PK Podcast 023 – Rupert Brown, Water Filter Bag Man

by Paul Kirtley

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Rupert Brown

Rupert Brown of Brown’s Bushcraft and the Brown Filter Bag.

Rupert Brown joins me to talk about water purification and the nifty solution he provided to the bushcraft world and wider community of outdoors people in manufacturing the Brown Filter Bag. In the course of the conversation Rupert also talks about his change of career from being a forester and teaching arboriculture to teaching bushcraft as well as moving to France, where he now resides.

There is food for thought here for those looking at a career change, particularly into outdoors instruction. Plus Rupert is a great guy, someone whose company I enjoy. You may have seen his excellent presentation on water purification at the Frontier Bushcraft stall at the 2017 Bushcraft Show. And if you didn’t, I’d reiterate the need for you to listen to this podcast…. Our conversation forms Episode 23 of the Paul Kirtley Podcast…

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The transcript is coming soon…. the typing pool are working flat out.

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Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog

Water Purification: The 5 Contaminants You Need to Know About

Water Safety In Camp: The Six Pillars

How To Generate Water In The Frozen North


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Paul Kirtley is an award-winning professional bushcraft instructor. He is passionate about nature and wilderness travel. In addition to writing this blog Paul owns and runs Frontier Bushcraft, a wilderness bushcraft school, offering bushcraft courses and wilderness expeditions.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcel Lafond

Hi Paul.
Interesting podcast as always. I spent the long weekend here in Alberta in a Provincial park (oh no! a Park!) in a tent with my wife with no running water or other amenities other than a groomed site and a metal firepit. Ok, we had outhouses, but no running water. We did bring our own water supply for the three days out. Temperatures dropped to 0 C and increased to only 3 C during the worst day, and went as high as 13 C on Thanksgiving Monday. (We roasted our ‘Turkey Dinner’ over an open fire.)
The lake where the Island is situated has been designated toxic with cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae). All warning signs at the waterfronts say that even boiling will not remove the toxins and to avoid contact with the water. On my return home, I Web searched this cyanobacteria and they all say that chemicals and algaecides can exacerbate the toxin, making them worse. Even chlorine will make it deadly to consume. So, what would you recommend in this case? Chemicals will not work, and we are advised to not bathe in the water, hence, it is necessary to wash with clean water after having contacted this lake water. So, it’s a conundrum, isn’t it. If you have no clean water, then avoid the dirty water, so how can you get clean water? Perhaps ‘gypsy wells’ dug near the shorelines at a ‘safe distance’? where we could then filter and boil that water? A safe distance being anywhere close to shore where the algae will not attain by wave action? I am thinking of a scenario of being in an isolated area, with no clean water available for a few days.



Paul Kirtley

Hi Marcel,

As always, I read your comments with interest. Thanks for your continued contribution to this site.

Filtration will remove larger particulate matter as you know and I would recommend the use of a filter bag as the starting point. In my experience, this removes a good amount of any visually apparent “bloom”.

Microfiltraton will remove bacteria and any intracellular toxins.

Chlorine appears to be effective in neutralising extracellular toxins as long as the pH is below 8. We also know that Chlorine works better on water without much organic matter floating around in it. So always microfilter first in these situations.

Hence, one of our standard methods of water purification for the field still works in the situation you are referring to – coarse filtration followed by microfiltration followed by chlorination.

In terms of limited equipment, then yes a gypsy well to access the water not contaminated by cyanotoxins would be a prudent method. Then use coarse filtration to remove particulate material followed by boiling, as per usual.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,



Marcel Lafond

now to add litmus paper to my repertoire of gadgets. 🙂 So, what could bring the pH below 8, naturally? That means acid is better then? How would steeping in willow bark or other tannin barks help I wonder?



Great podcast Paul. Have always carried a millbank bag since attending your elementary course in 2012, & used it numerous times. Have put a brown bag on my shopping list. Would be interested in it’s performance in colder / subzero climates, as other filters don’t work if they have been frozen?


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