Selecting A Portable Water Filter: Backcountry vs. International Travel

Selecting A Portable Water Filter: Backcountry vs. International Travel

When you’re traveling, whether hiking in the backcountry or exploring other countries, it’s crucial to have access to a clean, safe water supply. Drinking unclean water can result in a host of health problems, including diarrhea and intestinal parasites, which can then lead to dehydration and even death.



Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to determine if a water source is truly safe. Simply looking at water isn’t enough, as even the clearest water can be teeming with unseen bacteria. Additionally, local residents of other countries will be immune to certain bacterias and thus won’t become sick when drinking from certain water sources, meaning you can’t rely on them to direct you to a clean source.

What you need is a water filter. A water filter removes harmful contaminants from almost any water source, allowing you to drink confidently.

In this article we’re going to guide you through:

  • What is a water filter?
  • How does a filter work?
  • What water filters work best for backcountry hiking?
  • What water filters work best for international travel?


What is A Water Filter?

There is a difference between a water filter and a water purifier. The difference between them is tied to the size of the microorganism each filters out. A water filter strains out protozoan cysts and bacteria that are of primary concern in the United States and Canada. However, a water filter will NOT filter out viruses.

A water purifier removes viruses, which usually are too small for most filters to effectively catch. They typically use specific chemicals, such as iodine, or ultraviolet light.

However, there are some filters, such as our Village Bucket Filters, which actually block particles at the .1 micron level, which is sufficient to purify water due to the fact that viruses by nature clump and attach to sediment. This is a key distinction and is crucial due to the fact that water purifiers typically are too small to clean water in large quantities.

Village Filter in the Home

So what does this mean? Most standard water filters such as those used in backcountry hiking or those used to remove flouride are not sufficient for international use. Why? Because they simply don’t filter out viruses. If you use only a filter you could be afflicted by a virus.

However, there are a few select ones such as the Village Bucket filter which can be trusted to remove both harmful bacteria and viruses. If you’re planning on traveling abroad, consider using a water purifier or a powerful water filter, such as the Village Bucket filter, which can act as both a filter and a purifier.

How Does A Water Filter Work?

A water filter uses an element or cartridge to capture tiny bacteria, debris, and protozoa. As with any filter, repeated use causes the filter to clog and it must be thoroughly cleaned or replaced.

Water purifiers typically rely on either ultraviolet light or chemicals to remove viruses.

A prefilter can be used to first remove sediment and debris from the water, thus making it easier to filter and purify. This is especially useful is you need to filter a significant quantity of water that is full of dirt, leaves, or any other type of sediment.

What Water Filters Work Best For Backcountry Hiking?

When it comes to backcountry hiking in the United States or Canada, using a water filter is sufficient. When it comes to selecting a filter, you have a number of options.

Pump Filter:

Pump FilterImage via

A pump filter allows you to put a hose into a water source, a bottle onto the outlet hose, and then pump exactly how much water you need. It has the advantage of being precise, working easily in shallow water, and coming with a replaceable cartridge. However, pumping a large quantity of water requires a significant expenditure of energy and requires constant cleaning of the filter to remove debris.

Gravity Filter:

Gravity FilterVia

As you would imagine, a gravity filter harnesses the power of gravity to force water from a hanging reservoir down through a filter. It’s simple to use, can process large quantities of water, and uses a replaceable cartridge. On the flip side, it can be difficult to find a location to hang a water reservoir and difficult to fill the reservoir from shallow water sources.

Bottle Filter:

Bottle FilterVia

A bottle filter is a sippable water bottle that has a built-in filter. Some of them rely on suction to draw the water through the filter while others work in a similar fashion to a coffee French Press. They are extremely simple and portable, but you are significantly limited in how much water you can process.

Boiling Water:

Boiling WaterVia

Boiling water is a simple way to easily remove all pathogens from water, including both viruses and bacteria. However, there are some obvious, significant disadvantages. You must carry the boiling container wherever you go, you must have a sufficient heat source, and you are limited in the amount of water you can purify, both by time and size. Additionally, boiling water doesn’t remove sediment in the water. Clearly, boiling water is not ideal if you’re doing a significant amount of hiking.

