This last weekend I took to the woods with a group of friends for a backpacking adventure in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. What originally began as a three man trip blossomed to a six man trip once word got out. I quickly realized that pumping water for that many people was going to be a huge pain. Thankfully, Platypus had already heard complaints like mine and have come up with a super easy, time-saving solution.
The Platypus CleanStream Gravity Filter is simple enough for a child to use. The system uses two plastic water bladders, one for “dirty” water, one for the “clean,” filtered water. Between them hangs a filter connected by hoses. To filter the water, you simply fill the “dirty” bladder and hang it above the “clean” bladder and let gravity pull the water through the filter.
At our campsite, I scooped water from a lake, hung the dirty water bladder above the clean one, connected the filter hoses, made sure it was working, and then I walked away. It was painless. I recall grinning with satisfaction as I came back a few minutes later to see four liters of filtered water ready to use — all without one single pump.
Any drawbacks? If I was forced to come up with one, it would be that the system is bulkier than my pump filter. However, I’ve already plotted to leave the clean bladder at home and just fill bottles, as needed, right out of the filter. I don’t see myself going back to the pump, especially when camping in larger groups.
At $99.95, the CleanStream Gravity Filter is priced close to most pump systems. There are smaller, lighter options — the Platypus weighs about 14 ounces — and even similarly designed products. But I’d recommend this system to anyone looking for an easy, quick way to get drinkable water in the wilderness.—T.C. Worley