When hiking in the backcountry or doing some international travel with your family it is important to consider that water sources may have contaminates. Drinking unclean water can lead to a barrage of illnesses including parasites. It is hard to tell if a water source is clean as parasites are invisible so even crystal clear water may be teaming with bacteria. Locals from other countries will have a different tolerance to the microbes in water so you may get sick from water sources that they do not. What you need is a water filter or a water purifier. Water purifiers are different than water filters as water filters do not filter out viruses. A purifier typically uses chemicals or UV light whereas a water filter only removes large contaminants.
Some of the most common types of portable water filters are:
Pump Filter: This kind of filter allows the simple method of putting a hose into a water source and is very practical for smaller volumes of water due to the time and effort involved. Some added bonuses are that they can be used in very shallow water and have filters that are easily changed.
Gravity Filter: Using gravity to pull the water through a filter this method is great as energy expenditure is very low compared to the pump filter. The only real problems occur when it is difficult to find a place to hang. Also using it in shallow water conditions can be difficult.
Bottle Filter: A bottle filter is great but only for single person use. Some are designed to be used along with a straw and other styles have it more like a coffee type filter that you press through to catch all the particles. Given that only low volumes of water can be filtered at any time it would require the use of many to be sufficient for a family.
(Note:If you already have a backcountry water filter remember that with any filter repeatedly using it will cause it to become clogged. So be sure to clean it regularly)
When traveling out of the country, if you only use a filter designed for backcountry use, you may be at risk to viruses. Water filters typically only trap bacteria, debris and other protozoa and cannot catch the smaller viruses. A water filter can be used in tandem with a purifier firstly using it to filter out any large particles such as dirt and leaves. This is especially useful when having to filter a large volume of water. So if you are planning international travel be sure to travel with a water filter and a water purifier. Some water filters like the “Village Bucket” described businessconnectworld.com. Are actually water filters that also act as a water purifier. Using sediment which naturally causes viruses to clump together and get caught in the filter which is at the 0.1 micron level.
When considering which type of filter to use it is very important to consider the circumstances that they will be use. Ask yourself the question “will I need this for bacteria or viruses?” so sometimes a typical water filter will get the job done such as one that uses gravity for multiple people or a portable pocket sized straw filter. The easy of transport and the volume of water needing to be consumed should be your two most important means of determining which you should choose. If leaving the country you should always choose a water purifier or a water filter that is strong enough to filter at the 0.1 micron level.