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SPECIAL USES/Camping / Travel

Water Filters for Camping, Hiking, Travelling and Survival

If you need water filtration on the move there is now a wide variety of portable water filters on the market.

The main thing you are looking for in a portable water filter is the ability to filter out bacteria and viruses.

Home water filters are usually fairly simple "taste and odour" filters ie they filter properly treated mains water by removing the chlorine and chemicals that have made it safe but not very pleasant to drink. It's a totally different story when you're out in the open, with only "wild water", from lakes, rivers and streams or even puddles to drink from.

Owing to the lack of power outdoors most camping / survival / military type filters remove bacteria and viruses with the "barrier filter" technique - basically there's a smaller hole for the water to squeeze through than the cell size of a bacteria or virus. Bacteria and virus cells usually measure a minimum of 1 to 0.5 of a micron. (To give you an idea of how small that is, a human hair is about 100 microns diameter). So you need a filter that can block anything larger than half a micron.

The smallest bacteria that can be found today is 0.2 micron, and the tiniest virus that can be found is 0.017micron. So to be extra safe you need a filter that will block these - * see our "safe selection" below.

The other issue is you need something that is lightdurable and will last without needing to change the cartridge too often.

There are 2 main types of portable filters. The "drinking straw" type and the "pump action".

The former, as its name implies, simply relies on you sucking through the filter directly from a water supply - eg a muddy puddle or a lake. The second is usually a larger capacity and works by a tube being inserted into the water supply and the user pumping a handle or lever to pull the water through the filter.

There are quite a few brands on the market ranging from the highly expensive £250 plus - which aren't necessarily that good - to cheap ones - which are possibly dangerous.

We have selected the filters below as representing best value for money while being technically best in their class. They make the ideal tools for camping, backpacking, hiking and survival situation uses. You can also take them on gap years and even business trips where you have to stay in so called "luxury" hotels where they only supply you with a couple of small bottles of water in the mini bar and where your alternative is heavily chlorinated tap water - which you're not even sure is drinkable.

*The pump's filtering accuracy is down to 0.01micron, ie smaller than the tiniest known virus.