Many people go camping because they want an escape from their everyday lives, want to get back in touch with nature and be at one with the wilderness. Camping out in the wild also comes with a few drawbacks. One of the biggest and most noticeable is that the water is typically not safe to drink. The crystal clear water found in rivers, lakes, springs, and even from the campsite spigot can contain a variety of bacteria’s which will cause illness if drank. Unless there is a sign or a campground official has confirmed that it is safe to drink, you will need to purify it yourself using one of three methods: filter, chemical tablets, or boiling.
When camping today, there is no excuse for not packing along a filter. Their price ranges in affordability from $25 up to $300 and are compact and fairly easy to use. If you are just a rough-it kind of outdoors person, you will be just fine using a cheaper filter which is very basic and easy to use. However, some people prefer the many features and versatility including in the $100 and up range. The purpose of the filter is to strain out any microscopic contaminants, some safe and some not. The water should appear clear and the pureness will depend on the size of the pores on the filter. These pore’s range from model to model but typically you would want a smaller pore size so it can filter out even the smaller microscopic bacteria. Some filters even have an iodine system built into it, which will kill viruses inside the water as well. An efficient filter should be less than 20 ounces, easy to use and hold, and can be quickly cleaned and easy to maintain. Some cheaper models remove giardia and cryptosporidium only so these can actually be harmful to your health. It is also important to consider the filters flow rate as well when buying a filter.
The next option in purifying your water is to invest in water purification tablets. These tablets release chemicals, typically iodine, and kill the harmful bacteria contaminating the water. This method is easy, quick, and inexpensive; however, it can change the taste of the water. The tablets also have a short shelf life, typically six months after being opened. For some people, iodine can be a health risk and not worth saving the extra money. Some tablets, however, contain a carbon element while will remove iodine once the water has been purified. The carbon will also take care of any pesticides, herbicides, metals, and chlorine contaminants in the water. Some recent studies have shown that it can be better to leave a small amount of iodine in the water and that orange juice crystals (ascorbic acid) can take away to taste of iodine or at the very least, neutralize it.
No matter what filter you purchase, it is inevitable that a clog will occur. Clogging is a sign that the filter has been doing its job correctly. Trying to force water into a clogged filter will likely inject many microscopic contaminants into the water. Many models of filters can be cleaned regularly to keep it running smoothly for a longer period of time. Carbon elements in filters reach its limit after enough wear and tear so it important to replace the filter and carbon element when the manufacture recommends. Since all filters have their own process of working and different design, it is important to read their instructions carefully to keep it running.
If you’re not interested in investing money into buying a filter or use chemical processes you purify the water the old fashioned way by boiling it. This method doesn’t require any purchases except fuel and a pot and can be done very easily. However the drawbacks are that it takes a while to do and drinking warm water is not enjoyable after a hot day.
Each process of purifying water has its own set of pros and cons. With filters, chemical tablets or boiling water, each do the job and can remove any contaminates in the water. It’s up to you to decide which method works best for you and what will be the easiest to do.