One of my personal areas of strong focus is water. I guess we all have those certain topics that just weigh heavy with us and for me, one of them is certainly WATER. I can think of a number of reasons why I put such a high emphasis on it, but ultimately it boils down to the fact that you just can’t live long without it, and it can seriously disrupt your agenda if you have to prioritize it due to lack of source and drinkability. Therefore my planning always places it high and early on the list of problems to solve, whether were talking survival (planned trip, hiking, or contingency gear) or prepping (home storage, and purifying capability).
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What if I have a water source?
That’s a fair question and one I contemplated in the past. In much of my prepping days, I lived in a relatively urban environment as I was active duty Army and was limited on location choices. As such, I grew accustomed to keeping various water containers full and in supply. However, I eventually moved to a house where I have a seasonal creek at the back of the property as well as a large pond (still live here). Furthermore, I have part ownership access to a small lake about a quarter-mile up the road. Initially, this gave me some comfort and I was relatively complacent in restoring my emergency water storage. After all, I had on-site water, various filters, and purifiers as well as the ability to boil it, etc… My flawed logic hit me one day watching a fake news flash on social media. The news flash claimed that we had just been hit with a biological agent that had contaminated our water supply. Even though I realized this was fake it made me think. What if something similar or a number of other potential things occurred that somehow destroyed or limited my access to my water supply. In short, I’d be screwed. Lesson learned I quickly began to restore my emergency reserves.
Prepping and Water Storage
Let’s start by talking a little bit about water storage in general. Water is one of those necessities that you definitely should prioritize. In our modern homes, many people take for granted the life-sustaining substance. They’ve simply grown accustomed to turning on the tap and boom clean water out of the spigot. However, what if it doesn’t come. What if all of a sudden for some reason the tap has run dry. Keep in mind it doesn’t even have to be a major crisis. It could just as easily be (and more frequently is) a localized event. The bottom line is that water is one of those life essentials and as such should certainly be provisioned for by the well-prepared family. Below I’ll discuss some various products aimed at purifying/treating water (specifically and generally) that you can consider as you implement your water storage plan.
As you begin to map out your family plan for ensuring you have fresh water on hand or the ability to filter water I highly encourage you to take a multi-angle approach to the problem. Consider having both stored water as well as the means to treat water. Within that scope, I further recommend having multiple options to attack both. It’s the whole putting all your eggs in one basket thing. It’s just not ideal to have any single point of failure in a plan, and even less so when it’s a critical area.
There are a ton of great products on the market in this area. I’m hitting on quite a few below, but in no way is this list exhaustive. Hopefully, at a minimum, it helps you to start thinking in the right direction and either build up your supply from scratch or expand and fine-tune your current setup.
Survival Water Products
If you’re reading this I assume you have an interest in survival, but I won’t assume your knowledge on the topic. So, allow me to cover some basics upfront about water and survival.
Before we discuss the products below I do want to lay out some basic information for you. In particular, I want to address three terms that will help you with a better understanding of the process.
Purification and Treatment result in a similar fashion. They essentially kill or bind (make harmless) bacteria and microorganisms that may be found in the wild. These methods do not remove chemicals or other contaminants. This is not typically an issue in a typical rural survival situation, however, it really depends on the water source and what could potentially contaminate it. For instance, if the industrial waste is being dumped into the source upstream from your collection point these methods would not render the water safe to drink.
Filtration. Filtration as the name implies filters contaminants out of the water. Many filters today use a combination of filtration and treatment by the use of impregnated filters and other techniques. It is important to read and understand the specifications of the filter you choose as the level of filtration varies among products.
There are numerous methods you can utilize as well as many great products on the market. I’ve thrown together some reputable ones below along with their descriptions (some directly from their manufacture description, and some with my additions). Shop around and stock/pack the products right for you!
Boiling is an oldie but goodie. So old it’s been used as long as recorded history. If it was good enough for our ancestors it’s plenty good enough for us, right! As long as you’re drawing your water from a relatively safe source (non-chemical dump) boiling should do just fine. There are numerous different schools of thought and opinions on the amount of time the water should be boiled. If you bring the water to a rolling boil and sustain it for one minute (above 5,000 ft make it 3 minutes) you have effectively sterilized the water according to the EPA. If the water is cloudy you should let it sit and settle then filter it through a cloth or other filter prior to boiling. If you want to go longer have at it; just remember in a survival situation resources and effort should be wisely rationed. I highly recommend that you make a steel cup part of your hiking/survival pack for this and other reasons.
