Homemade Ultralight Backpacking Water Filter

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This is a photo essay of the homemade ultralight backpacking water filter I use.

Use What You Need

Don’t waste your breath telling me this filter isn’t enough for me – or anyone else choosing to use it – and we won’t tell you your over compensating for water filtration.

It’s a free country so leave everyone to use the filter of their choice.

I’m not a water expert so only take my advice if you’re confident it will serve your needs.

Step 1

Get a 1 Micron Singed Polyester 7″ x 16″ Filter Bag Felt Biodiesel Sock Size 1, open the sock into a  flat piece of cloth, draw as many 8″ circles as you can (we fit four 8″ and one 7″), and cut them out.

Step 2

Fold them into quarters and glue the seam (I use a hot glue gun).

Backpacking Filter 2

Step 3

Create a protective sleeve to store your filter.

These biodiesel socks will catch a lot of dirt and natural material when you lay them on the ground. To combat this I sewed fiberglass screen material to fit over the filter as protection.

Backpacking Filter 3

You don’t have to make this cover, but it helps keep the outside of your filter clean.

Step 4

Put it all together and give a few to your cheapskate, ultralight backpacking friends!

Backpacking Filter 4

Enjoy!

Save Money

Effective water filtration at a fraction of the price.

What are your money saving tips for ultralight backpacking?

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1 Joseph Lalonde

Nice! But does this only filter out impurities like dirt? It doesn’t do bacteria, correct?

2 Matt Jabs

They filter most 1 micron sized matter, and all 2+ micron matter. They are very effective against protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium since they are generally 5 micron or larger. Bacteria and viruses are smaller than 1 micron so they will pass through these filters but can be killed by boiling.

3 jdmitch

Matt, nicely done on the filter. I tend to think 80/20 when it comes to water, so this should fit perfectly for me.

Just so everyone’s aware (and this is likely why you prefaced), bag filters are often arbitrarily rated (I sold industrial filters for a while), rather than absolutely rated. So, the usefulness of this filter will depend upon your level of paranoia about water sources (or lack thereof).

For me, if the water source is relatively clear, flowing, and free of human pollution (aka, not a common public canoeing path where people drink and pee over the side regularly), I’d have no problems with this. If the water is particularly suspect I might supplement with iodine (or the like) or maybe quick boiling (both still very inexpensive).

PS – It occurs to me that you could double-decker this and put some activated charcoal between the layers… though that would mostly be for taste improvement at lakes vs streams…

4 Matt Jabs

“The usefulness of this filter will depend upon your level of paranoia about water sources (or lack thereof).”

Exactly. :)

Yes, activated charcoal could be added and, depending on the source, boiling or iodine can be used as backups.

5 AlexanderSupertramp

The precautions we take–such as said filter–must necessarily be precluded by the value we place upon our own personal safety. This, therefore, rests always first in the mind of the rational, goal-driven man as the starting point of such evaluations rather than the endless comparison of commercial or popular success of particular brands or types (yes, even before the cost of en vogue alternatives!). Afterall, in the spirit of ‘ultralight’, such can readily be done with a basic loin draping, rudimentary carrying device of any kind, some sort of rudimentary footcovering, and a small measure of courage with a bit of local knowledge. With likely motivation it can be done with much less… Countless examples may be found throughout the annals of history. This can be said of the ancient warrior fighting for God, king, and country, or the post-modern man who seeks his ‘true-soul’ in activities to simulate the former without actually killing, ravaging, and pillaging. Water will always be necessary for such endeavors be they long forgotten whims of an extinct time, grown up games, or close enough to crush the soul in defeat. We will find and drink if we must. We might no longer question the source if the need outweighs our quest to intellectualize that which is meant to be left to the primal…That being said, thank you for yet another option in the ever-growing pantheon of choices to ‘control’ my environment. I am very fond of this ‘coffee filter-style’ water filter and will certainly give it a fair trial when necessisity presents. It may save my life and someone else’s …who knows. Thank You.

Alex

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