Hiking water filter equipment is essential to ensure clean drinking water is available when exploring the wilderness.

Modern water treatment options are now easier and lighter to use than ever before. Plus, the types of filters are wide-ranging, from UV light to gravity filters.

Hiking Water Filters Guide

6 Primary Methods of Water Treatment while Hiking and Camping

  • Boil the water
  • Chemical tablets
  • Gravity-fed filters & purifiers
  • Pump-style filters & purifiers
  • Squeeze bottle w/in-line filtering straw
  • UV light pen purifiers

Why use hiking water filter systems

Whether a water source appears clean and pure or not, a water treatment system is essential when out in the wilderness. ALL rivers or streams could be a breeding ground for waterborne pathogens. These pathogens are microscopic and can lead to the introduction of disease carry pests to the system, which can cause fever, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea.

But, it is believed the water sources of higher elevation are much purer and less contaminated than other water closer to the ground.

Water filter Vs water purifier

When is comes to choosing the right hiking water filter system, it can benefit to have an appreciation of the difference between a water filter and purifier.

Water filters

A water filter relies on microfiltration to clear the water of the build up of protozoa and bacteria. A purpose-made hiking water filter is enough to control the water quality in the U.S. backcountry.

Water purifiers

A water purifier makes use of a microfiltration system and chemical-based treatment to provide a high level method to remove viruses, protozoa, and bacteria from the fresh water. A purifier system might benefit on international travel in regions where the risks of contamination are higher.

Which type of filtration system to use

The preferred style of filtration system is ultimately down to personal choice.

For instance, the filtration system with the most efficient speed is the UV models followed by gravity filters. Plus, the UV light purifier is rated well in relation to weight similar to the chemical tablet unit. The most compact unit is the chemical tablet filter with other models more bulky.

Most of the filters are easy-to-use with the top rated choices, including the chemical, UV light, and gravity filters. For long-term use and durability, the gravity filter does well with all other models closely following behind.

And finally, the quality of taste often gives favor to the UV light, squeeze bottle, and gravity filter. The chemical tablet-based hiking water filter often fares worst in this respect.

Traveling light

For those searching the lightest possible filtering system for the trails, a pack of Chlorine dioxide tablets is certain to be the most practical option. These tablets are great at killing off the major water contaminants and very easy to use. But, the ability to take care of the different bugs can differ with for instance Giardia destroyed within 30 minutes while cryptosporidium can take up to 240 minutes.

In summary

It always benefits to carry a hiking water filter system when out on the trails. Without a preferred type of treatment method it can be difficult to treat water and make sure there is enough drinkable water while in the backcountry.