Why You Need a Water Filter When Camping or Hiking

Why You Need a Water Filter When Camping or Hiking

We all know that we need to drink lots of water with us when we spend time in the great outdoors.  However, did you know that the water found in even the most pristine places may be contaminated with a wide-range of microorganisms?  This includes water from fresh snow or runoff from snow that is melting.  Anything from animal urine to pollution, bacteria and parasites can be found in water that is untreated.  This is why it's so important to take water purification seriously, and to ensure that you're equipped with a suitable filter before you head out. 


Main Options

Even if you have more than enough water for your trip, you should always have some backup options available, just in case.  The three main options are a reverse-osmosis filter, purification tablets or additives and boiling.  All three will remove or kill off most of the harmful contaminants in wilderness water sources.  The only exception to filtration is if you get your water from the inside of a plant, such as a cactus or bamboo shoot. 


What's important is that you choose the option that best suits your needs based on the conditions that you expect to face.  For example, boiling is a good option if you have the time and material to build a fire, let the water boil for at least 10 minutes, allow it to cool and then store it in suitable containers.  On the other hand, if speed and portability are important, then consider choosing from one of dozens of small filters on the market today.  They range from straws that you can use to suck water directly from the source to larger hand pumps.


Water purification tablets, bleach or iodine are also time-honored and effective ways to kill off microorganisms in water.  However, it's also well-known that these items can alter the taste of the water as well, especially if you drink the water right away instead of giving it some time to “breathe”.  The nice thing about these items is that you don't need a lot to make water potable in most cases, and they also don't take up a lot of space. 


Learn more about what the best options are for your upcoming trip, whether it's a day hike or an extended excursion.  It also may be a good idea to have a couple of different resources packed away.  That way, if you lose your main source of water, or your filter breaks, you'll have something to fall back on if needed.