What Hikers Should Know About Toxic Algae Blooms

You may or may not have heard of toxic algae blooms. If you have, it may have been something related to local beaches, including warnings not to swim or harvest any shellfish. But these potentially deadly occurrences affect inland fresh water as well, including sources used by hikers for drinking. In 2022, Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers may have been sickened by toxic cyanobacterial blooms. So how can you tell if a water source has been rendered dangerous by algae? And if it has, what, if anything, can you do about it? What are Toxic Algae Blooms? Also called blue-green algae, cyanobacteria are found in salt, fresh and brackish water. These simple, plantlike organisms aren’t always toxic, but under certain conditions, including abnormally warm weather or pollution, they can grow out…

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Boiling Snow & Filtering Water in the Alpine

A successful adventure in the alpine requires many working parts. Number one is most certainly stoke! However, there are other aspects that are just as important. When planning a trip that takes you into a remote mountain environment and away from civilization, it is important to know how to take care of yourself in the event something does not go as planned. Familiarity with the 10 Essentials is critical, and of those 10, understanding how to find and prepare safe drinking water is of utmost importance. It’s not just about finding a water source (from ice or a stream)—knowing the steps to follow to prepare water efficiently and effectively is essential. There are important aspects to consider, such as your environment, specific equipment to use and the overall preparation for…

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Complete Guide to Water Treatment

MSR’s Complete Guide to the Basics of Water TreatmentWhat kind of water treatment do I need?It’s a simple question, but there is no easy answer. Water treatment is far from a black and white subject; differing threats, varying standards and lack of information can make it a challenge to determine which threats you will encounter. To compound the matter, the various water treatment systems available can be difficult to understand; microfilters, chemicals, UV light treatments and purifiers offer d

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Water 101: Safe Water Treatment Solutions for International Travelers

Whether you’re planning a backcountry trip or an urban adventure abroad—say, an Annapurna Circuit trek in Nepal, or a cultural tour of its capital, Kathmandu—you’ll want to take extra precautions with your drinking water. In many developing countries, both municipal drinking water and backcountry water are prone to viruses in addition to bacteria and protozoa. Bringing a water purification system with you is a smart way to help protect you from viral infections that can jeopardize your health, not to mention ruin your vacation. There are a few water treatment options available to you that target different qualities of water. A general rule when treating water is to start with the clearest water possible, but sometimes your options are limited. Here’s what you should know about treating water when traveling…

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Water Treatment 101: Viruses

Originally published on February 12, 2015.  Viruses take the cake as tiniest of the waterborne disease-causing microorganisms—smaller than both protozoa and bacteria. These nasty little bugs are also the least understood by scientists, and cause the greatest range of symptoms across infected individuals. The good new is, in North American backcountries, viruses are typically considered much less of a concern than the other pathogenic threats.

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