Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lost in the wilds? How to purify water with your pants

Never drink water directly from a stream. Instead, purify it first.
Photo courtesy of David Niblack,
If lost in the wilds, you may run out of canteen water and need to drink from local sources. Hopefully, you’ve brought along purification tablets or filters. That isn’t likely on a day hike, however, so you may need to improvise. The simple solution: Use your pants leg.

Denim makes for a great bag to create a filter, but really any material will work, whether it be the leg of rain pants or a canvas bag.

The steps for making a water filter with your pants include:
g Cut off a pants leg where it meets the seam for your other pants leg.
g Tie off the end of the pants leg bottom. This will need to be strong enough to hold weight.
g Gather small stones (gravel works fine) and sand, or at least have them near where you’re working.
g Hang the pants legs from a tree. Rope or a belt can be used; poke holes 180 degrees from one another bear the tip of the pants leg for the rope or belt to be tied. The branch and tie-job will have to be strong enough to bear weight.
g Visually divide the tied-off pants leg into six equal horizontal sections.
g Place the small stones in the first horizontal section at the pants leg’s bottom.
g Place sand in the second horizontal section above the stones.
g Place a layer of small stones in the third section.
g Place sand in the fourth section.
g Place stones in the fifth section.
g Slowly pour water into the sixth section of the pants leg.
g Place a cup below the pants legs where water drips from it; you may need to hold the cup in place with rocks so that it doesn’t fall over in the wind.

This filter only removes large contaminants from the water. To kill bacteria and viruses that may be in the water, boil the water in the cup to have drinkable water.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.