Hiking Water Filter vs. Purifier: What Is the Main Difference?

 Hiking water filter vs. purifier: What is the main difference? Which is better for hiking? Let’s clear these queries with valuable information here!

Top Rated Best Budget Hiking Water Filters

Top Rated Best Budget Hiking Purifiers for the money

Hiking Water Filter vs. Purifier: Comparison Table

Both water filters and purifiers make water safer to drink with you. So what is the main difference between the two? Which is more suitable for hiking?

Water Filter Water Purifier
Usage Eliminate protozoa (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium ) and bacteria (such as Salmonella and E. coli). Removes everything the water filter can, plus viruses.

Hiking Water Filter vs. Purifier: What Is the Main Difference?

Water purifiers

This unit also combats viruses, which are too minor for many filters to remove effectively. If you are traveling in one of the less-developed areas in the world, look for a unit that can protect you from viruses (such as rotavirus, hepatitis A, and norovirus).

Water filters

This unit works by physically straining out protozoan cysts (such as Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium) and bacteria (such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Shigella). Those biological pathogens are a significant concern for those traveling in the US or Canada.

When Should You Use it?

Water purifiers

If you are hiking to one of the less-developed areas that have poor water treatment & sanitation infrastructures, we recommend going with a purifier.

Water purifiers would also be a great choice when you are traveling in the local backcountry zones where people are not practicing good hygiene near the water source, such as famous lakes.

Many viruses are found in water sources, such as Hepatitis A and Norovirus.

If you hold a microfilter, it is possible to combat harmful viruses by adding purifying agents to your water once you have adequately filtered it off bacteria, protozoa, and all particulates like dirt. 

However, using a purifying agent, such as UV light or chemical tablets, alone will not remove particles like dirt. It is essential to remember that particulates in your water can impede the effectiveness of UV light and chemicals.

Water filters

The purifier provides better protection than the filter, but it is sometimes considered overkill.

If you are hiking in the backcountries of Canada or the US, you should be OK with a filter as it is typically sufficient protection. 

Here are pristine areas where human traffic is rare or low; the key threats are mainly protozoa and bacteria. Those microorganisms can enter humans through animal or human fecal matter in the water.

Contrastly, viruses are species-specific. Viruses harmful to humans can only be transmitted to a person through the feces of other people in the water.

So, the risk of contracting the virus is very low in places where there are no people. You should be fine with the water filter when hiking in these areas.

Yet, you need to ensure your microfilter is designed to handle backcountry-type water. The reason is that some filters available at outdoor shops are made to minimize only unpleasant tastes from tap water.

Hiking Water Filter vs. Purifier: Final Verdict

The main difference between the water filter and water purifier lies in the level of protection these two treatment devices provide against harmful microorganisms lurking in water sources.

Generally, water filters are designed to remove bacteria and waterborne protozoa, except viruses. Meanwhile, water purifiers are designed to remove protozoa, bacteria, and even viruses, delivering a better level of defense.

After a thorough investigation into each option, it is time to deliver our view. 

The truth is that purifiers and filters have their benefits. It is essential to find a unit that is suitable for your specific needs and area. 

Ensure you understand the kind of water that is available in the area where you will be hiking. That way, you can choose a unit that can address the water problems you might face.

Some types of water contain particular substances that need to be got rid of. In that case, you will need something to help you with this problem.

We’ve noticed an increase in traffic in local backcountries, leading to an increased risk of virus infection. Therefore, purifiers are becoming more and more popular.

You may also consider boiling water as an alternative. Boiling is one of the most effective ways to purify water and has been used since ancient times. You can also expect the water to boil in a few minutes.

The main disadvantage of boiling water is fuel consumption. It forces you to carry more fuel, resulting in an increase in the overall weight of the backpack.

Moreover, boiling the water cannot remove chemicals, other inorganics, and sediment from your water. 



Is A Water Purifier Better Than A Water Filter?

The answer is Yes. The purifier provides better protection than the filter. It is the perfect choice to remove viruses, which most water filters cannot. However, it is considered overkill in some cases.

How Do Hiking Water Filters Work?

Water filters will remove any main threat to hikers, such as waterborne bacteria and protozoa, but do not remove viruses. That is where the water purifier comes in handy. They work to neutralize bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. 

Purifiers usually use UV light or chemicals to help remove dangers, such as Norovirus or Hepatitis A. Some purifiers will also have a filter for eliminating sediment and debris from the water. 

Chemical drops and tablets are a great addition to your backpack, and you can add them to your water filtration system for extra protection.

Do I Need a Water Filter for Hiking?

Yes, in the US, viruses don’t seem common in the backcountry. They will help make the water safe enough for you by removing protozoa (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium) and bacteria (such as Salmonella and E. coli).

Is A Water Purifier the Same As A Water Filter?

No. Water purifiers can remove viruses, which water filters cannot. 

That means it provides better protection than the filter, but it is sometimes considered overkill.

How Many Hiking Filters Are Available?

Pros Cons
UV Filter
  • Futuristic and super light
  • Takes up very little backpack space
  • Uses batteries.
  • Often requires pre-filtering.
Squeeze Filter
  • Very lightweight
  • Filter on the go
  • Not good for groups
Gravity Filter
  • Great for large groups
  • Set it up and relax
  • Can be difficult to fill from shallow water sources
  • Need to keep clean and dirty components separate
Pump Filter
  • Very fast
  • Can filter from shallow water sources
  • Not the lightest choice
  • More components that could potentially fail
  • Very packable
  • Very lightweight
  • Can be utilized as an emergency backup
  • Prolonged use of iodine isn’t recommended.
  • Long wait till water is drinkable.
  • Most chemicals make water taste bad, including iodine.
  • Kill everything
  • Good backup option
  • Uses a lot of fuel
  • Tedious

Why Does Filtering Water Not Mean That It Is Pure?

The reason is that filtering water does not remove viruses like purifying water. Instead, it only removes protozoa and bacteria.

What Do Water Filters Not Remove?

Water filters do not effectively remove germs and viruses.

Do We Really Need A Water Purifier?

The water purifier delivers better protection than the water filter, but it is sometimes considered overkill.

If you are hiking in the backcountries of Canada or the US, you should be okay with a water filter as it is normally sufficient protection. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Filtered Water?

The biggest disadvantage of water filters is that they cannot remove viruses.

How Long Does Outdoor Water Filter Last?

The lifetime use of outdoor filters might vary, from around 1,000 to 8,000 uses.

How Do You Filter and Purify Water in the Wilderness Quickly?

The easiest way to purify water is boiling. To be safe, you should bring the water to a full, rolling boil for five minutes, and some professionals recommend an even longer time.

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