Safe Drinking Water in the Backcountry, Part 2: Filtration

Saint Mary Falls, Glacier National Park
In my previous post on using bleach to treat water in the backcountry, I said my method for treating water is a combination of household bleach and an inline filter. You might be wondering why I would use both. Especially since most people only use one or the other and some don't treat their water at all... read more >

If I was only going to take one treatment method, it would be a .1 micron inline or straw filter every time, but below are good arguments for carrying both.
  1. It's good to have a backup method... read more >
  2. Filters allow me to drink up at the source and carry less... read more >
  3. An eyedropper of bleach only weighs 1 ounce, so even though I prefer an inline or straw filter, 1 ounce isn't a noticeable addition to my pack.
  4. Filters, unlike any chemical treatment, are very effective at removing Cryptosporidium and Giardia, the two most common water-born illnesses in American backcountry... read more >
  5. Bleach is very effective at removing viruses and bacteria, filters are not... read more >
  6. Bleach can be used to sterilize my toothbrush and eating utensil... read more >
  7. Filters improve taste... read more >
My preferred filter:

Sawyer Squeeze Filter
With the variety of filters on the market, I haven't found a good reason to continue using my traditional pump-style filter. If I can help it, I'd rather not get down on my knees, dangle a filter hose in water, and pump it into a bottle. I prefer inline or straw filters.

4-Way Filter Bottle
Rather than pump water through the filter, an inline or straw filter uses your suction to filter as you sip. You can just scoop and go, without having to take off your pack. And to fill a cook pot, you can use gravity or squeeze the water from the pouch or bottle.

When on a trail with plenty of water sources, it's not inconvenient to get water, so I don't carry around as much water weight. In addition, the inline filters themselves are also lighter than a pump filter. My favorite inline/straw filter is the Sawyer Squeeze Filter or the Sawyer 4-Way Filter Bottle. Here is why:
  1. They have a .1 micron filter... read more >
  2. Multiple ways to use... read more >
  3. Easy to use... read more >
  4. Small and Lightweight. The Squeeze filter with a pouch weighs about 3 ounces, the 4-Way Bottle, about 5.
  5. Sawyer has a one million gallon guarantee!... read more >
  6. Easy to clean/backwash... read more >
  7. Cons, because there is always one, right?... read more >
At the time of this post, Amazon is selling the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter for $42.38 (Click here to order or read more reviews). For that price, you will get: three lightweight collapsible pouches (0.5 L , 1 L, and 2 L pouch), Sawyer 0.10 Absolute Micron Hollow Fiber Membrane Screw On/Off Water Filter, Replaceable Pop Up Drinking Spout, Cleaning Syringe, and the 1 Million Gallons Guarantee.

The 4-Way Filter Bottle is currently $36.86 at Amazon (Click here to order or read more reviews). For that price, you will get: a 1L water bottle, Sawyer 0.10 Absolute Micron Hollow Fiber Filter, faucet attachment for backwashing, extra straws, hose adapter for hydration bladders, and the 1 Million Gallons Guarantee.

See the Sawyer Squeeze Filter in action:

See the Sawyer 4-Way Filter Bottle in action:

More water related information:

Why I don't use Sterilizing Pens... read more >
How much water to carry... read more >

Using Bleach To Treat Water in the Backcountry... read more >
Why I use plastic soda or water bottles... read more >