Everyone knows you can’t live without water, right?
Reliable, portable water purification systems and tools are crucial additions to any survival gear collection. More important than food, fresh, drinkable water is one of the scarcest resources in an emergency or in the wilderness. Carrying water in a backpack or go bag for an extended period of time is not only physically taxing, it takes up a great deal of space that could be dedicated to other critical survival needs.
Knowing when water is safe to drink is tricky. Stored water can present dangers after extended periods of time. In the wilderness, even clear streams and lakes pose a health threat with lurking bacteria and other contaminants, making purification a vital exercise prior to drinking. Boiling remains one of the most effective means to distill and purify water, but at times when boiling isn’t feasible, having a water purification system on hand can be a lifesaver. Here are a few of the options on the market.
Key Features: Passive purification, removes bacteria and other contaminants
Description: The Go Berkey Kit purifies both treated water and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies. The system is ideal for outdoor activities and in hostile environments where electricity, water pressure or treated water may not be available. Go Berkey removes viruses, pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces unhealthy heavy metals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove red food coloring from water, which is a simple way users can periodically test the performance.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “The Go Berkey Kit is a must during unexpected emergencies.”—Debbie Morrow, Sales Manager
Key Features: Extends water storage life up to five years, treats 300+ gallons of water
Description: The H2O ResQ Emergency Water Storage Kit can be used in bottles, quarts, gallons, drums and large water-storage containers to extend the life of stored water up to five years. The kit includes two solutions that should be used in tandem to prolong the shelf life of stored water-copper-silver ion concentrate and filtered sodium hypochlorite. The copper-silver ion concentrate does not evaporate out of storage water, nor is it affected by ultraviolet rays from the sun, eliminating the need to rotate water out every six months. There is also a test kit to assess the level of copper ions in stored water, as well as a storage guide and measurement vial.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “In a technical context for the H2O ResQ Kit, it is a variety of different elements working together synergistically to produce results not obtainable by any of the elements individually.” —Tom Smokoff, Salesperson
Key Features: Lightweight, large filter area, quick connect fittings for easy hose installation
Description: The Katadyn Hiker PRO is a small unit with a powerful filter. The large filter area delivers an outstanding pumping performance, reliably eliminating bacteria, cysts and sediments from water. The filter is very easy to clean on trips thanks to its cleanable filter protector, which also appreciably extends the life of the 0.3-micron glass-fiber filter cartridge. Its active carbon filling improves the taste of water and eliminates odors. Installation and removal of the input and output hoses is child’s play, thanks to convenient quick connect fittings.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “With water weighing eight pounds per gallon, those who have to go light need an easy, dependable way to filter water from natural sources, and the Hiker PRO fits the bill.” —Viola Frey, Katadyn Corporate Communications
Key Features: Long-lasting UV bulb, simple to use, treats water in 60 seconds
Description: The CamelBak All Clear water purifier bottle uses UV light to effectively neutralize viruses, bacteria and protozoa so you can enjoy safe drinking water anywhere. All you have to do is fill the bottle with water, screw on the All Clear cap, press the power button and agitate the bottle until the treatment is complete; you can treat 25 fluid ounces (.75 liter) of water in only 60 seconds. An LCD screen on the cap verifies the success of the treatment and once the cycle is complete, you can remove the All Clear UV purifier cap, stow it in the protective case and screw on the included CamelBak classic cap. The bottle operates on a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides 80 treatments (equivalent to 16 gallons of water).
Manufacturer’s Comment: “This system is so easy to use, and it includes a USB cable to recharge the battery with a portable power source or solar panel.”
Key Features: Gravity filter, improved durability, hollow-fiber filter technology
Description: The Platypus GravityWorks water filter combines the speed and utility of the original Platypus CleanStream gravity filter with less weight and improved durability. GravityWorks includes two fourliter reservoirs, one for dirty water and one for clean water, each with hang loops for easy in-camp use. To use, simply fill the dirty reservoir with water and hang it above the clean water reservoir to let gravity carry water through the filter. Hollow fiber filter technology offers a high flow rate and physically removes particles, protozoa and bacteria, including giardia, salmonella and NS cryptosporidium, down to 0.2-microns in size. The reservoir features SlimeGuard antimicrobial treatment for taste-free performance.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “The Platypus GravityWorks water filter delivers four liters of potable water in just 2.5 minutes without requiring a single pump stroke.” —Kerri Dellisanti, Media Relations
Key Features: Ceramic/carbon filter, no tools required for cleaning, fast flow, reliable
Description: The compact MSR MiniWorks EX water filter features a ceramic/carbon Marathon EX element to effectively remove bacteria and protozoa, including giardia and cryptosporidium, even with frequent use. The system also removes unpleasant tastes and odors caused by organic compounds, such as iodine, chlorine and pesticides. The filter can be cleaned over and over for maximum field life without requiring tools. MiniWorks EX contains an AirSpring Accumulator to increase filtration speed up to one liter per minute. And the easy disassembly enables users to troubleshoot and maintain the filter in the field.
Manufacturer’s Comment: “The MiniWorks EX microfilter delivers long-lasting, field-maintainable water filtration in demanding environments.” —Kerri Dellisanti, Media Relations
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.