Best Water Purification Tablets 2024

Best Purification Tablets for Backpacking

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This is a review of all the Best Water Purification Tablets for Backpacking, Hiking, Camping, and Traveling 2024.

We all need to drink water when backpacking and hiking but how do we ensure the water is free from things that can make us sick such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. There are three solutions.

In this review, I am going to let you know what are the best Water Purification Tablets on the market in 2024.

How We Tested

All the Water Purification Tablets in this review have been extensively evaluated and researched by the expert author who has more than 30 years of experience in Thru-Hiking, Backpacking, and Hiking. He also spent several years managing a hiking retail store and is regarded as an expert in this field. Some of the Water Purification Tablets were purchased by the author for this review. They have been rigorously tested by the author while backpacking, thru-hiking, and bike touring in remote areas. The research, testing, and experience of the author have combined to come up with the best water purification tablets for 2024. Read the Review Policy for further details

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Best Water Purification Tablets for Backpacking 2024

The Water Purification Tablets for Backpacking in 2024 are:

Best Water Purification Tablets – Overall

Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets

Best Water Treatment Tablets for Backpacking

> Effective against bacteria & viruses
> Effective against Giardia and Cryptosporidium
> Ready to use in 30 to 240 minutes
> Has a 5-year shelf life
> It’s made in the USA
> There’s no nasty aftertaste
> It’s such a popular water purification tablet that retailers sometimes run out of stock
> The time it takes to purify water depends on how cold & dirty it is

They offer excellent protection against bacteria and viruses in general, but they also offer very effective protection against two specific parasites, namely Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

In fact, it happens to be one of the few purification tablets that are EPA registered as a microbiological water purifier.

I’ve been using this product for longer than I can remember and I find that I need to wait half an hour for clean-looking room temperature water.

If you’re purifying dirty or cold water, the packaging recommends waiting for 4 hours before drinking it.

It tastes ok, there is not too much aftertaste to complain about. And it tastes much better than iodine-based purification tablets.

Using it was easy, just add one tablet per liter of water and give it a good shake.

The box of 20 tablets has a shelf life of 5 years, but I’ve kept mine a little longer than that without issue.

Overall, these are the best water treatment tablets on the market in 2024.

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Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets

> It’s a global, long-established brand
> It can kill 99.99% of microorganisms
> It’s really quick to work & tastes okay
> 100 tabs per box
> It has a 5-year shelf life
> It’s such a popular water purification tablet that retailers sometimes run out of stock

Now, these tablets are one of the world’s largest selling dissolvable water purification tablets. They come from a global brand that has been in the business for over 25 years.

They’re a prominent bestseller in the US, and they are consistently met with excellent customer ratings and reviews.

They also supply major aid agencies and defense agencies all over the world.

It provides effective protection not only against bacteria and viruses but also against giardia cysts, killing 99.99% of water’s microorganisms.

And it gets to work incredibly quickly – with water that’s not especially dirty, one tablet can purify 2 quarts worth of water in as little as 30 minutes, which is just what you need when you get super thirsty.

However, like all purification tablets, if there are a lot of dirt particles to get rid of, one tablet is only enough to purify three-quarters of a liter. And it will take longer than 30 minutes.

It comes in packs of 100 and has a 5-year shelf life, so you definitely won’t have to keep buying more for each trip.

Overall, these are another impressive water treatment tablet for backpacking.

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Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets

> Effective against bacteria & viruses
> Effective against Giardia and Cryptosporidium
> EPA registered as a microbiological water purifier
> 2.6 times the oxidizing capacity of chlorine
> It requires up to 4 hours for the best results

Not only do these tablets provide effective protection against the likes of bacteria and viruses, but when used correctly they can also protect against cysts, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

In fact, it happens to be one of the few purification tablets that are EPA registered as a microbiological water purifier.

The active ingredients within each tablet have 2.6 times the oxidizing capacity of chlorine, and when they react with the water they create chlorine dioxide, which is a powerful disinfectant.

There are 30 tablets in each pack, so one box is plenty for one backpacking trip. And it’s also available in larger packs as well. Each tablet is individually wrapped and takes up minimal space in your backpack or pocket.

The biggest drawback to these tablets is that they take up to 4 hours to work, which can be frustrating if you’re thirsty and have no other water.

Overall, this is another good water purification tablet but the long wait time will limit how popular it will be with most people.

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Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets

> A trusted, leading best-selling tablet
> Effective against bacteria & Giardia
> PA Plus tablets to neutralize the taste
> Water is ready to drink in less than half an hour
> Not effective against viruses
> It’s such a popular water purification tablet that retailers sometimes run out of stock

The Chlorine Dioxide tablets from Potable Aqua are not the only water purification tablets made by the brand, and this one is a far more popular option.

And again it’s a leading bestseller and is also popular with emergency organizations and the military.

There are some key differences between these tablets and the chlorine dioxide ones. With this one, you get two bottles of tablets.

One is an iodine-based tablet designed to purify the water, and the other one is designed to neutralize the taste of the iodine tablets.

