What is the best way to make water safe to drink? Part 1

There are a number of ways you can make water safe for drinking, and each method comes with its advantages and disadvantages. The important thing to make sure that you DO filter your water, as even streams and rivers that appear clean may have a source of pollution upriver. Drinking dirty water is a quick way to ruin a camping trip, so it’s always smart to bring 2 cleaning systems in case one fails.

In this blog we look at the main types of filters. Unlike drops, UV, or boiling (which we’ll talk about in the next blog post), filters actually remove bacteria and other small particles from the water, giving you a cleaner product. There are two main types of filters, which both do this by passing water through a series of meshes and membranes – the gravity filter, and the pump filter.

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Gravity Filter:

The gravity filter is a favorite of mine, since you simply need to fill and it, tie it up to a tree, and wait. The water flows down through the filter and into a receptacle of your choice.


  • Very little work needed
  • High quality filtered water


  • Filters can clog causing long wait times
  • Air bubbles can get caught in the tube, clogging it up

Pump Filter:

Similar to the gravity filter, the pump filter produces clean water, but requires you to sit by the water source and pump it through the filter.


  • High quality filtered water
  • Uses pressure to push water through the filter, meaning less chance of reduced flow


  • You need to actively participate in filtering the water

My own preference has always been the gravity filter, for the simple reason that you can just fill it up and set it on a tree, and leave it alone while you do something else. If it’s buggy out, the pump filter can be a real hassle. On the other hand, gravity filters use very little pressure to push the water through the filter (just the weight of the water) so clogging or reduced flow can become a serious problem, especially if you’re filtering from swampy or marshy areas.