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Backcountry Gear - Water Purifiers

Anytime you travel in the backcountry you must keep hydrated. Though very rare, Giardia does exist in the lakes, rivers, and streams of the Sierra. On long hikes and tours this means you need some sort of water purification system. This can mean either a filtration system or a method of boiling the water. The filtration system is usually the preferred method because boiling the water means extra fuel and thus extra weight. Of course, you want to start with as clean water as you can so here are some tips.

  1. Get water from lakes (not the bottom) rather than streams, when possible. The Giardia cysts sink to the bottom of lakes but are suspended in flowing water.
  2. In the winter frozen lakes typically have (from bottom up) an ice cap, then a water layer, then snow. Getting water from the water layer can keep you from having to melt large amounts of water for drinking. This water is typically very clean.
  3. Avoid water sources just downstream of campgrounds.


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Last Updated April 24, 2008