Some of the best memories occur outdoors, in the wilderness, camping, and hiking with friends or family. You’ll need to prepare camping equipment, first aid kits, hiking boots, and you’ll also want to prepare for water treatment.
Before choosing an outdoor water filter, you need to know the importance of both filtration and purification and consider several factors regarding the logistics of your trip.
Drinking-Water From Natural Sources
Factors such as environmental decline, human and livestock traffic along hiking trails, and wild animals near water sources all result in water quality decline. Even the clearest mountain spring has visible particles and microorganisms and unseen pathogens like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses which can cause digestive problems or worse. Therefore, it’s essential to always purify or filter water from natural sources before drinking.
Purification Vs. Filtration
While water filters have barriers that stop most pathogens from passing, tiny viruses still risk slipping through with the water molecules. Water purification or sterilization is necessary to immobilize pathogens.
Water Treatment Methods For Camping And Hiking
Important factors to consider when choosing water treatment methods for your upcoming trip would be size and weight for packing, capacity for the number of people in your party, ease of use,, and time constraints.
Boiling: Easiest and most low-tech method; bring water to a ‘rolling boil’ for one minute (3 Minutes for altitudes of over 6500 ft). It’s cost-effective – assuming you have a camping cook set and need a fire. Water needs to cool before use.
Pump Filters: Generally, there are three main components to a pump filter; a set of tubes, a handheld pump, and the actual filter. Place the intake tube into the water source and the outlet tube into a water container. A pump filter traps most waterborne pathogens and is easy to use, although labor-intensive. However, it also tends to be quite bulky to carry and takes up packing space.
Chemical Water Treatment: Often in the form of water purification tablets or drops, this method is effective and lightweight. Simply add to water and wait for the allocated amount of time depending on the volume of water. One drawback, however, is that it doesn’t filter out muddy water.
Gravity Filters: Works by pacing a dirty water reservoir above a clean water reservoir by hanging it from a tree or tent pole and letting gravity do the rest. Water can be filtered in large quantities, so it’s suitable for large groups and families. Gravity filters are lightweight and require no power source to work. You can expect to get about 70 ounces per minute and a yield of up to 3 gallons of water.
For instant water treatment, you can choose one of the following methods:
Squeeze Filter: As the name suggests, simply fill the pouch at a stream or lake and squeeze through a filter into a bottle. It doesn’t hold large quantities but is exceptionally lightweight, so great for hiking. Requires regular cleaning.
Bottle Filters: Usually a BPA Free and reusable bottle with a filter built into the design, a bottle filter is great for instant filtration making it great for trail running.
Straw Filters: Similar to squeeze and bottle filters but with no storage capacity. You dip one end into the water source and drink out of the other. Some models even offer a water purification method. They are incredibly lightweight and perfect for hiking trails that follow water sources.
Ultraviolet Light Purifiers: Place the UV light probe into a water container and wait for 60 seconds. The light neutralizes pathogens by damaging the nucleic acids in their DNA, making them unable to replicate. These systems never require many replacement parts except for batteries. It should be used along with a filter system to remove sediment.
Preparing for a hike or camping trip doesn’t need to be stressful. It just requires practical thinking and good preparation. Always consider the logistics of your trip and locate your nearest water sources before choosing a water filtration method for both camping and hiking.
Be sure to visit Best Water Filter Guide for our recommended range of water filters.