Water for Emergencies and Survival

Water is always important especially during emergencies

Water Purification for Survival, Disaster Relief, Emergency Preparedness, Camping, and Food Storage Programs

Natural disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. Be it from flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, national emergencies, or manmade disasters--our city water systems or private wells can be compromised.

Clean water during wildfire natural disasterFlooding often fouls municipal water systems. Power failure means the disinfection process at water treatment plants doesn't happen. On top of having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water carrying viruses and bacteria can cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis and more. All water of an uncertain source or quality should be treated before being used for drinking, food preparation, or hygiene.

During and after natural disasters and emergencies, a person can only go a few days without clean, safe water. It is always wise to have an alternative source of safe drinking water, either stored water or an emergency water purification system.

Preparing Water for Emergencies

To prepare for emergencies, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and The Red Cross recommend an emergency supply of at least one gallon of potable water per person, per day for three days. Plus, having an additional 10 gallons on hand per person for cooking, basic hygiene, etc. is recommended, but can pose a huge challenge for any household.

Storing that much water for drinking and cooking will take a lot of space. And stored water must regularly be rotated to ensure it is clean and ready to consume.

One alternative to storing gallons and gallons of water is to acquire an emergency water filtration system, such as the Outback Water Filter System.

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Outback Gravity-Powered Emergency Water Filter

The Outback Survival Water Filter System effectively removes bacteria at > 99.9999%, cysts at > 99.99%, virus at > 99.99%, organic contaminates, pesticides, herbicides, and more. Produces 24 gallons per day.

The Outback's design has been proven effective by rescue, relief and religious organizations in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia and is widely used by missionary and government organizations throughout the world.

Outback Case Study

The Outback water filtration system is being put to the test in eastern Africa. Each day, locals in the village of Tanzania filter polluted water (from the Mara River) through the Outback and are seeing amazing results. They sent photos to show the clean, filtered water they're now enjoying.

Outback filtered has been tested all over the world
Women in africa collect water from polluted rivers

Water Filtration System for Disaster Relief and Survival

Affordable, cost-effective, and easy to use, The Outback is the perfect emergency water source for you and your family.

The Outback is a gravity-powered water filtration system that purifies water from almost any fresh or moving water source. Both rugged and durable, The Outback is portable and easy to store, transport and set up.

even in flooding natural disaster you can still have clean waterThe Outback’s design, which uses a simple bucket with POWERFUL filtration, has been proven effective by rescue, relief, and religious organizations in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It is currently used by organizations such as The U.S. Government, the American Red Cross, Youth Mission, the Boy Scouts of America, Samaritan’s Purse, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, NW HardRain Expeditions, a multitude of local fire departments, and is widely used by missionary and government organizations throughout the world.

FEMA, the American Red Cross, and other agencies recommend an emergency water supply of at least 1 gallon of potable water per person, per day. Most purification systems produce only enough water for an individual, while The Outback will easily purify water for a family of four for the duration of an emergency.

In addition to its invaluable use during emergencies, The Outback is recognized as the most crucially important component of any well-planned emergency preparedness kit or a Food Storage Kit as it allows a family of 4 to easily have enough drinking water.

How the Outback Water Filtration System Works

The Outback portable water purification bucket system eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses, including E.coli, Cholera, Hepatitis and Polio. The Outback system incorporates a Purifying Filter which can remove viruses - achieving greater than 4 log (99.99%) virus reduction rate. See Microbiological Test Results here and learn more about how the Outback works.

To use, simply pour water into the upper chamber through The Outback’s Net Filter to remove large particles of sediment and debris. The Outback system can deliver up to 24 gallons of purified water per day. Learn more about each stage of the Outback Emergency Water Filter.

How the Outback Compares to Other Emergency Filters

Both its effectiveness and its true portability differentiate the Outback from other 'emergency' systems. From conception, our goal was to design a utilitarian product that would function reliably in the event of an emergency or when used in undeveloped locations.

The Outback was not designed to be an 'attractive kitchen appliance', but rather a durable, portable, affordable, simple emergency water purification system -- effective in the removal of water borne microorganisms and chemicals.

Many of the water treatment products and systems currently sold as "Emergency Preparedness Systems" or as systems to be used in undeveloped areas, were never intended for such use and/or work poorly in those applications.

Are We Prepared for Large-Scale Disasters?

