Backcountry Drinking Water Rotating Header Image


Thirst can be a killer…

As an adventurous traveller, hiker or trekker you constantly need fresh water. Yet how do you know that next mouthful isn’t going to be a cocktail of bacteria, giardia or worse?

The water taps, lakes and rivers of the world mask a world of microscopic danger. Bacteria, viruses, protozoa, parasitic worm eggs and chemical contaminants abound and yet these nasties aren’t something you want to have to worry about half way up Kilimanjaro, while rafting down the Zambezi River or turning the tap in your Mexican hotel after a too many cervezas. Bottled water carries a heavy environmental footprint and it isn’t exactly practical on a multi-day trek in Nepal.So what do you do? How do you sort fact from fiction on the risks of drinking water? What are the risks, and most importantly, what can you do about them?

Worry not. Help is at hand.

Here you will find comprehensive information on the following:

Simply click on the topics links to get started and happy, carefree travels!


  1. I found your comment on another web site a bit confusing after reading other reports, so I came here to find more info on this product….Does this come with 1 filer or the 2 you talk about “For treatment, I generally rely on a MSR WaterWorks II microfilter [I sometimes use a MiniWorks EX or a Katadyn Pocket Filter] with a ceramic element that has an absolute 0.5 micron pore size, a built-in GAC element and a secondary paper filter with an absolute pore size of 0.2 microns. In theory, this device should remove all microorganisms down to 0.2–0.3 microns including bacteria, protozoa, and any helminth eggs or larvae. The GAC element removes any offensive taste from the water although mountain water is usually clear and tasteless.” All I’m finding on this unit is that it has just the one filter…if that is true,where can I get this second filter and what does it cost? Sorry but I’m a newbie, trying to prepare for earth quakes..I live in San Diego….can you please help me out on this and email me and post it too…I know others are looking for the same info? Jannet (my email addy was sent to you along with my post..Thanks

    1. guru says:

      Hi Jannet

      The microfilter with the secondary paper element that I mentioned is the MSR Waterworks II. It is the same as the MiniWorks with a 0.5 micron ceramic element and GAC element with the addition of a screw-on paper filter element that is 0.2 microns and which is disposable when it clogs. However since water that goes through this paper filter has already been through the ceramic depth filter I can’t imagine it would ever clog – mine never has after 12 years of use. As far as I know MSR discontinued the Waterworks II. As almost all bacteria and certainly all protozoa and worm eggs are easily filtered by a 0.5 micron ceramic element, the 0.2 paper element was costly and unnecessary overkill. In it’s place I’d recommend the MSR Miniworks or Katadyn Pocker filter – both 0.5 micron ceramic filters that can be cleaned and last for thousands of litres – and then if you are really worried pretreat the water with iodine as this will kill all viruses and the rare pathogenic bacteria that is under 0.5 microns in size. If you are preparing for earthquakes then it would be important to include chemical treatment as a breakdown in sewage treatment could result in considerable human fecal contamination of water and thus the potential for viral diseases. Iodine such as Polar Pure is your best choice as it doesn’t degrade over time like chlorine, it works well and it’s cheap. I hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>