Straw Filters:

Straw Filters

A straw filter allows you to drink directly from a water source. The water is pulled from the source, up through the straw, through the filter, and then into the mouth. It’s an incredibly portable, simple solution. However, you must be present at a water source and either willing to pass the straw around or ensure each person has their own straw.

What Water Filters Work Best For International Travel?

When discussing water filters and international use, some careful distinction is required. Most of the filters listed above are not appropriate for international travel or use due to the fact that almost all filters fail to remove viruses. You could use a gravity filter or straw filter and still get terrible sick.

This means you either need to use a filter/purifier, chemicals, or a .1 micron water filter to that can filter out the viruses that have attached to sediment.

Many purifiers use UV light to remove harmful viruses from water. The downside to these purifiers is that they often don’t filter the water, meaning it then has to be run through a filter. Chlorine- and iodine- based chemicals can also be used to purify water but they typically leave a strong aftertaste.


Best Water filters for international travelVia

Additionally, UV purifiers are usually small and require batteries, limiting the amount of water that can be purified at one time.

So is there a way to filter and purify significant quantities of water at once? There is. Bucket filters like our Village Bucket Filter allow you to purify and filter a large quantity of water at once without resorting to UV light or harsh chemicals. Because it filters at the .1 micron level, it sufficiently removes both harmful bacteria and viruses.

By filtering at the .1 micron level, it removes the clumped viruses and viruses that have attached to sediment, thus making it safe to drink.


The Village Bucket Pre-Filter can be used to remove sediment and debris prior to filtering, allowing for a smoother flow of water.


When choosing a water filter, it’s crucial to evaluate the circumstances in which it will be used. Will you only be filtering bacteria out of the water? If so, a standard water filter, such as a gravity filter, straw filter, or bottle filter is sufficient. Size and speed of filtering will be your main criteria in selecting your filter.

If you will be traveling internationally, you will need a water purifier or a water filter robust enough to filter at a fine enough level to block viruses.

4 Stark Realities Of The Global Water Crisis

4 Stark Realities Of The Global Water Crisis

4 Stark Realities Of The Global Water Crisis

Everyday, millions of people take clean water for granted. We don’t give a second thought to taking a long shower or cleaning our cars. We bathe our children in crystal clear water and cool off with the hose. We drink tall, cold glasses of water, one after another, without worry about where our next glass will come from.

We assume that our supply of water will never end, and we treat it in like manner. We know that water is a crucial part of our lives, and we know that we couldn’t survive without it, but we rarely think about those people who actually have to survive without clean water.

In the United States, we’ve gotten a tiny taste of the global water crisis through the events in Flint, Michigan. Suddenly, men, women, and children find themselves without a reliable, clean source of drinking water. And even worse, some children are already experiencing adverse effects from the water.

Dirty Tap Water

Of course, here in the United States, if our tap water goes bad we can always purchase bottles of water. In fact, companies like Culligan have built entire businesses around bottling and selling clean water.

Unfortunately, those in developing countries such as Afghanistan don’t have such luxuries. Every day, millions find themselves struggling simply to find clean water. Many are unable to and must resort to drinking filthy, parasite-laden water. Millions of people get sick and die as a result of drinking this water. These deaths are truly preventable simply by providing clean, sustainable sources of water.

As chef Marcus Samuelsson says:

Clean water and access to food are some of the simplest things that we can take for granted each and every day. In places like Africa, these can be some of the hardest resources to attain if you live in a rural area.

At Business Connect, we are passionate about providing citizens of developing countries with affordable access to clean water. We wholeheartedly agree with the World Health Organization:

In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

There are few things more important to life than clean water, and clean water is a right for every person. But we find that most people have no idea of the extent or severity of the clean water crisis. It’s not that they don’t care; they simply don’t know.

