Backpacking and spending time outdoors is a great an healthy activity to have. However, tip number one for physical activity outside or spending time outdoor away from a purified water source is to have a clean source of water. Even if you relish spending time outdoors, you should never completely trust a source of water. Even if it is clean natural spring bubbling up from underneath the Earth. The water may appear clean and have a great refreshing tastes, it can also be home to many microorganism like giardia that can truly ruin an outdoor experience.

Even if there is a sign that says you can trust the water from the spring, still be worried. It can often come into contact with animal feces or the dead carcass of an animal and become tainted without officials knowing about it. Unless you carry your own water, which can be a heavy affair for multiple days of activity outdoors, you need to do at least some type of purification to natural water sources.


There are three viable ways to filter water scavenged from an outdoor site. You can use purification tablets which use iodine to rid the water of harmful organisms. The iodine, however, leaves a horrible bitter taste to water. This can easily deter a hiker to want to drink something else like soda or beer, leading them to dehydration.

The second option of purification is to boil the water. This is good for water from a stream with high movement, try to never obtain water that has been stagnant for any amount of time. Boiling water, however, can take time and an energy resource like building a fire. This is not a viable option if you are out for a day hike. Stopping to boil water every few hours is rather obnoxious. Though the plus side to this is you can experience some truly great tasting spring water right from nature.

This leaves the third and most effective option--purchasing the best water filter for backpacking and outdoor activities. Water filtration systems in the past were big and bulky items meant for countries that did not have clean wells dug. Many backpackers believe them to still be as such. Backpackers believe them to not to be a necessity, however, when you need them they are a life saver. Today water filtration systems can be as small as a tube that can easily be slide or clipped onto a backpackers gear. The higher end ones, however, are slightly bigger. They are capable of filtering more water, making it so you do not have to replace them as often.

Water filtration systems purify the water by filtering the water through charcoal or some other type of filter with pores. Surprisingly enough, the charcoal does not often imbued the water with its smoky flavor, so if that is a worry. Worry not! A backpackers water filter efficiently is judged by the size of the pores it filters the water through. These pores are small enough to let water through, but not the microorganism that will hurt you.

A high grade water filter would have a pore size of .4 micron pore size. This pore size keeps pretty much everything out of your water. Most high efficiency water filters that are affordable, however, only have a 1 micron pore size. This keeps the most probably parasite found in water out of it. You do not need a .4 micron size water filter, as they are quite expensive. I have used a 1 micron sized water filter for years and I have never fallen victim to parasites.

The average backpacker's water filter only weights about two pound and can filter roughly a pint of water per minute. If you cannot wait that long on your hike and are willing to water taste for quickness, then by all mean, go with purification tablets. If you have the time, then boil your water. A filtration system, in my opinion, is the best and safest option. The other options, though also work just fine if you can get past the downsides.

Take a Look at these Water Filters

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Amazon Price: $25.00 $19.95 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 8, 2013)
My personal favorite water filter and a must have for hiking and camping trips. Lifestaw is a company that primarily provides their product to villages in Africa that do not have access to clean water. I first heard about this on Facebook and was absolutely amazed to see they had made a water filter so small.

The lifestraw filters through a .2 micron filter like an actual straw. It is a good item to have if you carry your own water but find yourself needing a little sip from a stream. It boasts to remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria. With such a small micron filter, I believe it.
Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter
Amazon Price: $79.95 Too low to display Buy Now
(price as of Aug 8, 2013)
This is my favorite "volume" water filter. You know why I like it so much? It is the lazy persons' filter. All you do is fill with water and hang it. I enjoy this filter because not only is it for lazy people, it is also very compact. When empty is is light weight and easily rolled and slipped into bags.It is also a bright enough color to not be obnoxious, while also not letting me forget about it when packing up camp.

The Katadyn Base Camp filter filters by running the water through carbon (charcoal) via gravity. It can hold two liters of water and takes roughly around 15 minutes.
Sawyer Personal Water Bottle Filter 1 Liter
Amazon Price: $49.99 $41.86 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 8, 2013)
I happened across this product while I was hiking out in Wisconsin with my father. We happened across a few other hikers who had stopped to fish by the lake and I saw this beauty as they fished out some lake water. I immediately wanted one, but I have my lifestraw and gravity bag already. This, like lifestraw, is all about portability and not water volume. You can easily scoop up water from a stream and sip it through the straw as you go.

What really amazed me about this product was the micron size. It filters through .1 micron pores! That is by far the lowest pore size I have ever heard of.