The difference between backpacking water filters and portable water purifiers:
When backpacking in a foreign country, or even in desolate areas of your own country, backpacking water filters are a must. Since you are not capable of carrying all of the weight of all of the water you would need for an extended trip, portable purification is a must. But what is the difference between a filter and a purifier? Simply put, a filter removes parasites, protozoan, and some bacteria, while a purifier removes all of those things plus 99.9 percent of all viruses as dictated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Iodine and clorine tablets for convenient camping water purification:
The most convenient, and lightweight water purification system available is to simply carry iodine or chlorine tablets to put in questionable water before consumption. However these tablets change the color and taste of water which most people are not happy with. Additionally it does not remove any dirt or sediment from the water which still seems unclean to many people. Therefore carrying compact water filters and purifiers is the way most backpackers get fresh drinking water everyday.
Features of backpacking water filters:
Filter Size - The feature that will most affect your day to day interaction with a portable water purifier is the size and weight of the device. How much it weighs down your pack, as well as how much room it takes up will be very important to you when you are out in the country.
Filter Type - There are several types of camping filters, anything from a pumping mechanism, to a gravity powered drip system, to battery powered UV lights that kill bacteria and viruses. With the popular pump systems like the Katadyn Vario Dual there some made with ceramic filters, and some made with carbon filters. Ceramic filters are faster, but are heavier and can break easily, while carbon filters are lighter but more expensive to replace.
UV powered purifiers come in a variety of forms, some that are built into other pump style filters, others that can be as small as a pen. The advantages of UV purification is that is fast and most effective, the disadvantage is that it does not remove sediment or particles, and spare batteries must be carried as a backup.
Filter Cost - Backpacker's water filters can range in price from $10 all the way to $600 or more depending on the weight, filter type, and effectiveness. It's important to remember that you must not forget about the cost of replacement filters for your system not just the upfront cost. Just because a portable water purifier is cheaper upfront does not mean it will be the least inexpensive to own in the long run.