Water is an essential resource that we simply cannot live without. Unfortunately, water sources have become more and more polluted with time. You now need to purify any natural water you collect when hiking, even if you are hiking high in the mountains. So, how do you purify water while hiking, you might ask?
There are various ways to purify water while hiking, such as gravity filters, water filtration pumps, and filtration straws. In addition, purification tablets and other devices are also available for purifying water while hiking. Each method has some pros and cons and are ideal in some situations.
With so many filtration and purification systems available, choosing the right option might be daunting. That’s why we are here to help. For this article, we researched the most popular water purification systems on the market and their advantages and disadvantages. It will help you choose the best method to purify your water while hiking.
How To Purify Water While Hiking
Before we start discussing the different methods and devices available for purifying water when hiking, there is one significant distinction you should be aware of – filtration versus purification.
Different devices will indicate whether they are used to filter or purify water. When filtering water, you let the water move through very tiny filtration particles, such as carbon particles. These help absorb any contaminants, sediment, and debris present in the water, making it safe to drink.
However, when purifying water, the purification device or liquid will also kill any pathogens, viruses, and bacteria present in the water. But it might not remove sediment from the water. Therefore, depending on where you are hiking, you might prefer using either a water filtration system, a water purification system, or a combination of both.
Furthermore, having more than one purification method in your backpack is advisable when hiking if your primary purification system fails. So now, on to what you are here for; how to purify water while hiking.
Method 1: Purification Tablets Or Drops
Purification tablets or drops are added directly to the water you want to drink and work by chemically killing the bacteria and protozoa present in the water. Purification tablets are lightweight and take up little space. They are also inexpensive and a great backup option if you don’t use them as your primary water purification method.
To use water purification tablets or drops, add the suggested amount to your water container, shake it, and wait the required time before drinking the water. For example, it might take between thirty minutes to a few hours for the water to be safe for drinking when using water purification tablets or drops.
The disadvantage of this purification method is that the water will have an unpleasant taste. In addition, water purification tablets and drops don’t remove any grit or sediment from the water, so you might still have muddy water to drink. Iodine tablets aren’t safe for pregnant women, so instead, use chlorine dioxide tablets.
Method 2: Ultraviolet Light Purifiers
Ultraviolet light purifiers are newer to the market but work exceptionally well for purifying water in your container. To use one of these devices, you simply place the light probe into your water container and wait the required amount of time. The light inhibits bacteria and protozoa in the water, making it safe to drink.
Ultraviolet light purifiers are usually battery or solar-operated. Pack spare batteries, as they tend to run through battery power quickly. They are lightweight and fun to use.
Ultraviolet water purifiers also don’t filter any grit or sediment out of the water, so you’ll need to filter the water if you don’t want to drink the grit. Ultraviolet water purifiers don’t work as well in murky or unclear water. The inhibited protozoa might become active again if you don’t drink the water shortly after using the purifier.
Method 3: Water Bottle Filters And Straws
Most water bottle filters and straw filters work by only filtering the water as you drink. However, some bottle filters and straw filters also chemically purify the water as you drink, killing any viruses and bacteria. The packaging will indicate if these are only filters or if they purify the water as well.
Water bottle filters and straws are easy to use and take up little space in your backpack. Simply place them into your water bottle or directly in the water source (if it is a straw) and drink. The suction action you make when drinking activates the filtering process.
The main disadvantage of water bottle filters and straw filters is that they can get clogged up while using them. This means you will have to backflush them or clean them while hiking. However, this is a relatively straightforward process and shouldn’t cause too much trouble.
Method 4: Pump Filters
Most pump filters only filter water, removing any sediment and absorbing some of the hard elements in the water. However, there are also pump filters on the market that purify and filter water. If you often use water filled with sediment, a dual-action device like pump filters and straws is the best option.
Place one end of the pump’s tube into the water source and the other end into your water container to use a pump filter. Then, using the pump, pump the water from the water source into your container. When your container is filled, the water is clean and ready to drink. Pump filters are inexpensive and easy to use.
However, they take up some space in your backpack, and pumping large amounts of water can be tiring. They can also get clogged at times and will then need to be repaired.
Method 5: Boiling Water
Boiling water to purify it is the oldest purification method. It is still used today and is especially useful in emergencies.
To boil water, you must place the water in a container and then put it on a heat source, for example, a fire or stove. When the water starts to boil, it is purified and safe to drink. Allow the water to cool down before transferring it to your drinking container.
Boiling water is a straightforward process, but you must have access to a heat source. Brining a stove requires extra space, and if you run out of fuel for the stove, you have no way to purify the water. In addition, boiling water to purify doesn’t remove sediment or grit from the water. However, this is a sure way to purify your water if your other purification devices fail.
There are many ways of purifying the water while hiking. First, it is essential to know the difference between filtration devices and purification devices. Purification tablets, ultraviolet purifiers, water bottle filters and straws, and water pump filters are all possible ways to filter water.
In addition, you can boil the water to purify it. It is recommended that you bring a backup purification device or method if your primary plan fails or breaks.