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How to purify water while hiking

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

Water is an essential part of hiking and there is simply no disputing it. Carrying enough water for an entire trip is tricky at the best of times so hikers often rely on finding water as they walk along a trail. This can come in many different forms, including both man-made and natural but one thing is for sure, all water needs treating. You never really know where your water has come from, what could have contaminated it or what risks you are taking by drinking it. Below you will find some of the most popular water purification methods while out on the trail along with how to apply and use them next time you set off for an adventure.



Firstly I think it's important to get one thing straight, we aren't going to cover every method of water purification. Some of the methods are time consuming, impractical for hiking or would simply sound downright crazy to some hikers. In this guide we will cover all the practical ones that apply to hiking and can be used with relative ease compared to others.


Boiling


Ah, good old boiling water. This one has certainly got to be the most popular among hikers due to its simplicity, it isn’t hard to put a pot of water on the hot stove until it is bubbling. When getting water for your pot try get it from a fast flowing source like a river or creek rather than a stagnated pond as this will lower the risk of bacteria, viruses and protozoans.


Water Purification Tablets


Another popular solution among hikers is these water purification tablets which typically contain chlorine. The ratio is typically 1 tablet to one litre and should be left to sit for about 30 minutes for 95% of bacteria and viruses or 2 hours for maximum effect. They can have short expiry dates which is one drawback but they certainly are a convenient solution to the purification of water.


Gravity Water Filter


Gravity water filters are an effective but lesser used method of purifying water. The basic principle of it all is connecting two water bladders together with a water filter in-between, allowing dirty water in one bladder to flow into another (empty) bladder using gravity. This method is quite effective producing several litres of clean water in minutes but can be quite pricy for budget hikers.


Life Straw


Another well-liked solution used by hikers is the ‘life straw’ which uses the combination of the hikers suction power and the inbuilt water filter to produce clean water for you. The water is known to be incredibly clean and for that reason it is quite well renowned in the hiking community. The straw works like any other being able to be dipped at one end into a body of water and then sucked right up at the other for some clean water.



As everyone knows, getting water is an unavoidable part of the hiking experience. By using the techniques displayed here you should be able to better prepare yourself for a walk while gaining better access to water when out hiking. As we said before there are other techniques but when it comes to hiking these are going to be the main ones you will want to focus on because they are simply the simplest.


If you are looking for places to find water to filter through one of these techniques then we have you covered too, this article should tell you everything you need to know about where to find water.



Written by Josh Welch


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