Purifying water when in the great outdoors isn’t easy, which is why it is best to always be prepared. You won’t last long without it, and even what seems to be an ample supply can run out fast when you don’t have easy access to clean water. Thankfully, there are plenty of camping accessories available and a few tricks to help keep you hydrated when camping.

Some will require some planning, and with reasonable prices and plenty of options, having a safe water supply when camping has never been easier. Let’s take a look at some easy ways to ensure the water that is tempting you is clean.

Boil The Water

Sometimes you don’t have access to a means of purifying the water, but some ways can make it safer. Although it isn’t ideal, boiling water kills pathogens but it isn’t as simple as waiting for bubbles to appear. It takes longer for water to boil in the open so you should ensure it is boiling for over 5 minutes before you take it off the heat.

Since most campers are capable of making campfires, and often have plenty of equipment, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Be sure to leave it for long enough, even 10 minutes to be sure and for bacteria and any viruses to be killed, although it won’t eliminate all chemicals.

Use A Water Filter

These products are part of the modern campers must-have accessories, and it is easy to see why. Small, easily portable, and often making the user capable of drinking straight from the source, a water filter can be a lifesaver. Many can be used to filter 1,000’s of liters of water removing nasties such as rust, but also mold, chlorine, metal ions, bacteria, and more.

Some can pump multiple liters a minute, allowing a backpack to refuel for the next stage of their adventure in no time. The better water filters are inexpensive and do a great job of keeping you hydrated and safe.

UV Light Devices

The rays of UV light is bad news for a lot of the tiny organisms that can otherwise be harmful, making these products ideal for disinfecting water. They are not always ideal if you are unsure about the water source, or if there are floating particles where pathogens may be developing, but if you have an idea of the source and the water is clear, the hand-cranked devices are easy to use and do not require batteries.

The light needs to be applied for the right amount of time for it to be effective and every product has different methods so be sure to read the instructions before heading out.

Water Purification Tablets

Ideal for when space is at a premium or you just need the convenience, a water purification tablet is easy to use. Depending on the product, one tablet can purify well over 20 liters at a time meaning it doesn’t take many to give most people a trip worth. Always remember to pack more than you think you’ll need as carrying a backpack and the hat of the day can cause you to lose more fluid than normal, so taking on extra becomes more important.

Most products come with tens of tablets, meaning they usually last for multiple trips. Keep an eye on the shelf life of these products. Not all of them last so long so any that you have lying around from your last trip might not be useable. For the most part, they tend to have a one or two-year shelf life before they are not effective.


Although it might be less effective than some of the other options, the UV rays of the sun can be used to purify water to a point. Without much in the way of tools or accessories, it is possible to create your own UV treatment using only a plastic water bottle. Firstly, make sure there are no labels blocking the rays from the water. Then, let the water sun in direct sunlight for around 8 hours on a sunny day, and up to two days when cloudy.

It needs to get adequate sunlight to kill the pathogens and nasties you don’t want to get into your system but at the end of the process, it should be fine to drink as long as it comes from a clear water source.

Evaporation Trap

If the only water source doesn’t look the safest, of there is no source nearby, your choices are pretty limited. Sometimes the only means of creating water is with an evaporation trap. Create a hole in the ground and place a container at the bottom, cover it with a plastic bag or something similar, using a small rock to weigh the middle down that is above the container.

Water will evaporate from the ground up, falling into the container. This is a lengthy process that will take a while to yield results but doesn’t require a lot of equipment and is a good idea whilst you are still searching for a water source.

Is Raw Water Better Than No Water?

In the very worst-case scenario, if you do not have a means of purifying the water before drinking it, it is better to drink raw water from as clear a source as possible than to go without. If you can find something as close to a natural spring then this is better but remember that this approach is a risk. When faced with dehydration, as a last resort, it is better to take a chance on pathogen filled water than to die.


With so many ways of purifying water in the wild, it is always best to be prepared and take some accessories to help make water clean enough to drink safely. Any extended time in the wilderness should be done so after you have adequate equipment, with some of the most important being a means of purifying water. At the worst, keep some tools to hand that make it easy to get rid of as many nasties as possible, remember that even a plastic bottle can be useful if the sun is out.