Kenneth Murphy, director of FEMA’s Region X (the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska), is concerned about the lack of preparations for a large-scale earthquake. It's estimated that a large-scale earthquake could take place in the Pacific Northwest, leaving 2.5 million people without adequate food or water.

tsunami natural disaster leaves thousands without clean water or foodWhile we know that we can survive for a number of days without food, we know we can survive only a few days without water. In the event of a disaster or emergency, your family’s access to clean, safe water could be compromised for many days. For example, after a tsunami hit Japan in 2011, thousands were isolated and without help for a couple of weeks.

What to Include in a 72-Hour Kit

Even if an earthquake-affected area (or any type of disaster for that matter) is hundreds of miles away, you will probably still feel the effects in some way.

earthquake natural disasterDamage on a single interstate freeway could thwart or at least slow down shipping supply lines and cause scarcity of many commodities. We can’t all make a run for Florida and North Dakota (the parts of the country with the fewest earthquakes), but we can and should do things to prepare no matter where we live.

FEMA recommends every household create a 72-hour emergency supply kit that includes a three-day supply of food, water and other essentials. See recommended 72-hour kit items below.

Granola bars, dried fruit, canned goods, protein bars, etc
At least 1.5 gallons of drinking water per person; extra for cooking/hygiene
Personal Docs
Personal Docs
Copies of birth certificates, driver's license, insurance policies, and more
Keep at least 3 days of prescriptions in the kit plus emergency medications
Extra change of pants, shirts, underwear, jacket, work gloves, etc.
Keep $50 per family member in kit - small bills and change
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Outback Ready Filter Replacement Kit

This kit contains all the replacement consumables that you need for the Outback Gravity Water Filter system.

The filter replacement kit includes:

  • Net Filter removes large particles.
  • Sleeve Filter removes microparticles.
  • Purifying Filter eliminates bacteria, cysts, and viruses.
  • Refining Filter removes chemicals and contaminants for improved taste.

Outback Water Purification System Common Questions

Does the Outback provide enough water for a family of 4+?

Yes, the Outback Gravity Water Filter System can produce an adequate amount of drinking water for a single user or a family or group of four people or more.

What filters come with the Outback system?

The Outback system contains one of each:

    • Net Filter removes large particles.
    • Sleeve Filter removes microparticles.
    • Purifying Filter eliminates bacteria, cysts, and viruses.
    • Refining Filter removes chemicals and contaminants for improved taste.

Can I buy extra filters for the Outback System?

Yes, replacement filters are available for the Outback system here.

Does the Outback system come with an instruction manual?

Yes, the Outback System and filter replacement kits come with the instructions about how to assemble and use the product.

Is it difficult to assemble the Outback system?

No, It takes less than five minutes from start to finish to complete the Outback assembly process. Check out the instructional video on our YouTube channel.

What type of water source can I use in the Outback?

It is always best to use water from a fresh water source. Typical water supplies that are used with the Outback are streams, creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes. Additional water sources may be rainwater collection, water heaters, swimming pools, spas, fresh water from the toilet and untreated stored water. Note that the chemicals in swimming pool/spa water will lessen the life of the filters, and filters will need to be replaced earlier.

How much water does the Outback produce in a 24-hour period?

The Outback has a daily production rate of 20-24 gallons per day.

Is the Outback a portable water filter?

Yes, it is as simple as grabbing the handle and going. In the event you're forced to leave your home, we wanted to design a system that would be easy to throw in the car. The Outback emergency water purifier can also act as a source of additional storage for such items as insurance papers, extra medication, power bars. flashlight, matches etc.

What makes the Outback different from other forms of water treatment systems?

Both its' effectiveness and its true portability differentiate the Outback from other 'emergency' systems. From conception, our goal was to design a utilitarian product that would function reliably in the event of an emergency or when used in undeveloped locations. The Outback was not designed to be an 'attractive kitchen appliance' - but rather a durable, portable, affordable, simple water purification system -- effective in the removal of waterborne microorganisms and chemicals. Many of the water treatment products and systems currently sold as "Emergency Preparedness Systems" or as systems to be used in undeveloped areas, were never intended for such use and/or work poorly in those applications.

Does Water Produced by the Outback Taste Good?

Yes, with the high-capacity multimedia Outback post filters any 'off' tastes or odors are removed before the water enters the lower chamber, ensuring the water is clean and has a pleasant taste.


How many stages of filtration does the Outback have and what are they?

There are four very separate and very important stages of filtration used in the Outback system.  

First, the Net Filter removes large particles and debris from the water. It fits over the upper bucket of the Outback.

Second, the Sleeve Filter removes microparticles. This Sleeve Filter fits over the filter in the upper bucket. This soft sleeve removes finer particles such as sand and sediment.

