Water treatment


Well-Known Member
Sep 10, 2015
Hi guys,
Having grown up in Scotland and now living in New Zealand I have always just taken my water straight from mountain streams with no ill effect. So I was wondering what's in the water there in the USA, especally in the mountains that warrants using a filtration system?


9 out of 10 times, mountain water in the U.S. is fine, particularly if you are not on a piece of land that allows for grazing.

However, you can occasionally pick up giardia, particularly if you are in lower terrain that has beavers or other water loving mammals.

I know a number of folks that generally don't treat their water in the mountains, and very few of them get sick. However, chlorine dioxide tablets are so light and effective that I just use them even if the risk is small.


Well-Known Member
Sep 15, 2012
Mojave Desert, Nevada

As a backpacker I can tell you that US Forest Service employees testing hundreds of streams in many forests have found that the need for water treatment is very rare.

HOWEVER, all it takes is for you to drink from that pristine mountain brook that has a beaver pond upstream or a big pile of elk or bear crap in the stream and you will get giardia, at the least. And that is not a pleasant prospect.

Eric B.

Andy Backus

Field Editor
Staff member
Dec 21, 2009
The water where I elk hunt in Colorado is very clean and I am often tempted to skip filtering. I almost broke down and did it last year. Later that day I traveled further up stream only to find a beaver pond. I've never gotten giardia but I've heard very bad things about it.

I find pump filters to feel like a lot of work when I'm hunting at high elevation. I've been using the SteriPen Ultra and I really like how quick and easy it is with no physical effort. You need to use a wide-mouth water bottle like a Nalgene so it's not the best if you use a water bladder (which I don't).


Well-Known Member
May 22, 2012
Brookston, MN
I have yet to use or try one of those UV sticks, but I've read of guys going to them and tablets because their filter systems froze.

Seems a valid point


Well-Known Member
Oct 20, 2012
I bought the Platypus bag filtration system last year but didn't end up using it as we were able to ATV in enough water and never ventured too far out from camp. It'll get used in Wyoming this September and it seems like a pretty good lightweight system where everything but the tube holds water. Definitely going to buy a few packs of the Katadyn tablets too though to keep in the pack, the truck, the bug out bag etc.
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