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How to Purify Water on the Trail, or in the Zombie Apocalypse

Updated on January 8, 2012
Base Camp
Base Camp


Water is a necessary part of life, especially clean water. Water in streams can contain some nasty little critters that can make you so sick you wish you were dead. In order to avoid this, choose one or more of these purification methods below, and get all the clean water you need.

Pack of Potable Aqua
Pack of Potable Aqua

Iodine or Chlorine Tablets

This is a very cheap and light way to purify your water while living out of a backpack. My favorite brand is Potable Aqua, which is Iodine Tablets, and Taste-Neutralizing Tablets. General procedure is to fill your Nalgene Bottle with a liter of water, put one iodine tablet in, swirl and wait 30 minutes. Then put the taste neutralizing tablets in, swirl, and now you have a liter of safe drinking water. These are my preferred method of purifying water on the trail, as it is definitely the most economical. You can get a pack of Potable Aqua on amazon for a good bargain.

A great water filter from REI
A great water filter from REI

Water Filters

Water filters are a more expensive method of purifying your drinking water. They can quickly purify large amounts of water based on how long you pump them. They can be used for long periods of time and don't require any batteries, making them the go-to water purification method for the Zombie Apocalypse, where you are going to need water for the long haul. After a while, the filters will need to be cleaned or replaced, and the carbon chalk refilled. Water filters are also the bulkiest and heaviest form of water purification, but they are also one of the most reliable and widely used.

The Steripen Adventurer purifying a cup of water.
The Steripen Adventurer purifying a cup of water.

UV Purification

If I had a $100 dollars, I would go straight to REI and grab one of these amazing pieces of gear. About the size of a small cell phone, UV pens purify water by zapping it with UV radiation, killing 99.99% percent of organisms in the water. While these pens are very expensive, they are the lightest, sleekest, and quickest way to purify water on the trail. Some take batteries, and some can be charged by USB. These are the 21st century backpacker's method of choice for water purification, but are very expensive, so beginners should probably focus on more important gear with their money.


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    • traildudes profile image

      traildudes 4 years ago from Portland, OR

      Short, sweet, and to the point. Thanks for the great hub!

    • hhunterr profile image

      hhunterr 5 years ago from Highway 24

      This is all good stuff!