Third, the Purifying Filter eliminates bacteria, cysts, and viruses. This Purifying Filter installed in the upper bucket achieves greater than 4 log (99.99%) virus reduction rate. The Outback Emergency Water System is one of the few gravity bucket systems that can eliminate harmful waterborne microbes, including E.coli, Cholera, Hepatitis and Polio.

Finally, the Refining Filter removes chemicals and contaminants. This Refining Filter is installed in the lower bucket and helps to improve the taste of your drinking water. This filter removes a multitude of chemicals, pesticides, organic contaminants, as well as odors and 'off tastes'.

Microbiological test results for contaminant removal available here.

How do I know when it is time to replace the Outback pre-filter and multimedia filter?

A reduction in water flow is generally the easiest method of determining when the filters need to be changed. Filters should be replaced at 1,800 gallons. The pre-filter net and sleeve can be washed and reused and by keeping both items clean or replacing them on a regular basis the recommendation should work for any standard user.

We recommend using a settling bucket to pour the clearest possible water possible into the Outback, always using the Net Filter. Following these suggestions will help you extend the life of your filters as long as possible.

What is the "Nano filtration" used in the Outback system? How does it work?

The Outback "Purifying Filter" is designed to effectively eliminate bacteria, cysts, and viruses from water. This advanced filter utilizes nano filtration, a highly efficient method that captures microorganisms through electrostatic charge. The filter media consists of a fibrous material with an electrostatic charge, attracting and adsorbing particles carrying an opposite charge.

In water, most particles, including pathogens, are electronegative. Therefore, the electropositive filter media is remarkably effective in attracting and retaining these electronegative particles. The fibrous filter media is composed of small filters, each with a diameter of two nanometers, dispersed throughout a matrix of cellulose, polymetric micro glass fibers with a pore size of 2 microns.

With an electro-positive charge, the Outback's "Purifying Filter" material is capable of removing waterborne pathogens. A single layer of this media can retain over 99% of 0.025-micron size MS2 viruses, providing an absolute rating of 0.03 microns. To optimize performance, the fibrous filter media is pleated, creating a high surface area filter that allows for high flow rates with minimal pressure drop. Additionally, it can be fashioned into a multilayer depth filter, enabling the filtration of virus-sized particles with a retention value exceeding 6 (LTR) log or >99.9999%.

Microbiological test results for contaminant removal available here.

What type of material are the Outback buckets made from?

The Outback buckets are made from food grade High Density Polyethylene plastic (HDPE).

What is the difference between a cyst, bacteria and virus?

The difference between the three most common pathogenic (capable of causing disease) microorganisms are: 

Bacteria: single celled organisms which lack well defined nuclear membranes and other specialized functional cell parts and reproduce by cell division or spores. Bacteria may be free living organisms or parasites. Bacteria cells range from 1 – 10 microns in length and 0.2 – 1 micron in width.

Cyst: a capsule or protective sac produced about themselves by many protozoan, as well as some bacteria and algae as preparation for entering a resting or a specialized reproductive stage. Generally, 2 - 50 micron in diameter. 

Virus:  a parasitic infectious microbe, composed almost entirely of nucleic acid, which can cause disease(s) in humans. Viruses can only reproduce within living cells. They are 0.004 – 0.1 microns in size about 100 times smaller than bacteria. Microbiological test results for contaminant removal available here.


What is a settling bucket and when should I use one?

A settling bucket is recommended when the untreated water supply contains a large amount of fine silt and sand.   By collecting the untreated water in a bucket and then allowing it to 'sit' for a period of time, sediment, dirt and fine particles will settle to the bottom of the bucket. The clear water can then be poured into the Outback System. This will minimize the amount of debris that is poured into the Outback system and help protect the Outback filter from premature clogging or 'exhaustion'.


What makes a water system a 'purifier' instead of a 'filtration system'?

Proven performance. To be considered a 'purifier' a water treatment system must effectively remove microorganisms to an EPA standard of 99.9999 % for bacteria, 99.9% for cysts and 99.99% for virus. The Outback's Purifying Filter microbiological test results for contaminant removal are available here.

Does the Outback System effectively remove bacteria?

Yes, the Outback Emergency Water Purifier effectively removes bacteria at a rate greater than 99.9999%.

Does the Outback System effectively remove cysts?

Yes, all of the Outback Systems effectively remove cysts at a rate of greater than 99.99%, exceeding EPA standards. Microbiological test results for contaminant removal available here.

Does the Outback System effectively remove viruses?

