There are several options for really lightweight on-the-go water purification beyond actual water purifying tablets like the ones I talked about in the chapter on your Altoids ® survival kit. This first one is pretty good, but it does need batteries, which you already understand will become more and more problematic over time.
That being said, a SteriPen Traveler while a little pricey at $50, is really compact (about the size of one of those little 5-hour energy drink bottles) and the tapered end will fit into narrow-mouthed bottles.
So if you empty out a bottle of water, you can fill it with water from another source and purify it with the Steripen. The whole package weighs 5.7 ounces with the necessary four AA batteries in place. It’s basically a UV light that’s good for 3,000 water treatments.
I’m also a big fan of the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for $20. It’s a little bigger (8.8 inces long), but it will filter out 99.9999% of all waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of all protozoan parasites.
The LifeStraw gets rid of contaminants down to 0.2 microns and will clean up 264 gallons of water without any chemicals. It really is designed just like a straw, so you drink straight out of the filter.
Of course, tablets like Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets are the old tried and true standard. You do have to have something to hold the water to treat it, but the tablets only set you back about $6. They also don’t take up a lot of room, which is a plus.
The tablets are really just iodine, which primarily targets Giardia lamblia. Since we really don’t know what bug will cause the zombie apocalypse, I’d go for the broadest based water purification method possible.
When you manage a quasi-permanent outpost, even if it’s right by a running stream, I’d still recommend boiling all drinking water. You can never be sure what’s in the water upstream or be 100% certain that the movement of the water is enough to protect you.
As part of the Rule of Threes, you can’t survive more than three days without water. Worry about what you’re going to drink first. It’ll take you a good three weeks to starve to death.
Don’t underestimate how much weight you’re packing on when you try to carry water. You’re looking at 8.34 pounds per gallon and at minimum your body should have about two quarts a day. In extreme heat though, you may lose half-a-gallon a day in sweat alone. (If you’re racking your brain to remember, there are four quarts in a gallon.)