Tag: Water Purifiers

Water Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink (Supplies Part 2)

by JP on Oct.20, 2008, under Camping

The first and most important thing any camper needs to make sure he or she has when planning a camp is access to water. If no access to water is present, the camper will need to make sure he or she carries enough water with them.

Drinking Water

So, how much water is needed? Well, like many things, the answer depends. It depends on the environment. It depends on your planned level of activity. It depends on your own health.

So let me start with some basic needs, and allow you to move from there. According to the Institute of Medicine, men need at least 3.0 liters of water & women need about 2.2 liters.Most of us don’t get that amount of liquid in our daily diets (although we should & only from water, no sodas), but when camping this amount of water should be a very minimum for drinking water. Campers should always be prepared to have or have access to a minimum of 3.0 liters of clean drinking for each day of camping. Camping in the outdoors exposes our bodies to elements most of us are not used to, and as such, we should never plan to survive on less than the minimum amount of water needed.

The fantastic thing about the 3.0 liter requirement is that the most common water bladders I have come across tend to be either in 3.0 liter or 2.0 litter bottles. My vote is to go with the 3.0 liter bladder for male or female, as you can almost never really have too much drinking water. The one problem with the 3.0 liters is there is a little difficulty in finding bladder packs or camelpaks that fit them, but they do exist, and many of the newer backpacks have pouches and pockets to store them.

Purifying Water

Now, if the camper knows there will be access to water, he or she may opt to purify water to lighten the water weight load for an entire camping trip. It is important to remember that no matter how clean the water appears, any water that does not come from your kitchen faucet (and possibly even that water) could contain very harmful contaminants that could make humans very sick. So if getting your water from nature, remember ALWAYS ALWAYS PURIFY. Opting to purify gives the camper some more freedom is hiking distances, and also creates several options to clean the water.

Preliminary Steps Before the Options Below:

Find the cleanest water source available. Ensure that these sources are free of chemical toxins. While microorganisms like bacteria and viruses can be purified out of water, chemical toxins that could be found in water that is contaminated by local pollution. After obtaining this water surface, campers should pre-filter the water of larger contaminants. This can be done by using a piece of cloth such as a bandana and pant leg as a make shift strainer.

Option 1: Boiling the Water

The most sure bet for purifying water is by boiling the water. Boiling is essentially the only way to kill all pathogens and microorganisms contained in water. Most pathogens cannot survive temperatures that exceed 185 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a few minutes. To make sure you get them all, allow the water to reach a rapid boil and remain there for at least 1 minute (I’d go with 1.5 minutes just to be safe).

So why have more options, if boiling is so effective? Well, I’m glad you asked :) Boiling is very time consuming. It may take several minutes to boil just two cups of water over a camping stove, and two cups of water won’t cut it for the day. Not only is is boiling water time consuming, it is also fuel consuming. If you are boiling water over a campfire, this is not a concern for you. But if you are backpacking with a fuel powered stove, you know the weight and space that fuel costs. As such, you want to conserve that precious fuel for when its absolutely necessary for cooking. So let’s take a look at Option 2.

Option 2: Water Purification Sytem:

When boiling is impracticable, backpackers may opt instead for Water Purifiers. Water Purifiers come in a multitude of sizes, costs, and kinds. There may be more kinds of water filters than there are types of contaminants than can get into your water. So what are the benefits of these systems, and how do we choose which to purchase?

Cost Issues:

Water Purifiers can range in price from $50 - $700, and everywhere in between that. These purifiers range in their effectiveness and use as well, but few situations will call for the $700 range. Most campers hiking in most outdoor areas in the Southern United States will find that they can obtain a quality water purifier system for less than $100.


Along with varied costs there are a variety of water purifiers on the market. The two most popular as of late tend to be the pump filters, a traditional and very strong option. The second is a newer technology that appears to be gaining some popularity. This newer technology is called Ultraviolet Light Devices. As such, I will only address these two types of purifiers here.

The pros and cons of each:

UV Light Devices tend to be slightly more expensive, and also are a relatively new technology, but UV Light Devices weight very little, and take up virtually no space in a backpack. Another negative is that they can work very slowly.

Water Purifiers tend to be a little cheaper than, but larger than UV Light Devices. They do, however, tend to work very quickly, depending on the type purchased.

I personally recommend going with a water pump. It cleans easy, doubles as a water bottle, and does not require any batteries.

If you opt for a pump purifier go with one that has the smallest available micron pores (usually 0.2), and make sure that is the absolute micron pores, not nominal.

Also, ensure that the pump purifier also contains a system that removes viruses, otherwise it is simply an advanced filter. While filters are good for water, they do not get rid of viruses. So you need an entire purification system. Generally, those water filters designated as “PURIFIERS” kill viruses too, but it is best to ensure.

For more information specific water purifiers, there is great advice that can be found on

Option Three: Chemical Treatment

The final method of treatment is one that only recommend as a cheap emergency substitute. There are two types of chemical treatments that are common, chlorine dioxide and iodine. Both chemical treatments can be purchased for under $10. While chlorine dioxide is effective for removing all types of contaminants, iodine is not. Both, however, take more time to purify than others, and both tend to leave a slightly bad taste in the water.

For Other Camping Preparations see: Preparing for a Camping Trip

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