Bleach is another effective method for treating water. Rather than reinvent the wheel and typing out the process here I’ll give you this EPA link that gives the guidance on it. EPA BLEACH LINK
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
A Time Magazine Invention of the Year winner, LifeStraw contains no chemicals, no batteries, and no moving parts to wear out. It features a high flow rate and weighs only 2oz. It is perfect for the Ultralight backpacker, camper, hiker, traveler, boy scout, hunter or for emergencies. Unlike many similar filters on the market today, LifeStraw has met EPA standards for water filtration in independent testing. LifeStraw has been used around the world under extreme conditions for humanitarian relief. Does not filter chemicals, salt, viruses, heavy metals, taste. Please NOTE: It takes roughly 3-5 seconds of sucking to start the flow of water through the filter. One of the things I like about the basic Lifestraw Water Filter is they are easily stashed away due to their small cylindrical size. I have quite a few of them just placed around (bags, cubbies, etc..). A pretty cool LifeStraw item I received as a gift awhile back is their Mission filter. It’s a high volume portable filter they offer.
Potable Aqua Water Tablets
Used worldwide by campers, hikers, militaries, emergency organizations, and anyone else who needs to drink water of questionable quality, these Portable Aqua iodine tablets will disinfect contaminated drinking water in a pinch. The tablets–which are intended for short-term or limited emergency use only–make most water bacteriologically suitable for drinking, proving effective against Giardia lamblia when used as directed.
Each Potable Aqua tablet contains 20 mg of Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide (TGHP), which liberates 8 mg of titratable iodine when released into water. Within 30 minutes, the iodine will have penetrated the cell walls of the microorganisms, rendering them inactive and making the water safe to drink.
OxGord Aqua Marine Personal Water Filter Purifier Straw
Our ultralight survival water purifier weighs in at just under 3 ounces and measures only 7.5″ long making it perfect for everyday carry or a bug-out bag for emergencies. The chemical free filter uses a multi-stage filtration process making your drinking water safe and healthy by removing 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and parasites including: E. Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus, Salmonella Typhi, Cholera, Legionella, and more.
The first stage is the Pre-Filter System which removes larger objects like sediment, bugs, dust, algae, and other suspended pollutants in the water, reducing the turbidity value of the water, instantly making it more clean. Next is the MIR High Iodine Bactericidal Resin Filter Layer which thoroughly kills pathogenic bacteria (E. Coli, Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Cholera, etc.) with a sterilization rate of more than 99.9999%.
Then comes the Coconut Husk Granule Active Carbon Layer. This layer removes poisonous substances from the water and improves the smell. Finally, the Activated Carbon Fiber Layer helps absorb chemical pollutants in water, improving the water taste and further reducing the turbidity value of water. (Turbidity is the cloudiness of a fluid caused by large numbers of individual particles in the water). Within each of these 4 layers are multiple levels of filtration, bringing the total number of filtration levels to 10 for superior water purification in outdoor or survival settings .Our Aqau-Marine Personal Straw Water Purifier is perfect for camping, hiking, and to keep in your bug-out bag for emergency situations.
Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
I’m a big fan of these personally.
The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is a second-generation filter that is the lightest and most versatile personal filtration system from Sawyer. With a total field weight of 2 ounces, it fits in the palm of your hand. This tiny filter does the same job that the Sawyer PointOne filter does but now in a more compact, personal size. The Sawyer Mini filter is perfect for everything from camping with the kids to traveling abroad where tap and bottle water cannot be trusted.
The filter removes 7 log (99.99999%) of all bacteria (like salmonella) as well as other harmful bacteria that causes cholera and E. coli and 6 log (99.9999%) of all protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium. These removal rates equal or exceed other filter options. EPA guidelines allow ten times more protozoa left in the water than Sawyer PointOne filters allow.
Attach the Mini to the included drinking pouch, use the included straw to drink directly from your water source, connect it to hydration pack tubing (sold separately), or screw it onto standard disposable bottles (28 mm thread). The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is rated up to 100,000 gallons. It comes with a 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch, 7-inch drinking straw, and cleaning plunger.
