Purifying water is a necessity nowadays and should not be taken lightly. Lucky for us huge advancements have taken place in water purification technology and it is easy than ever to gain access to clean and safe water. Below is a comparison of the four most common types of water purification on the trail.
Boiling water is one of the oldest and most sure ways to purify water. By the time water has hit its boiling point all microorganisms have been killed. The only problem of course is that boiling water is somewhat time consuming and not easily done on the trail.
Iodine tablets are notorious for their bad taste. Nevertheless, they are extremely light to carry and only take 30 minutes to work. If you can handle the taste and are not allergic to iodine this is still a good option for quick hikes.
*The taste can be completely neutralized by adding Vitamin C after the iodine has had the time to work. However, if you need to add more iodine make sure you water bottle has been thoroughly clean since leftover vitamin C will keep a second round of iodine from purifying correctly.
On long hikes I prefer Chlorine Dioxide tablets like those sold by Aqua Mira. There purify just as well as iodine but without all the harmful side effects and while tasting a lot better. The only problem is that they take 4 hours to work, meaning they are best used for purifying large quantities of water overnight.
Water filters require the water to pass through a membrane or a porous material and thus filter out organisms. The main benefit of filters is that you can get water right when you need it with no waiting. The downside is that filters are heavy and can break, rendering them obsolete.
On day hikes I prefer to bring Iodine Tables and Gatorade Powder. On longer backpacking trips I prefer Aqua Mira tablets.