The Outback Purifying Filter is highly efficient in removing viruses. Utilizing advanced "Nano Filtration" technology, the Outback system effectively eliminates viruses at a rate greater than 99.99%.

Does the Outback System remove chemical contamination?

Yes, the Outback System uses a mixed blend combination of carbon (multimedia) that is formulated to remove a long list of organic contaminates.

Will the Outback system remove salt from the water?

No, the Outback will not remove salt from the water.

What does it mean when it says a filter is 'bacteriostatic'?

It means it has the ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria without destroying the bacteria. For example, a bacteriostatic cartridge will reduce bacterial colonization activity on the filter but will not eliminate it.

Is the Outback's Purifying Filter bacteriostatic?

Yes, the Outback's Purifying Filter is indeed bacteriostatic. This means that any bacteria captured by the filter cannot reproduce or multiply. This feature is crucial because by preventing bacterial growth, the filter's workload in removing bacteria as water passes through is reduced. Consequently, the lifespan of the filter is prolonged as it is not burdened with excessive bacterial accumulation.


How long has the Outback system been used to treat water of questionable quality?

Over the span of two decades, the original Outback Water Purifier System has primarily been supplied to relief organizations for deployment in countries beyond the borders of the United States. These systems have been effectively utilized by various organizations worldwide to facilitate the provision of safe drinking water, even in regions where water sources are contaminated. In 2001, we expanded our offerings to include the current "domestic version" of the Outback, catering to the needs of individuals within the United States.

Who uses the Outback system?

The Outback is used on a daily basis by some of the largest relief organizations and faith-based groups in the world, as well as by a myriad of individuals and small groups. They all use the Outback as their only method of water treatment. The Outback has also frequently sold as a stand-alone emergency preparedness product due to its reliability, portability, effectiveness, ease of use, and its affordability.

Has the Outback been tested by an independent certified laboratory?

Yes, multiple times. The Outback Systems have been tested multiple times by two different certified third-party independent laboratories located in both the United States and international. The Lab is accredited by NABL for Drinking Water analysis as per ISO/IEC 17025. Test results are available here.

clean filtered water is needed throughout the world


After Using the Outback can I Store and Use Again?

To store the Outback system for more than a week after active use, flush the system with at least two gallons of clear water. Allow the Sleeve Filter and Purifying Filter to dry completely. Discard and replace the Refining Filter. Prior to using after the storage period, clean the Spigot and interior of the Purified Water Container and flush the system with at least two gallons of clear water.  

How big is the Outback system?

The Outback has a 2-gallon upper and 5 gallon lower container. Unassembled, the system measures 12” x 12” X 15”. Assembled the Outback measures 12” x 12” x 24”.

How much does the Outback system weigh?

When not in use, the Outback System weighs 6 pounds and 45-48 pounds when the lower 5 gallon container is full.

What is the storage life of the Outback and the Outback filters?

The Outback System and filters have an indefinite shelf life if filters are left in original packaging, remain stored inside the Outback and the systems is not stored for long period of time in direct sunlight. Once the filters have been used, we recommend throwing them away to avoid the risk of bacteria increasing during storage.

Can you clean the Outback system filters?

The Outback filters were purposely designed so that they could not be cleaned. A great concern is that cleaning a filter that is contaminated with a high percentage of a pathogenic microorganism leaves the individual at high risk of contaminating themselves causing illness.


How does the Outback compare to other methods of water treatment systems?

When it comes to comparing the Outback with other water treatment systems, it is challenging to make direct comparisons. However, extensive research has shown that in emergency situations, simplicity, reliability, and effectiveness are crucial factors in choosing a dependable device, whether it's a stove, water filtration system, or food supply. It is precisely these qualities that have made the Outback the preferred choice for numerous private and government organizations.

In the design of an emergency water system, the goal is to create a solution that can be operated by any member of the family, offering simplicity, effectiveness, and reliability. The Outback System fulfills these requirements exceptionally. This is evidenced by the fact that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, specifically requested the design and provision of a water treatment system that could be easily used by the average American consumer during a disaster, and the Outback was their chosen product.

The Outback's selection by the DHS further validates its ability to meet the critical needs of emergency situations and underscores its reputation as a trusted and effective water treatment system.

Are the Outback filters better than ceramic filters? What are the differences?

The Outback filters are different than a ceramic filter in several ways, both in the way that they handle various contaminants and in their use and lifespan 

VIRUS: The Outback Purifying Filter excels in virus removal, while ceramic filters fall short in this aspect. Unlike ceramic filters, which cannot be utilized in the same manner without rapid depletion, the Outback filter effectively retains its efficacy. This is primarily due to the substantial amount of media housed within the Outback's multi-media cartridge. When it comes to effectively removing viruses, the Outback filter outperforms ceramic filters.

