Water Purification for Camping- Best Methods

If you are going camping or backpacking water is one of the heaviest things to carry. If you are walking in the woods for four days you don’t want to be carrying 50 Lbs of water. And I’m assuming you don’t want diarrhea and other forms of illness. So if you have the option to, it would def be better to just purify water while you are on the trail or at camping spots. BUT always make sure that there is going to be water where you are going, whether in the form of streams or lakes. Anyway there are several different forms of water purification for camping and the best are: water filter, iodine tablets, SteriPen. If you are going to go camping and don’t want to carry heavy water and you do not want to get diarrhea, so you need to make sure you bring one or more of these water purification systems.

Water Filters:

What it is: Water filters are a system where you run dirty water through one end and it comes out clean! There are so many different water filters out there. There are handheld straws, pumps, charcoal filters, and many more. For camping the only filter systems worth talking about are the handheld straws. The other forms are complicated with tubes and pumps and take up more space which simply does not make sense to bring on a camping trip.

The best filter straws are: LifeStraw and the Sawyer Mini. Both of these are handheld so they take up very little room in your bag and they both work great! Both the LifeStraw and the Sawyer Mini cost around $20 on Amazon. So both are very inexpensive so there really is no reason to get any other form of water filtration than these two. When comparing these two they both work great, however LifeStraw has a water bottle that you can put them in to make its use that much easier. You will have to buy the water bottle which costs around $40, so if you would like using it to be that much easier that is an option.

I personally believe that it is always useful to have a water filtration system especially when they are as cheap and easy to use as the LifeStraw and Sawyer Mini. If you are planning a camping or backpacking trip I would recommend that you bring one of these great products. I own both but I tend to bring my Sawyer Mini with my because it is just a little more compact.

I wrote an article about the Sawyer Mini: if you are interested in the incredible product click HERE!


  • Cheap and easy to use. Literally just place the end in water and drink through it.
  • Small and compact
  • Can drink any water (even puddles)


  • It can be tiring to drink all of you water out of the straws
  • Not always the most convenient way to drink

Iodine tablets

What it is:Iodine tablets are another form of water purification. Iodine tablets are easy to use and inexpensive. They cost around $10 depending on where you buy them. I bring Iodine tablets on every camping trip I go on as well as my Sawyer Mini.

How it works: How iodine tablets work are you put the directed amount into your water and you wait for thirty minutes. After you wait, the thirty minutes you drop another tablet in to remove the Iodine taste. I use Iodine tablets in my water bottles so I don’t have to drink all of my water out of my Sawyer Mini. It’s just easier to drink straight from the water bottle.


  • Great for purifying large amounts of water you will drink later
  • cheap
  • small and easy to pack
  • easy to use just drop the tablets in and wait


  • You have to wait 36 minutes to drink your water.
  • The tablets leave a stain where they settle on the bottom so don’t use a clear bottle you care about!


What it is: The SteriPen is a handheld UV light that purifies water. It is small and incredibly effective. It takes very little time to purify water, 90 seconds for a liter!

How it works: Place SteriPen in the mouth of a bottle then turn the bottle upside down. Rotate the bottle slowly for directed amount of time depending on how much water (90 secs for an L and 48 secs for a half L.) Then your water is ready to enjoy.


  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Small and lightweight


  • More expensive than other options- around $60
  • The SteriPen has a battery life and needs to be charged. Which means that the battery can die. The battery can purify 50 Liters of water so around a 10-day water supply for one person. You just have to make sure you charge it!

What I recommend to bring

When you are out in the wilderness you don’t need clean water to be an issue, especially when there are such cheap and effective ways to avoid the problem. When I go camping or backpacking I bring my Sawyer Mini and Iodine tablets. This offers security so you know that even if something happens to one of them you can still drink clean water. Also, they have different scenarios where they are practical to use. I use Iodine to purify large amounts of water I know I will want in 36 mins but if I am thirsty and out of clean water then I use my Sawyer Mini to drink cool water directly from a stream. If you have a SteriPen I would bring Iodine or a LifeStraw in case the SteriPen breaks or runs out of battery. They have different practical uses and it is best to bring a mix of purifying systems. You don’t want all of you clean water eggs in one basket!

1 thought on “Water Purification for Camping- Best Methods”

  1. Hi there, I have experience using the Iodine tablets and would strongly recommend them to other people. Juts please ensure you follow the instructions carefully and wait for the chemical reaction to take place (about half an hour or so) before drinking the water. Thank you for all this information.


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