How Do You Clean Water While Backpacking?

By Alice Nichols

Clean water has become an essential part of any backpacking trip, as it is necessary to stay hydrated and healthy while out in the wilderness. While it’s easy to bring along a few bottles of water from home, this can be heavy and takes up space. Fortunately, there are a few methods you can use to clean water while backpacking that don’t require too much extra effort or cost.

Boiling is one of the most reliable and effective ways of purifying water while backpacking.

All you need is a pot or container and access to an open flame. Boiling your water for at least one minute should kill any bacteria and viruses in the water, leaving it safe for consumption. It’s important to note that boiling does not remove chemical contaminants, so if you’re worried about these you should use a different method.

Filtration is another common method used to clean water while backpacking. There are many types of filtration systems available, such as straw filters, pump filters, gravity filters and bottle filters.

These all work by trapping sediment and other contaminants in their filter media so they don’t end up in your drinking water. Filtration systems can be quite expensive but they are also reusable and lightweight, making them ideal for long trips.

Chemical Treatment is one of the simplest ways to clean your drinking water on the go. All you need are chemicals such as chlorine dioxide tablets or iodine crystals which can be added directly to your water source after allowing it to settle for 30 minutes or so (longer if there is significant silt). These chemicals will purify your drinking water by killing bacteria and viruses present in the source.

Ultraviolet Light Treatment, also known as UV treatment, is becoming increasingly popular among backpackers due to its effectiveness at killing microorganisms without affecting the taste or smell of the water. All you need is a portable UV light device that can be immersed into your source for a few minutes before being safe for consumption.

Cleaning your drinking water while backpacking doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive as there are several methods available depending on your budget, time constraints and preference. Boiling, filtration, chemical treatment and UV light treatment are all viable options that will ensure you have safe drinking water during your outdoor adventures.


Clean drinking water is essential when out camping or backpacking in the wilderness so it’s important to know how you can effectively clean your own supply without having to lug around heavy bottles from home. Boiling, filtration, chemical treatment and UV light treatment are all viable methods that can help keep you hydrated during your outdoor adventures.