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Is the Water Safe to Drink? The Best Water Filter for Long-Term Overlanding

We chose the Lifesaver Jerrycan with a 20,000 litter filtering capacity. After 8 months of continuous use while driving through Mexico and Central America, none of us have gotten sick and we get our water from any tap we can find.

getting water in Baja

Prior to our departure, I spent many hours scouring the internet looking for the perfect water filter.There are two main types of water filters I came across for Overlanding. There are the built-into-the-rig filters and the small hand pump backpacker filters.

The built-into-the-rig filters once installed are very convenient and can help free up storage space if you can find a creative location for your water-tanks. My problem with the built-into-the-rig style was that if you didn't find a creative location for the water-tanks the tanks and the filters themselves took up a lot of room, and are very expensive. This option would cost us at least a month of our travel budget. I crunched the numbers on how much water the three of us were likely to drink and I always round up on something like this, and over our two-year period of time for our trip, we would not even break even vs. just buying water along our route.

filtering water for road workers in mexico

We already owned a small hand-pump water filter, but since ours is 10 years old I looked into buying a new more efficient model. Well, I didn't find one. The technology has not changed much. My problem with these little guys is they are way too much work per litter. There was no way I was going to hand pump 3-5 gallons every day.

My resolution was to take our backpacker hand pump for emergencies, and just buy water along our route, and have a couple Jerrycans of non-potable water for showers and dishes. This is a very popular option among the overlanders we have met along our route.

Weeks before departure I was on the internet buying the last items we needed for our trip, including some regular Jerrycans. I was comparison shopping price to functionality for these, when out of the blue, literally a blue Jerrycan came up as an advertisement from the google gods. I had heard of Lifesaver straw before during my research on backpacker filters and knew they made a great product and instantly knew this beautiful blue Jerrycan was a water filter. After doing some reading on the specs, loads of reviews, and crunching the numbers again on how much water we would drink vs the price of water I knew without a doubt that we had to have one of these.

filtering water, wild camping in mexico

It paid for itself within a few months. The convenience is unreal. We bought the shortest garden hose we could find and we grab water from grocery store parking lots, gas stations, the sink or shower at a hotel room, anywhere. We have two regular 5 gallons Jerrycans, and this wonderful Lifesaver Jerrycan, and we can go wild camping for 4 days if we are careful with our water usage. Not only does it filter water way faster than the hand pump backpacker filters, you can pump it up, turn the tap on, place a water bottle underneath and walk away for a minute. Although you will probably forget you're filling your water bottle, it will overflow, and you will waste perfectly clean water and feel bad about it.

Lifesaver makes three different Jerrycans, the light blue one has a 10,000 liter filter, dark blue (the one we have) has a 20,000 liter filter, and a yellow one that is only given away for free by Lifesaver as a natural disaster relief aid and is the reason why they made a Jerrycan in the first place.

How can you not want to spend your money on a product from a company doing so much good?

OK, I have a couple pieces of advice from the road for when you go to buy your Jerrycan.

1. Get the charcoal filters. They help with the taste of the water and help to filter out chemicals which city water has a lot of.

2. The filter only last 3 years or however many liters it's rated for. This was something I learned after buying mine. We won't drink 20,000 litters in 3 years. If you're a family of 4 or less you might want to save the 40 bucks and get the 10,000 litter filter. Lifesaver also makes a 1-gallon jug if you are a weekend warrior, or just want to save on space. Although they do offer a shower hose that I wish we would have bought, and if you had the 20,000 liter filter you could take showers with clean water and not be worried about burning out your filter. It's just a thought. Our next visitor will be bringing us one.

3. There is a 2 extra spigot pack and I would recommend buying that. After 6 months of continuous use, the little plastic piece that holds it in the open position broke, and we had to rig it up to keep it open without having to just stand there the whole time while we fill our bottles. Boring!

We are not yet ;) sponsored by Lifesaver, this really is one of my favorite pieces of gear.

We can make a small commission from the purchases of the product if you click on one of the links that will take you to Amazon, and anything you buy on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking on one of our links will give us a small commission on all your purchases. Cool, right!

Thanks for the support, and if you haven't seen our Overlanding the Pan American YouTube Channel click here ----> The Traveling Together Journal

overland life


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