Seven Gadgets to Purify Your Water
Don’t let giardiasis turn you into a weak, dehydrated mess
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
Ever camp by a beautiful brook with water so clear you figure it must be safe to drink? Not so fast. Giardiasis, a diarrhea-causing disease, is invisible to the naked eye and can be spread by almost any wild animal. And that’s just one of the culprits that can make you very, very sick in the backcountry.
Luckily, we have access to lightweight water filtration tech. These seven gadgets all serve one purpose—removing poisonous contaminants from water. Some filter bacteria and parasites, while others zap viruses dead. So invest in a filter and don’t risk ruining your camping trip again. Trust us, your bowels will thank you.
Vestergaard-Frandsen LifeStraw Water Filter ($20)
Make sure to add one of these lightweight straws to your pack next time you go hiking. Instead of holding water in a bottle or reservoir, use the straw to drink—each LifeStraw can filter about 264 gallons. The straw removes most bacteria and protozoan parasites, but it’s no good against viruses.
SteriPEN Ultra Water Purifier ($100)
The SteriPEN is the gadget you want for long backcountry trips. Using ultraviolet light, the pen zaps bacteria and protozoa, and it also works against viruses such as Hepatitis-A and SARS. That’s a bonus if you’re headed to a country like Haiti where waterborne illnesses are common. The long-lasting lamp can purify about 8,000 liters of water.
Potable Aqua PURE Electrolytic Water Purifier ($100)
The Potable Aqua purifier lets you purify between one to 20 liters of liquid at once. The device mixes water and salt (normal table salt works just fine) to clean even the dirtiest water without any pre-filtering, pumping, or stirring. Purification can take anywhere from 30 minutes for zapping viruses to four hours for killing cryptosporidium. The chamber is made from a durable plastic material that won’t break on a hike. Coming soon.
FIT Top Smoke Bottle 24oz ($25)
The only water bottle available that filters both when you pour water in and out, the FIT Top is made from a durable Nalgene-esque plastic. The filter blocks chlorine, bad tastes, bad odors, and volatile organic compounds. It’s available in three colors and in a smaller 12-ounce size for $20. It does not remove viruses.
Kor Nava Hydration Vessel ($22)
The 22-ounce Kor bottle can make your water both taste and smell better. It’s rated to exceed the NSF standard for reducing chlorine content. For the health-conscious, the bottle is made from a BPA-free plastic, while the filter is made from coconut shell. The Nava has a large carrying handle and a clean, modern look.
Grayl Water Filtration Cup ($70)
The Grayl has two different filters—one for basic filtering and one for purification. The filter sits at the bottom: after you pour water into the 16-ounce metal container, you squeeze to filter like a French press. It removes bacteria like salmonella and protozoa like cryptosporidium and giardia. For an extra $40, you get the purification filter that can remove viruses, too.
Platypus GravityWorks 2.0L Complete Kit ($110)
This filtration system from Platypus is like a med kit for your water. Small hollow fibers in the filter use gravity to transfer one liter of dirty water to a clean water reservoir, no pumping required. It filters out bacteria and protozoa like giardia, cryptosporidium, E. coli, salmonella and cholera, but it’s no good against viruses.