In order to effectively fulfill our mission, we want to first help people understand exactly what is happening in the global water crisis and why it matters. It’s difficult for people to take action in solving the global water crisis when it seems so far away and so irrelevant to their daily lives.

With that in mind, we want to give you insight into some of the stark realities of the global water crisis.

Stark Reality #1 – Every 90 Seconds A Child Dies From A Water-Related Disease

water related disease affects children

Consider this stunning fact for a moment. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease that could have been prevented simply by providing access to clean water. Diarrhea, which is incredibly easy to prevent, is the third leading cause of death among children. 161 million children are afflicted with chronic malnutrition and stunted growth, most of which is tied to lack of clean water.

Consider how this would be handled in a country like the United States. If a child was dying every 90 seconds due to a single cause, there would be a massive outcry. The government would immediately step in and millions of people would rally together. This kind of massive tragedy simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen. People wouldn’t stand for it.

As Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, says:

If 90 school buses filled with kindergartners were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice.

And yet the global water crisis is often overlooked by those in developing countries. Again, not because they don’t care, but because they’re not aware. They aren’t aware of the catastrophic harm the crisis causes children.

Children simply cannot protect themselves. They have no option other than to drink the parasite-laden water around them. If they don’t drink the water, they die from dehydration. If they do drink the water, they will most likely be afflicted with a disease.

Let’s work together to protect these children. Let’s respond to the global water crisis in the same way we would respond to a local water crisis.

As William Ashworth says:

Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.

Stark Reality #2 – The Number Of People Without Clean Water Is Staggering

The number of people who don’t have access to clean water is absolutely stunning. Currently, 2.6 billion people, which is half the developing world, lack access to an improved latrine. 1.1 billion people lack access to an improved water source. Those of us in the developing world can feel like clean water is an issue that only hurts a small number of people. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case.

Consider these facts:

  • Every year 1.1 million people, primarily under the age of 5 are killed from diarrhoeal diseases directly attributable to unclean, unsafe water.
  • 160 million people are afflicted by schistosomiasis and 500 million may be afflicted trachoma, which in turn puts 146 million people at risk for blindness.
  • 133 million people are infected with intestinal helminths which can be traced directly to unclean drinking water.
  • Between 300 to 500 million people are hit with malaria, which is caused when mosquitos breed in unclean drinking water. Out of the millions infected, 1 million children die every year.
  • 12 million people contract typhoid due to consuming unsafe drinking water.
  • Millions of people have AIDS, and clean water is essential to preventing infection and boosting the immune system.
people don't have clean water

The point is simply this: the global water crisis staggering. It is not a small problem affecting a few people.

Rachel Carson’s words are appropriate:

In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.

Let’s combat our indifference. Let’s work together to shrink the number of people without access to clean water.

Stark Reality #3 – The United States Consumes An Astonishing Amount Of Water Compared To The Rest Of The World

The average American consumes around 2,000 gallons of water…per day! In addition to consuming water directly by drinking, showering, and washing, we consume water indirectly through the products we purchase.

US consumption of drinkable water

On average, it takes

  • 634 gallons to produce a hamburger and 37 gallons to produce a single cup of coffee.
  • 13 gallons to produce 1 gallon of gasoline and 5 gallons per hour to power a 60 watt light bulb.
  • 2,900 gallons to create a pair of jeans and 700 gallons to make a cotton t-shirt.

The U.S. footprint for water consumption is two times greater than the global average. In other words, in the United States we are consuming about twice as much water as the rest of the world.

As professor Shahzeen Attari said in a recent study:

Most Americans assume that water supply is both reliable and plentiful. However, research has shown that with climate change water supply will become more variable due to salinization of groundwater and increased variability in precipitation.

The point of these statistics is not to make Americans feel guilty for the amount of water they consume. The statistics simply highlight how unaware most Americans are of the amount of water they consume compared to the rest of the world.

