with you anywhere. The specific filtration method they use varies from filter to filter. The end result is the same. They give you the ability to thoroughly scrub out nasty contaminants such as pathogens and toxins.
Our Top Picks
This may all sound like it’s high tech and pretty costly. But there’s a massive supply of inexpensive options out there. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite camping water filters below, along with a brief feature list and some of the key selling points of each one. We’ve also thrown in a buyers guide to give you an idea of what to look out for if you choose to price some yourself.
Quick Note: Before we dive in to the world of filtration, we must first explain some brief water filter jargon to give you an understanding of how powerful some of these filters are. When you’re reading up on filters you may see various people, including us, make reference to “log5 removal”. Log5 quite literally means “logarithmic, 5”. Meaning a logarithmic increase of 5. So if a filter is capable of Log5 removal, it’s removing 100,000 times the amount.
A quick way of visualizing it is this. Imagine you have a bank account with one hundred thousand dollars in it. Now imagine you were charged a sum of 5log dollars. You would have one dollar left.
Survivor Filter Pro
The survivor filter pro is a fairly impressive water filtration system, especially within its price range.
It has been passed through numerous labs for testing across the United States. Results have indicated that the filter is capable of 99.9% Log 5 removal of various types of Protozoa and Viruses. These include cryptosporidium, parasites, staph and bacteria. It’s also 99.5% effective at the reduction of mercury and 93% with lead removal – which is about comparable to the level of filtration you would expect to see from your own drinking water at home.
It makes use of two fine membrane fiber filters to provide filtration that is 20x as good as most competitors down to the level of 0.2 microns. It’s also really difficult to find a competitor who can match this level of metal reduction. It’s actually rated for triple filtration down to 0.01 microns.
In terms of usability – it’s great. The rate of flow of water is about 500 millimeters per minute. So you’re not going to be waiting around for forever until your water has been adequately filtered. You can utilize this device to filter massive amounts of water in short periods of time – perfect if you’re planning on cooking with it.
The build quality is outstanding too. The shell for the filter is manufactured from Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – this is a thermoplastic material used in motoring for its impact resistance. The filter is also made with medical grade polysulfone (this is a material used in aerospace for astronauts). It’s also BPA free.
It comes with a drinking cup (detachable), a travel bag and even a manual with advice on how to properly use the device.
This device comes with a lifetime quality guarantee. If your device is faulty or has any kind of manufacturing defect you can get in contact with the manufacturers and they’ll be more than happy to replace it.
Survivor Filter PRO X Electric Water Filter
This is another great survivor filter product. This is actually one of the worlds first portable electric camping water filter. It can be operated with AA batteries – or alternatively you can plug it into a power source of some kind with a conventional charging cable. You can power it from an in-car cigarette lighter, a wall source or a power bank. We’d recommend sourcing a reliable power bank that can withhold a decent amount of charge to ensure you can use this filter as often as you’d like. Removing the need for a hand pump means that you don’t need to fatigue yourself and can focus on other important tasks whilst you wait for your water to purify. This particular filter can clean water at a rate of about 17 ounces per minute.
It’s also manufactured from ABS to ensure it has a solid level of impact resistance. It has 0.1 micron pre-filter in order to provide the filtration system with an initial line of defense against waterborne pathogens. After it’s been passed through the prefilter it’s sent through the carbon filter to strip impurities from the water. This carbon filter will massively improve the taste and odor of the final product. After it’s been passed through these two powerful filter systems its finally passed through a 0.01 micron filter to ensure that 99.9% of any pathogens that MAY be remaining are stripped clean from the water.
Venturing into the wilderness with a power bank? We’d still recommend taking a few AA batteries as a back up in case your power bank breaks. There is no manual pump back up included with this particular product so it doesn’t play it safe and ensure that you won’t be going without water for the duration of your trip.
Joypur Outdoor Water Filter
This is another solid choice if you’re looking to make sure you’re well protected against a wider range of waterborne threat. This filtration system is rated for use down to 0.01 microns. If you’re looking for a frame of reference, the ebola virus is about 0.9 microns in size. The influenzu virus is much smaller at 0.08. This is still on average 8 times bigger than the stated 0.01 microns of this particular membrane.
It utilizes a medical grade ultra-filtration membrane with pours literally tens of thousands of times smaller than the diameter of human hairs. These pours allow it to effectively filter out a wide array of pollutants before the water is passed through its carbon filter. The end result is clean water that smells and tastes the way water should – like nothing at all.
