So quick explanatory note: the backpacking trip I was going to go on this weekend was canceled due to extreme weather. Don’t worry though, they rescheduled the trip to this coming weekend so I will be able to share that experience with you! Just not quite yet. Instead, this week I’m going to walk you through my choice of a water purification system. I need one, I hadn’t got around to buying one until now, and I thought it would be nice to show you, step by step, how I chose from the different options on the market.
So my priorities when shopping for a backpacking water purification system are:
Above all you want your system to always work. Duh. But getting sick from contaminated water sources is no joke, so reliability is top on my list.
- Low weight/compactness.
This one is pretty straight forward. If you’re carrying all your things on your back you can’t afford to have your water filter/tablets be 5 lbs. or something like that.
This means we’re looking for a system that doesn’t take a lot of manual labor to make it work or a lot of unnecessary time.
- Reasonably priced.
I’m not keen on spending upwards of $100 on a water system.
So those are our criteria. Now let’s look at the choices.. I’ve already narrowed my list down to three main options: The Sawyer Mini Filtration System, Platypus Water Filtration System, and purification tablets. There are plenty of other options on the market but these are the three I’ve decided to examine and choose between, just because I’ve heard good things about each of them.
First up: Water purification tablets.
Sometimes these are iodine, sometimes it’s iodine plus other chemicals, sometimes you have to add Vitamin C after the initial pills have done their work. But essentially it always works the same way: you drop one of the tablets in the water you want to purify and you wait about half an hour for the tablet to dissolve.
A con of this process is that it does take a while to work (so not great convenience) and it doesn’t necessarily get out all the dirt, leaves, sediment, or little rocks- only the bacteria. From what I’ve seen these are made by lots of different companies and they go for between $12.00 and $30.00. They also seem to last a while, so they could be viable for a thru-hike. Plus it’s just a little bottle of tablets so if you were very concerned about weight I’m sure you could put them in a zip-lock baggie and it would only come to a few ounces at most. (For more in-depth information about all the different options in this category I recommend this article.)
Second: The Sawyer Squeeze Mini
How does this little guy measure up? Well it claims to remove 99.9999% of all bacteria and has a good reputation for doing it’s job. It’s weighs 2 oz., requires no work to operate but you do have to be present for it to work (i.e. you have to be holding it) and it’s $19.97 before tax or shipping on Amazon. Looking good. Let’s keep moving.
Third: The Platypus Gravityworks 2.0 Liter Water Filtration System
This one takes about two minutes to filter two liters. There’s no labor involved, it weighs about 6.3 oz, meets all reliability requirements, and it can even filter water for up to four people. You also don’t have to engage with it at all: you just hang it from a tree and gravity does all the work for you, whereas with the Sawyer you have to be present to filter the water yourself. The problem is that this filter goes for $79.96 on Amazon. While that’s not terrible (it is under my $100 goal) it’s still significantly more than the Sawyer Squeeze.
After going over all of these specs I decided to purchase the Sawyer Squeeze Mini. It’s the cheapest and the lightest and those are two pretty important categories to me. While I do have to hold it the entire time I feel that’s worth it for the other benefits. So I’ll be purchasing the Sawyer Squeeze Mini for this upcoming backpacking trip. Maybe I’ll even let you know what I think.
Until next time,