/  Gear   /  A “Lazy” Water Filtering System by Roy Grace

I have to admit, I really don’t enjoy pumping water in the backcountry.  You wouldn’t know it by the amount of different water filters I own; in fact you would probably think the opposite after seeing my inventory.  I actually don’t know when I began to feel this way.  It just seems anymore, the thought of sitting next to a water source and physically pumping water into all my containers is a chore I despise.  So much so, I began to skimp on my water intake just so I didn’t have to pump more water.  For those of you that backpack, not drinking enough filtered water is never a good thing in the wilderness and drinking untreated water was not an option.  I tried purifying pills and drops but I could not get used to the after taste.  Since I couldn’t find a volunteer to trek up the mountain with me and be my full time “water boy” while I was out hunting, I knew I needed to figure out an easier way to keep an ample supply water in my camp without having the fear of running out.

Gravity Feed Water Filter

I began to look at other options that would give me an ample supply of water with limited physical output.  I started looking at gravity fed water filter systems.  The problem with some of these types of filters is you must have an equal size water container so your filtered water is not wasted if you’re out hunting while filling the container.  I discovered the Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter and gave it a try on a high country mule deer hunt a few years back.  It’s a slick 2.5 gallon capacity gravity filter that hangs up and filters water into any container you have by means of a rubber hose that comes with an on/off clamp.  It has your standard features of removing bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium to EPA standards. Additionally, it filters .5 liters per minute with a 200 gallon filter life.  The entire filter (hose, reservoir, and filter) weighs 13 ounces, and can be rolled up for non-bulky packing.  The Katadyn Base Camp Filter retails for around $80.00. 

Lightweight – High Capacity Water Container

Once I found the filtering system I needed, I began to look at large water containers that I could use in camp to prepare dehydrated meals and drinks and also fill my portable water container I took hunting with me during the day.  Since I’m usually away from camp all day, I needed a container that would hold at least 2.5 gallons of water since that’s what the gravity filter reservoir held and be lightweight.  I ended up finding a 2.5 gallon collapsible water container made by Reliance.  While a bit bulky opened up, I remove the cap and roll mine to reduce the size, making it easier for packing.  The total weight (empty) is 7.3 ounces and rolled up it’s about the size of a half used paper towel roll.  I was able to shave off a few more ounces by removing the handle, as I really didn’t need it.  This container retails for a low price of $8.00.

Water Bag

The last item I needed was a water container that I could transport my untreated water directly from the water source and pour it into the Katadyn Base Camp Filter without contaminating the outside of the filter and fill-hose.  I eventually found a backpacking nylon water bag made by Coghlan’s.  It’s extremely lightweight (3.5 ounces) and folds up to the size and width of a handkerchief, making it exceptional for backpacking.   It holds exactly 2.5 gallons of water which makes it compatible with the rest of the water filter items in this system.  At first glance you may think it’s going to leak, however, the tightly woven nylon ensures a watertight seal.  These bags are available on the internet and specialty backpacking stores with a price range under $8.00.

 

Conclusion

The total weight of the entire system (filter, water container, and water bag) is 23.5 ounces.  While it may be a bit heavier than other systems (filter and container) out there, it is the only system that allows you to filter large amounts of water, without having to physically pump the water or be present while it’s working.

My daily routine usually consists of filling my gravity filter each night (or when needed) and running the feed hose into the 2.5 gallon water container just before I turn in for the evening.  In the morning, I will have 2.5 gallons of treated water that I can cook with, fill my Platypus water container for my pack, and still have plenty left over when I return to camp after dark to cook with.  If I run out of water while I’m away from camp, I use one of many lightweight filter straws available.  But if you’re like me and have trouble finding a “water boy” to accompany you in the backcountry, this water filtering system just may be the next best thing.

Using lightweight water bag to carry water to filter

Using lightweight water bag to carry water to filter

Filled water bag

Filled water bag

Pouring the untreated water into the gravity water filter

Pouring the untreated water into the gravity water filter

Water filter gravity feeding the treated lightweight water jug

Water filter gravity feeding the treated lightweight water jug

Packed gear in comparison paper towel roll

Packed gear in comparison paper towel roll

 

 

 

 

Comments

  • May 16, 2013
    reply

    Ranrandydy Johnson

    Looks like a great system Roy. You have definitely put some time and effective research into this. In the desert country I generally hunt I depend upon potholes for water so my filter becomes a handkerchief and then iodine tablets. Doesn’t taste very good but I’ve never gotten sick. Most of the time I will kill the taste by adding electrolyte mixes or Propel Vitamin Packets. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Important subject.

  • May 18, 2013
    reply

    LoneGriz

    Roy, I have used the Kat Base Camp for 5+ years. I just got back fro a remote southern CO turkey hunt where I packed in 8 miles with my mule Jed and successfully hunted a remote drainage. My base camp was .25 miles and 500 feet above a spring, so I had to make a daily trek to water Jed and myself. I used the Kat Base Camp to bring the unfiltered water back up to base camp, eliminating the need for another bag for this purpose. Also, since the Kat Base Camp has a hose clamp, you really don’t need a clean water res that is exactly 2.5 gallons, but I see how could certainly be helpful. I use a Platypus Water Tank (1.5 gallons) as my collapsible clean water res. By filling the Water Tank, my backpack res and 2 collapsible water bottles from the Kat Base Camp, I come close to containing all the water the Kat Base Camp allows me to bring back to camp. Although, in the name of full disclosure (:)), by filling the Kat Base Camp and packing it back to camp in my back pack, I may have cause a leak in the bag. I’ll have to check that out now that I’m back in civilization. This would be the only draw back to using the Kat Base Camp to transport ‘dirty’ water back to camp and leaving the extra bag at home.

  • June 6, 2013
    reply

    roy grace

    You will need the exact same sized reservoir if you filter your water while you are away from camp, which is one advantage to this system and one of the main points in the article. Otherwise, your water will overflow….with nobody in camp, the “clamp” does you no good. However, if you are a filtering water while in camp, I agree that the clamp will work.

    I would have to STRONGLY disagree on using the actual base camp to use as a “scoop” for untreated water, thus eliminating a water bag. The moment you scoop water up in an untreated stream or lake, etc., untreated water will always travel down the out side and onto your hose…..eventually reaching the area where your treated water is suppose to come out. I know of two people who have done this in the past and were infected with giardia. To me, it’s not worth it. Especially when the water bag weighs the same amount as a handkerchief, and packs down to the same size that can fit in your pocket.

  • November 25, 2013
    reply

    lee francis

    looks like some thing i want to try // i hate pumping water for camp after being out all day

  • February 23, 2014
    reply

    rebeccafrancis

    i love this idea . it will go with us this year

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