Both the Ultrafiltration (UF) Membrane and the carbon filter are totally replaceable. Meaning you’ll get an abundance of use out of this device over longer periods of time. It has an integrated hand pump to allow you effectively get liquid flowing – although if you elevate your containers appropriately gravity will do most of the work for you. You can also expect a flow rate of about 1.4 liters per minute, which is incredibly fast as far as filters go.
It ships with a lifetime warranty for manufacturer or structural defaults. Simply get in contact with the manufacturer if you’re unhappy and they’ll be more than happy to sort you out.
MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter
The MSR Miniworks Ex microfilter is the perfect filter for camping, hiking, fishing or any other outdoor activity you can think of that’s particularly time consuming. It uses both carbon and ceramic filtration systems – with both the ceramic and carbon filters being completely replaceable. This combination of filtration systems works to effectively filter out all manner of harmful bacteria, protozoa, sediment and other unwanted particles. The carbon filter in particular contributes towards consistently odor free and delicious tasting water every time you use this.
It can pump up to a liter of water a minute through its filters, which means you’re not going to be pressed for time – it’s only a five minute wait to fill up a GALLON jug. When you consider the fact that the filter cartridges are good for about 2000 liters of water, that’s around 33 hours of continuous usage before you need to consider replacing your cartridge.
It only weighs about a pound and it isn’t particularly large in size, which makes it ultra-portable. It’s also compatible with a wide range of water bladders and water bottles that are sold separately.
Katadyn Vario Water Filter
The Katadyn Vario Water Filter is another reliable water filter with a solid construction. It has a ceramic-prefilter to prepare the water with the main filtration component being a carbon filter. The ceramic filter is only really necessary for particularly dirty water, though. If it’s engaged it will help remove some of the worst of the sediment and murkiness before being passed to the carbon section of the device.
If you’re drinking regular running water from a stream you can probably switch over to the pleated glass filter. Switching over to this filter is as easy as turning a dial.
The dual pumping modes are particularly useful in ensuring the longevity of your filters. The central carbon filtration core is easily replaceable too – so once you’ve gotten a good bit of use out of your current filter you shouldn’t have any anxiety about changing cartridges. You don’t need to worry about replacing the ceramic though – that can simply be wiped down.
IDual pistons are present to ensure the pumping action is significantly easier on you. There’s no need to waste excess energy when a bit of mechanical leverage can smooth out the whole process for you.
The adapter is easily attachable to all manner of water bottles and water bladders. The device also comes with its own deluxe carry bag and cleaning pad for your ceramic disc.
Lifesaver Liberty Water Purifier Bottle
The lifesaver liberty is a nifty little water bottle to have at hand that will allow you to filter water as you go. It has an integrated pump built into the bottom of the container. Simply pull the small circular cap out of the bottom and you’ll note that it’s attached via a long aluminium pump shaft.
It has a water capacity of up to 400ml, which is ideal if you’re using it for one or two people. The chassis is manufactured from a tough polymer and the base of the pump handle has shock absorbing separators to ensure you can’t damage the device whilst actively pumping water through the purifier.
The act of utilizing the purifier is incredibly simple. Simply fill with water whilst using the pump. If the water is in a difficult to reach area – a scavenger hose has actually been provided that hooks up to the pump allowing you to quickly and directly fill the water up from any source.
Independent verificaiton has revealed that this particular filter meets WHO2011 drinking water standards. It’s also able to exceed NSF/ANSI P231 standards from the public health and safety organization.
The filter cartridge is rated for up to 2000 liters of water before it has to be replaced. Considering the capacity of this device is only 400ml, that’s well over 4000 individual uses.
There’s an active carbon filter too, which is effectively standard at this stage, but it doesn’t hurt to know your water isn’t going to taste or smell bad.
One of the key benefits to this bottle over other purification systems is the space it saves. You don’t need to bring separate containers for water or bulky purification equipment. You can simply fill your bottle and purify as you go along.
LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter Gravity Bag
This particular filtration system is a dual filtration system – but it deviates a little bit from the industry standard. This is why we felt it was worth mentioning. It uses a hollow fiber membrane to provide effective filtration (99%) for particles down to 0.2 microns in size. This is more than enough to help you filter out plenty of protozoa, bacteria and micro-plastics. The only real threat remaining at this filtration level is viruses. It’s then passed through a carbon fiber capsule in order to effectively filter out any additional pollutants. This capsule also improves taste and ensuring there’s no odor left in the water. This carbon capsule is totally replaceable and good for up to 2000 liters before you’ll need to consider a replacement.
