Top-Rated Water Purification Systems for the Backcountry Hunter
When it comes to backcountry health, few things trump the importance of clean water.
From the pages of Backcountry Hunter
When Hugh Glass, depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in the blockbuster hit The Revenant, dipped his metal canteen into a sputtering creek, he had no pills and no purifier. Just ice-cold mountain water to slake his thirst and cool his bear-claw-ripped throat. The guy sitting across from me in the theater elbowed his buddy and said, “See, we don’t need all that fancy purification crap.”
As tasty as Glass made that water look, the truth is, the backcountry wanderer doesn’t want to follow suit. Sure, you could get lucky—I did for years. Then, one week after a backcountry elk hunt: whammy! I wouldn’t wish a bad case of giardia on my worst enemy, and it took a good bit of time and some magnum-sized antibiotics to rid me of the sickness. And it’s not just giardia. Pour the wrong unfiltered water down your gullet, and you could end up with Guinea worms, schistosomiasis, legionella, or another hard-to-pronounce sickness that could cripple the rest of your hunting season or, worse, put you six feet under.
Today, with the water-purification options available to hunters, there’s really no excuse. Yes, the movies make it look awesome, but I won’t drink water from the most unsullied alpine stream unless I run it through my purifier. In recent years, manufacturers have stepped up their purification game and provided backcountry goers with pump-style filters, bottle/squeeze filters, and those designed to work with gravity. Let’s dive in and find an option or two that will keep you on the hunt and off the porcelain throne.
May 7, 2022
Outdoor Life: Do You Really Need a Water Filter for Backpacking and Mountain Hunting?
My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!
Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.
The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).