Whether you’re at home or abroad, buying single-use bottled water becomes expensive — not to mention it wreaks havoc on the environment. Yet when traveling, having access to clean water is priceless. Boiling is not always an option, while waiting for iodine pills to kick in is a hassle. Luckily, there are a number of different water filtering products travelers can buy for now to save later on.
Here is a list of recommended filtration products to buy and bring on your next journey for clean drinking water:
SteriPen is a line of handheld water purification devices that use ultraviolet light to eliminate bacteria, viruses and chemicals without needing a pump, filter or chemicals. Among its models, there are specific versions recommended for travel like SteriPEN Freedom, SteriPEN Traveler and SteriPEN Ultra. Tim Leffel, editor of Practical Travel Gear, says he has used different versions of SteriPEN in more than a dozen countries where it’s not best to drink the water – and he swears it’s never let him or his family down. “I’ve probably kept at least 1,000 single-use bottles out of streams and landfills as a result.” His favorite is SteriPEN Freedom, citing that its small size and that it can be recharged by USB. Prices range from about $50 to $100.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter ($19.95) is pretty lightweight — only 2 ounces – and portable. Its BPA-free design consists of a straw-like filter containing a hollow fiber membrane that traps pathogens inside of it. Users place one end of its tube into an unfiltered water source, including ponds and streams. LifeStraw claims to be able to filter up to 264 gallons or 1,000 liters of water to 0.2 microns. Bonus: no batteries or electrical power needed. Debra Schroeder of Traveling Well for Less used it after arriving late to a hostel in Shanghai so she could brush her teeth that night and have safe drinking water in the morning.
Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter ($70) gets a lot of kudos for easy removal and installation of input and output hoses. It also includes a removable filter protector to extend cartridge life. The hand-pumped filter is said to remove particles, protozoa, and bacteria down to 0.2 microns in size. Its glass fiber element comes pleated to handle more silt and muddiness while its carbon core works on enhancing the water’s taste. This filter also comes with a carry sack and a bottle adapter. Photographer and storyteller Greg Goodman said that he and his wife Carrie have spent much of the past three years using this filter while traveling extensively around India, Asia, and South America. “We’ve filtered water from the Ganges River, wells on the Inca Trail and more… never having a problem.”
In addition to these travelers’ recommendations, here are other water purifiers to consider.
A filter/bottle combo, the Camelback All Clear Water Purifying Bottle ($77.00) deploys ultraviolet technology in purifying water, with a process said to be complete in 60 seconds. A bulb does the heavy lifting, engineered to last 10,000 cycles or the equivalent of three bottles a day for nine years. You can drink as soon as the purification process is completed or carry the bottle along with you. The filter/bottle is powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries – which are included – and can be charged from just about any USB compatible power source.
Though the $100+ price tag might make a budget-minded traveler wince – along with its bulky size – the pump-style First Need XL filter has gotten high marks on review sites for quality in purifying water from bacteria, cysts and viruses. It now includes a clean-out port to reduce accidental contact with icky water and a double-action field-serviceable pump with no hold time. Plus, it’s been updated to directly better connect to trail containers. It also comes with a sealed canister with cover and tote bag.
Though extra muscle can be required with pumping, the 1 pound-MSR Miniworks EX ($89.95) micro filter is like a workhorse. One cartridge treats up to 2,000 liters of water before needing to be replaced, and its filter has a carbon/ceramic element to ensure clean and taste-free water. The AirSpring Accumulator feature is capable of pumping one liter per minute and the flow rate can be renewed easily and repeatedly in the field—no tools required.
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About The Author
Michele Herrmann splits her time between New England and New York City, and has gotten much better at packing light with her back and forth trips. She has jaunted across Europe and up, down and across the United States and even as far as the South Pacific. She’s grateful for being able to dispense travel stories and advice through media outlets and companies (as well as putting her BA in English to good use). Her blog She Is Going Places serves as her way to encourage others to get out and exploring!