Why You Need a Water Filter

Thirsty“Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.” That’s a partial line out of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The moral of that story is don’t kill the albatross, but the underlying message is always carry a water filter.

You probably won’t have to deal with ghost ships or St. Elmo’s fire, but if you hike, camp or spend a decent amount of time outdoors, you my come across water that you can’t, or shouldn’t, drink. What good is an abundant supply of water if you can’t drink it? It would be like running out of food, finding a cache of canned goods, and not having a can opener. If you’re out on the trail or in the back country, you definitely want to have a water filter.

You should never drink from a water source that you’re unfamiliar with, especially if you’re on your own. Even crystal clear pools can harbor viruses, bacteria, or heavy metals. Moving streams and rivers will typically be safer, but you can’t trust your life to relative safety. Drinking contaminated or non-potable water can make you seriously ill. Even a stomach bug can be fatal if you’re on your own in the wilderness.

Water filters are essential for long trips in the back country or on the trail when you can’t carry all of the fresh water you need. Water filters can remove sediment, metals, bacteria, and organisms down to 1 micron in size including cryptosporidium and giardia.

Water filters are great for making most water potable, but it’s important to know that filters do not remove all viruses from water. Viruses smaller than 1 micron can’t be filtered out by most filters. To remove viruses from the water, you need to purify it either through boiling, purifying  drops, or UV light from a Steripen.

Even if a water source appears to be clean and contaminant free, you should filter the water before consuming it. “It’s better to be safe than sorry” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

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