There is plenty to think about when you are preparing for the worst. It can overwhelm the mind trying to plan for every contingency, which is then compounded when the specter of evacuation or bugging-out rears its head, when your family’s survival depends solely on what they can carry.
In that situation, what will be your priorities? For some people, the first thing is keeping their family fed. Others will focus on locating shelter while some make guns and ammunition and the security they provide their first concern. All of these and many others are important but one concern dwarfs them all… Water.
Finding Water On The Go
Sheltering in place, at home where your whole stockpile of supplies is within easy reach, is one thing but when everything needed for survival has to fit into a single bag strapped to your back, strategies change. Bugging-out means provisions, especially water, are limited to only what is packable. It means those supplies will need replenishing from alternative sources that probably will not meet the definition of safe or clean. But that does not mean they cannot be used. Maintaining your family’s supply of water on the go depends on your ability to make those less than perfect sources usable. And how is that done? Why with an effective, efficient and fully portable water filter, of course.
Treating For Drinking
Approach any outside water source with suspicion. Natural sources like rivers, springs and lakes may seem untainted but in all likelihood there is some critter swimming around in it that will wreak havoc on your digestive system or a palette of chemicals that can ravage everything else. Assume any source has some impurities and rely on your toolkit of water treatments.
You can purify or treat water in any number of ways. Boiling is the one tried and true approach to rid your water of bacteria or parasites that will make you sick but it cannot remove chemicals or suspended solids. Boiling also uses up fuel set aside for cooking and leaves you waiting for the water to cool before it is drinkable. Remember, there will not be any ice cubes after TEOTWAWKI. Iodine and bleach are other options that kill off the bugs but won’t remove other contaminants.
Filtration, on the other hand, will remove biological, chemical and suspended contaminants. On top of all that it will provided you with better-tasting water, which will go a long way to boosting the family’s moral in the midst of a stressful situation.
Choosing The Best Portable Water Filter
There are many reliable commercial filters designed specifically for backpacking and camping that remove bacteria, parasites, chemicals and suspended solids (the stuff that makes the water cloudy). Some of the most popular types combine both ceramic and charcoal filters. The ceramic portion employs sub-micron sized pores, small enough to block suspended solids, parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia and some bacteria but not viruses which are just too small. Water is forced through the pores, either with a hand pump or a gravity-fed method, and then through an activated charcoal layer. The charcoal will attract and filter out other chemicals like chlorine and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene.
Before deciding on any one filter, consider a few important qualities:
- Pore size:
Most outdoor suppliers carry ceramic filters with pores ranging between 0.2 and 0.4 microns which is consider adequate for contaminant removal needs in North America. This pore size is sufficient since parasites and most bacteria are 0.5 microns or larger. To address viruses, which are too small for ceramic filters to block, a purifier may be an included option. Purifiers are devices or chemicals that are rated to destroy 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and parasites (or protozoa).
Gravity fed filters have a range of ½ to 1 liter per minute while hand lever or pump styles will produce at least 1 liter per minute of filtered water, which is considered fast for commercially available portable filters. This is, of course, dependent on the size of the filter itself and how fast you can manually pump through the device.
Money is always a factor in any purchase. In the survival world, the old adage you get what you pay for is appropriate. This does not mean you need to spend a fortune on a filter but it is advisable to weigh cost against quality. Remember, this is the device your family will depend on for drinking water during an evacuation emergency so it will need to be rugged and reliable because there might not be a department store around to replace your faulty water filter when you need it the most.