The ins and outs of portable water filters

Water Filter
If you are a hiker or a field staffer with an organization like the Peace Corps, you probably already know about the benefits of portable water filters. As the name implies, these water filters are designed to be carried around. Despite their small size, the better ones are capable of removing a wide range of pollutants in the water along with bacterial and other microbial contaminants.

Staying well hydrated is a critical need for all hikers and campers. The problem is, it involves carting around several gallons of water, which is extremely cumbersome. Hikers have long realized that using portable water filters to transform available water into safe drinking water is far more convenient. It is also surprisingly cost effective.

Water in springs, rivers or wells may appear clean and even taste great. However, because of the pollution unleashed by agricultural and industrial activities, there are practically no natural water sources that can supply safe water.

There are two fundamentally different types of portable water filters on the market. One type is meant for emergency use, lasting a few days at most. The other type of filter is for survival purposes. It is designed to last much longer and with proper care, can be used for years.

Portable water filters may be the kind that is built into a water bottle - you pour in ordinary water and when you drink out of the bottle, you get filtered water. There are also filters that are separate systems which can be used to purify naturally occurring water such as those in rivers.

Technologies used in portable water filters include ionic absorption and electrolysis, among others. Some types of filters come with a pitcher included - you only need to add unprocessed water to the pitcher and the filter removes the contaminants making water safe to drink. However, you need to ensure that the filter actually does remove microscopic pathogens.

Researchers have found that most health-threatening bacterial have sizes larger than one micron. Therefore, if a water filter can remove microbes that are down to one micron in size, it should be able to trap a majority of disease causing bacterial contamination in natural water.

Another point to note is that gravity fed water filters are generally more effective as compared to those that force the water through the filter under pressure. Since the water fed only by gravity tends to flow more slowly than water under pressure, contaminants are more effectively removed in the former models.

Katadyn and MSR are two popular brands of portable water filters. The World Health Organization, other United Nations organizations, Red Cross, Peace Corps and others tend to use Katadyn filters. Many campers, however, prefer MSR filters because they are less expensive, while being very reliable.

Many people prefer the Katadyn Pocket Filter. It has excellent filtration capabilities and can remove many dangerous pathogens. The initial cost of this filter is on the higher side, but the cost per gallon of water output is quite low. It is an excellent option for emergency purposes.

MSR filters are also made to high technical standards. At the same time, they are usually quite economical. For the budget-conscious, these portable water filters are an excellent option.

Investing in good quality portable water filters is highly advisable if you are planning to travel to locations where you are unsure about water quality.