If you aren't seeing any visible particles in your water, if it already looks reasonably clean, then there is no reason you cant just use a hiking water purifier instead of a filter. Filters are great for getting rid of all those particles, but water purifiers do a great job of neutralizing whatever is in the water, and as a bonus, purifiers tend to weigh quite a bit less than filters. The only real disadvantage of purifiers is that you sometimes have to wait for the purifier to do its job, depending on what kind of purifier you decide on.
Hiking Water PurifierFeatures to look for when you are shopping for hiking water purifiers.
- Purification Method - There are actually a few different methods that are used to purify drinking water, and depending on what your needs are, one may be more suitable than the other. Chemicals, for instance, do a great job of purifying water, but typically need a certain amount of time to work. UV light is another option that works very quickly, but then you need to carry around the UV purifier, which is quite a bit larger and bulkier than a few tablets of chemicals.
- Time to Purify - As alluded to above, the time to purify depends a great deal on what purification method you go with. UV light works very quickly, for instance, while many chemicals take hours to get the job done.
- Lightweight - The main advantage of purifiers over filters is that purifiers tend to weigh quite a bit less. So don't throw that advantage away by getting a big, heavy filter.
Best Hiking Water PurifiersA few of the better hiking water purifiers that you can choose from, based on the above criteria.
- Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets - The lightest option when it comes to hiking water purifiers is chemicals, like these chlorine dioxide tablets from Katadyn. The whole package of 30 tablets weighs just .9 ounces, or 25 grams, and one tablet is good for one liter of water, but you have to wait for a total of four hours for the tablets to kill everything in the water, so there is a clear trade-off between weight and waiting.
- MSR Sweetwater Purifier - Something slightly different, the Sweetwater is actually a combination of filter and purifier. It uses .2 micron filter to first get rid of any sizable particles, and then a chlorine purification system takes care of anything that made it through the filter. It's a great unit for really bad water sources. It weighs 11.3 ounces, which is 320 grams.
- SteriPEN Adventurer Opti - The whole SteriPEN line uses UV light to neutralize anything bad lurking in your water. It's easy to use, you just stick the bulb in to your water bottle and the UV light does the rest, at 8 minutes per gallon of water. It's also relatively lightweight, at 3.6 ounces, or 102 grams. The only real drawback of using UV light is that you have to replace the batteries every 50 liters, so depending on how long your trip is, you might end up carrying extra batteries.