Orders over $60 Ship Free

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking


by Austin Campbell September 01, 2016

CloudLine Hiking Socks are Ready for All Your Summer Adventures. Shop Now!

Stay Hydrated on the Trail with These Water Purification Options

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking

A long hike or multi-day backpacking trip requires plenty of hydration and unless you want to weigh down your pack with water you should plan on bringing a water filtration or purification method. The options for purifying water in the backcountry have never been lighter or easier with solutions ranging from ultra light squeeze filters to high tech UV purifiers. Here we will look at 6 popular options for purifying water on the trail, so you can keep hydrated and happy on your next hiking or backpacking trip.

 

Purify Water by Boiling

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking | CloudLine Apparel

Boiling water before drinking is one of the most reliable ways to purify drinking water. The basic rule is to make sure you bring the water to a rolling boil for 1 minute at lower altitudes and 3 minutes at altitudes above 2000 meters. Boiling will eliminate bacteria, protozoa, and even viruses. The downside is you'll use up your cooking fuel and will need to wait for the water to cool down. 

Best for:  Silty Water, because the silt will settle during boiling allowing you to scoop clear water off the top. 

Recommended Gear: MSR Windburner Stove

 

Water Purification Tablets

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking | CloudLine Apparel

Chemical purification methods weigh almost nothing and are small enough to keep in your first-aid kit so you always have a way to purify water on the trail. Traditionally hikers used iodine tablets, but iodine wasn't able to eliminate Cryptosporidium and also left the water yellow and tasting funky. Today hikers prefer Chlorine Dioxide Tablets, which purify water with a highly active form of oxygen as they dissolve. The downside is needing to wait 30 minutes for the tablets to effectively neutralize Giardia and up to 4 hours when Cryptosporidium is a concern. 

Best for:  When going ultra-light is a priority or as a backup purification method.

Recommended Gear: Aquamira Water Purifier Tablets

 

Ultraviolet Light Water Purifier

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking | CloudLine Apparel
Ultraviolet purifiers neutralize bacteria, protozoa, and viruses with UV rays. Fill a 32 ounce Nalgene water bottle and stir with the ultraviolet purifier for 90 seconds and you'll have purified water. Make sure to use a prefilter for murky water and carry extra batteries. 
 

Best for:  International adventures and when viruses are a concern.

Recommended Gear: SteriPEN Adventurer Opti UV Water Purifier

 

Sip or Squeeze Water Filters

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking | CloudLine Apparel

Sip or Squeeze filters offer a light-weight personal filtration solution. There are several popular variations available from simple straws that allow you to sip water directly from a water source or that include an optional squeeze bottle that attaches to the filter so you can squeeze water into containers. Most filters in this category filter out bacteria and protozoa via microscopic pores in the filter media usually .2 microns or smaller, but do not eliminate viruses.   

Best for: Day hikes and as an ultra-light personal water source.

Recommended Gear: Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

 

Pump Water Filters

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking | CloudLine Apparel

Pump water filters are basically the same as a sip and squeeze filter with a pump mechanism attached. This allows you to quickly filter large quantities of water. Pump filters can require maintenance and can also be an expensive purchase. Most pump filters take care of bacteria and protozoa, but some higher end models eliminate viruses by including iodine resin inside the filter. 

Best for: Quicky filtering water for yourself or a small group.

Recommended Gear: Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter

 

Gravity Water Filters

6 Ways to Purify Water While Backpacking and Hiking | CloudLine Apparel

Gravity filters are perfect for large groups or when you have camp setup. You can fill the dirty reservoir and hang it from a tree branch and let gravity do all the work. Gravity filters eliminate everything a pump or sip and squeeze filter catches and the larger models can filter up to four liters of water in 3-4 minutes. 

Best for: Filtering large quantities of water without the exertion of pumping.

Recommended Gear: Platypus GravityWorks Filtration System

 

Pin this Article

 



Austin Campbell
Austin Campbell

Author

Austin lives in the Pacific Northwest where he enjoys hiking and backpacking in the Olympic and Cascade mountains.






2 Responses

Lynne
Lynne

May 18, 2017

Bleach kills neither giardia or cryptosporidium (paracites). It’s only good for bacteria.

Nell Davis
Nell Davis

October 11, 2016

You left out the easiest (and most cost effective!) one of all – a couple drops of bleach! The ratio is 2:1; 2 drops per 1 liter. Wait 30 minutes and you’re good to go! (pre-filter if murky, just like a steri-pen).

Leave a comment


Also in The CloudLine Hiking & Backpacking Blog

9 Practical Tips for Newbie Hikers
9 Practical Tips for Newbie Hikers

by Austin Campbell May 23, 2017

If you've never gone hiking or have never planned your own hike there are a few things you should know before hitting the trail. The last thing you want is to become a news story about an unprepared hiker who got lost or needed to be rescued. Luckily, preparing for a successful first hike is not rocket science. Just follow these tips and you will be on your way to a great first hike that is safe, fun and memorable. So keep reading, and then get out there and go hiking!

Read More

5 Moving Videos that Document Why We Need Public Lands, National Monuments, and Parks
5 Moving Videos that Document Why We Need Public Lands, National Monuments, and Parks

by Austin Campbell May 10, 2017

In our current political climate, National Parks, Monuments, and Public Lands that were once protected are now in danger of being opened to mining, drilling, logging, and development. These videos are a powerful reminder of the reasons we preserved these places. Watch them, share them, and most of all contact your elected officials and let them know how important these wild places are. 

Read More

How to Stay Safe While Hiking in Bear Country
How to Stay Safe While Hiking in Bear Country

by Austin Campbell April 20, 2017

Seeing a bear in the backcountry can be simultaneously breathtaking and terrifying. We are always hoping for a chance to see a bear from a distance while also hoping to avoid the danger of a close encounter. Over the years we've been given good and bad advice on what to do when we see a bear, like the time our Scout Master threw a rock towards a black bear and told us to drop our packs and run if it charged us (three things you should never do during a bear encounter). While bear attacks happen regularly, the number of attacks is very low in relation to the number of hikers, backpackers, and campers spending time in bear country every year. While it is impossible to completely eliminate bear danger in the backcountry, employing common sense and familiarizing yourself with these bear safety tips and resources will greatly reduce your risk. 

Read More