Selecting water purification strategies, method and equipment for bug out and bug in scenario


I’ve spent the better part of the last 10 months working hard on getting a 8-12 month food supply in place – I’m pretty much there.  I’ve got the beginnings of a decent first aid kit / medicine stock, etc – more work to do here but I have a good base to build on.  We have a solid plan for home and property defense.  But when I take a good hard look at my preps, I realize my water prep situation is in need of some serious improvement.  And since, without water safe drinking water, my 8-12 month supply of food will be pretty useless, I figure I should go ahead and get things corrected as soon as possible.

I read the fantastic Prepared review / guides on Best Portable Survival Water Filters and Best Home Water Filters.  Great information, but I must admit I am still quite overwhelmed as there are so many different options and set ups!  I believe I am stuck in an “analysis paralysis” situation.  So I thought I would post asking for some guidance in making a decision on what gear to buy.  

First, let me outline my current water situation and also what I’m trying to prepare for:

Current Water Situation and Set Up:

  • I have about 1.5 weeks worth of drinking water (store-bought bottled water) in my prepper pantry.  I am going to try to add a bit more bottled water but there isn’t much more space for it.
  • We own our own house – we live in a smaller resort town in New England, but the area where our house is located is relatively rural.  
  • On our property, we have a good sized pond with a small natural fresh water stream feeding the pond.  We are going to be adding trout to our pond in the next few weeks.  Our pond water is not clear and there is a large amount of muck and silt on the bottom of the pond – we have been working hard to clean it up.  Needless to say we don’t swim in the pond. This will take some time to clean up.
  • I do have a biomass emergency stove that I bought several years ago that I could use to boil water (for dried food pouches, etc).  But boiling for water purification just doesn’t seem like a good long term option, as pointed out in some of the excellent guides on this website.

What I Would Like to Prepare For:

  • Get Home Situation – surviving on foot getting back to my house from my work.  On foot it would be probably a two day walk if on the highway / paved roads, probably a day or more longer if I had to go through rough terrain like the woods.  While it’s possible I would encounter water sources on the journey, I haven’t really spent much time planning a route back home from my work, nor have I spent any time looking at potential water sources that I could find on the way.  However, it’s safe to assume that in Northern New England in the woods I would encounter some fresh water on my way.  Also, if we had to bug out, I would imagine my water preps for the get home situation would also work for a bug out situation?
  • Bug In Situation – most scenarios I am preparing for center around a bug in situation that would last months, perhaps up to a year.  I am not at the point in my preparedness where my family and I could survive long term (gardening, chickens, livestock, etc).  At this point my goal is to ensure myself, my two small children and my husband could survive without having to leave our property for up to one year.  

A Few Other Things For Consideration:

  • For all of my water preps, I am concerned about filtering out viruses as well as bacteria and protozoa.  Chemicals if possible.  
  • I have a two year old and a 4 year old, so hard to suck from water filtration bottles aren’t an option for them, nor is the survival straw option really.
  • I am willing to invest in the best, most durable water filtration / treatment options.  Even if it takes multiple months I’ll save up the money.  Buy once, cry once?
  • One thing that I am quite confused about is finding a filtration option that will last reliably for a year?  I know there are so many options and there are limits on how long the filters will last.

I appreciate everybody’s help in advance with helping me make these decisions and providing guidance and feedback!


  • Comments (14)

    • 4

      For home use, you might want to consider distillation, since you have your own water source.  This discussion was interesting.


      For bugging out, I’d think you would have to use filtration.  I use a Sawyer Mini & to help with chemicals, you can use activated charcoal… such as in this discussion.


      A Sawyer Mini can be used in gravity mode so that you don’t have to suck.

      • 2

        Thanks Redneck!  Water distillation does seem like a great option I honestly hadn’t even considered – essentially you don’t need to worry about the life span of a filter! 

        I guess the only thing I am wondering about is the feasibility of always having to essentially boil the water for purification.  I do have a bio-mass stove (small) that I guess would work for this.  Is there a make / model of a water distillation system (smaller) you or somebody else in the community would recommend that is sturdy and would last a year or more?  I love the set up shown in the link you shared above – unfortunately my husband and I are not “handy” – I would much prefer to buy something ready to use off of the shelf if possible.  

        For the get home / bug out scenario – I was stuck between a pump system and a gravity system.  What do you think?  In a get home situation it would just be me, but in a bug out situation it would be four people.  I am thinking a pump system?

