What's the best portable water filtration system for traveling overseas?


There are many different choices when it comes to water filtration systems for travelers. At first I thought I wanted one of the UV Steripens, but after reading numerous accounts of these pens crapping out after a handful of uses coupled with the fact that they are battery powered, I started looking at filtration pumps. I’ve narrowed down my search to the First Need XLE Elite or First Need Trav-L-Pure. Both of these pumps filter out viruses in addition to bacteria and cysts (yuck!).

Before I pull the trigger on either one, does anyone have experience with either of these pumps, or can anyone recommend a different product? I wouldn’t mind something a little more lightweight or compact, but I love that these pumps don’t require any electricity, filter out solids and viruses, and improve the taste compared to chemical and UV sterilization. When it comes to water quality in remote places, peace of mind is worth a little extra weight for me and Haley!

No matter what solution we choose, we will definitely bring iodine tablets as a backup so we are covered in the event of an emergency.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Good Answer

For a water purification system that doesn’t require manual pumping, batteries, or expensive replacement filters, you can’t go wrong with the Sawyer Complete Water Purifier System. This gravity-fed water purifier (meaning it filters out viruses in addition to the bacteria, particles and protozoa removed by other water filtration systems) is intuitive to use and allows you to filter 4L (they also sell a 2L version) of water while you busy yourself doing other, more important things like setting up camp or stretching after a long day of cycling.

It comes with two 4L bladders, one gray (for dirty water), one blue (for clean water), and hoses to match so you never cross-contaminate your water. Always pre-filter water before filling the dirty bag using cheesecloth, a nylon stocking, or something similar. The filter works best if you prime it by using the included faucet adapter to run water through it before heading out into the field. The filter is good for up to a million gallons of water, and the only maintenance you will need to do is periodically backflush the filter when the flow rate slows or the filter clogs. You can’t go wrong with this water purifier, we love it!

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