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Hydro Blu makes water filtration systems for preppers, backpackers, off-gridders, campers, and everyday use, and they sent their entire water filtration line-up for me to test and review.
- The Sidekick 3-Stage Water Filter, an ultra-light straw-type filter
- The Clear Flow Water Bottle, a water bottle with a filter integrated with the cap
- The Versa Flow Light-Weight Water Filter, a multi-use filter that can be used as a straw, on water bottles or hydration bladders, or as part of a gravity bucket system
- The Pressurized Jerry Can Water Filter, a five-liter jerry can with integrated filters and a hand pump
All the products I was sent were, affordable, easy to use, and extremely well-made. I was delighted with each of them, and will be incorporating them into my backpacking supplies, emergency kits, and bug-out bag alike! I’ll go through each in detail below, starting with the Sidekick.
Special Discount: For one month, Hydro Blu has generously offered BDS readers a store 15% off discount using coupon code “BDS” at checkout!
1. Sidekick 3-Stage Water Filter
The Hydro Blu Sidekick 3-Stage Water Filter is an insanely small and lightweight straw-type filter.
I have numerous Lifestraws, which are fantastic, but the Sidekick filters more contaminants (such as heavy metals and chlorine) that the Lifestraw misses. The Sidekick is also much smaller and lighter, but keep in mind that the capacity is only 50 gallons of filtered water versus the over 250 gallons that a Lifestraw can handle.
How to Use
To use, you just pop open the caps on the intake and outtake sides, dip the intake side into your water source, and suck through the straw. As with all straw-type filters, sometimes you have to leave the intake end submerged for a minute or two to make the sucking action easier.
Hydro Blu also very nicely includes one extra pre-filter with the Sidekick, which removes larger sediment, in case the original one gets too saturated with gunk.
For backpacking, travel in the developing world, and bug-out or emergency kits, the Sidekick’s size, weight, ease of use, and multi-stage filtration make it a dream come true.
For $15 or so online here, it’s about the same price as the Lifestraw, so your choice will ultimately depend on how much importance you place on size, weight, and being able to filter chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, and the other contaminants that can be filtered by the activated carbon system.
- For camping, backpacking, and especially travel abroad, I might go with the Sidekick.
- For emergency, bug–out, and other survival situations, I’d just buy a few of each!
There are benefits of both, and they’re affordable enough that the investment is easily worth it.
Cost: $14.95 via their website here
2. Clear Flow Water Bottle
The Clear Flow Water Bottle makes getting clean water from rivers, streams, or other sources as easy as can be. You literally just remove the cap, scoop up water, replace the cap, and drink through the straw that integrates with the cap.
A filter is attached to the bottom of the straw, ensuring that any water you drink through it will be clean and potable. You can fill the bottle with up to 16 ounces of water.
The design cleverly allows for easy replacement of the old filter. You can even remove the filter entirely and use the bottle with clean water, as you would any standard water bottle, as long as the bottle and cap are clean as well.
The plastic is also soft enough that you can squeeze it, forcing more water through when you’re drinking and making the bottle great for rinsing dishes on wilderness trips.
Doing dishes requires a lot of clean water, and it’s easy to be wasteful. But since this bottle can be squeezed to shoot stream of water, it’s more effective at getting the job done than my usual method, which is sloppily (and wastefully) pouring water over the dishes from a large container. For this use, you just have to be careful to ensure the filter stays entirely submerged even as you tip the bottle.
The Clear Flow’s filter is quite large and lasts a long time. In addition to a physical filter, it also uses activated charcoal to filter heavy metals and chemicals.
At about $25 retail here and 7.8 ounces, the cost and weight of the Clear Flow Water Bottle are also still substantially less than UV-based purification bottles, since no batteries or lights are required. Unlike the Clear Flow, UV systems also can’t remove chemicals or heavy metals or be used in turbid water.
The filtration unit on the Clear Flow lasts for 1,500 liters, which is a perfectly respectable capacity.
For being lightweight, affordable, comprehensive, and breeze to use, and for everything from trips to the local river to extended backcountry journeys and emergency car kits, I highly recommend the Clear Flow Water Bottle.