The bag is designed to be easily hung up from an elevated position – allowing you to utilize gravity to “pump” your water for you. The solid bag design means that it can easily double as a water bladder in many hydration systems. You can also re-filter water from water bottles through the straw.
This is useful for one or two people, I would be cautious at relying on it for a larger group of people though. Purely because the filtration process is a little bit slower on this one. It’s definitely something I’d bring with me if I was planning on going camping with a friend.
How Do They Work?
Types Of Water Filtration
There’s more than one type of water filtration. But unfortunately, only a few of these types of filtration are actually mobile enough for there to be any practical purpose in taking them camping. Listed below is a brief rundown of the types of water filtration you’ll likely see. For context, modern tap water is normally sterilized using a combination of many of the techniques listed below. Reverse-osmosis and UV sterilization are among the most common techniques found in water purification facilities.
Physical Water Filter
There’s a handful of different ways of filtering your water. Among the more common is through the use of some sort of physical filtration system. Normally, these are designed to allow water to slowly filter through them whilst all non-liquid particles slowly filter out. Typically this is done by having the water pass through a layer or several layers of microporous material.
That is to say, material with pours big enough to allow water to pass through it. but not big enough to allow other particles to pass through. Depending on the design of the material, it may take up to several minutes for the water to filter through. Sometimes multiple filters are used to ensure maximum efficiency.
Ceramic Filters work by having thousands of tiny pours across them. When water is pushed through a ceramic filter cartridge the impurities eventually get caught in these tiny pours and the water becomes cleaner and cleaner.
Carbon Filters are used primarily to remove larger particles from water. They normally have the effect of making your water look and taste bette. Whilst also working to remove toxins and other nasties before you take your first sip.
Reverse Osmosis is an incredibly reliable water filtration method. It’s commonly found in refrigerators with water dispensers. This is simply when a semi-permeable membrane is used to strip unwanted particles from water in a highly efficient manner.
Alkaline/Water Ionization is when you send water over two different electrically charge plates. The water produced as a result of this is separated into two different paths. One of which is a stream of more acidic water, another is a stream of more alkaline water. The alkaline water is generally the safer bet, it’s also much better for your skin than it’s acidic counterpart.
Other examples of physical filtration could potentially include UV sterilization. This is when a volume of water is kept underneath a UV light for a period of time. The ultraviolet rays are particularly effective at killing all manner of pathogens in the water – including viruses. Infrared sterilization is another method that is used. But it’s more so used for the purposes of softening “hard water”. This is the process of removing minerals from water with a very high mineral content.
Chemical Water Filter
Chemical water filters also come in a variety of different shapes and colors. Amongst the most common of which are water filtration tablets. These are particularly handy to have if you don’t have an actual filtration system in place. They typically consist of pretty harsh chemicals, however. So they’re normally designed to sterilize a larger volume of water (about a liter) rather than a water bottles worth. Chlorine is a pretty common active ingredient, but sometimes they’re also made out of chlorine dioxide or occasionally iodine. They have the benefit of being tiny and incredibly portable but they’re definitely better saved for emergencies. There’s no point ingesting harsh chemicals when you have a physical filter at hand.
We’ve listed a couple of examples below in case you’re interested in stocking up on a few to use. This is a good idea for emergencies. Or, alternatively, as a back up in case you encounter any kind of issues with your filter.
If you’re particularly paranoid, you can actually use a combination of chemical filtration and mechanical filtration. This helps ensure that your water is as safe as it can possibly be. After purification a carbon filter may actually help strip some of the chemical taste out of the water. Don’t quote us on that though – we tend to opt for one or the other.
Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets
Potable aqua water purification tablets are an ideal solution for quick chemical water purification. They’re designed to be left in water for 35 minutes whilst they do their germicidal thing. They’re particularly effective against various strains of bacteria alongside parasites commonly found in water such as giardia lamblia. These are also a fairly unique form of water purification tablets. They are actually designed to improve the taste and even clarity of the water they’re deposited in. You’re unlikely to be relying on these frequently. They’re only really for emergencies They’re also bound to last you a long time. especially a pack of 50.