The next difference is how quick it is to work. You simply add two iodine tablets to one liter of water, shake after 5 minutes, allow 30 minutes for it to take effect, and then add two PA Plus tablets.

Then give it another good shake and wait just 3 minutes, and it’s good to drink.

Not only does it make the water bacteriologically suitable to drink, but it also protects against Giardia. 

Each bottle contains 50 tablets, but you have to use two of each every time, so you only get 25 treatments per box. 

The advertised shelf-life is 4 years.

Overall, these are good water treatment tablets for hiking and backpacking.

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Aquamira Water Treatment

> Effective against bacteria and viruses
> Effective against giardia & cryptosporidium
> Purifies water in as little as 20 mins
> Treats up to 30 gallons of water
> It’s made in the USA
> It’s such a popular water purification treatment that retailers sometimes run out of stock

If you don’t fancy the taste of a tablet, which can be a little chalky, then this may be more up your alley. It’s a liquid treatment made up of two parts, part A and part B. 

All you have to do is mix 7 drops from each bottle into your water bottle, allow 5 minutes for the chemicals to activate, add to a liter of water, shake, and let it stand for 15 minutes or more.  

Not only does it provide effective protection against the likes of bacteria and viruses, but it can also protect against Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

It is one of the few purification tablets that is EPA registered as a microbiological water purifier.

Its star feature is just how much water it can treat – one pack of two bottles can treat up to 30 gallons of water. 

And even though it’s not in tablet form, it is very lightweight and won’t take up much room in your backpack. It also has a long shelf life, and you can expect to be able to use it for years after the manufacture date.

Overall, these are a very popular water treatment tablets for thru-hiking. On the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails, you will see many ultralight hikers using these to treat their water.

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Water Purification Tablets Vs Water Treatment Drops Vs Water Filter Systems/Straws

Water purification tablets are not the only means through which you can take any water you find and make it pure enough to drink.

You can also treat water with special drops, as in our number 5 pick, the Aquamira Water Treatment, or you can use a bit of tech, in the form of a water filter system or straw. 

Each method has its pros and cons. The clear advantage of water purification tablets and drops over water filter systems is the minimal space that they take up.

And, as most backpackers and hikers will concede, the more room you have in your backpack or other bags, the better, simply because it means you can carry more items with you, such as food or snacks.

Backpacking Water Filters are the most popular choice for backpacking but can get clocked up in dirty water. Some people use a Water Bottle with Water Filter. Which

Effective Protection Against Bacteria, Viruses, & Parasites

The main purpose of water purification tablets is to protect the user from the sort of diseases you can catch by drinking unclean water.

This will require effective protection against the likes of bacteria, and viruses, and against other parasitic germs such as diarrhea-causing Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

I have suffered from both Giardia and Cryptosporidium when backpacking and both times it was not a pleasant experience. I could have prevented Giardia and Cryptosporidium by using water treatment tablets, but I did not. If in doubt, use them.

However, some water purification tablets will only protect against a fraction of them, and you should be looking for ones that cover all of them.

Water Purification Time

When you’re feeling thirsty, it can be quite frustrating if you have to wait a while for the water treatment to work. So the quicker this takes, the better. Most need around 30 minutes to be effective, so any that take longer can be frustrating when you are thirsty.


Now, for some people, the resulting taste of the water is not particularly important.

However, if you are desperately trying to get a child to drink water, you’d have much better luck if the taste of the water is at the very least tolerable, if not pleasant.

Shelf Life

Water purification tablets are usually considered a last resort rather than the go-to option for drinking water when hiking or backpacking.

And if they don’t get used on one trip, you want them to still be okay to use next time around, so to that end, a good shelf life is a plus, and saves you from having to buy them again. 

Most last around 5 years, but I’ve used them well beyond their used-by date and I’m yet to have a problem. Having said that, do your best to ensure they are in date when you go into the backcountry.

Value For Money

I deliberately don’t include prices in our reviews in case the prices change. But please feel free to check the current prices as you go along using the links provided.

In my view, cheaper does not always mean better value for money when it comes to water treatments, and your first concern should be over the safety of the water to drink once it has been treated.

You may find that you can save some money by buying bottles that have more tablets, since this tends to work out at a lower cost per tablet.


Overall, the Best Water Treatment Tablets are:

Another one of the Best Backpacking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Water Purification Tablets Any Good?

We would argue that for anyone who intends to go backpacking in the wilderness, water purification tablets, or at least some sort of water purification treatment, is an absolute must.

The body is not designed to go without water for extended periods, but if you were to drink unpurified water, you could risk getting sick.

What Is The Best Chemical To Purify Water?

The most effective method of purifying water is by using a chlorine-based treatment, because it protects from the widest variety of germs. Failing that, however, your next best option would be an iodine-based treatment.

Does Boiling Water Remove Chlorine?

Yes, boiling water for 15 minutes can remove chlorine from water and improve its taste.

Are water purification tablets worth it?

All hikers and backpackers should carry water purification tablets in case they are needed. Sometimes a water filter might break or the water might be unsafe for drinking and purification tablets can make the water safe to drink.

Best Water Treatment Tablets for Backpacking

BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process

The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs

BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.

The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.

BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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