Hiking and camping are some of the most exciting and enjoyable activities one can take part in throughout the entire year. Our country is home to thousands of square miles of untouched and protected wilderness that offer great views of landscapes and animals, peaceful escapes from the noises of big cities, and a chance to get away with family or friends to enjoy some time together. However, sometimes accidents or the unforeseen can occur during our trips to the outdoors, and we find that our provisions—such as water—are depleted faster than anticipated. Planning ahead of time for such sudden emergencies is the best way to prepare and there are several options for purifying lake and river water should you find yourself thirsty during your next outing.

Many are familiar with water purification tablets, which can be dropped into a designated amount of water to eradicate varying levels of harmful viruses and other organisms over a period of time. Katadyn’s Micropur tablets, for example, utilize chlorine dioxide as an active element, and when added to a quart of water, destroy several viruses and bacteria during the first 15 minutes, Giardia in half an hour, and Cryptosporidium in four hours. Many outdoorsmen carry these as a last resort, as the four-hour wait time for maximum purification can be grueling.

Filters are another option, and there are several variations of this product to suit different needs. Companies such as Katadyn, MSR, and First Need make filters that use a hosed filter and pump mechanism that draw water directly from a source and purify it of any particles or organisms larger than 0.2, or even 0.1 microns. No, the water isn’t going to taste any better, but it will be more than safe enough to drink. Besides, you can add flavor with a package of Crystal Light or MiO, if you prefer.

There are also water bottles that implement a filtration mechanism for an easy, all-in-one solution. These designs are great for day hikers, bikers, runners, or even those who simply want cleaner water during their everyday life. The Katadyn MyBottle filter consists of a 100% BPA-free bottle that you fill directly from a lake or river, then insert the filter, and drink. The filter uses a three-step purification process to purify the water and makes it completely safe to drink. The bottle is also easy to carry with the addition of a loop for carabiners, and fits easily into a bottle holder on bikes or a car.

Depending on the duration of your trip, as well as the extent of your circumstance, the water purification options outlined above would be great additions to any trip to the outdoors. While some may not need to spend a lot on expensive filters, I would suggest keeping tablets handy at all times, and picking up one of Katadyn’s MyBottle filters. While no one expects or wants to find themselves in such an emergency, they can happen. If you don’t want to be parched when they do, pick up a purification product the next time you visit your local outdoor retailer.