Singer/songwriter Jewel said:

Clean water is a necessity that we can no longer take for granted. Each year more people die of water related diseases than any other cause of death on this planet. With a higher rate of suffering and mortality than diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, or war; or any two combined for that matter! An entire economy is growing around water. Those without money are suffering the most and risk severe illness from contaminated sources.

Our average water consumption shows that, unfortunately, we do take clean water for granted. By giving greater thought and appreciation to clean water, we can help solve the global water crisis.

Stark Reality #4 – The Global Water Crisis Is A Women’s Rights Issue

The global water crisis hits women particularly hard. In many countries, women are responsible for collecting all the water for the family. Every day, they walk miles and carry massive burdens just to secure enough water for bathing, drinking, cleaning, and washing. As soon as girls are old enough, they must join in this effort if the family is to have enough water.

When women have access to clean water, the effects are immediate and significant.

Literacy rates climb and school attendance increases thanks to girls not having to spend their days collecting water.

Women have reduced physical injury due to not carrying excessive burdens.

Child and maternal mortality drops thanks to clean water during childbirth.

There is less risk of assault and rape since women aren’t forced to scavenge in dangerous areas.

In the United States, we’ve made great progress in women’s rights issues. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in most developing countries where women must still spend hours every day collecting water. If we truly care about the rights of women around the world, we must work together to end the global water crisis.


The global water crisis is real and it isn’t a pretty picture. It affects billions of people, particularly women and children. And unfortunately, many of us in the United States are unaware of how much water we consume compared to the rest of the world.

But there is good news. We truly can make a difference. We can bring about change. Despite the enormity of the crisis, change is happening. At Business Connect, we are proud to be part of that change.

5 Stunning Facts About Clean Water You Must Know

5 Stunning Facts About Clean Water You Must Know

5 Stunning Facts About Clean Water You Must Know

Water is incredibly, astonishingly precious. Water allows us to stay hydrated and quench our thirst. Water allows us to clean our bodies and maintain proper hygiene. Water cleans our toilets and our cars and our windows. Water allows us to relax in swimming pools and clear lakes. Water is an absolutely integral part of our lives.

And yet so often we take clean water for granted. We use lavish, extravagant amounts of water when we bathe our children. We don’t think twice about flushing our toilets once, twice, even three times. We fill a glass with water, take a sip, and then dump the rest out. We buy clean ice in 20 and 30 pound bags. We fill swimming pools with hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. For many of us, water is an abundant resource that we never think twice about.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the goodness of clean water. But as Marcus Samuelsson said:

Clean water and access to food are some of the simplest things that we can take for granted each and every day. In places like Africa, these can be some of the hardest resources to attain if you live in a rural area.

For many people, clean water is not an abundant commodity to be wasted, but a treasure to be chased and hoarded. Many people, especially those in developing countries, go their entire lives without experiencing the joy of clean, abundant water.

At Business Connect, we are passionate about providing citizens of developing countries with affordable access to clean water. In order to do that, we need to first help people understand just how large a problem access to clean water really is.

As the World Health Organization says:

In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

So, with that in mind, here are 5 facts about clean water throughout the world. We encourage you to ponder these facts and consider how you might be part of the solution.

Water Fact #1 – Approximately 1.1 Billion People (1 in 7) Lack Access To Safe Water

An astonishing 10% of the world’s population lacks access to clean, safe water. The World Health Organization and UNICEF define safe drinking water in the following way:


  • Drinking water is water used for basic household purposes, such as drinking, cooking and personal hygiene;
  • Access to drinking water means that the water source is close (less than 1 KM away) and a person can reliably secure at least 20 liters of water per day for each household member.
  • Safe drinking water is water that is in alignment with WHO guidelines or national standards on drinking water quality, including microbial, chemical and physical characteristics.
  • Access to safe drinking water is the proportion of people in a given population using improved drinking water sources such as a household connection, public standpipe, borehole, protected dug well, protected spring, or rainwater.

Water Fact #2: The damage and suffering caused by unsafe water is massive

Approximately 2.6 billion people (half the developing world) lack access to an improved latrine, and 1.1 billion people lack access to an improved water source.


