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Best Ways to Purify Drinking Water While Camping

Staying hydrated is a crucial survival technique for anyone planning to take on camping trails. Unfortunately, unless you carry drinking water from home, finding purified drinking water in most camping sites is a challenge. Packing sufficient drinking water also takes up a lot of space and increases your luggage.

You might be lucky if you are camping in the front country, which are established campsites with some facilities, including restrooms and clean drinking water. Even then, you should ensure that certified NPDES Services providers have okayed drinking water in such facilities. If you plan backcountry or wild camping, below are a few ways of purifying drinking water from streams, rivers, and other water sources. 

1.      Boiling

Boiling is probably the oldest and most effective way of purifying drinking water from questionable sources. Boiling water eliminates most of the disease-causing pathogens found in impure water. If you are camping at sea level, boil water for up to one minute. However, because of low atmospheric pressure, you should boil longer if you are camping at higher altitudes. Generally, if you are 6500 feet or above, you should boil drinking water for 3 minutes.

2.      Use a Water Filter

A water filter should be part of your camping gear for rehydrating reasons. Water filters have designated filtration systems that eliminate common dangerous water pathogens like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Backpacking water filters are increasingly becoming common among camping and hiking enthusiasts because of their compact and portable nature.

If you are camping alone or with a small group, a squeeze or pump water filter comes in handy. On the other hand, a gravity water filter is best suited for large groups. While these water filters use different technologies, the resultant water is purified and safe to drink.

3.      Purification Tablets

Also called effervescent tablets, they are another easy and effective water purification option. One purification tablet can purify up to 25 liters of drinking water. However, powerful tablets clean up to 70 liters of impure water, making them suitable for large camping groups. Unlike boiling and using a water filter, it takes 30 minutes before purification tablets kill all parasites.

Water purification tablets are either chlorine dioxide or iodine-based. However, iodine tablets are generally weak and can’t eliminate Cryptosporidium parasites from impure water. You should consider using chlorine dioxide tablets to purify your drinking water.

4.      Distillation

Water distillation is an effective purification method that helps campers and hikers enjoy safe water. It is a good option for those who intend to camp in hot and humid areas that experience high temperatures. Impure water typically contains salts and harmful chemicals, which can cause serious health issues.

The distillation process is simple and doesn’t require complicated items. Ideally, you should have a large container that holds impure water, a plastic bag, a rock, and a small container that collects pure water.

While water from streams, rivers, and ponds may appear clean, it is not safe to drink. Untreated water contains harmful pollutants, bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious health issues. Always filter and purify water before drinking anytime you set out to enjoy the outdoors.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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