Backcountry Drinking Water Rotating Header Image

Water filter versus purifier?

What is a water filter versus a purifier?

There are two main types of devices designed to make water safe for drinking for travallers.

Hand-held microfilters (sometimes simply called ‘filters’) physically remove organisms from water by straining them out while purifiers combine chemical treatment elements with microfilters in one device.

There are many units on the market, but for our purposes we will only consider compact lightweight devices that employ a pump, gravity feed, squeeze bottle or straw to force water through them. These devices are designed for single person use or small groups.

Note that only microfilters or purifiers with granular activated carbon (GAC) elements can remove some chemical contaminants however no hand-held device can make seawater drinkable.