The damage and suffering caused by unsafe water

The damage caused by unclean water is absolutely catastrophic. Every year:

  • 1.1 million people, mostly under the age of 5, die from diarrhoeal diseases directly attributable to unclean, unsafe water. Almost all these deaths occur in developing countries.
  • 160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis. 500 million are at risk for trachoma, which in turn puts 146 million people at risk for blindness.
  • 133 million people suffer from intestinal helminths (ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection) caused by unsafe drinking water.
  • 300 to 500 million people are afflicted with malaria, which is caused by mosquitos. Mosquitoes typically breed in standing, stagnant water. Approximately 1 million children die every year from malaria.
  • 12 million people are infected with typhoid, which causes headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite. Typhoid is typically caused by ingesting water filled with bacteria.

Clearly, unsafe, unclean drinking water is causing massive damage on a global scale, affecting hundreds of millions of people and causing untold suffering.

Clean water is the only way to prevent the water borne diseases that afflict so many people in the developing world. Without clean water, adults and children are forced to drink and bathe in water that is riddled with bacteria and parasites.

Additionally, clean water is crucial to preventing infections and sickness in those with AIDS/HIV. Those infected have depressed immune systems, which in turn leads to more health problems.

Water Fact #3 – The primary populations without access to clean water are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are the most affected by the unclean drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, the top 5 areas for unsafe water are:


– Sub Saharan Africa – 319 million people

– Southern Asia – 134 million people

– Eastern Asia – 65 million people

– South Eastern Asia – 61 million people

– All other regions – 84 million people


Consider the following troubling situations.

Only 13% of Afghanistan has access to clean water. There are some areas in Afghanistan where water is scarce as a resource, but for the most part, the problem is caused by inadequate infrastructure. With the country in turmoil from war, clean water is desperately needed.

Only 11% of the population in Ethiopia has access to clean sanitation. As a result, the country has a frightening infant mortality rate (77 out of 1,000), significant health problems, and poor education. The task of securing water falls primarily on women and children, who must trek exceedingly long distances to find water.

In Cambodia, 84% of the population does not have access to clean water or sanitation. Even though monsoons often dump massive amounts of water, this water is quickly contaminated due to poor infrastructure and a lack of proper technology. Until the country has access to clean water, the population will continue to rely on rainwater for their water supply, even though it is not safe or clean.

In Haiti, 20% of the population does not have access to a clean toilet and 50% of people lack access to clean water. The massive earthquake in 2010, in conjunction with soil erosion and a lack of water treatment facilities, has caused an ongoing water crisis.

The point is simply this: the residents of these areas must constantly contend with the challenge of finding clean drinking water. They cannot simply stop drinking water.

Water Fact #4 – Children are hardest hit by unclean water


One of the saddest realities of unsafe, unclean water is that children are hit the hardest. UNICEF estimates that approximately 1,000 children die every day due to diarrhoeal diseases, most of which could be prevented simply through access to clean water. A child dies every 90 seconds from a water-related disease.


Children and unclean water

Diarrhea, which is easily preventable with clean water, is the 3rd leading cause of child death, a majority of which are water-related.

Some 161 million children suffer from stunting, or chronic malnutrition, much of which is directly tied to unsafe, unclean drinking water.

Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, says:

If 90 school buses filled with kindergartners were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice. But this is precisely what happens every single day because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

Every day, women and children spend approximately 125 million hours gathering water. This burden typically falls heaviest on women and girls, who spend up to 6 hours per day trying to find water for their families.

In Asia and Africa, women and children walk approximately 3.7 miles per day just to locate water.

Water Fact #5 – Progress is occurring…slowly

Now for some good news: progress is being made in giving more people access to clean drinking water. Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have been given access to clean water, raising the global percentage to 91%. And, thankfully, that number is still growing every year. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa (one of the worst areas for unclean water), 427 million have gained access to clean water since 1990.

