What Your Water Purifier Says About You

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By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 9/1/16

Gear – it’s the necessary evil for all outdoor types. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just head into the woods, drink from a lake, and cover yourself in pine needles and branches before bed? You actually can do this, but you may not like the effects afterwards. To get out and camp you need to have a few basic items or it becomes pretty miserable.

The most elemental of these things are water purifiers. Of all the sub categories of camping gear the water purifier presents the greatest range of options for personal preference.

Sleeping bags and sleeping pads are straightforward. Retailers sell them with varied, insulation values, different colors, and subsequently a wide range of cost. The same goes for all modern camp stoves and tents. Still when it comes down to it, they are all basically the same.

When selecting a water purifier for outdoor adventure, it’s the time when your personality really takes center stage. Because of the various designs, sizes, applications, and degrees of effectiveness, you can really put your own personal statement on your gear kit. Your choice in purification method says a lot about you as a person.

Here are my favorite water purifiers. I give them all 5 Stars, but like the sword in the stone, you’ll need to get your hands on them to know which is right for you.

There are four basic designs currently on the market. To be clear, all of these products have the same goal – to provide the user with pure clean water suitable for drinking. The application may very a bit, from when you find yourself stranded way out in the bush or at the comfort of camp and just needing to refill your clean drinking water.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – $15

The LifeStraw is great if you find yourself in a real emergency or trying to set a speed record over a mountain range. This is what it’s made for. It’s super lightweight and easy to bring anywhere. People planning extended through hikes and remote stays should consider carrying one, but not as a primary option. However, far too often you see day hikers and car campers struggling in push-up position, fully extending their necks like turtles, trying to avoid a mud puddle, with a straw loosely dangling from their lips. The overzealous survival expert is the person who brings this on your weekend camping trip.  They surely have enough canned goods at home to survive several winters without human contact. Make sure you give them the appropriate amount of grief. The LifeStraw user is the same person who brings his ferro rod to a BBQ, when a Bic lighter will do so much more.

SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Water Purifier – $90

This is for your high tech buddy who kinda likes to roll the dice on their own personal safety. Still… it’s basically a Jedi light-saber that kills bacteria. Super cool. You are sort of dependent on collecting water without pre-existing debris in it. The UV light kills harmful bacteria and makes the water safe to drink, but it wont remove dirt or filter out fish poop. Whatever, camping in places with super clear water is fun, so who I am to say you aren’t going to do that already. It’s beautiful science at work in real time. It’s certainly the coolest way to prepare your drinking water and if you like gadgets and tech, this is the one to get everybody in the campground talking about how the force is super strong with you.

MSR Guardian Purifier Pump – $350

This is your workhorse water purifier. It’s pretty small and easy to carry considering how many times you will be able to use it. It is designed to handle a heavy workload. In fact, work is the best word for this pump. Its age old design system, is comically stupid. You might as well be an American settler, hand pumping water from your well circa 1750. I get the appeal of this style of pump. It is super dependable. It is also highly durable and easy to field repair if there is an issue. There is a reason these pumps are the most popular on the trail. Still they are kind of ridiculous. Whats worse than squatting next to a stream for 20 minutes while you repeatedly pump a tiny squirt of water into your bottle? They are very time consuming and labor intensive. Guys named Kevin and Todd opt for this model and swear they love it, but they only love it because it’s the one they bought, not because it is actually what they wanted.

Platypus GravityWorks 2.0L Water Filter Bottle Kit – $99

The Platypus Gravity filter crowd is pretty relaxed when it comes to things. Whats better than setting up camp and cracking a cold one while gravity purifies the water for you? You like the efficient way of doing things. With the Platypus you simply pull out the dirty bag and scoop up your water. No need to clean it first. No push-up position, no kneeling and pumping, no need to make sure everybody see’s what your doing to validate the UV Ray induced death of bacteria. Simply hang up the bag and let gravity pull the water through the filter and into your bottle. The filter last as long as the more expensive hand pump, so no need to worry about constant replacement. The downside to this filter is that it doesn’t pack down as small as the others and it isn’t quite as durable. However, I find that for $99 it is a great value. You can buy three of these and still have $50 for beer when compared to the MSR Gaurdian. The mulit-use crowd loves this one because it offers you the versatility of adventure motorcycling, overland travel by car, car camping and serious backpacking. No need to buy multiple tools for different activities, this baby covers you on all of them.

Just Boil It Stupid – Basically Free

This is how the real super tramps do it. Doesn’t waste your money on something that you can do for free. This is for the crowd who cant get into gear. The crowd that likes the feeling of pushing yourself to the limit. You only really need an old sock, a handful of sand, a few pieces of burnt wood (charcoal), and a fire. Just scoop the sand and charcoal into the sock and poor water through it to remove the debris. Then boil the cleaned water till it’s at a roaring boil. Drink up you bad ass.

Or you could do it with this kit.