Drinking water treatment for trekking and outdoor

When hiking or trekking, the drinking water supply is a problem that should not be underestimated. Water must either be carried or processed on the way. You can find out in detail here which possibilities there are for water treatment on the way, and which advantages and disadvantages they have in detail.

Benefits of water treatment on the move

Drinking water is often a weight problem for hikers and trekkers: For a few days, at least two liters of drinking water per day are needed per person. The water supply for a four-day tour is - assuming low sweating - at least eight to ten liters. This already means a weight of 8 - 10 kg on a four-day tour, which must be carried per person.

In most areas, there are also many sources of water on the way, where supplies can be replenished. As a rule, in central European areas, you hardly need to take more than one day's water supply, often even less. The resulting enormous weight savings makes trekking easier.

So you do not have to be an Ultralight Trekker to rely on water supply.

Risks in the water

Any water, even from an apparently clear and clean source, can be heavily germinated. Even a single animal lying in the water can turn a river into a very dangerous bacterial broth for a long distance down the river. In remote areas, pollutants may also be released into the water, possibly leaving residues of excrement, pesticides or fertilizers.

Since this risk can never be ruled out, basically every water is to be regarded as polluted, and at least contaminated as microbial. Everything that is not tap water has no guaranteed quality!

The most dangerous are:

  • coliform germs due to excrement in the water source
  • Bacteria, pathogens and degradation products decaying carcass in the water
  • Chemicals, pesticides or herbicides, or other chemical contaminants

preparation methods

Basically, one must distinguish between a sterilization and a filtration or ultrafiltration of the drinking water.

Although pure disinfection may be enough to kill pathogens such as viruses or bacteria, it does not remove harmful chemicals and not all protein that may be dangerous to the body. In addition, the results can never be verified, not all methods are 100% reliable, although UV disinfection with portable devices such as Steripen can be considered quite reliable.

The method of choice is therefore always ultrafiltration. Portable water filters have filter pores in the size of 1 - 2 microns, and thus also filter out bacteria and germs. An additional sterilization is not required. For heavily clouded water, pre-filtering with an activated carbon filter may be useful. Most devices for outdoor use have such pre-filters, which are installed the same. Otherwise, you can sediment the water in a pit briefly to separate the coarser ingredients.

Video Board: Beginner Backpacking Part 6 - Water Treatment and Storage