There has also been progress in decreasing the number of children hurt by unsafe water. The number of children dying every day from diarrhoeal diseases has been cut in half over the past 15 years, from 2,000 to 1,000.

Unfortunately, the model for progress starts with the wealthiest people first. As Sanjay Wijesekera says:

What the data really show is the need to focus on inequalities as the only way to achieve sustainable progress. The global model so far has been that the wealthiest move ahead first, and only when they have access do the poorest start catching up. If we are to reach universal access to sanitation by 2030, we need to ensure the poorest start making progress right away.

Additionally, many countries still accept, and even encourage behaviors that contaminate drinking water, such as open defecation. Furthermore, those in rural areas (7 out of 10) tend to have less access to clean water compared to those in urban areas (9 out of 10).

Yes, progress is being made, and we should be thankful for that progress. But it is also crucial that we continue to push forward clean water initiatives.



Clean water is both an essential human right and essential for life. Those with access to clean, safe water have markedly improved lives compared to those who don’t. The water problems in Flint, Michigan have given us in the United States a tiny glimpse into the everyday struggles so many face.

Manoj Bhargava said:

People with water-borne diseases occupy more than 50% of hospital beds across the world. Does the answer lie in building more hospitals? Really, what is needed is to give them clean water.

Our mission at Business Connect is to, “…give hope to the impoverished by creating employment, in the marketing of life enhancing products, within a business model that is sustainable and environmentally balanced.”

One of the ways we do that is by helping people gain access to clean water.

News from Business Connect Issue No 4

News from Business Connect Issue No 4

December is a month of reflection.  We think about the year that is
passing as we look forward to a new year and new possibilities.  We
think about our families and how much joy they bring to our lives. 
We think about those less fortunate and wonder what we can do to
help make their lives better. Below we are forwarding an email sent
out by Sawyer Products on how we can do just that.

December, 2010E-Newsletter Update from Sawyer Products
Just a year shy of the tragic earthquake, Haiti finds itself amidst another disaster that has potential to be just as deadly as the earthquake if action is not taken quickly. That disaster is the spread of Cholera, a bacterial infection that can kill a person within a few hours if not treated.The latest numbers from the Ministry of Health in Haiti state over 1,400 people have died from Cholera and over 60,000 have been sickened by the disease. Early estimates by the WHO of 200,000 people contracting the disease have now sky rocketed to over 400,000 people.

Cholera is primarily contracted by drinking contaminated water.Sawyer Point ONE Filters remove 99.99999% of bacteria and protozoa including the bacteria that causes Cholera.The filters are already in Haiti.  Now we need your help.
Water for Everyone
How to Purchase

We know this goal is only reachable by partnering with many organizations. Currently we are working with: Partners In Health; J/PHRO; UN Minustah Military; UN-Community Violence Reduction; UN-Civil Affairs; Zanmi Lasante; Compassion International, International Childcare Ministries, and a variety of NGO’s, private donors and churches.

We have a secure warehouse with thousands of filters, buckets, and trucks ready to deliver

the filters where they are most needed.

These are community clean-water systems as well as home units. One

filter can easily provide safe drinking water for at least 100 people a day.

17It’s simple. The filters and buckets are already in Portau Prince,  they just need to be picked up (delivery isavailable as well depending on quantity and location ofdrop off).

If you have staff in country or are sending a team to

Haiti and are interested in scheduling a pick-up,

please contact Amy Reed at for details.




Our in country partner Waves for Water is working non-stop

to distribute filters to the needy. You can help by making a

donation of $50 for a clean water system. Your $50 donation includes the filter,

bucket, assembly and delivery.  They also teach the recipients how to set up, use

and how to get maximum clean-water production from each unit.

To make a tax-deductible donation visit,

click donate, and make a note when checking out that your donation is for

immediate distribution in Haiti.

Within hours of your donation, a filtration system will be delivered.

Now is the time to give so more people can live. 
Blessings in this Christmas season.
    Lou & Jan Haveman
    Business Connect
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