To help you find the best water purification tablets for camping, we have tried out a multitude of products, testing them for purification abilities, favoring products that easily eliminate germs and bacteria, lengthy shelf lives, so you can be sure they’ll be ready to go whenever you need them, and quick-acting formulas that purify large amounts of liquid in around 30 minutes. We also liked products that were easy to dispense and those that made the treated water taste delicious. After all, the best water bottle means nothing unless the water is drinkable.

The best product we tried was easily the Ef Chlor Portable Water Purification Tablets, boasting a highly concentrated formula that can treat more than six gallons of water per tab, the highest on this list, and a quick-acting purification process that gets the job done in 30 minutes. It is also effective against a wide variety of contaminants, including hydro hypophilic viruses, fungi mould, yeast, mycoplasmas and protozoa. Keep reading to learn more about the Ef Chlor Portable Water Purification Tablets and the other products on this list.

Top 4 Best Water Purification Tablets for Camping Compared

 #1  Ef Chlor Portable Water Purification Tablets – Top Pick

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WHY WE LIKE IT: Boasts an extremely concentrated formula that treats over 6 gallons of water with just one tablet, the most on this list, and is effective against many contaminants. The concentrated formula easily makes this our top pick.

  • Highly concentrated
  • 30 minute purification process
  • Effective against wide variety of contaminants
  • 3 year shelf life is decent, but other picks are longer
  • Pack contains only 10 tablets, though multipacks are available
  • Slight odor remains, though taste is clean

These Ef Chlor Portable Water Purification Tablets are extremely concentrated and able to purify more than six gallons of water per tablet used, which is the best metric on this list. The purification process takes 30 minutes to complete, which is in line with other products on this list, and these tablets are effective against a wide spectrum of contaminants, including hydro hydrophilic viruses, fungi mould, yeast, mycoplasmas and protozoa, in addition to spores and bacteria.

These tablets boast a decent enough three year shelf life, though some products on this list boast shelf lives of four and five years. Additionally, we found the treated water to exhibit a slight odor, though the taste was clean. Another great product that leaves no aftertaste is the Katadyn Micropur MP1 tablets, which use a water treatment that releases chlorine dioxide (effective against cryptosporidium parasites) to create safe drinking water. Read all about the best water purifiers for camping.

 #2  Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: A high quality product with a 5 year shelf life, tied for the longest shelf life on this list, and a fast-acting formula that treats water in around 30 minutes. This is a great all-around water purification tablet that is perfect for hikers and other average users.

  • 5 year shelf life
  • Ready in 30 minutes
  • Multipack contains 50 tablets
  • Each tablet purifies 1 liter, which is much less than top pick
  • Slight odor after treatment
  • Can cause eye irritation

These Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets deliver great tasting treated water in around 30 minutes and boast a five year shelf life, which is tied for the longest shelf life found on this list. This multipack comes with 50 tablets, enough to purify 50 liters of water, and the tablets come in a compact and lightweight bottle, making them easy to stow away for a hike.  All you need is the best disaster kit, and you’ll be ready to hit the woods.

Though this multipack does come with 50 tablets, each tablet is rated to purify just one liter of water, which is much less than our top pick. Additionally, we noticed a slight odor to the treated product, but it was not a huge deal and still tasted fine. A similar product of the same brand is the Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Purification Tablets, where each tablet treats one quart of contaminated water with a chlorine dioxide water treatment for four hours. With the water purified of parasites and bacteria, it then becomes suitable drink water with no aftertaste. Make sure that you bring the best coolers when camping as well as the best sleeping pad.

 #3  Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets – Best Quality

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WHY WE LIKE IT: A multipack containing 300 tablets, with a fast-acting formula that purifies water in less than 30 minutes and a five year shelf life. The sheer number of tablets that come in this multipack make it a fantastic value.

  • 300 tablet multipack
  • Purifies in 30 minutes
  • 5 year shelf life
  • Can cause eye irritation
  • Not safe to swallow
  • Not eligible for Prime shipping, though company does ship for free

These Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets come in a multipack containing a whopping 300 tablets, significantly upping this product’s value proposition. The tablets treat a half gallon of water in around 30 minutes, which is great, and they feature a shelf life of five years, which is tied for the longest shelf life on this list. We also found the end result to be clean tasting, with not much of an aroma.

