How to Choose a Water Filter


Your survival plan should take into account a couple different water-need scenarios to be best prepared. Remember, of all the supplies you can have ready for emergency, access to clean water is THE critical one for sustaining life. So, don’t delay in preparing your water emergency plan.

How to choose a water filter
Choosing a water filter

So you’d like to drink clean water? If you’re drinking water from natural sources such as a lake, stream, or river, it’s a very smart idea to get it filtered and purified. Giardia lamblia, cryptosporidium, campylobacter jejuni, Hepatitis A. are all active bacteria and protozoan cysts in untreated and unfiltered water that can leave you sick or debilitated for weeks.

Filtering water cleans it of chemical and bacterial contaminants. Purifying water makes it 99.99% free from viruses. Although viruses in the water aren’t as common in North America, they can be a big issue in less developed countries. Quality water filters may screen up 99-99.99% of viruses. There are other ways to destroy viruses in water if you don’t want to put the expense into a water purifier. Adding chlorine or iodine crystals are commonly used for this purpose although they can leave a bad aftertaste and have a negative impact on your health if overly applied.

Types of Water Filters

Water filters come in many styles: large, small, plastic and metal, with ceramic, carbon, and fiberglass filtration systems inside.

They also provide different outputs. If you want to filter water into a water bladder for hiking or camping, you’ll choose a different filter than if you wanted to have it stored for use in your kitchen.

Some of the criteria you’ll use to evaluate a water filter include:
choosing a water filter

  • Effectiveness/Pore size of filtration
  • Ease of Use
  • Volume of Water filtered in a timeframe
  • Longevity of filter/volume life
  • Easy to clean and maintain in the field

Keep in mind how many people your water filter will be serving. If it is more than one or two, you’ll want a higher flow rate and probably a longer life filter. As you research water filters, you’ll learn that there can be a trade off between some of these criteria so decide what is most important for your situation. Always take the time to read reviews on water filters so you get a sense of how they have worked for people in the field.

Common Water Filter Problems

Imagine being 50 miles from civilization with one water filter for a family of four. And the pump handle breaks. All of a sudden, your most important piece of equipment is rendered useless. This and other problems can be prevented and prepared for by doing your research up front. Don’t pick a cheap water filter just because it is inexpensive. Other problems that can happen include filters clogging and then being broken when taken out for cleaning because they are so delicate. Plastic pumps are more prone to breakage. No matter what water filter you choose, be sure to have a worst case back-up plan should your filter quit. This may include a back up filter, back up filter pieces, or a vial of bleach or iodine crystals that can be used to sterilize water.

Take Care of Your Water Filter

Treat your water filter well and it will serve you for a long time.  Every manufacturer has different instructions for keeping the water filter in good operation.  Be familiar with and follow the tips they provide.

One way to prevent some operational problems is to try to draw water from still sources. This will keep sediment out of the filter and extend its usefull life. Another way to protect the filter from sediment is to attach something like a coffee filter with rubber band over the filter intake. This will strain some gunk out upfront and your filter will serve you better for that.

Another thing to remember is to soak the filter in water and bleach when you get back from a trip using it.  The filter is straining out millions of tiny organisms.  They can grow quickly if you don’t prepare the filter properly before storage.  Another thing to remember is to wash you hands after touching the inside of the filter for cleaning or sterilizing.

Best Water Filters

Based on our research, some of the best water filters and purifiers are the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter and the
Lifesaver Bottle 4000 Ultra Filtration Water Bottle. It’s worth taking a look at these two to see if one will fit into your survival plan.  They both have excellent ratings for reliability, effectiveness, and longevity.


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