Top Four Ways to Treat Water While Outdoors

Top Four Ways to Treat Water While Outdoors

Just coming back from the Stok Kangri Trek, the team was faced with the usual question of “Is the water safe to drink?”? As water is the source of life and without it, everything stops, the topic of water was a daily discussion.? How much to carry?? How much to drink?? Where can we get clean water?? Is the water off the glacier safe? Excellent questions and a great topic to discuss!

The first and most important step is to choose a proper water source. So what can be a “proper water source” ?

Always fetch water from running streams. The faster the better. Stagnant water has high risk of bearing pathogens, irrespective of the cold surrounding. Whereas, as fast gushing water has very low chances of bearing pathogens in it. It even has less particulate materials.

If you can source water from natural springs, its the best as it acts as a natural filter and has very less chances of having particles in it.





Different Ways?To Treat Your Water On Your Treks

There are several ways to treat your water but the first steps is to fill a clean particle-free water into your bottle. To do that use a filter or a clean handkerchief to keep away the particles entering the water bottle.?After you fill your water bottle with clean particle-free water, follow the any of the next steps to get it free of any pathogens.

Boiling Your Water😕Boiling is one of the best way to clean your water of the pathogens like bacteria, virus and protozoa. However, it requires stove, utensils and fuel and?is limited to camps. When you are on the trail and have finished the boiled water you filled from the camp, the only option you have are the natural sources.??When you are boiling the water, make sure you bring it to boil. Water usually boils quickly in high altitude due to low atmospheric pressure.?So its important to cover it by a lid and boil it for good time to increase the temperature. How much time you should boil the water for is guided by the quantity of the water your are boiling. Mostly, all of the pathogens are killed at a temperature of over 70 ? C


  • Kills almost all of the pathogens
  • Also protect against cold


  • Needs a system. Not Portable
  • Requires more fuel

Using Chlorine?Tablets:?Free Chlorine Ions are known to clean water and these Chlorine?Tablets are great rescue for hikers and outdoor people as it is very convenient to carry and provides a defense to the deadliest of the pathogens. It acts less time to make pure water available for drinking. It?usually comes in strips. It is used by dropping a tablet into your water bottle and giving it some time before drinking it.

Hind Pharma produces tablets usable for campers and in emergencies:? product of Hind Pharma declares that?

Ef-Chlor?(NaDCC tablet), it?is a broad spectrum fast acting sanitizer and water sterilizer , rapidly effective against BACTERIA, VIRUSES, FUNGI and PROTOZOA. Total spectrum of activity i.e. effective against hydro hypophilic viruses, gram positive & gram negative bacteria, fungi mould, yeast, mycoplasmas & protozoa.


  • Convenient to use
  • Light Weight
  • Effective against deadliest of the pathogens


  • Some tablets make water taste bit odd. ?(?add TANG to flavour the water in this case?)

Using Iodine Drops:

Iodine is good but not the best way to treat drinking water in high?altitude. It is?known to kill water borne pathogens, but takes some time to make the clean water ready to drink. It is also ineffective against some protozoan cyst which causes deadly stomach problems. There are iodine solutions which are available in market. Most chances are that you will be carrying Betadine ( 10% Iodine solution ) in your medical kit.?Use 4?- 5?drops in 1 liter of water and let it rest. You also get ?”?Tetraglycine hydroperiodide” ?tablets in medical stores. Usage – 8mg per liter of water


  • Most chances are you will be carrying betadine ( 10% Iodine solution ) in your medical kit.?
  • Kills most pathogens but for few protozoan cyst


  • Takes time and at cold temperature, takes more time to clean the water ( 30 minutes to 1 hour )
  • ineffective against some protozoan cyst which causes deadly stomach problems
  • It should not be used by persons with allergy to iodine, persons with active thyroid disease, or pregnant women
  • Some tablets make water taste bit odd. ?(?add TANG to flavour the water in this case?)


Ultra Violet?Purifying:



CamelBak??has come up with a innovative solution of using UV to clean the water instantly. It is also a water bottle so can be consumed directly within a minute.

read more about it here 😕

SteriPEN Adventurer Opti

“Lightweight water purification?for peak performance in?the outdoors! SteriPEN Adventurer Opti was built?for the toughest?mountains and rivers in?the world. Backpacker?Magazine gave it their Editor?s Choice?Award in 2011 for changing the face of?portable water purification. Recipient of?a 2012 Desnivel Award ? one of the 15?best new products. When camping, backpacking & hiking, if you won?t have access to the power grid for several days a time, this is the water purification system?for you.”

read more here?



  • Instant pure water available for drinking


  • Dependency on batteries and power system
  • Too much to take care of
  • Fragile and not suited for high altitude longer treks


Final Conclusion

  1. Boil you water when you are at camps.
  2. Use chlorine tablets for the trail.
  3. Use TANG ?or Vitamin C tablets to flavour the?water to taste better.
  4. The locals and few others who trek frequently generally appears to be immune to the natural water. So by default they think that the water is safe.
  5. While it is the responsibility of the Trek Guides and Leader to provide you with clean water, the first responsibility is of the Trekker himself. You yourself?need?to take proper precaution on this matter and purify the water before drinking it everytime?as you yourself are the best person to?monitor yourself.
  6. You must make it a habbit?of a?’must-do’?check on the water each time?you drink it. Asking the leader or the guide the methods they have used to purify the water or carrying a chlorine tablets yourself is the best practice?

About Author

have been doing outdoor activities solo since my early adulthood. Usually when I get involved in a hobby or sport, I don?t let go until I achieve a high level and understanding of the sport. I got my scuba instructors in 2001. In 2006 I took up Kite surfing and am one level away from instructor on kite surfing. I have been doing trips into the wild, the off the beaten path trips for most of my life. I learned to repel and climb at a young age and have always enjoyed camping and backpacking. Over the 6+ years, I have gotten really involved in alpine style mountaineering. With certifications in mountaineering, and instructor certifications in lead climbing, and repelling (abseiling), I enjoy sharing or knowledge and teaching to those who have a passion for outdoors. Now I am working on completing the outdoor wilderness leadership program. People have always heard of my trips, and spoke with envy that they wanted to try such things but didn?t know how. This has inspired me to move to open this company. The Wildfire Expedition Company or ?Wildfire Expeditions?