As you said - that depends on what you're doing. For car camping, just bring several large jugs of clean water with you - less hassle.
Yeah, I forgot to say about the car camping situation. Clean water is preferable to collected water that you don't know where it's been. Not to mention if you can't find the body of water that was *supposed* to be there, then you are screwed.
I remember once my troop used the filters in this lake. The water we got was still somewhat green, but we used it to cook noodles. Didn't taste weird, no one got sick. Random eh?
With a good water filter made for backpacking, you don't need to boil the water. Usually it comes with some sanitizer you can put in the water to remove anything viral, and the filter will remove most bacteria, which is primarily what you're worried about. If you're going to boil the water, you can usually just tie a bandanna around the bottle opening to filter out all of the particles. Boiling the water will kill anything that's in it, so the only reason to filter it is to remove larger particles. Also, if you're using water from streams, lakes, etc. don't forget that no amount of filtering or boiling will remove chemicals.
Huh. I seem to have remembered my Philmont trip (New Mexico backpacking) incorrectly. I think they only said we had to do both filtering and boiling for this one really dirty river.
well, If you are backpacking instead of bringing a water filter you could bring iodine tablets to save space and wieght.
Iodine cleaned water taste terrible IMO. Filters are not that heavy or bulky, and for long trips you may run out of Iodine. Also, the iodine process takes much longer.
I read in field and stream that there are special uv lights that can purify water very very well and easily. I found the price tag a little steep though.
I think I've heard bad things about those, not sure. I would rather take the filter because they can remove particles.
Another advantage of boiling is that you need hot water/stoves to clean things anyways (ie sterilization and dishwashing). Copper bottomed pots/pans are excellent for fast heating.
Now that I'm mentioning cooking utensils, has anyone used those folding plastic bowls? They're very good for backpacking.
Edited by pwnchu, 27 June 2008 - 11:05 PM.