Filter The Water On Your Hikes

Filter The Water On Your Hikes

08/07/2021 Off By chadmin

A backpacking water filter is a key essential for any multi-day outdoor adventure.

Why is a water filter so important? Parasites and viruses live in the lakes and rivers that you rely on to stay hydrated in the backcountry. Giardia is the most common and can cause abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting – not exactly what you had planned for your next adventure, right?

Some argue that you don’t always need to filter water where streams are fed by fresh snow-melt, but keep in mind that if livestock, wildlife, or humans can reach an area, so can contaminants that are transferred via fecal matter.

Water treatment is important to maintaining your health in the outdoors. Not all water sources are unsafe, but even the most pristine-looking source can make you sick. If livestock, wildlife or humans can reach an area, so can contaminants transmitted via their fecal matter. As more and more of us explore wild places, contamination levels rise. Why play intestinal roulette when you have so many options for treating your water?



You might find people who claim they’ve been happily drinking untreated backcountry water for years. Beyond mere good fortune, it’s possible they have especially robust immune systems. Such symptom-free people can, of course, still carry their microbiological secret with them to each and every new campsite.

The best practice is to treat water from any source, which is what most savvy outdoor visitors do.

Ingesting as few as 10 disease-causing microorganisms is enough to produce diarrhea and other dehydration-inducing symptoms.


Pathogens, some of which can survive for months outdoors, fall within three primary types:

1. Protozoa include Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia. These have a hard outer cyst that protects them against certain chemicals. Their relatively large size, though, makes them easier to filter out of water.

2. Bacteria include Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Campylobacter and many others. These midsize microorganisms can also be removed by water filters.

3. Viruses include Hepatitis A, rotavirus, and norovirus. Because they are smaller than protozoa and bacteria, they are difficult to filter out of water. Technically speaking, treating water by removing or neutralizing them is when you’re “purifying” water.

Tip: Always carry a backup treatment system. A filter can be lost; batteries can drain; a device can get broken. Chemicals offer extra security with negligible weight. Boiling is a surefire backup option: Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute, or for 3 minutes if you’re above 6,500 feet.