Think Before You Drink: Backcountry Water Treatment Tips - Appalachian Mountain Club

Think Before You Drink: Backcountry Water Treatment Tips

June 27, 2016
Backcountry Water Treatment
Dion Hinchcliffe on Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0Gravity filters are a great backcountry water treatment option, removing sediment and parasites, including Giardia.

Keep your water fresh, clean, and tasting good with these simple tips.

  1. Mold and funk is best not drunk. To prevent the growth of destructive mold and other slimy yuckiness, always completely dry your water-treatment system before storing it at home.
  1. Sediment kills filters. If possible, avoid treating cloudy or gritty water, which can rapidly clog up a filter and greatly reduce its lifespan.
  1. If you must treat sediment-laden water, cleaning or back-flushing the filter can help keep things flowing. An even better option is a prefilter, which attaches to the intake hose and strains out sediment early in the process. You can also collect cloudy water in a pot, let it settle, then draw from the cleaner water on top to filter as usual.
  1. To minimize the taste of chemical treatments, add a small amount of powdered drink mix after you treat the water. Vitamin C, in particular, neutralizes iodine and almost entirely eliminates its flavor.
  1. You can always boil untreated water to make it safe. Bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute to completely kill off any microscopic baddies.


  • Find more outdoor gear advice from the Equipped blog here.


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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.