Staying hydrated can be a tricky proposition no matter where and how you travel. Not only are beverages bulky and heavy to carry, but obtaining water from unknown sources can be hard on the body. Even when you stay in a hotel or have fresh water from the campground spigot or pump, your system has to get used to different chemicals than those found in your home water. Then, there is the problem of knowing whether or not the water contains bacteria and is safe enough to actually drink. Of course, you would never drink from a stream or pond, so what exactly should you do to ensure you are getting plenty of fluids?
Well, you could take some nice fruit along and this will give you both hydration and food, but at some point, you will need a good supply of H2O to replenish the body. We’ve spoken before about how manufacturers are trying to expand their product lines by offering things that specific enthusiasts are looking for.
As groups of people complain about certain aspects of products or they ask for improvements to do a specific task, newer better things are being created. The same holds true with researching ways to access potable water sources. Luckily, now they’ve developed an ultralight backpacking water filter, which you can imagine is a relief for all kinds of outdoor sports fanatics.
Although I won’t get into a full biology lesson here, it should be noted that filters and purifiers target different problems with water. Simply put for our discussion, filters reduce and remove pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella. Purifiers fight viruses. Most backpackers and campers in the US and Canada will carry a filter which strains and catches the bacteria through a cartridge.
Of course, some kinds of filtration systems can still be quite wieldy to lug around in the woods and up and down trails. So, it is important to look for specific models such as bottle, squeeze or straw styles. They are also fact-acting meaning that it doesn’t take forever to produce potable water. You can get a drink instantly.
Needless to say regardless of which one you choose, you still need to be able to access some kind of water from the land to put in the container. And if there is more than one of you in your traveling group, you will need a reservoir for each of you because these models are quite small, as you would expect, really.
I’d like to add three points about cleanliness and the need to be aware when searching for and using a water source.
#1 Try to find water that is clearer rather than murky.
First of all psychologically, you might feel better using cleaner water to start. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that it doesn’t have bacteria. You still need to use your filtering system. But more importantly, than the looks of the water, murky water means that there is a lot of sediment. And since this goes into your cartridge, it could plug it up and prevent the chemicals from working properly. In other words, you will have used the filter for nothing.
#2 Your hands can and will contaminate the freshly cleaned water.
Be sure to carry along a packet of hand sanitizer or antimicrobial wipes and don’t be afraid to use them. But, please don’t dispose of them on the ground.
#3 The instructions matter.
Not all systems are created equal depending on what chemicals are used. Be sure to read and understand the directions for your ultralight backpacking water filter to keep yourself and others safe. This is not the time to assume.