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It's a hassle to carry a lot of water along on the trail, but drinking water straight from a river, stream, or pond is no longer the safe thing to do. Invest in a small water filter that goes down to "1 micron" or less in filter size, and you'll easily filter out any bacteria that can do you harm.
Yes, you can boil water to purify it, but it takes a while, and uses up quite a bit of fuel. If you include a water filter in your hiking gear, you won't need to carry as much water or fuel, which is the key to happy hiking – keep the hiking gear light and easy to carry.
You can add chemicals, like iodine, to purify local water you find along the trail, but iodine does not protect against some types of micro-organisms that might be in the water, and it leaves a distinct taste in the water. So, your best bet is a lightweight and easy to use water filter that won't add weight to your hiking gear, but will give you peace of mind when it comes to drinking water along the trail.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|