Drink the water
Americans are very picky about from where their water comes. When you’re hiking or camping, why shouldn’t you be selective about how you hydrate? The last thing you need in the great outdoors is a stomach virus that would make someone with indoor plumbing weep. Throw out the water purification chemicals and extra TP—here are some cool new ways to make sure that the water you drink is as safe as nature intended.
Killing bacteria with light is just plain cool. The compact SteriPEN Traveler uses a UV light to kill germs, viruses and protozoa in up to one liter of water. The operation couldn’t be simpler. Press a button twice and swirl the glowing bulb in water until the light turns itself off. In less than one minute, 16 ounces of water becomes safe to drink. An array of add-ons, such as a solar charger and a sediment filter for water bottles, will make you want to purify every glass of water you drink throughout the day. Combined with the cool factor and ease of use, a long-lasting battery and light bulb make the hefty price of $130 very reasonable.
Chances are that when you’re hiking you’re going to already have a water bottle tucked away, so why not make sure it has a filter built into it? The 32-ounce Exstream XR ($45-$50) houses a three-stage filter that kills viruses and bacteria, removes the pathogenic cyst Giardia, and is the only purification system we reviewed that includes a sediment filter. The downside of Katadyn’s water purifier is that it takes more than a little effort to drink from. Patience and hard squeezes must be used to push the water through the filter and up to the straw, but in the end, the Exstream XR is still the best option for an individual hiker.
Ideal for a group of campers, the MIOX Purifier ($95-$140) is designed to treat large quantities of water. Using salt and electricity, a small amount of water is filled with potent mixed oxidants that, when added to a larger water supply, will kill viruses, bacteria, Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Once the two water sources are combined, the purification process—which can clean up to 128 ounces at a time—takes four hours, so you’re only going to want to use this for the big jobs.