Water Filtration on the PCT

I’ll be completely honest. I’m terrified of getting sick on the trail. This post will probably have TMI for you internet strangers, but I know that others who are in the same boat as me will feel better reading these words on the page: I have IBS. I constantly have digestive issues and the thought of contracting Giardia (or anything) scares the living bejesus out of me. I have enough issues as it is, thank you very much.

This water source is nice and clear – not all sources are equal. I hope I encounter plenty of good water along my thru-hike.

I spent a lot of time researching water filtration methods in order to at least reduce the amount of discomfort I will experience on the trail, and I thought I’d share my system with you.

First, what do we need to filter water from? Isn’t the whole point of hiking the PCT and forgoing showers that I can just dunk my hands in a mountain stream and drink from it? Some people do that, and they’re fine. Some people do that, and they get sick. I’m just going to filter my water.

Here are your options for disinfecting your water, according to the PCTA:


–Water filters.

–Chemical water treatment.

–UV treatment.

Most Popular Water Treatment in 2017

According to HalfWay Anywhere’s 2017 annual survey of most popular gear, here were the most popular water treatments in 2017

Sawyer Squeeze $40 3 oz / 85 g Protozoa and bacteria 95%
Aquamira $15 3 oz / 85 g Protozoa bacteria, and viruses 89%
Sawyer MINI $25 2 oz / 57 g Protozoa and bacteria 86%
Platypus GravityWorks $110 11.5 oz / 326 g Protozoa and bacteria 72%
Katadyn BeFree $45 2.3 oz / 65 g Protozoa and bacteria 85%

My System

I’m going with a Sawyer Squeeze filter, mainly because I like the convenience of being able to screw it onto my Smartwater bottle and drinking directly from it. I’m going to be adapting my Sawyer Squeeze with water bladders to create a gravity-feed system, with inspiration (and instructions) from DarwinOnTheTrail. I highly recommend watching his video where he explains the setup. His other videos are also incredibly helpful and educational.

Here’s what my system consists of:

Sawyer Squeeze filtration system.

Platypus 2L reservoir.

–Platypus hydration system.

Sawyer inline adapter.

–2 x Quick-connect adapter.

–2 x Hose.

Pretty simple: I hooked up the inline adapter to the Sawyer Squeeze, added a hose with adapter to each end, and the system is ready to go!

I’m planning on using this system at night or when taking longer breaks while collecting water. When I don’t have time, I’ll just collect the dirty water in the “dirty” reservoir and my water bottles and filter it along the way (and/or when I reach camp). For quick water filtering, I can always attach my Sawyer Squeeze to my Smartwater bottle and drink directly from it.

This system may not work for me, or I may modify it (or ditch it). But for now, based on my research, this is what I’m starting my hike with. I hope this gives you ideas for your water filtration system.

What are you using to filter your water with? (Or, are you forgoing filtering on the PCT?) Please share in the comments below.

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