Last Update: 30.Jan.2020
Destroys viruses and bacteria in 15 min
Meets the US Environmental Protection Agency purification guidelines
5 year shelf life
Long incubation time
Effective against viruses, bacteria, Giardia and Cryptosporidium
Stored at temperatures between 60 and 86°F
Exposure to heat, humidity, moisture and air will reduce the effectiveness of the tablets
Iodine tablets clean water in 30 minutes
PA Plus tablets remove iodine taste, color
Filtered water doesn't taste good
As you can imagine, water treatment systems are of the utmost importance when we’re in the backcountry. Since they can protect us from potentially deadly pathogens, it’s wise to always travel with them.
But, with so many different kinds of water purification tablets and drops out there, how can you possibly choose just one for your adventures? Here are the major kinds to look out for:
One of the original methods of treating water, iodine comes in a variety of forms for backcountry use, including as a drop solution or a tablet. Iodine is relatively inexpensive and is fairly easy to use, which makes it great for backcountry enthusiasts.
Iodine is effective against the most common bacteria and viruses, including salmonella, cholera, and E. coli. But it does not protect you against parasites like Cryptosporidium. Additionally, the temperature of the water you’re looking to treat has a large impact on the effectiveness of iodine tablets.
Generally speaking, colder water takes longer to treat with iodine than warm water does. Plus, particularly cloudy water usually demands more iodine to treat than clear water. So, you need to gauge your situation to make an on-the-fly decision.
The main advantage of iodine is that it is inexpensive and easy to find. However, people with normal thyroid function can only use iodine for up to six weeks at a time.
On the other hand, people with thyroid problems and pregnant women should always consult a physician before treating their water with iodine. Finally, many people strongly dislike the taste of iodine, which can be quite strong in treated water.
Chlorine has become a popular method of treating water both in the frontcountry and backcountry. In urban environments, chlorine is usually used to disinfect pools and municipal water systems. However, it is fairly common amongst outdoor enthusiasts, too.
People enjoy using chlorine tablets to treat their water because the chemical is pretty effective at killing a wide range of bacteria and viruses. That being said, it doesn’t protect you against Cryptosporidium.
Additionally, while chlorine is available as both a tablet and a drop, most hikers strongly prefer the tablets due to their longer shelf life. The main complaint against chlorine is that it leaves behind a bleach-esque smell in your water that can be off-putting to most outdoor recreationalists.
Perhaps the best all-around water purification system around, chlorine dioxide is available in either tablet or droplet form. Chlorine dioxide is capable of eliminating the largest variety of different pathogens when compared to all of the treatment systems in this review, as it is able to kill both Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
Chlorine dioxide is, unfortunately, often the most expensive of the different types of water purification and is the least widely available, though you can find it at most major outdoor retail stores.
Water purification tablets are incredibly important for any outdoor recreationalist as they are essential in the fight against waterborne pathogens. When compared to other forms of backcountry water treatment systems, water purification tablets have the following advantages:
Since there are so many different kinds of water purification tablets, you’ll want to be sure you know what to look for when shopping around. Here are the things you should look for when looking for the best water purifying tablets:
Each specific kind of water tablet has a different purifying time. The purifying time is the time required to eliminate pathogens from your drinking water. Some tablets require as little as 20 minutes, while others need a full 45 minutes to make your water good to drink.
For the most part, the time required to purify your water increases for colder and murkier water. However, you can generally rely on the directions given on the tablet’s packaging. If you’re someone with little patience, you might want to opt for a faster tablet system for your water.
Taste and smell are one of the most personal parts of buying water purification tablets. While some people strongly dislike the taste of iodine and chlorine, others don’t really seem to mind. Therefore, you’ll want to test out different kinds of water purifying tablets to find the one that’s right for you.
Generally speaking, water purification tablets are fairly lightweight. These pills are often sold in blister packs so you can decide how many you want to take with you into the backcountry. That being said, the droplet form of water tablets tends to be slightly heavier, so you’ll need to decide if those few extra grams make a difference for you.
The best way to figure out the procedure for treating your water is to follow the manufacturer’s directions as listed on their tablet’s packaging. However, there are some general steps you can follow:
Water purification is an important skill for any backcountry adventurer. With the right water purification tablets, you can go forth into the mountains and drink confidently from any water source.
In the Toptravelpoint Blog you will always find useful and up-to-date information about hiking and camping. & Bryce
Our experts will always help make your life easier.
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