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Don’t ruin your next camping trip by storing your portable water filters wrong

If you think you need a new camping water filter, think again.

Picture this: you dig your camp water filter out of storage at the first sign of spring, head to the kitchen to make sure everything is in working order, and your heart sinks as water barely trickles through.

The good news is that the filter may not need to be replaced, it may just require a good cleaning and that you update your off-season storage practices. So to keep your camp filter flowing freely for as many hiking seasons as possible, take a few preventative and protective measures before you stash it away for a few months.

Clean your filters before you put them away

The key to top-tier water filter performance at the beginning of every season is to stow your filters clean. And possibly wet, though that largely depends on the filter brand in question. We’ll get to that.

Many filters intended for camping, hiking, and backpacking get the job done via a hollow fiber membrane. These products remove unwanted material from natural water sources via a cluster of microscopic straw-like structures with holes so small that organisms like bacteria, parasites, dirt and microplastics can’t pass through. They’re a lot like a fine strainer that lets water pass through but traps your penne noodles.

And like a strainer, the more you pour through a filter without emptying or rinsing it out, the lower the flow-through rate will be. So if your filter won’t filter on the first trip of the season, it’s likely because any contaminants that didn’t get flushed out before you put it away may have grown, multiplied, or crusted over, making the flow sluggish at best and ineffectual at worst.

Continue reading the full article by Alisha McDarris here.


January 4, 2023

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Alisha McDarris

Popular Science

Alisha McDarris is a DIY contributor at Popular Science. She’s a travel lover and true outdoor enthusiast who enjoys showing friends, family, heck, even strangers, how to stay safe out there and enjoy more time in the wild. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, or road tripping.


While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure


The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere


SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team