For dedicated campers, there is nothing that is looked forward to so much as a trip into the wilderness. Eschewing established campgrounds, those who really want to get away from it all will find a place far away from other people to enjoy the wilderness. Travelling into the backcountry with family or a few select friends is one of the best ways to spend a vacation. Those who are just beginning their ‘camping career’ will have to understand that they must take nearly everything they will need along with them, including food, shelter, extra clothing, first aid supplies, etc. One thing that no one will be able to carry in will be water – this will have to be found at the campsite, which is why so many people camp adjacent to a water source. These sites are also some of the most picturesque and add to the value of the camping trip.
However, regardless of how far you are from civilization and how crystal clear the water looks, no one should assume that it will be safe to drink. Microorganisms are too small to be seen by the naked eye, but can be present in water in large numbers – more than enough to make you and your fellow campers very ill.
However clean water may look, there can be contamination from animal feces or urine in it. the remains of dead animals may also be present, and fish do defecate in the water. Streams or other bodies of water that contain beavers or muskrats could infect those who drink impure water with giardia or other parasitic illnesses.
- Although contaminated wells were often blamed for waterborne Salmonella, it has now been found that surface water such as streams, rivers, and lakes can also carry the pathogen.
- Shigella is another nasty bacterium that can be present even in backcountry streams, and comes from human feces. This could be an issue from runoff from compromised septic systems.
- Cryptosporidium is a protozoan carried by animals and humans, so it could easily be acquired from unfiltered water during a camping trip. Diarrhea and cramping are the main symptoms.
These and a range of other viruses, bacteria, and protozoans can not only result in immediate illness, but can also lead to dehydration, which can be life threatening. Getting seriously ill miles from help can be problematic, to say the least.
A Range of Options
There are an excellent number of camping water filters to choose from that will assure you that your camping trip will be safe and enjoyable. Most of these will add little weight to the backpack, either.
- Water filter straws are probably the easiest of water purification units to carry. While most of these small water filters generally are usable for about 25 gallons of clean water, some of the newer filter straws, which are a bit heftier, will purify 1500 gallons of water, approximately enough for 1 year’s use. These are probably more inconvenient to use than other filter mechanisms.
- Water filter bottles are another good choice for campers. Lightweight and able to filter out just about every organic or inorganic pollutant, the water can be drunk right from the bottle or squirted into a glass. About 100 gallons of water can be filtered with these.
- Gravity feed water filters and purifiers can make certain that campers will have a nearly endless supply of water that is safe to drink. Some of these filters consist of a bag that is filled with water, hung on a tree branch, and produce pure water to a container below. Smaller countertop filters, such as Berkey the Go Berkey, can also be easily transported to the campsite.
- There are also a variety of water purifiers and filters that operate by pumping action. The Katadyn Microfilters are among the most reliable of camping filters and only require putting one end into the body of water and pumping to provide safe water for drinking or cooking.
With the great range and variety of camping water filters that will supply safe water for a camping expedition, there is no reason for anyone to become ill.