Lightweight Water Purification Ideas

by Jay | Last Updated:  Last updated on July 26th, 2022,

Purifying Water Using Chemicals, Ultraviolet Light, and Electricity

Purifying water in the backcountry doesn’t mean having to carry a heavy and bulky water filter. Instead, the real products on the market allow hikers and backpackers to have clean water and to stay hydrated while hiking.

Pocket-Sized Water Purifiers

There are now products that can clean water that fit in a pocket and does not take up much weight in the backpack.

For instance, the MSR MIOX purifier uses a salt solution and electricity to kill harmful contaminants, such as bacteria and viruses. The pen weighs about 3.5 ounces without the salt.

Another pocket-sized water purifier uses ultraviolet light to kill harmful organisms in the water. The SteriPEN Adventurer Water Purifier uses UV light powered by lithium batteries to purify water, and according to the product information, it can be used up to 5,000 times.

It can purify 16 ounces of water in about a minute and 32 ounces in less than two minutes. The pen retails for about $99.95.

Using Water Purification Tablets to Purify Water

Water purification tablets are another common, lightweight way to clean water on the trail. Some tablets use iodine, while others are made from chlorine.

Unfortunately, when the seal has been broken on the packaging, the tablets have a limited shelf life, such as one long backpacking expedition or several shorter trips spaced within a few months. Therefore, before using these tablets, check to ensure that there is no chance of allergic reaction to the chemicals.

Using Filters on Water Bottles to Purify Water

Some water bottles come with a small filter built into the bottle. This allows the user to dip the bottle in a stream or pond and then purify the water without a pump. These bottles are often used by adventure racers who need to refill the water during a race but don’t want to spend time pumping it.

For instance, the life straw water filter is used on water bottles. If you like carrying your water bottle around, you can get the fitting size. The stage two filter cleans up to 1,000 liters of water. Its efficiency is rated at 99% in removing bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants in water.

Using a Bandanna to Filter Water

bandana background, bandanna, western

It is possible to screen out some larger particles of dirt and other matter without using a water purifier. For example, cover the top with a scarf when filling up a water bottle. The cloth will act as a screen, keeping out the “floaties” from the bottle.

Note that a scarf cannot purify the water. However, combined with chemical treatment, this is a way to have water that is not only pure but also clear.

These are just some of the many ways to purify water. They can all be used by the casual hiker or the weight-conscious expedition backpacker to have clean drinking water while on the trail.


Self assessed Germaphobe, specializing in everything water, water filters, health and nutrition. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I've acquired immense amount of knowledge when it comes to natural, biology, and everything about human anatomy.