More people seem concerned with selecting the best hiking footwear than they are about choosing the best water treatment system. When selecting water treatment, there are several factors to be considered before making your final purchase. You need to take into account the different sizes, treatment time and weight, and some of the more difficult categories, such as longevity of the treatment system, filter medium, and what kind of organism the treatment is effective at removing.

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

Photo Credit: ITS Tactical on flickr

Why Treat Water?

In olden days, many hikers used to drink water directly from an old creek when they happened to pass by one. Back then, the fresh mountain water was clear, crisp, cold, and refreshing. But now it is totally different scenario. We are having to be more concerned about pollution and water contamination than ever before.

In recent research, it is proved that a hinterlands source at elevation, the water is possibly still cleaner than what the researchers actually thought before. One way that you can try to determine if water is contaminated is by looking at the source of the water, typically the highest elevation point. If you cannot fid any packs of animals, grazing cattle, or any other obvious pollutants, then you could guess that the water is not severely contaminated. However, that takes a lot of effort to find that out and still leaves room for mistake.

How Does It Work?

When you are filtering water, it goes through a filter area that catches particles and permits the water to go through. The size of the pore in the filter element will decide what is removed from the water. For example, if you pour water on a piece of tent-screen, the larger pores of the tent-screen element will only catch large impurities, such as sand and sticks, and allow smaller particles to pass through. If you move to a filter that has medium pores, such as a neckerchief, it catches smaller particles than the tent-screen, such as tiny bugs and more dirt, but still allows tiny particles to pass through. And last, if you pour water through a coffee filter that has very small pores, it will catch even more dirt and other tiny particles than the other two filters.

These processes described only catch visual impurities. But, the actual dangerous impurities such as bacteria, cysts, and viruses are not visible to a naked eye. To remove these impurities, you need commercial water purifiers or filters.

What Are Some Options?

Filter Treatment:

There are two main types of water treatment systems readily available for hikers. The first type is called a Pump Filter. In a pump filter purifier, one end, or the hosepipe, is placed in the water container and another end into the water supply. The water is pumped through the filter element and into your water container. This process takes quite a lot of time and effort, but is a very famous filtering process.

The second type of  water treatment system is a Gravity Water Filter. In this process, the water is poured in an impure container and placed it at a high elevation. The container contains an outlet pipe through which the water comes down through the filter element before being deposited into the clean water container. This process also takes quite amount of time, as the earth’s gravity is doing the job and it also takes its own sweet time to purify the water.

UV Light Treatment:

Another comparatively new method of water treatment is by using UV Light. Small equipment attacks the organisms that are in the water using UV light and it destroys their reproductive system. This process is fast and easy to use because it is very light weight. While this is also a very affordable option, you do need batteries for the device. This means that you will need to pack extras with you, just in case.

Chemical Treatment:

This method is considerably the easiest and most light-weight way to purify water. In this process, a few drops of chemicals are added into the water that you have collected. These chemicals kill the bacteria and other impurities in the water. Although it is the easiest method, it takes time for the chemicals to do their job and is also very expensive. Another thing to consider is that without a filtration system, it leaves all the dead organisms in the water.

No matter which system that you decide is best for you, it is important to make sure that you carry some form of water treatment or clean drinking water whenever you go out hiking. Dehydration can occur quickly in desert climates, so make sure that you stay hydrated!

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