How To Filter Silty Water While Backpacking

Knowing how to filter silty water while backpacking can come in handy next time you're stuck on the back side of beyond with only a sandy stream as your water source. That high tech water filter you're carrying won't be much good if the water is too thick to go through the plastic tubing, or if the filter clogs every two seconds..  Even the best water filter can clog if you don't go to a little extra trouble to filter out the worst of the silt.


  • Bandana, T-shirt or sock
  • Water Filter
  • Two water bottles or other containers
  • Cup or scoop 
  1. Scoop or ladle water into the container, so that it runs through the fabric stretched over the top.  The fabric will strain out the worst of the silt.
  2. Remove the fabric and connect your water filter to a second bottle, water bladder or canteen.
  3. Pour or siphon the strained water so that it runs through the water filter into the new container.

When backpacking, never drink unfiltered water from a stream, lake or other wild water source, unless you plan to spend the next few days or weeks in close proximity to a bathroom, or worse. Once you've strained out the silt, the water can still contain germs ranging from giardia to hepatitis. Filter silty water while backpacking, then run it through your purifying filter and you'll end up with clean water that won't leave grit in your teeth.

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