Water, water, everywhere...but does this thing really work? - Fiberglass RV



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Old 02-08-2019, 07:25 PM   #1
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Water, water, everywhere...but does this thing really work?

Looking to purchase a water filtration system to help prolong boondocking when at lakes, rivers, cattle troughs, etc. I've done a bit of research for a suitable system that can remove pathogens and other illness-inducing nasties and found one that seems to have the desired qualifications. It's made by an outfit that makes a thing called the "Big Berkey Water Filter System."

Has anyone owned and used one enough to render an opinion about it's quality and effectiveness?
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:54 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Tony O View Post
Looking to purchase a water filtration system to help prolong boondocking when at lakes, rivers, cattle troughs, etc. I've done a bit of research for a suitable system that can remove pathogens and other illness-inducing nasties and found one that seems to have the desired qualifications. It's made by an outfit that makes a thing called the "Big Berkey Water Filter System."

Has anyone owned and used one enough to render an opinion about it's quality and effectiveness?
It looks like these are not inline filters, but designed to be used with a "tank." I've used a similar product, a Sawyer brand .1 micron personal filter to drink from streams and haven't gotten sick. I always "prefilter" by passing the water through a sock or coffee filter; cheesecloth or pantyhose work as well. Something that size may be better for you as you could just stretch it over the holding vessel and pour water through it. This removes the larger gunk and floaties so that the filter doesn't gum up as quickly. As it is designed to be used on the go, it does not have the "fill it and forget it" design that these Big Berkey systems do.

One downside to my filter, which is a membrane-type filter, is that freezing can render it useless because the expansion of retained water can rupture the tiny pores in the membrane. The Berkey appears to use a media-type filter which might be more resistant to that. Then again, the whole thing might shatter. As far as the claims of removing heavy metals, contaminants etc...big deal. A $15 ZeroWater filter will do the same thing. In short, I'd say it'll do the job, but you are paying for convenience. For leisure activities that is often worth it!
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Old 02-09-2019, 01:07 AM   #3
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they are good filters and very popular with people who boondock near rivers and lakes. But also appreciated by people who don't trust water from taps in places such as state parks, RV parks, or from city water sources. Sometimes water from taps does taste quite odd or downright unpleasant due to various mineral types of content even when it is safe to drink. So that is another situation where they Berkey Filter can help.

Are they worth the cost? The filter does last a good long while so the cost per gallon is reasonable. The stainless steel units are rather heavy and the round shape makes them take up a lot of counter space. They have recently come out with a lighter weight plastic version. They also now have a one quart small unit that takes the standard size filter. There are a number of ceramic filters/purifiers on the market that are also good, Berkey is not the only unit available. Unfortunately they have had an advertising writer who makes it sound a lot like an info-mercial which does turn people off more than it helps with sales.

For my own needs I will buy a good filter and make my own drip system to capture the water. That has to do with budget. It is not that difficult to drill a hole in the bottom of a food safe container and let the water drip into another container or storage bottle. Just another camp chore to do now and again for drinking water when staying in a place where the local water supply might not be reliable or easy to get to. The cost per gallon produced by the filter is reasonable enough if you take away the cost of the stainless holder/dispenser unit.


The small filters that fit onto a drinking bottle are fine for backpacking but if you are living in or doing long term travel trips they are not so convenient for producing the gallons of water needed for that type of living.
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Old 02-09-2019, 11:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Justus C View Post
It looks like these are not inline filters, but designed to be used with a "tank." I've used a similar product, a Sawyer brand .1 micron personal filter to drink from streams and haven't gotten sick. I always "prefilter" by passing the water through a sock or coffee filter; cheesecloth or pantyhose work as well. Something that size may be better for you as you could just stretch it over the holding vessel and pour water through it. This removes the larger gunk and floaties so that the filter doesn't gum up as quickly. As it is designed to be used on the go, it does not have the "fill it and forget it" design that these Big Berkey systems do.

