How to Purify Water When Hiking, Camping or Traveling: Protect Yourself From Waterborne Illness

life straws

When you’re out camping or hiking a lengthy trail, the most important thing is to stay hydrated. Getting an adequate amount of water in the system is difficult when the only accessible supply is from natural sources like streams, lakes, creeks, or rivers.

While these natural water systems seem clean and possibly harmless, there are a plethora of microscopic parasites that might quickly derail your plans for a joyful and trouble-free trip. Knowing how to purify water when you are out in the wild, and taking the time to do so, is highly advisable for anyone who wants to avoid a trip to the hospital.

Why is it Important to Drink Purified Water?

When you are camping, trekking, or travelling to a new location, it should be your top priority to disinfect the water before consuming it. Drinking polluted water or using it for cooking, prepping your food, making coffee, or even brushing your teeth might cause diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

The stream you’re camping next to may appear to be clean, yet parasites may be hiding in the water. Drinking polluted water can make you sick and cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. It is extremely necessary to filter the water before drinking from any water source in the vast outdoors. With all of the invisible risks, it’s no surprise that water filters for hiking, trekking, hunting, and foreign travel exist.


Ways to Purify Water

Survival Straws

There are several types of portable filters, but life straws are the filter that should definitely be part of your camping survival kit. They are so small, compact, and light that they can fit in your pockets. Instead of bringing litres of water on a two or three-day camping trip, pack a lightweight water filter straw and create drinking water from any water source you have.

LifeStraw was one of the first portable filters designed as an answer to the billions of people who continue to lack access to clean waters. The LifeStraw, as the name implies, is a straw-shaped filter with two ends, one for putting into a polluted water source such as a lake or stream, and the other for inserting straight into your mouth. As award-winning, ultralight personal filters that remove germs, parasites, and microplastics, the life straws are an absolute must-have for your own survival kit in the event of an emergency or natural catastrophe.

These personal filtration devices, eliminate germs and protozoa through tiny holes in the filter as small as 0.2 microns. They will provide you with 1500 litres of drinkable water, implying they have a long lifespan and can be used for years. These portable straws are small and inexpensive, and they are used to drink directly from a water source or attached to a water bottle. 
Boiling Water

Boiling is the most basic and oldest method of making water drinkable. Boiling the water kills the majority of disease-causing microorganisms. Collect some water and bring it to a rolling boil for 1 minute when you’re at sea level. However, because the air pressure is lower at higher elevations, it takes longer to achieve a high temperature. Boiling the water for 3 minutes at or above 1900 meters will filter the water of any hazardous germs and make it safe to consume.

Disinfectant Tablets

In addition to the practical life straws, chemical purification tablets are often regarded as the best purification option for hikers or campers attempting to keep pack size to a minimum. They weigh next to nothing, and a blister pack of ten tablets is enough to cure up to ten litres of water and takes up about the same amount of space as a standard stick of gum.

Iodine and chlorine dioxide are the two most often used chemical treatments. While most tablets can efficiently kill most microbes, bacteria, and viruses, iodine does not kill one of the most prevalent water-borne pests, Cryptosporidium, and it may make your water taste rather nasty.

Because of their portability and convenience, water purification tablets have become a popular alternative for on-the-go disinfection: simply filter cloudy/turbid water through a filter or cloth, put a tablet in 1-2 litres of water, wait 30 minutes, and it’s safe to drink. They eliminate most germs by releasing free chlorine into the water, similar to how many municipal water treatment facilities disinfect drinking water before releasing it into the distribution system.

Water purification tablets are a fantastic method to assure safer drinking water without having to rely on a heat source to boil water the next time you’re planning a lengthy hiking or camping trip or assembling a survival kit for emergencies. They also offer prolonged protection against microbial regrowth and can maintain water safe to drink for 24 hours without further treatment.

lifestraws for clear water

Pump Filters

Pump water filters are simply sip/squeeze/straw filters with a pump added that eliminates the need to suck the water through the filter. As a result, they’re a considerably superior choice for digesting greater amounts of water. Pump-style versions, like most filters, are good at removing bacteria and protozoa, but only a few high-end ones can handle viruses. Pump filters’ chief drawbacks are their high RRP, bulkiness, and the necessity for frequent maintenance.

A tube that fits into the water source is used with handheld pump filters. The pump pushes water through the filter, eliminating impurities. The now-clean water is sent via another tube, where it can be collected for drinking or storage. Pump filters may necessitate manual pumping, which is less convenient than using a filtered straw or bottle. They may, however, be used to securely give water to more than one person, unlike lifestraws and bottles.
Gravity Filters

When base camping or camping in big groups, gravity filters are the best option. Gravity water filters use gravity to move water from an unfiltered reservoir through a filter and out the bottom into a storage container. Particles are stopped and filtered as the water is transported down to give clean drinking water.

Most significantly, gravity filter systems perform an excellent job of cleaning and disinfecting water. The beauty of these filters is that they can process up to a litre of water per minute as you sit back and relax in your camping chair. Gravity filters, on the other hand, are heavier than UV pens, purification tablets, and straws, and they may clog up quickly if the reservoir is loaded with strongly sedimented water.