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Your Outdoor Skills: Water Filters

Posted by Esther Drebelbis of Littlbug Enterprises on

The three basics humans need to feel secure are water, food and shelter. To have the best experience while you’re in the wilderness, it’s important to make sure each of these needs are met. While the body can live without food for some time, water is a different story. Drinking contaminated water may not affect you immediately, or may have minor effects, but it’s best to try and avoid drinking unfiltered water. Thankfully, there are various options to help provide clean water while adventuring in the backcountry.


Keep it simple, leave the filter behind and try the tried and true method of boiling water. The CDC suggests you bring your water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute to kill any pathogens that might be in the water. If you find yourself boiling water in the mountains at higher elevations, keep the water boiling for up to three minutes (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

Two of the benefits of boiling water include saving weight and space in your pack. This helps create an ultralight backpacking experience while making sure your drinking safe, clean water.

A wood burning stove like Littlbug’s stoves have a reputation for boiling water quickly, making sure you’re using your fuel efficiently, along with saving weight since you can leave fuel canisters at home and use natural fuel sources intead (Check out the best fuel options here!). The Littlbug Junior Stove has been tested to boil water in as few as four minutes, and the Senior Stove brings water to a boil in three minutes. Remember, boiling water at higher elevations takes longer than at sea level.

Littlbug Tip: Some water in the backcountry may not be free of soot or debris. To help keep this out of your clean water, use a handkerchief or other piece of fabric to strain the water through, helping reduce the debris in your clean water.

Gravity Filters

Gravity filters offer a convenient hands free filtering option. After scooping water into a dirty water specific bags, hang the bag above a clean water bladder, water bottle, cooking pot, or other container you’d like to keep your clean water in. Because it works on its own and sometimes takes a few minutes, you can do other things around camp while you wait for the water to filter. Just keep an eye out so you don’t overflow your clean water container.

Some of these filters you can also squeeze the water through the filter from the dirty water bag to help speed up the process. This does eliminate the hands free option, but gives you clean water sooner.

Pump Filters

Pump filters use a pump to propel the water through the filter and into your clean water container. Simple to use, these filters are known to connect to Nalgene water bottles for easy filling.

Straw Filters

Want to drink straight from the source? Straw filters allow you to do just that! Dip the straw into a mountain stream and drink. Or you can scoop water into a dirty water container, and drink from there - you may find it a bit easier than leaning over a stream trying not to fall in.

Trail runners find this as a great option for a lightweight, easy to carry water filter solution. However, when filtering water for multiple people or at a campsite, this may not be the most efficient option.

Drops and Tablets

Water purification tablets and drops allow you to fill your water container up, drop in the treatment, and wait a specific amount of time to ensure the water has been purified. These are another lightweight option. However, it doesn’t allow you to filter out any debris or soot, so refer to the Littlbug Tip under the Boiling header above.

When it comes to filtering water, there isn’t a right or wrong way. Try a few options, ask friends what they enjoy using, and see what works best for you! Remember: When it comes to outdoor skills the more you bring along, the less you have to carry. Skills don't break and they're never left behind. They don’t leak, tear, and they don’t get wet!

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