One downside to my filter, which is a membrane-type filter, is that freezing can render it useless because the expansion of retained water can rupture the tiny pores in the membrane. The Berkey appears to use a media-type filter which might be more resistant to that. Then again, the whole thing might shatter. As far as the claims of removing heavy metals, contaminants etc...big deal. A $15 ZeroWater filter will do the same thing. In short, I'd say it'll do the job, but you are paying for convenience. For leisure activities that is often worth it!
Great advice. Thanks! You're right about the convenience factor. I like the idea that you pour water into the top and let gravity take care of the rest. I too have used portable filters while tent camping in Alaska. They worked fine but the hand pump model I had took quite a bit of time to filter significant amounts of water. For backpacking it was great.
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Old 02-09-2019, 11:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by k corbin View Post
they are good filters and very popular with people who boondock near rivers and lakes. But also appreciated by people who don't trust water from taps in places such as state parks, RV parks, or from city water sources. Sometimes water from taps does taste quite odd or downright unpleasant due to various mineral types of content even when it is safe to drink. So that is another situation where they Berkey Filter can help.

Are they worth the cost? The filter does last a good long while so the cost per gallon is reasonable. The stainless steel units are rather heavy and the round shape makes them take up a lot of counter space. They have recently come out with a lighter weight plastic version. They also now have a one quart small unit that takes the standard size filter. There are a number of ceramic filters/purifiers on the market that are also good, Berkey is not the only unit available. Unfortunately they have had an advertising writer who makes it sound a lot like an info-mercial which does turn people off more than it helps with sales.

For my own needs I will buy a good filter and make my own drip system to capture the water. That has to do with budget. It is not that difficult to drill a hole in the bottom of a food safe container and let the water drip into another container or storage bottle. Just another camp chore to do now and again for drinking water when staying in a place where the local water supply might not be reliable or easy to get to. The cost per gallon produced by the filter is reasonable enough if you take away the cost of the stainless holder/dispenser unit.


The small filters that fit onto a drinking bottle are fine for backpacking but if you are living in or doing long term travel trips they are not so convenient for producing the gallons of water needed for that type of living.
Thanks for your good words. After further research I noted that the construction of Berkey system appears to be easy enough to do as you suggest, fabricate a similar arrangement for filtering and capturing the treated water. Thinking it through, over time and factoring replacement filter costs, it looks like their proprietary canisters are a pretty reasonable initial expense. If I had an opportunity to look one over closely though, I might consider tackling a custom fabrication. It's the filters that do the real work, anyway.
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Old 02-09-2019, 01:01 PM   #6
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I got the travel size one last year and used it on a long trip. I was more concerned about the quality and taste of water in the parks. I was able to drink filtered water from home as I filled some 5 gallon water jugs before I left.



https://wavianusa.com/products/wavia...18202513047619



But I did have to use the campgrounds water towards the end of my trip. It tasted fine but by now I don't remember if it was crappy tasting to start with. Nor did I get sick. I've never used water directly from a river, so can't address that subject.


Ours is the metal canister and it's fairly tall. I put it in the sink with towels around it while traveling and there's enough room to clear the cabinets overhead. When situated I put it on the flip up table at the foot of my bed (we got the tall cabinet option in our 21' Escape, so they include a flip up table instead of the usual counter).


It does take quite a while for water to trickle through the filters, so plan your water use accordingly.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by NW Cat Owner View Post
I got the travel size one last year and used it on a long trip. I was more concerned about the quality and taste of water in the parks. I was able to drink filtered water from home as I filled some 5 gallon water jugs before I left.



https://wavianusa.com/products/wavia...18202513047619



But I did have to use the campgrounds water towards the end of my trip. It tasted fine but by now I don't remember if it was crappy tasting to start with. Nor did I get sick. I've never used water directly from a river, so can't address that subject.


Ours is the metal canister and it's fairly tall. I put it in the sink with towels around it while traveling and there's enough room to clear the cabinets overhead. When situated I put it on the flip up table at the foot of my bed (we got the tall cabinet option in our 21' Escape, so they include a flip up table instead of the usual counter).


It does take quite a while for water to trickle through the filters, so plan your water use accordingly.

Many thanks for your first-hand insight. I've yet to read anything that suggests that this product is not what it says it is. Looks like it's time to invest in a unit and give it a workout. The company seems to have been around for a very long time.

