If you are dealing with water with a lot of material floating around in it, and don't like the idea of swallowing all that extra material, then you need a filter, but if your water source is already reasonably clear, and you just need to kill all the bad stuff lurking inside, then something like a backpacking water purifier is ideal. The main draw of a water purifier over a filter is that there is typically less bulk to deal with, though purifiers do have a few disadvantages as well.
Backpacking Water PurifierFeatures to look out for when shopping for backpacking water purifiers.
- Lightweight - The main advantage that water purifiers have over water filters is that they tend to weigh less. So the last thing you would want to do is get a heavy backpacking water purifier that negates that advantage. Plus, with a lightweight water purifier your back and legs will thank you after a long day of backpacking.
- Time to Purify - The main disadvantage of water purifiers is that depending on what kind you use, you might end up waiting for quite a while for the water purifier to work its magic. If you plan ahead it's not such a hassle, but it can sometimes end up being a hassle, having to wait for water that you want to drink to become purified.
Best Backpacking Water PurifierThe best of the best for your next camping or backpacking trip.
- Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets - The water purification option that many backpackers end up using is tablets or droplets. The Micropur tablets are a good example of this sort of system. 1 tablet is good for purifying 1 liter of water, and a package of 30 tablets weighs just .9 ounces, or 25 grams. The bad news is that the tablets take 15 minutes to get rid of bacteria, 30 minutes for Giardia and a full four hours for Cryptosporidium. So be sure to plan ahead.
- Hydro Photon SteriPEN Adventurer Opti - The Adventurer actually uses UV light to get rid of the bad stuff lurking in your water. The good thing about this water purification method is that it is very quick, at 8 minutes per gallon. The bad news is that you have to replace the batteries every 50 liters. The unit weighs 3.6 ounces, or 102 grams.
- MSR SweetWater Water Purifier System - The SweetWater is something a little different. It is actually a combination filter and purifier. It uses a .2 micron filter to remove anything large and unpleasant from your water, and a chlorine based purification system to nullify anything that makes it through. It's an ideal unit when you're drinking from questionable water sources. All told, it weighs 11.3 ounces, or 320 grams.