How To Purify Water in the Wilderness

Finding a reliable water source when camping or hiking can be a difficult task.

Even if you find yourself at a luxurious campsite, the water may still be a bit murky. Or maybe you get stuck on a longer hike than you planned, and that trickling stream up ahead is calling your name. Instead of simply dipping into the river or lake and gulping back some hydrating water, think about what you could be drinking instead—protozoa, bacteria, viruses, and any amount of dirt or debris.

Knowing how to purify water in the wilderness is a must for frequent campers and hikers. Here are some of the quickest and most effective ways:

More: 10 Must-Have Items for Your Hiking Emergency Kit

Filter Versus Purification

A filter hydration system works by pumping the water through the filter where the pores catch what you don't want (bacteria) and allow in what you do want (water). Purifying systems take this one step further by using a chemical treatment to rid the water of bacteria and viruses.

Filters are usually suitable in the U.S., while purification is a better option when traveling internationally or in places where viruses are known to reside.

Water Filtration Systems

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, filtration helps rid water of most microorganisms. How much depends on the pore size of the filter and the amount and size of the contaminant. Filters are best used in areas where viruses aren't an issue, though some do come with an iodine resin or a chemical disinfectant matrix.

More: How to Purify Water in the Outdoors

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About the Author

Mattie Schuler

Mattie Schuler is a journalist who writes, edits and reports for magazines and websites. She currently focuses on topics that include the outdoor industry, outdoor recreation and gear, adventure sports, health and fitness, yoga, parenting and travel. In her free time, Mattie enjoys snowboarding, hiking and backpacking, yoga, cooking and reading lots of books and magazines.

Mattie Schuler is a journalist who writes, edits and reports for magazines and websites. She currently focuses on topics that include the outdoor industry, outdoor recreation and gear, adventure sports, health and fitness, yoga, parenting and travel. In her free time, Mattie enjoys snowboarding, hiking and backpacking, yoga, cooking and reading lots of books and magazines.

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