In this video presentation, we dive into a critical topic to raise awareness about the increasing problem of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in backcountry water sources. Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) cause toxic algae blooms (a.k.a. hazardous algae blooms, HAB) because of the presence of cyanotoxins. Cyanotoxins are harmful to humans and mammals (especially dogs) and can cause various symptoms, including skin rashes, eye/ear/nose/throat damage, liver damage, and neurological damage. As these harmful organisms become more common, outdoor enthusiasts need to understand their risks, how to identify contaminated water, and the most effective treatment methods to ensure safe hydration in the wilderness. This presentation provides valuable insights and practical advice to help you stay informed and safe on your adventures.

YouTube video

This module is part of our comprehensive online course, Water Treatment and Backpacking Hygiene. Explore the full course to deepen your understanding of water safety, effective treatment methods, and best practices for maintaining hygiene in the wild.

Online Course - Water Treatment and Backpacking Hygiene

Learn state of the art best practices for water treatment safety and backcountry hygiene in this comprehensive online course. In Water Treatment and Backpacking Hygiene, you’ll learn the science behind various water treatment methods, how and when to use them, water treatment best practices, and information about health and hygiene on the trail and in camp. Targeted primarily to multi-day backpackers, expedition runners, long-distance hikers, institutional education students, working field professionals, and thru-hikers to ensure your safety and success in the wilderness. In this course, we also offer expert guidance on selecting appropriate water treatment systems, hygiene supplies, and more.

Learn More

Gear Resources

In this video module, we discussed the use of two-stage filtration (hollow fiber membrane, followed by activated carbon) as a promising method for removing cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins from backcountry water sources. Currently, we recommend Hydroblu two-stage filtration systems for this purpose:

Hydroblu Versa Flow Water Filter

A light and affordable option - use as a squeeze filter or inline with a bladder or gravity system. Modular system includes an option for activated carbon post-filtration.

See it at Garage Grown Gear See it at Hydroblu
HydroBlu Activated Carbon Filter for Versa Flow

The Activated Carbon module is made up of mixture of activated carbon and ion-exchange microbeads. Activated carbon adsorbs chemicals and heavy metals, and improves the taste and color of the contaminated water. The ion-exchange microbeads are an organic polymer substrate. These beads are porous, providing a large surface area for removing pollution, poisonous, and heavy metal iron from the water. The ion-exchange replaces these negative ions with innocuous ions, such as sodium and potassium. Additionally, this combination will remove unhealthy organic compounds such as chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, petroleum products, and cyanotoxins.

See it at Hydroblu

Discover more in Backpacking Light’s Water Treatment and Backpacking Hygiene Gear and Supply Resource Guide.

Related Content