Water Filter for Camping – 6 Filtration Methods Explained

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Jay Elliott

Chief Camping Officer

Water Filter for Camping

How To Filter Water For Camping?

It is a no-brainer that drinking water keeps us alive. Humans can live longer without food, but this is not the case with water. Fluid loss can massively impact the blood volume that contributes to overall body system failure. 

With this in mind, whether you are planning for a venturesome and hefty trip, visiting a favorite camping site, or exploring any untrodden trails, it should be your main priority to prepare not only your gears, meals, or footwear but also the indispensable H2O. 

Therefore, no matter what unexpected situation might occur, at least you are hydrated enough to keep your body and soul together along the journey.

However, a scanty amount of water stored up won’t keep you alive for a long time. Sure, trudging in a remote area where you have a limited source of water and not knowing either you are polluted with dangerous pathogens or not is something to consider.

On that matter, knowing how to purify water can save your life beyond any doubt. Before plunging into the ways to purify water, you need to understand how water purification and water filtration differ from one another.

Water filtration removes filths and murkiness from water, wherein most of the bacteria often loiter in. However, this technique is not as ideal as water purification because clean-looking water is not always safe to drink. There’s a high risk that it can still be contaminated with harmful microorganisms and chemical contaminants. 

On the other hand, Water purification involves the method of using chemicals like chlorine or iodine to fully kill all the harmful components, including viruses, offering a higher level of defense.

Here are different ways to purify water when camping:

Cloth filtration

This method should only be used with considerably clean water in as much as this will not filter out any pathogens or pollutants. This is a subtler process, and it can still remove some of the impurities, nonetheless.

Slow sand filters

Unlike cloth filtration, sand filters can relatively strain water, removing any sort of pathogens, taste, and odor. It may not completely eradicate every pollutant, but it is still an option to take note of. Slow sand filters are built by stacking a layer of gravel on the bottom then placing sand on top of that.

Then, another layer of much finer sand goes on top as well, where the water can flow through from the top. It is well-known that charcoal absorbs odor, so it helps to get rid of any odors from the water.


Boiling is a practical, perhaps one of the oldest and most widely used, water purification methods. It is relatively potent at killing microorganisms by killing various pathogens using heat to damage structural components and wreak havoc on essential life processes.

The only downside of boiling is that it has no effect on taste and is pretty time-consuming.

Purification tablets

Tablets are one of the easiest, convenient, and most effective ways to get portable water. They are also economical and have a limited shelf life of around six months if opened. Generally, heavy-duty tablets can decontaminate water up to 70 liters. It takes half an hour to any contaminants. Water purification tablets can be iodine or chlorine dioxide-based, so they can affect the taste of the water.

Water filter

Having a lightweight water filter is an instant lifesaver, especially if you happen to be somewhere away from civilization. Water filters have a specifically designed filtration system that gets rid of parasites, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens.

Thus, you can directly sip water from a source without having to worry about its consequences. In addition to that, the pump water filter works on the same technology but requires pumping water through the filter.

UC Rays treatment

What makes UV rays the easiest natural way of purifying water is the way it stops microbes from reproducing, reducing their potential harm. Remember that you should not expose the water to sunlight that much, or else there’s a chance that the microbes will reactivate once again. This method is dependent on weather, but the rule of thumb is you must keep the bottle for 4 hours on a sunny day and longer.

How To Make Your Own Filter?

To make your filter, you need:

  • Scissors
  • 2 empty plastic bottles
  • rubber bands
  • sand
  • cotton balls
  • activate charcoal


  1. Start by cutting 1 bottle in half.
  2. Remove the cap and replace it with a small cloth or gauze then secure it with a rubber band.
  3. Turn the half bottle with the cloth or gauze upside down and place it into the half of the bottle.
  4. After that, you can now put your filter material on the top of your filter bottle.
  5. Use a tissue or a cloth to layer it.
  6. Test it using dirty water and try again when needed.

Can You Drink Camp Water?

It’s not safe to assume that water at a campground is safe to drink. Although the water in rivers, springs, or lakes may look pristine, remember that looks can be deceiving; behind that, crystal clear water hides the inconspicuous pollutants that can cause illnesses such as gastroenteritis and diarrhea. 

Hence, if you are at a campsite, it is crucial to rely on signs next to the body of water. Warning signs can save you from harm. In a different scenario, assuming that you stumble across a water source, it would be better to choose free-flowing water rather than stagnant or still water.

Aside from that, avoid collecting water from downstream sources of camping areas, areas where mining has occurred, agricultural areas, and towns.

Moreover, if you happened to think that you can drink rainwater, stop immediately. Unrefined water may contain harmful contaminants such as harmful bacteria and parasites that can contaminate it, which, when consumed, could lead to severe health conditions. Using the different methods of water purification will come in handy.

How Much Water Can You Drink While Camping?

The algorithm surrounding the amount of water you should bring in camping is too intricate to figure out. However, it is safe to say that for backpacking and camping, depending on the temperature and environment, a person will consume 1 gallon of water per day. The amount of water you need to carry depends on how many people you are with.

Let us say you are going on a trip. You need to bring tentatively 2 gallons of water per person a day or about 7.5 liters. This should be enough for drinking water alongside water for cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene. Bring an extra gallon of water to be sure or a water filter that can be very helpful to reduce the amount of water you have to pack and carry.

Generally speaking, a water filter can’t get rid of viruses. It is designed to remove waterborne protozoa and bacteria, but the virus is another topic to talk about. On the microscopic scale, viruses are far smaller than protozoa and bacteria, so they simply slip through the filter media that filters use. Killing them can be done by scrambling their DNA.

Despite that, the development of UV light and other chemical treatments made filtering viruses out convenient and easier.

Do Water Filters Also Filter Viruses?

Generally speaking, a water filter can’t get rid of viruses. It is designed to remove waterborne protozoa and bacteria, but the virus is another topic to talk about. 

Microscopic-wise, viruses are incomparably smaller than protozoa and bacteria, so they can simply slip through the filter, so removing it is not an easy job. Killing them can be done by scrambling their DNA. Despite that, the development of UV light and other chemical treatments made filtering viruses out convenient and easier.