BTW: Like you, I always pack at least five gallons of filtered well water from home before heading out on an extended trip. I know that's trustworthy. It's other water that concerns me, especially when I'm camped far from a reliable, ready source.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tony O View Post
Looking to purchase a water filtration system to help prolong boondocking when at lakes, rivers, cattle troughs, etc. I've done a bit of research for a suitable system that can remove pathogens and other illness-inducing nasties and found one that seems to have the desired qualifications. It's made by an outfit that makes a thing called the "Big Berkey Water Filter System."

Has anyone owned and used one enough to render an opinion about it's quality and effectiveness?
Is "filtration" adequate for pathogens? Wouldn't reverse osmosis be better if your concern is illness?
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Old 02-09-2019, 03:13 PM   #9
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Is "filtration" adequate for pathogens? Wouldn't reverse osmosis be better if your concern is illness?

I believe available reverse osmosis equipment is "in-line" meaning it becomes part of the plumbing. The gravity fed unit is portable and does not require installation in the trailer's plumbing. I'll check into it further. (I'm a fan of analog methods whenever possible.)

The Berkey company offers this explanation of the differences between the two types of filters they offer: https://theberkey.com/blogs/water-fi...eramic-filters

As well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this:
"Filtration can be used as a pathogen reduction method against most microorganisms, depending on the pore size of the filter, amount of the contaminant, particle size of the contaminant, and charge of the contaminant particle. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed. More information on selecting an appropriate water filter can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto...o/filters.html. Only filters that contain a chemical disinfectant matrix will be effective against some viruses."
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Old 02-10-2019, 01:47 PM   #10
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We have a couple of these ceramic filters to use in case the SHTF. With 2 plastic buckets it will filter more than enough water by gravity. Survival Water Filter | Water Bottle Filter | Water Bladders - Just Water
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:10 PM   #11
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More Water Filtration Options

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Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
We have a couple of these ceramic filters to use in case the SHTF. With 2 plastic buckets it will filter more than enough water by gravity. Survival Water Filter | Water Bottle Filter | Water Bladders - Just Water

Thanks; I'll definitely look into this alternative.
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:26 PM   #12
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Is "filtration" adequate for pathogens? Wouldn't reverse osmosis be better if your concern is illness?
I and many others have used simple filtration systems to drink from contaminated sources without adverse effects. Unless you do your camping around brackish or salt water sources, I'm not sure what added benefits you would get from a RO unit.

I keep a bottle of iodine tabs in my hiking bag just in case I find something "off" about the water coming out of my filter.
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Old 02-16-2019, 01:16 PM   #13
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I use a Travel Berkey wherever we camp with additional people. Filters fast and keeps water going for a small group.

Whenever it is just the two of us, we just take a Go Berkey. As long as you fill and empty, when ever you pass by, it makes plenty for two.

I think a Big Berkey could be over kill. It is quite large. While hanging out at campsite, the Travel Berkey can easily be filled and emptied a few times. We carry a blue water cube container for the filtered water.

When we set up a camp kitchen,, I carry two 5 gallon buckets. One for water we plan to filter, one for gray water we dump appropriately, or use in toilet, and a blue cube container for filtered water.

Ours is a 2 gallon blue Coleman cube, but they no longer make that size. Buckets stack. Travel Berkey fits in a five gallon bucket for easy transport. Everything but cube, nests, so space is conserved.

We have a pitcher we use to dip water from "need to filter bucket", the Travel Berkey. We have spigot of Berkey, right over blue cube. Just fill the Berkey, let it filter, pull spigot handle, fill cube. Easy peasy.
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Old 02-16-2019, 01:30 PM   #14
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Name: Susan
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Used Berkey for years now

I have a health condition where I want really pure water. So I have used a Berkey in my house for years. I've also had three friends during those years purchase ones because they enjoy the quality of water in my house.
The key for using it with a trailer is know that you will need to have a place to sit it for it to filter water.
I've got to say that I love the way the company works with people. And when FEMA type agencies world-wide use Berkey's when there are emergencies (floods where septics overflow and get mixed with drinking water), I think it speaks well for the product.
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