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3 High-tech Water Purifiers for Travelers

Plastic is the most environmentally insidious man-made material of the last millennia. Americans alone use more than 50 billion plastic water bottles every year, with more than 38 billion going unrecycled. For travelers visiting third world countries and destinations with questionable water sources, it’s tempting to stick to bottled water. It’s safe, reliable, and often ubiquitous. But with modern portable water purification systems, it’s also unnecessary. Here are three technological options to help eliminate your plastic bottle waste while maintaining a healthy water supply.

SteriPEN Ultra

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SteriPEN virtually created the modern, portable water purification industry. Whether backcountry camping in Patagonia or roughing it in the Tanzanian desert, they have a lightweight purification solution to suit your needs. The SteriPEN Ultra portable UV water purifier is a favorite among travelers for a variety of reasons. It’s durable, lightweight, and USB rechargeable. Most importantly: it eliminates 99.9% of viruses, bacteria, and protozoa that cause water-borne illness. The lamp is guaranteed to 8,000 one-liter treatments, after which the company promises to replace it free of charge. (It’s unclear whether any user has ever actually taken them up on that offer) / Price: $99 USD

Related: Feeling Dry? This Smart Water Bottle Can Track Your Daily Water Intake


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The original LifeStraw debuted as a simple, no-frills water purification device that has since spawned many also-rans. The device is exactly what it sounds like: a pocket-sized, straw-like system which allows users to drink directly from any water source. It uses physical filtration to remove more than 99.99% of protozoa (like Giardia) and bacteria (including E. Coli) without the use of electricity. If there’s one drawback, however, it’s that it does nothing to eliminate viruses, heavy metals, and chemicals. The company continues to contribute to third world communities around the world. For every LifeStraw purchased, a child in the developing world receives clean drinking water for a full school year. / Price: $20 USD

Waves for Water _ForWater Renegade Filter

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Like LifeStraw, Waves for Water provides ultra-portable water filtration systems with a distinct community focus. The filters may seem pricey, however, their usable shelf life far exceeds almost anything on the market. Plus, their excellent _ForWater initiative (which launched on World Water Day 2016) provides a unique social platform for users to promote, share, and crowdfund their personal safe drinking water initiatives. The company’s Renegade Filter is capable of filtering a stunning one million gallons of water — enough for 100 people every day for years. At just three ounces, the device rolls up and is the smallest in their lineup. Unfortunately, while the filter’s 0.10 micron absolute removal rate is capable of eliminating nearly all bacteria and protozoa, it does nothing for viruses. / Price: $50 USD

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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