The Right Way to Treat Your Drinking Water When Camping or Hiking


You can’t just drink water out of any old source, without checking water quality first. When you’re camping or hiking, the quality of water from natural water sources can be questionable at best. Many different factors can affect how safe your drinking water can be, but there are some things you can do to make sure it’s safe for consumption. 

The first thing is knowing where the water is coming from and if it’s considered drinkable by public health standards – avoid sources like streams. It can be a scary thing to not know what you can and can’t drink when you’re in the wild. It’s important to take precautions so that your drinking water is safe from harmful bacteria, viruses, or other contaminants.

What Are Your Water Treatment Options When Hiking, Camping, or Traveling?

There are a few different ways you can treat your water when you’re out in the wilderness. You can use chemical treatments like iodine or chlorine, filter the water using a portable filter, or boil the water to kill any harmful bacteria. These methods all have their benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the one that will work best for your specific situation. If you’re not sure which treatment option is right for you, consult with an outdoor specialist or local hiking group.

How Do I Find Drinkable Water in the Wild?

If you’re unsure about the safety of a particular water source, there are some ways to test it before drinking. One way is to look at the color of the water – if it’s clear, it might still be safe to drink. However, if you see a dark tint in it or an oily sheen on top, don’t take any chances. Another way is to put some drops of food coloring into the water source – wait 30 minutes and then check for colored streaks that might indicate coliform bacteria (a sign that your water can make you sick). You can also taste test your drinking water by adding plain salt – if there’s no change in flavor after about 20 seconds, then your drinking water is probably fine.

How Do I Know When Water Sources Are Boilable?

When boiling your drinking water during extended camping excursions or long hikes, heat up three times the water you need and then let it cool back down to a safe temperature. This can be time-consuming but is an effective way of making sure your drinking water won’t make you sick. If possible, bring along some chlorine tablets for emergency situations when boiling isn’t feasible or practical (such as if there’s no open fire available).

How Do I Know How Long Water Can Stay out in the Sun Before It Goes Bad?

The sun can play tricks on us – while we think that hot weather can kill bacteria and viruses, this actually makes things worse. Warm temperatures can increase metabolism rates which help certain contaminants grow faster. Make sure that any source of drinking water is out of direct sunlight between uses so that harmful bacteria don’t have a chance to grow. 

Also, make sure you can use the water within a reasonable amount of time – if it’s hot out and you can’t keep your water in an airtight container or sealed bottle, then don’t take chances with this important resource!


How Do I Know When Water Is Safe for Drinking?

Different indicators can help show how safe your drinking water is: 

  1. What is the color of the source (is it clear?
  2. How fast does its temperature change after being exposed to the cold? 
  3. Are there any visible particles floating around in the water? 
  4. Is there a smell to the source? 
  5. Do insects seem attracted to it? 

If too many things point towards “no,” then maybe just go ahead and filter all sources of drinking water before taking a sip.

Can You Drink River Water?

In a nutshell, it’s important to take the necessary precautions when treating your drinking water while camping or hiking. Even if the water looks and smells safe, there could still be harmful contaminants present that can make you sick. 

With the right tools and knowledge, you can rest assured knowing that you’re doing everything possible to keep yourself healthy and hydrated in the great outdoors! 

Public Water Supplies

When traveling, always try to use public water supplies whenever possible rather than risking questionable tap water or bottled drinks (which may have been sitting around for weeks). If boiling is an option, bring along a small pot so that you can make hot drinks or reconstitute food as needed.

And remember: If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any means of boiling your drinking water, try heating some water on a campfire and letting it cool down to a safe temperature before drinking. Just make sure that the container you use is heat-resistant and won’t break if left near the fire too long!

Dehydration And Planning In Advance

Dehydration can be the difference between a great hiking trip and an awful one! Make sure to keep yourself well-hydrated by bringing along plenty of water. Check if or how can you drink river water, and filter any questionable sources before drinking. If you can, always carry around some extra water in case there’s no other option available or if your main source runs out unexpectedly.


When exploring the great outdoors, it’s important to be prepared for anything. Knowledge about safe drinking practices is essential when camping or hiking in areas where potable water may not be readily available. By following these simple tips, you can rest assured knowing that you’re doing everything possible to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and hydrated while enjoying the natural world!



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