How Do You Purify Water While Backpacking?

By Anna Duncan

For anyone who loves spending time in nature, backpacking is an incredibly enjoyable activity. It is however important to remain aware of the risks associated with outdoor activities such as waterborne illnesses and dehydration.

While it is possible to bring your own water with you on your backpacking trip, this could become a burden if you are travelling for long distances. Fortunately, there are several ways to purify water while backpacking that are easy and safe for travellers to use.

1. Boiling. One of the oldest and most reliable methods of purifying water is boiling it for at least one minute.

This will effectively kill off any bacteria or viruses that may be present in the water. Keep in mind that boiling does not remove any chemical pollutants or sediment so you may need to filter or strain your water before boiling.

2. Chemical Treatment. The use of chemicals such as iodine or chlorine tablets is another popular method of water purification while backpacking.

This method works by killing any harmful bacteria in the water but can also cause an unpleasant taste if not done correctly. Be sure to follow the instructions given when using chemical treatments as they can be dangerous if used incorrectly.

3. Filtering. Most backpackers will opt for a portable filter, which physically removes any particles or contaminants from the water as it passes through a filter medium such as charcoal or ceramic. There are several different types of filters available on the market which vary in size, weight and effectiveness.

4. Ultraviolet Light.

Another effective way to purify water while backpacking is with a UV light device which uses ultraviolet radiation to destroy harmful microorganisms in the water. This method does not require chemicals or filters but can be expensive and requires batteries to operate.


Backpacking can be an enjoyable experience but comes with certain risks including dehydration and illnesses caused by contaminated water sources. Fortunately, there are several ways for backpackers to purify their drinking water safely without having to carry too much weight such as boiling, chemical treatment, filtering and ultraviolet light devices. All these methods have their pros and cons but should ensure that those enjoying nature remain safe from potential harm caused by drinking contaminated water sources while out in nature.