This is a disaster-grade product, so the ingredients include sodium dichloroisocyanurate, among other powerful cleaning agents. As such, it is harmful to swallow, breathe or come in contact with the eye. You may also want to check out the best backpacking tent. Or best headlamp comes in handy too.

 #4  Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA+ – Best Tasting

WHY WE LIKE IT: Contains ascorbic acid, which eliminates the taste, color and smell of residual iodine, which can sometimes remain in post-treated water. The end result is the best tasting and smelling treated water on this list.

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Effective against Giardia lamblia
  • 100 tablets in pack
  • 4 year shelf life lower than some picks
  • Ready in 35 minutes, slightly longer than some picks
  • Tablet only treats half quart

These Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA+ create a great tasting end product, thanks to the addition of ascorbic acid, among other ingredients, which eliminates the taste, color and smell of residual iodine. This pack contains 100 tablets, which is great, and is proven to be effective against Giardia lamblia, among other germs and parasites. We also liked how light the package was, easily allowing us to stow a bottle in a backpack or overnight bag.

Though these tablets do boast a four year shelf life, some items on this list have a shelf life of five years. Additionally, these tablets only treat a half of a quart at a time, whereas our number three pick, for instance, treats two quarts with one tablet. Also, read about the best camping tent. Other camping gear that you may want to bring includes the best tactical flashlight and things in our camping and hiking list.

How We Decided

To help you choose the best water purification tablets for camping, hiking or other outdoor activities, we tried out plenty of top products, testing for effective purification formulas, lengthy shelf lives, as long as five years and as little as three years, and quick-acting formulations that treat water in 30-35 minutes. These tablets are small and very easy to add to your best disaster first aid kit.

We also were attracted to multipacks, which often include 50 or 100 tablets, allowing you to get more bang for your buck. To that end, it was ideal when these products shipped in light containers, making them easy to stow away in your backpack or carry bag, just in case you find yourself near a disreputable water source. This way all of your survival gear is with you.

As far as the types of purification available, we made sure all of these products were effective against a broad range of contaminants, including fungi mould, yeast, mycoplasmas and protozoa, in addition to various bacteria and germs. Finally, we made sure that the end product tasted clean and appropriately purified.

Water Purification Tablet Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Contagions
    All of the above products reliably treat a broad variety of contaminants, including fungi mold, yeast, mycoplasmas and protozoa, in addition to various bacteria and germs. Some offer specialized protection against particular contaminants, like our number four pick, which is effective against Giardia lamblia, and our top pick, which is particularly effective against hydro hydrophilic viruses. All of the above products, however, are certified to adequately treat most of the stuff you’d run into while drinking from stagnant pools of water, streams or lakes.
  2. Smell and Taste
    Once the above products are done purifying water, often in around 30 minutes, the taste should be clean, resembling something from a standard tap. Due to the nature of the chemicals used in the treatment process, however, there can occasionally be a unique aroma. This is nothing to freak out over, as it does not indicate that the end result is dangerous or impure. Some products, like our number three pick, add some extra ingredients to make sure any residual odor has been eliminated.
  3. Shelf Life
    These water purification tablets are not just for camping or hiking. Many of them are used in the military or for disaster relief efforts, particularly products with a long shelf life. On that note, the shelf lives on these tablets can be rather lengthy, as long as five years and as little as three years. A long shelf life can be extremely useful, as you can buy a bunch for the home, just in case you run into some issue with potable water in the future.

Water Purification Tablets for Camping FAQs

How long do water purification tablets take to work?

Though results may vary depending on the chemical compound of the particular tablet, a general rule of thumb is 30-35 minutes. Some products take much longer, but those have become rarer in recent years.

Are water purification tablets safe?

While water purification tablets are certainly safe when used according to instructions, they can be dangerous if ingested, due to the nature of the chemicals used to treat the water. Be careful not to accidentally consume a tablet or have it touch your eye.

Will boiling water work just as well as using a tablet?

A rolling boil for at least one minute does kill Cryptosporidium, Giardia, viruses, and bacteria, which is similar to water purification tablets. Boiling water, however, will not change the taste or odor of the product, which some tablets do manage to achieve.

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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