What is the easiest way for hikers to purify water? Boil it.

Drinking water stream

When you start reading about water purification, it can get complicated. There are various methods and they all have their trade-offs. But there is one method you can always rely on – boiling your water. I use that all the time with no problems.

Boil over a minute

Hiker boiling water with hiking stove

Here’s a link to the British National Health Service recommendations about water purification. Water should be boiled for over a minute, more if the altitude is higher.

I boil water for 2-3 minutes usually just to be super safe.

As you can see from the NHS summary, filters are not perfect.

No salty water!

Hiker getting water from stream

The main thing you have to know is that you can use water from natural sources – such as rivers, streams, lakes.

As a rule, you can’t drink water from the sea or the ocean because of its saltiness. Here’s a link to the National Ocean Service for more details.

Making a fire vs using your stove?

Female hiker with fire

There are two main ways you boil water while hiking – making a fire or using a hiking stove. In most situations, using your stove is the better option.

Making a fire is time-consuming, using a stove only takes a few minutes.

You can’t make a fire anywhere. You can only make a fire where it is specifically allowed. You can use your hiking stove to boil water anywhere.

Then again, using your stove uses fuel, which you have to carry with you. Make sure you purify only as much as you need and don’t waste purified water.

In case you need to make a fire, we’ve written a great blog post with step-by-step instructions, pictures and video that teaches you how to make a fire when hiking.

Cooling drinking water

Hiking stove spork cup thermos water bottle

I usually have two metal water bottles with me. One of them is a thermos bottle (grey on in the picture above) and I put hot water in that if I want to keep it warm. For instance, if I boil water in the evening, I leave some in the thermos to brush my teeth and wash my face in the morning.

When I boil drinking water, I let it cool for a while and then pour it into the other, regular metal drinking bottle (blue on in the picture above) and put is outside my pack, so it cools down as I walk.

Be careful, the bottle can get hot and burn you.

Hiking and eating: what to eat etc

I have some blog posts about food that I think you might find interesting.

Probably the first thing you might need to consider is how much food do you need bring to stay safe and comfortable. I have post about hiking and calories that will help you figure that out as well as a blog post about what to eat when hiking. And of course, how much food or water you need depends on how much you will be able to hike in a day.

Then there’s also the issue of being a responsible hiker. There’s two posts that I would suggest you read – one about bushcraft (I’m not a fan!) and another one about responsible hiking and “leave no trace”. To me those topics are super important. It’s important to be responsible, safe and comfortable. We want to cherish the nature we enjoy not damage it.

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