Under ideal circumstances (if there is such a thing) the human body can struggle on for 3 weeks without food but only manage 3 days without water before things start to go seriously wrong. Of course people have gone much longer without both food and water but these are rarely situations they would volunteer to be in (nor would we).
Given most landscapes there is usually some type of water to be had, although most of it may be less than perfect and it turns into a choice between short term survival or the risk of picking up an infection. The water purification industry has always attempted to make the process of supplying clean drinkable water with the minimum of equipment and as little fuss as possible.
Luckily for us the state of micro water filtration technology has produced highly portable and completely reusable lightweight systems for turning goop into something drinkable. We are going to look at 2 of these systems along with what sort of capacity they can deliver.
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
Weighing in at approx 4 ounces (the same weight as the smallest backpacking stoves) this Sawyer water filter system is light enough to go unnoticed in the pack. Even with the reduced size the baby brother of the Sawyer Squeeze is rated to deliver 100,000 gallons of clean water.
Water can be transferred to the included pouch, standard throwaway water bottles etc or can be drunk straight from the filter by using the included straw.
The compact design has left the water pouch a little on the small side (can’t have it all) so storing a good quantity of water is going to involve taking some extra flexible bottles along.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Winner of a whole host of awards including Time Magazines “Invention of the Year” the lifestraw has been around since 2005. Used by various relief agencies since its release the lifestraw is simplicity in itself, allowing water to be cleaned on the spot very quickly.
Good for approx 1,000 liters this filter is more of an immediate process than the Sawyer model above and doesn’t give much scope for storing water once its been cleaned The low price and very lightweight design make it an ideal piece of outdoor kit for the ultralight backpackers or used alongside existing “bulk” water purification equipment.
Taking Extra Precautions With Dirty Water
Although modern water filters will take care of the most common bacteria your likely to find in water they aren’t a fix all solution and some judgement has to be made about the initial quality of water your trying to filter.
Heavily stagnant or animal feces infested water are the main concerns here and if your desperate enough to warrant tackling it, try to at least boil it first, or use one of the many water purification products available.