Why You Need a Portable Water Filter

May 22nd, 2014


fresh spring water

Environmental pollution is creating the need to filter even fresh spring water.

Image via OakleyOriginals (Flickr)

Why You Need a Portable Water Filter

I hate to begin my blog on a depressing note, but the tragic deaths of the Sherpas on Mount Everest this past April are a sad reminder that the outdoors, while beautiful, can also be extremely unforgiving. Even seasoned mountaineers can be met with an unanticipated situation that, no matter how skilled or prepared they are, can cost them their lives. You might not be planning to attempt an Everest summit, but any outdoor excursion should still be approached with adequate preparation and care. This includes having a portable water filter on hand in the event of an unforeseen emergency.

Whether you are going camping, fishing, hiking, or on vacation to a foreign land, ensuring that you have plenty of access to safe drinking water should always be at the top of your list of things to do before you leave your home. I’ve addressed this in previous blog posts. Even if you are just going on a day hike with your family or friends, there is always a possibility that you might become lost or stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Even a well-planned camping trip to your favorite campgrounds can go awry should an unforeseen natural disaster strike the area while you’re roughing it.

Many people already know that you should always don protective clothing and carry a first aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellent among other safety supplies when you’re headed for an adventure in the great outdoors. Carrying a water bottle is a good idea, too, but you can’t carry a 24-pack if you’re hiking, and you probably don’t really want lug a ton of water on your camping trip, either. It used to be that you could carry a canteen and refill it at every stream and lake during your outdoor adventure. These days, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that.

Times Have Changed

You see, the earth’s water is the same water that has breathed life into our planet for the past 4.54 billion years. A few centuries ago, when agriculture, industry, and transportation, among other baddies, weren’t polluting our ground and air so horribly, you could collect a glass of rainwater and drink it straight up. Now, our groundwater is polluted, and as water dissipates into our environment, it collects air pollution as well. When it rains back down, all of those pollutants are in the water. We call it acid rain, and consequently, that stream that looks to be fresh mountain spring water just might be filled with agricultural, industrial, and/or transportation runoff.

Imagine you’re on a day hike with your friends in your local mountains and you get lost. Imagine you pull into the campgrounds you’ve planned to visit all year and the water supply is tainted and shut off. Imagine you’re visiting a foreign land and the water begins to make you sick. In fact, imagine you’re home and a natural disaster strikes. In any of these scenarios, you are at great risk of losing access to safe drinking water, and I’ve said this before, too: We need water before we need food. Think of it in threes. You can live up to three weeks without food; you can only live up to three days without water.

Be Prepared

Hey, you’ve got your water supplies packed! “It’s not a problem, Lynn. I’m prepared!” And you know what? You probably are. Still, in any of the scenarios I’ve mentioned, and in numerous ones I haven’t, you might run out of your safe drinking water supplies much quicker than you think. Depending on your situation, you might be stranded for a long time. I hope not, I truly do, but this is why I’m writing this post – to stress how important it is to prepare for the worst, no matter how confident you are that you’ll be okay in any unexpected event.

I’ve taught you in the past how to construct a makeshift water filter in the event of an emergency, and those handmade filters do work. Top that off with boiling your emergency water supplies for at least a minute at a rolling boil, and you’ll probably be okay. Note, however, that I said “probably.” There’s no guarantee that running your water through a handmade filter and boiling it will produce drinking water that is 100 percent safe for consumption. That is why these filtering and sterilizing methods are reserved for emergencies only.

Rather, pack a portable water filter, and keep one in your home, too. Portable water filters are small and lightweight; they’re actually easier to lug in your backpack than several water bottles. Many are built right into the water bottle you’ll be drinking from, and others are a little snazzier for long-term water filtering needs in the great outdoors. All of them, if reliable, are very effective ways to ensure you will have plenty of safe, filtered drinking water should you find yourself in a pinch and without water. You can live three weeks without food, but your best shot of survival without water is three days tops. That alone is a good reason why you need a portable water filter!


Written By: Lynn Taylor

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