How to choose your water filter [for outdoors and traveling]

A long distance hike like the GR 20, famous for being the toughest one in Europe [186 kilometers through the Corsican Mountains with an inhumane positive elevation and burning sun!] is the perfect playground to select the optimum gear and test it. Since we have completed it and have been entirely satisfied with our gear, Katadyn water filtration products come with us on every adventure, whether an exposed outdoorsy outing or a city trip in countries where water is scarce and not always drinkable.

How to choose your filtration system

  1. Know your enemy!

The main dangers for your drinking water are the following:

  • Protozoa (amoebae, giardia, lamblia, cryptosporidia) are 1-to-15-micron single-cell organisms which get into water through animal and human feces and lead to acute gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Bacteria (e-coli, salmonella, cholera) are 0.2-to-5-micron single-cell organisms multiplying quickly in warm water.
  • Viruses (hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus, polio) are tiny 0.02-to-0.2-micron parasites only propagating in living cells and get into drinking water through animal and human feces near populated areas where wastewater can get into drinking water.
  • Contaminants like pesticides or industrial chemicals.
  • Sediment and debris.
  1. Know the water filtration technologies:

  • Water filters work by physically straining out protozoa and bacteria (the most common threats in the wild): pay attention to the pore size of the filter.
  • Water purifiers also protect from viruses thanks to chemicals or UV light (more adapted to densely populated areas with low hygiene).
  • Chemicals (typically iodine- or chlorine-based) treat water against bacteria, viruses and most protozoa (expect a waiting time from 30 minutes to 4 hours).
  • Boiling water for 3 minutes is effective against all microorganisms (protozoa, bacteria and viruses) not against sediments and debris.

Taking this into account, we travel with a Katadyn BeFree 1.0L per person on any trip and a Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L for the group when in the outdoors.

The Katadyn BeFree 1.0L

A compact 1-liter bottle with a screw-in hollow fiber filter that is easy and fast to fill up and drink from (careful – does not protect against viruses). It is the perfect companion on any trip and complements the Gravity Camp 6L in the outdoors getting the best of both worlds: easy and fast drinking water on the go as well as efficient refills of several liters.

What we like about the Katadyn BeFree 1.0L:

  • The 0.1 micron pore size filters out protozoa and bacteria, as well as sediments and debris.
  • It is lightweight: 63g.
  • It is very compact.
  • Drinking from it is comfortable (squeezing the bottle provides a flowrate of 2 liters per minute).
  • The filter is extremely easy to clean just by swishing it through a clean water source.
  • It is said to treat up to 1,000 liters of water.
  • The water measurement on the bottle makes it easy to filter the precise amount for cooking or to refill other containers.

What could be improved:

  • It is a bit rough to open and close the cap and this might make it prone to breakage in the long run.

The Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L

A water pouch that serves as a tank for water to be filtered and that can also be converted into a gravity shower. We also use it to port water when hiking, clipping it to a backpack (even though it is not designed for this and it leaked a little bit by the clipping point, it worked just fine and allowed us to save some base-weight not carrying too many water bottles nor hydration bladders). A fiberglass filter is used (careful – does not protect against viruses).

When crossing only a few water points during the day, our water refills were easy and fast:

  • screwing on the filter cartridge to the 6-litre Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L,
  • filling it up to the desired volume even with murky water,
  • hanging it using our hiking poles or a branch,
  • filling up our aluminum water bottles after clipping in the outlet tube using gravity.

It is the perfect system for hikes and the outdoors.

What we like about the Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L:

  • The 0.2 micron pore size filters out protozoa and bacteria, as well as sediments and debris.
  • A carbon core or ceramic filter can be used instead of the default fiberglass filter.
  • It is lightweight: 290g.
  • It is foldable.
  • It is fast to fill up containers (using gravity, it is sold as providing a flowrate of 2 liters per minute, and our experience in the field is closer to 15 seconds per liter).
  • The filter is easy to clean.
  • The treatment capacity is said to be 1,500 liters of water.
  • The pouch seems to be durable.
  • It needs to be hung, and in some terrain this may be a challenge, so either you hold it yourself for a couple of minutes, or we have an easy solution thanks to hiking poles!

What could be improved:

  • It would be great if the pouch were fully water-resistant to allow better water portage.

On a hike, this configuration of having both water filtration systems saved us an average of 2 to 3 kilograms per day per person making it an obvious choice.

What about you? What filtration system do you use? Feel free to share your own tips and experiences!

Marcella & Claire

Part of this article was published in the Beyond Boundaries e-magazine by Xtreme Adventure:

Katadyn - Beyond Boundaries magazine

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