Survivor Filter PRO Extender Series
Introducing the Survivor Filter PRO: With 2 cleanable Membrane Ultra Filters capable of filtering down to 0.01 Microns. We also added a replaceable Carbon Filter, to help with taste and reduce Heavy Metals. The Survivor Filter PRO provides you with clean water in any environment. Pump into Hydration Device or Attachable Cup: Get fast filtered water directly from nature. Flow rate of 17 ounces (500ml) per minute. Perfect for large groups and families. Can Be Backwashed in the Wild: The Survivor Filter’s Dual Membrane Ultra Filters are designed to last 100,000 Liters (26,417 gallons) and can be easily back-flushed and cleaned in the wild for extended water filtration. This product is built for long-term use and emergency situations.
Designed for Rugged Outdoor Use: The Survivor Filter is designed to take a beating with its FDA approved, BPA Free ABS Durable Material. There is a Steel Draw Bar under the plastic handle to add strength and durability. The product shell has been tested to withstand up to 250 pounds of pressure. Packs Easy and Takes Up Little Space: Compact design weighs only 3.5 ounces (100 grams) and is 7 inches long. Easily fits in your backpack or emergency kit.
Diercon Tactical Water Micro Filter TW01
Mat Finished Aircraft Grade Aluminum Sleeve with a water-drop shape(looking from the bottom), it fits in the palm of your hand, while enhancing the handhelds touch to prevent it from slipping. – 99.99999% removal of waterborne bacteria and 99.99% of cysts, equipped carbon filter brings better taste and odor. – Reusable and Replaceable Filters last up to 792 gallons and then can be easily cleaned or replaced as needed. – Weighs only 8.7 oz.(245g), 5.8 inches long and easily fits in your knapsack, allows you to take it anywhere. – Super-fast Flow rate of 600ml (20 ounces) per minute. Included Accessories: Carry bag, back flushing device, tubes, pre-filter, float, and spare O-rings are all included at no extra cost. Perfect for storing for emergencies. Diercon Backs up all its Filtration Claims with the Real Testing Report (not only conclusions, but the details of testing method and datas are also noted) by reputable institute. Diercon’s Revolutionary Filter Technology is in use by many groups, including non-profit organizations, relief agencies, and governments around the world.
Katadyn Vario Water Filter
The Katadyn is a well-known premium end filter.
Dual-piston technology provides maximum output with minimum effort
The Vario Dual Technology Filter combines individual efficiency with the simplest possible handling. The technology consists of three filter levels: a high-performance glass fiber filter, a ceramic pre-filter that can be adjusted individually according to the cloudiness of the water, and active charcoal for eliminating odors. Cleanable ceramic disc lengthens life of primary microfilter, 0.2 Micron high surface area pleated glass-fiber microfilter removes waterborne bacteria. A replaceable carbon core reduces chemicals, pesticides and bad taste in water.
· Includes: Prefilter, Deluxe Carry Bag and Cleaning Pad
· Produces up to two quarts per minute in the faster flow mode and one quart per minute in longer life mode
· Weight: 15 oz, Height: 6.5″
· Uses a replaceable Katadyn carbon core and cleanable ceramic disc (included)
· 1 Year Warranty
Katadyn Pocket Water Filter
Made of the highest quality construction, this robust water filter is ideal for long lasting continuous use. The filter’s silver impregnated ceramic element is effective against bacteria and protozoa, using a Micro Filtration method. Up to 1 quart (1 liter)/minute Cartridge capacity, up to 13,000 gallons (50,000 liters), depending on water quality. This pocket water filter is a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts and international travelers, and the U.S. Military. 20 Year Warranty.
World’s Number 1 Water Purification Tablets – Aquatabs
For over 100 years, chlorination of drinking water has been one of the single most effective means of improving public health in the developing world. It was with this in mind over 20 years ago, the research and development team at Medentech set out to create a unique product that could offer the benefits of chlorinated water in an easy to use and affordable product. As a result, Aquatabs was created and is now the most trusted brand of choice for point of use water disinfection around the world. Why use Aquatabs to treat water? 1. Many water sources throughout the world, even after filtration, remain contaminated and require some form of disinfection. 2. Aquatabs enable areas without access to water disinfection systems to benefit from the advantages of chlorination without any infrastructure requirements in a speedy and cost effective manner. 3. Aquatabs are simple to use, easily transported, cost effective and affordable to low income groups. 4. Aquatabs water purification tablets utilize materials specifically approved to International standards for use in drinking water with NSF/ANSI Standard 60 certification. 5. Aquatabs have been evaluated and selected by leading Aid Agencies, Non Governmental Organizations and Defense Forces worldwide.
