Quadripod Water Filter

A three layered filter can be constructed from available material in the field. Many of the military manuals show using a tripod, on which to attach the material, and this technique is shown in many other books on survival. 

The overused military tripod three layer water filter requires triangular material.


I got to thinking about this and realized I never really carry any material that has three equal sides. I carry some bandanas but they are square, and if I fold a bandana to make a triangle, it is too small to use on a tripod. Why not build a quadripod, using four long sticks, using a sheer lashing at top. You can now use three square pieces of material, such as bandanas. Just tie a knot in each corner of the three bandanas which makes them in the shape of a container, or dipped pocket (see photo below). Using cordage, such as parachute cord, place a slip knot around each corner knot on the bandana and tie each of these cords to a separate leg of the quadripod using a clove hitch, or other knot. Each bandana should now make a dipped pocket into which we can place our filtering material. Place grass in the upper section, sand in the middle section, and charcoal in the bottom section (charcoal can be obtained from the burned wood in a fire). Place a container to catch the filtered water under the center of the bottom section. Now pour water into the top section and let it filter through each section, into the next, until it ends up in your catch container. You now have filtered water (keep in mind that the water is only filtered, not purified). 

A knot in each corner of a bandana creates a dipped pocket.

The Quadripod three layer water filter set up in the field.

Here I am demonstrating the Quadripod Water Filter and the knotted bandana during a course I was teaching.


If you do not have four long sticks, but have short ones, you can make another filter by using just parachute cord and the bandanas. Simply tie the bandanas directly to the long lengths of parachute cord and hang from a tree branch. Use two short sticks with notches in each end. Place them crossed corner on each bandana, so the sticks cross each other. The sticks will hold the bandanas open so they still make a pocket for the filtering material.

This shows two different photos of a Quadristrand Water Filter hanging from a tree branch.

My wife, Denise, assisting me demonstrate a Quadristrand Water Filter during a course I was teaching.

As you can see, sometimes it pays to think outside of the box when it comes to making things. I always try to be creative and design things that I find more useful in the field. Give one of these a try the next time you need to filter a lot of water in the field.

We hope you enjoyed this article and will help support our efforts by checking out our products. As always, Be Prepared To Survive!

Copyright © 2016 by John D. McCann

Click here to return to Survival Skills