On both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, our preferred method of water purification is the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter (full size). This is what I recommend for water treatment to others and what I will continue to use in my backpacking career. (This is my unsolicited opinion after hiking over 5,000 miles!)
Unlike bulky backcountry water pumps, the Sawyer Squeeze is a small filter that weighs 3 ounces and is 5″ tall and 2″ wide. It includes a 32 oz water bladder that screws onto the filter.
Unlike purification drops that take a half hour to work, the Sawyer Squeeze takes about 30 seconds to filter. Sawyer’s website claims that it “removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera Leptospirosis, and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium”
The Sawyer Squeeze is super easy to use. Just fill the bladder with water from a spring, stream, creek, etc. and attach the Sawyer filter. Squeeze the water through the filter into a clean vessel or you can drink directly from the filter itself. Easy peasy.
If you’re spending time in the backcountry, you’ll need a water purification method. This is the simplest, quickest, and lightest weight method on the market. I highly recommend a full size over the mini to increase your flow rate. I’ve seen dozens of minis in hiker boxes abandoned by annoyed hikers. I also recommend carrying an extra filter bag as the ones included have a tendency to spring a leak.
Do you have another lightweight water purification method you swear by? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!