4 years ago1,000+ Views
Wes over at IndefinitelyWild gives some of the best advice I've ever read about the outdoors. He thoroughly experienced, and does his research so the advice he shares never makes me doubt it. He recently did a piece about all the reasons you should filter your drinking water while backpacking or camping, and I thought I'd share some tips of his, as well as my own. So, enjoy! (and don't forget to filter).

Giardia and Crypto

Giardia and Crypto are two different protozoa that can be the cause of serious stomach and digestive problems, mainly in the form of stomach cramping, diarrhea, and general illness. They're both spread due to things like poop in the water (animals, or human) and can be filtered out fairly easily.

How to filter:

Giardia can be prevented with a simple iodine treatment, and most good filters get it out no problem. Crypto is harder, and not really removed by most filters, but can be taken out by the Aquamira tablets and drops that are pretty popular. Boil all water your're worried about to be safe.

Bacteria, such as E. coli

This gets into the water from all sorts of things (poop, corpses of wildlife, etc.) and is already in your system naturally. But, if you get more or out of balance, it causes dehydration that leads to cramping, vomiting, nauseous feelings, etc. If you suspect you have it, the first step is re-hydration! Antibiotics might be needed if it's severe.

How to filter:

This ones pretty easy to kill. Use iodine, treatment tablets, filters, UV pens, or day long exposure in the sunlight in a clear bottle.

Viruses, such as Hepatitis A

This is the most common virus you'll find outside. Once you get sick (sometimes 2 to 6 weeks later) you'll get diarrhea, vomiting, along with fevers, joint pains, cramps, yellow ish skin. You'll be sick for a few days, drink a lot of water, and then be over it.

How to filter:

There is a vaccine, if you're traveling to a part of the world that Hep A is common, and then you'll be immune to it. Otherwise, use iodine, tablets or boil the water.


Pollution i.e. chemicals in the water from a variety of sources is just kind of nasty, and better to avoid all together. There really aren't feasible ways of getting rid of these on the go, so just look for a better water source. Really. It's not worth the risk & damage you'll be doing to your body.
Sometimes, you can just drink. If the water looks clean, and you just want to task what the water tastes like straight form a water source you find, just go for it. Be smart, and you won't get any of these!
@danidee sadly, Britta pretty much filters for big chemicals and for taste, doesn't so much get the virus or protozoa that can be an issue when getting from a source in the wild. They're a filter, where as what you need to do is purify. They're great for tap, though. @Heartofgold35 if you go with a combination filter/purification set (so, a carbon filter + prefilter usually held in one bottle) then it'd do a good job.
Will charcoal filers work ?
Would a Britta filter attachment work?
@TrevorGoldley They're great but they do take a while to work so I know some people don't like them. Personally I use iodine.
The Aqua tablets are my favorite as they seem to really clear the most.
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