BACTERIA: Most ceramic filters have a bacteria removal rate of 99.99 %, the Outback has a rating of > 99.9999%. The standard Outback filter has a removal rate of 99.99% - which may look the same as the ceramic removal rate however it is tested at a much higher standard than ceramics are tested. The 'real' removal rate is much higher (further discussion about this below). 

DURABILITY:  A ceramic filter is very fragile and if dropped will break, the Outback  Purifying Filter will not break or crack when dropped.  

LONGEVITY: Most ceramic filters contain a carbon core and once the carbon is exhausted the filter no longer has the ability to remove organic matter from the water supply. Exhausted carbon can become a breeding ground for bacteria and actually increase contamination in the water. The Outback uses a large capacity independent multimedia cartridge which provides a much greater capacity for the removal of organic and chemical contamination - separate and apart from the bacteria and/or virus removal filter allowing for replacement of this less expensive filter independently and as needed. 

EFFECTIVENESS: The Outback Survival System is tested using both GTW 1 and GTW 3 test water - challenges for general water filtration and purification systems simulating extreme real-world conditions. Ceramics are tested using distilled water that has been inoculated with a pre-prescribed amount of a specific microorganism. In short, the Outback is passing a much more stringent test protocol than ceramic filters and still out-performing it.

What is GTW mean? What is the difference between GTW 1 and GTW 3 test water?

GTW (general tap water) 1 & 3 indicates the characteristics of the water used by a laboratory when it is testing a water treatment system for effectiveness. Most water treatment systems tested never face the rigid specifications of GTW 1 or GTW 3, but rather testing is conducted using distilled water inoculated with a specified microorganism. The Outback Gravity Filtration System is tested against both standards GTW 1 and GTW 3 with GTW 3 offering a much more difficult concoction of contaminates such as levels of pH, temperature variations, turbidity levels, TOC and levels of TDS than GTW 1. In addition, the Outback is cycle tested, which means at pre-determined times during the testing process the testing stops for 48 hours and the system being tested is left to rest with no water passing through the filters. During this period of rest the challenge micro-organism builds up on the filter so that when the testing is resumed does the filter allow a large amount of the micro-organism to migrate through the filter. The Outback showed no such breakthrough.

How can the Outback system produce so much water through a gravity powered process with so little pressure to push the water through the filters.

The filter design of the Outback System have very high hydrophilic properties.

What does hydrophilic mean?

Hydrophilic means the product has the characteristic of absorbing water. Example: Cotton is a hydrophilic fiber. Many filters contain hydrophobic characteristics which repel water. For them to work, there must be a certain amount of pressure to push the water through the filter media. Example: Nylon is a hydrophobic fiber. The Outback filter is hydrophillic.

Do I have to use any chemicals with the Outback System for it to effectively remove bacteria, cyst and virus?

The Outback needs no chemical additives to remove bacteria, cysts and virus. The standard Outback is very effective in removing bacteria and cysts without the use of any chemical additives.

What do 'nominal filtration' and 'absolute filtration' mean?

These terms refer to the approximate size particle, the majority of which will pass through a filter, based upon its rating. The rating is usually in a micron size. A nominal filtration rating is generally interpreted as meaning that 85% of the particles (the size of its rating) will be retained or 'stopped' by the filter. An absolute filtration rating states that 99.9% or essentially all of the particles (larger than a specific micron rating) will be trapped on or within the filter.

In the event of an emergency can you recycle your own urine through the Outback?

Healthy urine is not toxic. However, it contains compounds eliminated by the body as undesirable, and can be irritating to skin and eyes. After suitable processing it is possible to extract potable water from urine. The US Army Field Manuals advise against drinking urine for survival. These guides explain that drinking urine tends to worsen, rather than relieve dehydration due to the salts in it, and that urine should not be consumed in a survival situation, even when there is no other fluid available. In hot weather survival situations where other sources of water are not available, soaking cloth (a shirt for example) in urine and putting it on the head can help cool the body.


Do you ship the Outback to customers who live outside the United States?

Yes, the Outback System is shipped to customers throughout the world.

What is the warranty on the Outback and the Outback components?

The Outback System is covered under a normal use one-year warranty.

Where are the Outback components and systems made?

All of the Outback components are made in the United States except the Net Filter and Sleeve Filter, which are made in Ontario, Canada.

Is there a patent on the Outback system?

Yes, there is currently a patent on the Outback system.

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