In my last post I discussed boiling and the use of tablets as ways to treat water on the trail. This time around, it will be mechanical methods.

The MSR MIOX Purifier creates a solution from salt tablets that is added to water and gets rid of viruses, bacteria, giardia, and cryptosporidium, but you have to wait up to four hours to make sure everything has been killed. The SteriPEN is the most simple water treatment method to come along in decades. It weighs less than four ounces, and you stick its wand into your water bottle, press a button and ultraviolet light destroys the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and parasitic protozoa. Best of all, you can drink the water immediately.

However, none of these methods remove aesthetic contaminants (sulphur and other items that make the water cloudy or taste funny) or, more importantly, organic and inorganic chemicals, such as solvents and acids. A water filter, such those made by PUR and Katadyn, eliminates these along with bacteria. However, since a purifier eliminates all of these plus viruses, and costs and weighs about the same, I suggest you consider purchasing a purifier if this is the way you decide to go. Either during the pumping process, or having you add it later, most purifiers kill the viruses chemically.

By using a patented method, the First Need Deluxe Water Purifier is the only one that eliminates everything we have been talking about, and does so without chemicals, hold time, or electricity. Some people complain that the canister clogs easily, but by backwashing it a couple of times Laurie and I used only of them on our trek of the entire Continental Divide Trail—and that was before prefilters were available to keep dirt and debris out of the canister.