      • 1

        I don’t know about distillation.  I have my own well & have the tools & knowhow to pull the pump & access the water if the grid is down long term.  And sorry, not that familiar with pump filtration for bug out.  In my case, I’d simply suck.

    • 2

      I have a mixture of filtration options. I have water purification tablets and hydroblu water filters. Because I had animals I also got the hydroblu jerrycan because it filters viruses. I figured that I could use it if I needed to grab water from the river. I also plan on using a rocket stove for boiling water after purifying.

    • 4

      Hi there! 🙂

      I have a Sawyer water filter in my gear. I like how you can use it like a straw filter if you want:


      or you can attach it to a bag that it comes with and use that in gravity mode and clean water will drip through


      or you can attach a plastic water bottle and do the same and also squeeze water through faster if gravity is slow that day


      Although if you look at this last picture, I think they are demonstrating the backflush method to clean your filter. You see how the arrow is pointed? That’s supposed to show the direction of flow of your water , so the clean water should be coming through the other way. Don’t mix this up, cause you could get sick.

    • 4

      Hello!  As an update I decided to go the MSR guardian hand pump route for my get home bag / bug out bag.

      Also in my get home bag I will have water treatment drops (Aquamira) as a back up.

      Thanks everybody for the advice, guidance and information!

      • 5

        It doesn’t look like you got any advice on a home/bug in water filtration solution. You mentioned wantin one that will work reliably for a year. The solution is a Berkey table top water filter. 


        It’s a preppin favorite. Put dirty water in the top and it filters through these black filters from gravity and pure clean water is dispensed from the bottom chamber. Been usin mine for about 5 years and it hasn’t given me any issues. Water tastes great, so many nasties are removed. It’s good.


    • 5

      So, I travel internationally often, many times to third world countries, and I’ve put a lot of thought into our water purification situation to be as lightweight and filter out absolutely as much stuff as possible.  Keep in mind I always have preps that will standalone but also work in conjunction with my husbands bag since we always travel together.  

      the solution I’ve come up with is to use a gravity bag system, a steripen and a wide mouth stainless bottle as my water bottle/cooking pot.  

      ive had to kind of cobble together my system since the platypus gravity system clean bag didn’t have a zip top bag.  I also replaced the enormous (and expensive) platy filter with a sawyer mini.  I can also use the dirty bag with inline filter as a hydration pack in a pinch if it isn’t hooked up to the clean bag filtering water.  So, water goes from the dirty bag, is filtered by the sawyer mini, goes to the zip top clean bag, I open the clean bag and use the steripen to remove viruses.  It’s the lightest, longest lasting and most packable system I’ve found to remove everything, but if anyone else has better ideas, please tell me.  

      for home we use a countertop Berkey.  

      • 3

        Another Sawyer fan!

        I’ll have to look more into the steripen, seems like a cool item.

      • 1

        It’s expensive but it’s usb rechargeable so I can use my solar battery to charge it.  

    • 5

      There are so many ready made stills on the market today and they are all around you.

      The still I made and Redneck noted below (thanks Redneck!!) was intended to be something you could put together on the move practically anywhere where there are houses……. as the parts are in pretty well any home ac condenser!

      Just pick any alcohol still on the market….. they all work well (and no filters which is extremely important for extended use) or you could pick a purpose made system say something like this..


      If you want to give your still a head start, just make some charcoal …… and use this as an initial pre filter…..  which will take out the bigger items. This water you put through a still (any still) and voila….. Water!!!

      The important point is that very young children can drink this to their hearts content….. as much as they want with no worries to their sensitive systems….

      Because I live in the Tropics water will always be my main concern…… and currently am working on a solar still that would give never ending clean water (as long as the sun shines)

      PS…. being handy will become second nature to you in an extended period……

      • 3

        How long would it take to treat a gallon of water with your current setup??

      • 2

        Sir Henry…..

        A US gallon an hour is possible………. but as with all distilling…… a good constant heat source to keep it going….. and more importantly …………. a cooling system to get that steam condensed back to water as fast as possible.

        This actually limits the Waterwise system to a much smaller amount (but enough to live on) and the power aspect is another drawback …….but the comment from LMNOt wanted a ready made unit.

        The one I made https://theprepared.com/forum/thread/my-water-maker/ was made (from bits in my garage) to use water as coolant and pump it round with a small submersible pump.

        But the faster you cool…. the more water you get.

      • 3

        As long as it makes enough for me to live off of (definitely can not drink more than a gallon an hour) it sounds like a good solution.