The saying “two is one, one is none” is common in military and survival circles, and for good reason. The principle is especially true when considering water purification, as most people can function effectively for weeks with little food while they require water in greater and more frequent quantities.
Today’s water purifier comparison includes two filters that are appropriate for the home or car. They are a bit large for normal backpack carry, though they could be hand carried for some distance if necessary.
The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO
I snatched up a Sawyer Point ZeroTWO for just over $100 and so far I am impressed. The filter is simple, although it requires a five-gallon bucket to work as designed. The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO kit includes a drill bit that can be used (without a drill) to attach the filter to the bucket (see below.)
The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO uses gravity to purify water. Users need only fill the five-gallon bucket with collected water, then unhook the filter from the bucket and hold it above a second container. The bucket of “dirty” water will obviously need to be placed on a shelf, or, in the wilderness, attached to a tree or improvised platform to allow gravity to do its work.
Also included in the kit is a syringe that is used to “clean” the working mechanisms of the filter. The instructions are well written and this system could be set up “on the fly.”
For the price, this filter is outstanding, and Sawyer advertises it is good for 100,000 gallons! The manufacturer states that the Point ZeroTWO “offers the same level of protection against bacteria and protozoa, and is the first portable filtration device that removes the virus mechanically. It has a removal rate of 0.02 micron absolute with a record rate of 5.5 log (99.9997%), the highest level of filtration available today. This small and light kit filter can provide up to 170 liters of drinking water per day for a hospital, camp, etc..” (This is presumably in comparison to the PointONE specs.)
Berkey’s counter-top filters, like the Big Berkey pictured here, are constructed of highly-polished stainless steel and come standard with two purifications elements. Two additional purification elements can be added (for just over $100.) The basic two-filter Big Berkey costs around $250. It can filter 3.5-7 gallons of water per hour, depending on configuration, up to a total of 6,000 gallons.
In addition to aesthetic and durable construction, the Berkey systems are powerful enough to remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, and parasites. They can even remove harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, radon 222, and trihalmethanes. They can reduce nitrates, nitrites, and metals such as lead and mercury. Berkey states that “this system is so powerful, it can remove food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs.”
Comparative Pros and Cons, and Strategy
Berkey Systems are certainly more durable and powerful, with a price tag that reflects such. They are not easily transported by hand, and extra purification elements are necessary beyond 6,000 gallons of water filtered.
Sawyer’s Point ZeroTWO, like the Berkey, is a bit bulky to move by hand once attached to a bucket, and can filter 100,000 gallons. They are not as powerful, though the drinking water is clean and can sustain life. These filters are not as durable as the Berkeys, and will require gentle handling in a wilderness environment to avoid damaging them. They are not overly fragile, but survival living can be rugged and care should be taken.
Ideally, I would like to have several gallons of tap water stored, perhaps in a closet or the garage, a Berkey on the countertop, and a Sawyer ZeroPointTWO waiting with my other gear. Cost (as always) is a factor, but the possession of multiple solutions brings invaluable peace-of-mind because “two is one, and one is none.”