ok folks, what is the best water filter?!? It must ba able to do large quanities of water. I will be using it for moose hunting and general camping for the family. size and weight isn't a huge issue, and neither is price. I just want something good. I want to only buy 1 and it needs to last awhile! I don't mind paying for quality gear that may save your life. lets here what you got, and how you like it!
I'd take a hard look at Aqua Mira chemical treatment.
Lightweight. No pump handles to break, no filters to clog. Water tastes good. It works well. You can easily treat from 1 quart to 5 gallons at a time.
About the only downside I found is you have to wait 15-30 minutes before drinking. Not a problem at all if you plan ahead. I found I stayed better hydrated because it's so easy and dependable.
What do you do with silty water? I suppose you just let it settle out or use a prefilter..!
Of course I always look for clear water first. Even on big silty rivers it seems like I can usually find a clear brook flowing in. I try to avoid silty water when using filters, too, to avoid clogging them up.
If I did have to use silty water I'd just let it settle first, as you suggested. I don't even mind drinking a little silt as long as it's treated. I used Aqua Mira all last summer and don't recall one time I had to drink any silt, though.
That reminds me of the time we were setting off to float a (silty) river. We were really thirsty after packing to the river, so I pulled out the filter. Unfortunately, it had somehow broken in such a way that it was unusable. No problem, I'll just fire up the stove (plenty of fuel) and boil some up and let it cool. It was then we figured out the fuel was missing. We'd checked the plane to make sure we had everything, but it turns out our pilot had put it in the float.
No filter, no fuel, one week and four guys. We boiled water and cooked over willow fires the whole time. Smoky water got kind of old!
Katadyn Expedition Filter
Most commercially outfitted private trips on the Grand Canyon use a Katadyn Expedition Filter. It works as fast as anything out there, and is built for dependability under the stress of heavy use. Pumping all your water is still a lot of work, but this is the fastest way to do it manually.
I keep thinking of those gravity fed devices though. I've not seen one made for large groups, but it would certainly be easier to use.
I don't mind drinking silt. It's not going to hurt you like the bugs in the water. When I was a kid we used to drink the Big Susitna straight out of the river when moose hunting. You have to keep telling yourself not to chew though.
British Berkefeld. I have one. It's not too large and lightweight, has two ceramic filters. Not sure if you can get them any more or not. They make other models as well. All stainless, stainless and plastic. http://www.britishberkefeld.com/britishberkefeld.html
I second aqua mira, light weight and treats up to 70 gallons. I have used it for 4 years now and will continue to use it.
Katadyn Filter-2nd Vote
I agree 100% w/ Jim. The Katadyn Expedition is pretty bomb-proof. You purchase one of these and don't worry about your water needs anymore. I also agree with Jim on NRS(nrsweb.com)-great company to deal with.
Water purifiers are slow. I've found no exceptions. For a personal unit I use a Sweetwater. For the family I have a Katadyne drip system similar to what Snyd uses. Mine has three ceramic elements and will process about 2 1/2 gallons per filling. It will take all night to do 2 1/2 gallons even with freshly cleaned ceramics.
Go shopping at REI. You'll see a good selection. They used to have water available to test each unit. That's a worthwhile exercise. Pay attention to output volume. If you tried to fill a 2 1/2 gallon jug with a Sweetwater you'd be ready to go postal on somebody before you were finished.
Here's a link that shows the Katadyne drip system as well as the pocket portables.