Having a way to purify contaminated water is a must for any BOB or backpacker.
Water is the source of all life on our planet. Without it everything would quickly shrivel up and die. However, drinking directly from a contaminated water source can be just as deadly as not drinking any water at all. That is why we should all carry some sort of way to purify any drinking water for emergency situations.
There are dozens of ways, products, and more to be able to get the job done. The three main ways however are Filters, UV purification, and chemical purification. This article will go over each and some of the best products you can purchase to throw in your bag.
Water filters are probably the most commonly used way to purify water in the field. They come in numerous shapes, sizes, and styles with varying degrees of purification.
While you could just purchase a basic charcoal filter setup, these only remove chlorine, sediments, and odors from the water. It is best to step up to something with multi-stage filters that will also remove viruses, bacteria, and heavy metals for super clean water.
My favorite that I carry in my hiking and BOB bag is the Survivor Filter. It is a compact three stage water purifier made from military grade BPA free ABS plastics. It weighs only 3.5 oz and is seven inches long and one inch in diameter. Not only is it capable of being broken down for cleaning, but the filters inside are replaceable as well.
I prefer it over other similar “straw” products because of the three stage filter instead of a two like most to remove 99.9 percents of contaminants. It also has the ability to screw onto most bottles if you have one handy instead of crouching down to drink from the source every time.
They also have fantastic customer service, 100 percent money back guarantee, and a limited lifetime warranty. You can purchase them off of Amazon for $29.95 and are Prime eligible.
2. UV Purifier
If the water you are drinking from is relatively clear and won’t require much filtration then a UV purifier will be right up your ally. These devices use intense ultraviolet light to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in water.
They are easy to use and relatively quick. Simply turn them on, stick them into your water bottle or cup, and wait a minute for it to work its magic.
The SteriPEN Adventurer is perfect for tucking away in your bag. It is small, lightweight, and can purify up to 1 liter of water per minute.
This particular model has a water sensing optic that can double as an LED flashlight if needed making it a multi-use item. It also comes with a neoprene carrying case to protect it when not in use.
The biggest downfall to this option is it requires two CR123 batteries to operate. One set of batteries can be used up to 50 times before they will need to be replaced. Rechargeable batteries are a option, but will only allow 30 uses.
The price point for this one is a little higher than the other options at $79.95 on Amazon with free shipping.
If you don’t feel having a filter or UV purifier taking up any space in your back, or worry that they may break then your next option is chemically treating your water.
They are many options for doing this from iodine drops to low dose chlorine bleach tabs. Their bottles take up hardly any space, weight next to nothing, and are a great backup for long trips or for serving large groups.
While chemically treating your water will make it completely safe to drink there are a few set backs. Some chemicals leave a weird aftertaste to the water that I don’t like, and some only allow the use of so much of the chemical over time before it can become unsafe.
One great chemical treatment that I carry are Aquamira chlorine dioxide water drops. It is a two part system that kills almost pathogen it comes into contact with and doesn’t leave any aftertaste.
Each bottle contains enough to purify up to 30 gallons of water and has a four-year shelf life.
While chemical treating is great just remember it will take longer to sterilize the water, sometimes up to 30 minutes if it is cold. This is why I strongly recommend them as a backup and not a first choice in an emergency situation.
These are available on Amazon for $9.90 and are Prime eligible.
Any or all three of these would be great additions to anyone’s bug out bag or outdoor excursion gear. Just remember you should never venture out without a basic survival kit with some way to clean your water as dehydration will be your fastest way to the grave.