3 Ways to Filter Your Water in the Backcountry

Staying hydrated when you’re hiking, hunting, or fishing off the grid is easy with a packable filtration system

How heavy is water? Just remember this little rhyme: “A pint is a pound the world around.” Hikers and backcountry travelers need to drink as much as two pints—or two pounds—per hour when out and about. Fortunately, it’s easy to lighten that load by filtering H20 from sources along the trail. Here’s a look at some of the common water-purification methods on the market today.

Sipping Filters

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
LifeStraw Personal Water FilterLifeStraw

These handy devices allow you to drink right from the source or from whatever vessel you are packing in. If you are dunking a squeeze-style container filter in a stream to fill it up, just be sure to keep the sipping nozzle clean and dry to avoid cross contamination.

Gravity Filters

Platypus GravityWorks 4.0 Liter High-Capacity Water Filter System
Platypus GravityWorks 4.0 Liter High-Capacity Water Filter SystemPlatypus

You can use hanging filters along the trail or hang one in camp while you attend to other chores. They filter water slower than other methods, although some versions also function under hand pressure, which can speed up the filtering process.

Pump Filters

Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water FilterKatadyn

Traditional pump filters are the fastest way to process large volumes of potable water. They require a bit of work and are bulkier to pack around, but they make it easier to keep filtered water away from source water, and you can backflush the disposable filters to extend their life.