Cost: $24.95 via the official website here
3. The Versa Flow Light-Weight Water Filter
The Versa Flow Light-Weight is cleverly designed to give it multiple potential functions.
By simply dipping the intake end into a water source and sucking from the other side, it can be used as a straw-type filter just like the Sidekick 3-Stage filter above. However, adaptations also allow it to be screwed onto a standard 12-ounce water bottle, or be attached to a hydration bladder.
It can also be integrated with a bucket to create a DIY gravity filtration system. Instructions to set this up are on the package, so I gave it a try.
I tried to create the gravity filtration system using only items I already have in my bug-out kit, and/or would plausibly be able to find in a post-collapse wasteland: in this case, a plain plastic bucket, a bit of duct tape, and a survival knife
(Note: if you’re not in a bona fide survival situation and actually have a choice in what type of bucket you use, be sure to use one that is food-grade).
Here are the results:
First, I poked a hole in the bucket with my knife and sawed off the rough edges. Then I taped up a crack that opened up, and improved the seal with a small amount of duct tape.
Next, I put the connector through the hole and attached the hose.
My very ragged hole and imperfect duct tape job ended up springing a small leak, but in a survival setting, even this sloppy rig would go a long way toward filtering lots of water.
It even occurred to me that I could use some coffee filters on the intake valve to help capture any rogue sediment. After setting up my nozzle, I attached the filter to the other end of the hose and let it hang. Voila!
Dirty water in the bucket, clean water streams out. The water pressure was relatively strong, as I utilized the entire hose to let gravity do its thing and maximize the force of the stream.
The Versa Flow can filter up to 20,000 liters and only costs about twenty bucks, making it an excellent and affordable addition to your filtration setup for camping, survival, or day-to-day off-grid use as a gravity filter.
Since it can be attached to hydration bladders, 12-ounce bottles, and other inputs, its versatility makes it an extra valuable water filtration tool for bug-out kits.
The one major downfall of the Versa Flow over Hydro Blu’s other products is that it doesn’t include an activated carbon filtration element, so it isn’t effective on chemicals and heavy metals.
Cost: $19.95 at this listing
4. Pressurized Jerry Can Water Filter
Hydro Blu’s pressurized jerry can filtration system is a true star. A clever overall design and the multi-filter system makes it great for car camping journeys where you can afford to lug some extra gear or any situation where you’re off-grid or hunkered down.
Built-in holders for extra filters are a simple but clever touch, vastly extending the filtration capacity of the jerry can during an ongoing bug-out.
How to Use
It’s easy to use: You just attach the large filter, attach the smaller filter to the end of the larger one, and screw on the cap. Then you open the pump-side opening, fill up from your water source, and close the pump cap. With a few pumps, a stream of clean drinkable water flows from the spout.
Hydro Blu’s large hollow fiber filter will last for 10,000 gallons, and the smaller activated charcoal one lasts for 250. Using the Hollow Fiber filter alone, you can remove enough bacteria and protozoan cysts to purify water beyond EPA drinking water standards.
The activated carbon filter goes the extra mile by filtering heavy metals and chemicals such as pesticides, gasoline, and chlorine. It’s good to know that in a survival situation, you can still purify most water to EPA standards with only the hollow fiber filter.
At $125 retail, which includes one hollow fiber filter and one activated carbon filter, the Pressurized Jerry Can Water Filter is well worth the money if you need a high-capacity solution for potable water.
Cost: $124.95 at this listing here
All in all, Hydro Blu’s line up is fantastic. Their equipment is well-made, intuitive to use, and with the exception of the Versa Flow, incorporate activated carbon as well as physical filtration elements to be effective on chemicals and heavy metals as well as bacteria, protozoan cysts, and other creepy crawlers.
Hydro Blu Promo Code
Reminder Special Discount: For one month, Hydro Blu has generously offered BDS readers a store 15% off discount using coupon code “BDS” at checkout!
Eric is a nature-loving writer, experience junkie, and former Boy Scout who never forgot that time-honored Scout Motto: Be prepared. Aside from camping and survival, he loves writing about travel, history, and anything he finds strange and unique!
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