It doesn’t matter if you’re hiking in your local area or if you have travelled hundreds of miles to check out a new hiking trail; either way, you need to know about the dangerous bacteria that could be living in the water.
Some of the most common water pathogens and bacteria are E.coli, Salmonella, Protozoan cysts, and viruses including hepatitis A. Most of these bacteria can live off human waste, including food, soap suds, and sweat, so they can be difficult to avoid—but you will definitely want to try and avoid them, as they can cause nausea, sickness, cramps and serious infection.
Thankfully you can make water safe for drinking by using a water purification system. A water purification system will kill bacteria, Protozoa and viruses such as polio and hepatitis A, as well as neutralising any dirt.
If you want to find the perfect water purification system for you, here are some of the most popular options for you to choose from.
Boiling The Water
Boiling water is one of the most popular types of water purification—it’s cheap, easy, and effective. Boiling water will kill off the pathogenic organisms and you only need a pan and some form of fire, but it’s important to boil the water for at least 5 minutes to ensure that all the pathogens and bacteria have died.
Iodine Based Water Treatments
Iodine based water treatments are also a very popular option as they’re fairly easy to use, and they tend to be the most effective way to kill all pathogens. However it’s worth noting that the treatment should be left for a while to work properly, and you should avoid this option if you’re pregnant or have thyroid problems. The treatment also makes the water taste a little strange!
Water Neutralising Tablets
If you used an iodine based treatment you may also want to use water neutralising tablets. The tablets must be used with another filtration method, such as a water purification liquid or an iodine based treatment, and the tablet will help to remove the taste of iodine from the water. This makes the water taste much better (but they’re not essential).
Water Purification Liquid
Water purification liquid is often used by campers, as you can add the liquid to a tank of drinking water to kill bacteria. This option is very cheap, as normally one 250ml bottle can be used to treat over 600 litres of water—impressive! This is perfect for campers, but not terribly efficient for backpackers and hikers as it means carrying a large quantity of water around with you as you hike.
Water Purification Tablets
Water purification tablets are a great option for hikers as they’re easy to pack and they don’t take up much room, and one tablet can purify around 25 litres of water. This means that one pack of tablets will be more than enough for a week-long trip, so you may want to consider this option if you like to go on long hikes.
You can also buy specific tablets for certain areas, such as tables that can specifically remove chlorine from the water.
A Water Filter Unit
A water filter unit’s another popular water purification option that’s often used by hikers and campers. The unit’s simply a filter bottle that you can use to filter water in a matter of minutes. This is a great option as it’s fairly easy to carry and it can purify water for your whole trip, but it’s important to be aware of how big the bottle should be.
If you’re hiking alone you will only need a small bottle, but if you’re hiking with friends or family you will ideally need a bottle with a 10 litre capacity. This may be too heavy to carry around with you, so if you’re travelling in a group you may want to consider another water purification option.