Active Ingredient/s: Sulfate Mineral Salts
PURINIZE® naturally disinfects and clarifies water without harsh chemicals, making it safe to drink and use. Its 100% natural, mineral-based formula eliminates/reduces 200+ contaminants including bacteria, viruses, protozoan cysts, chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, and more.
SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Personal
The Adventurer Opti Water Purifier uses a revolutionary optical eye to sense the water. The patent-pending technology provides safe use and the standard insulating sleeve around the UV lamp allows purification in even the coldest of waters. Fast, light, easy and effective, the provides the ultimate protection from waterborne illnesses. UV purification works as the ultraviolet energy emitted by the light is absorbed by the cells of the microbe, preventing cell enzymes from ‘reading’ its DNA. Without intact DNA, microbes can’t reproduce to make you sick. The process is simple but effective, destroying over 99.9 percent of harmful microorganisms. Great for camping, hiking and backpacking. Easy to use 1 button operation; LED light quickly indicates when ready to purify, then place the pen like lamp in clear water and stir until indicator light turns green. Dirty water should be pre filtered until clear prior to treatment. The UV lamp provides up to 8,000 one liter treatments. Device works with containers with minimum 1.75 in. diameter opening (i.e. Nalgene wide-mouth bottles). Low power indicator lets you know when batteries need replacing. Automatic shut off when treatment is complete. Includes black neoprene case with belt loop and 2 non-rechargeable CR123 batteries and instructions.
CrazyCap 2.0 UV Water Purifier & Self Cleaning 17 oz Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle
This is a pretty interesting product I came across as I was researching this article. I haven’t had the chance to use it yet, but I like the simplicity and concept of it. It’s currently in my cart to try out.
SELF CLEANING BOTTLE – Stops bacteria and mold from breeding in your water bottle. Auto activates every four hours to keep your water pristine and the bottle mold free and odorless. PERFECT FOR EVERYDAY USE AND TRAVEL.
PURIFIED WATER IN 60 SECONDS With just a few taps of your finger, you can enjoy refreshing drinking water no matter where you are. Tap the top twice for quick, 60-second cleansing or 5 times to completely purify in just 2 minutes. QUICK EASY AND EFFECTIVE.
I’ve personally used and currently own many of these products and others not on here and if I’m honest I’ve yet to have a bad experience (get sick) from any to this point. Which is a great thing. IMO as long as you buy from a reputable source you should be ok with your water solutions. When deciding ‘what’ to grab I always consider the reason for it and the various scenarios I’ll use it in. This ultimately leads to my choice or purchase or packing for the event (ie. does size/weight matter, is it just for me or many of us, etc…).
Do you have a product you love that’s not on here or have a personal experience with any of these? Please share it with us in the comments below.
Hi Shane read your article on water purification we live at Rayburn lake. I believe it would be wise to have some type of filter or tablets to purify the lake water in case of long term water shortage. I’m interested in the Aqua tabs but not sure which filtration system to get would appreciate your recommendation.
Hi Tom and thanks for the comment and question. So I’ll first mention that boiling is always an option so keep that in mind. I have a pond on our property as well and my choice filter is a Berkey Water filter (I’m actually in the process of writing a review on them). I’ll note that I have a number of filter options, but for home use, even as a prepping supply I highly recommend the Berkey. They are known to be one the best filter systems out there (and you do pay for it). So good that you can actually put food coloring in the pre-filtered water and it will filter it clear. In fact, this is done as a pre-check to ensure you have all your seals, etc.. set good.
We actually use ours full time and quit buying bottled water (at least almost. I still like the grab-and-go nature of bottles here and there) and instead use the Berkey for all of our needs. I’ll note that if you wanted to just buy their filters and make a setup out of 5 Gallon buckets or the like you can do that to save cost on the actual cisterns, but we went with the whole thing as I didn’t want a 5-gallon bucket setup in our kitchen. Strictly as a prep supply this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad option.
Final note, if I were to use it with lake or pond water I would at a minimum try and skim the excess particulates off, but would be even better to run it through a homemade triple filter or even something as simple as a cloth. This will minimize the gunk clogging your filters (which can be cleaned, but unnecessary if you take that simple step ahead of time.
A total of 748 million people still do not have access to an improved drinking water source and existing indicators do not address the safety and reliability of water supplies. To reach the requirements of the right to access to safe drinking water requires real improvements for several billions of people.
Agreed. It is unfortunate that something so simple as drinking water is a luxury to many. There are some worthwhile NPOs out there that focus on this specific mission. Here is a quick list of twelve I came across if you’re interested in some extra reading.See HERE