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Back­country Water
The ultimate guide to drinking surface water—on the trail, in the woods and in the wild!

Terms of Service

Snake in the water!
Shadow Lake on the John Muir Trail is a great water source! At least until this snake swam by.... Giardia, snake bites, alligator attacks or whatever.... it doesn’t matter: it ain’t our fault.

Do you want to read a long, boring legal document? Yeah, neither do we. We also don’t want to waste time writing one. So here’s the deal:

Be good. Don’t try to hack this website. If you want to distribute any of the materials from this website (online or offline), use that Contact Us button and ask first. You’re more than welcome to link to a page on this website without asking for permission, but don’t imply that we endorse your website (because we don’t).

Don’t steal bandwidth by linking to photos, images or other embedded materials without permission. Warning: we have been known to move such images to a new location and replace them with vulgar, NSFW content when we catch on to bandwidth thieves. It’s a little embarrassing when your website shows up with Nazi propaganda and pornography and scares all of your visitors into thinking that your website was hacked and is uploading a virus to their systems. (Not that we would actually upload viruses to innocent people—but we’re more than happy to give them a scare so they know that your website is not to be trusted.) is provided as-is and we assume no responsibility for any of the information found here. For instance, I (Ryan) often do not treat backcountry water, and you might be tempted to follow my example. That’s great—go for it! But if you get sick from drinking bad water, that’s on you. We have opinions about water treatment methods, but that’s all they are: opinions. You must figure out your own risk tolerance, do your own research and make your own decisions—and that’s on you.

Drinking any backcountry water is potentially hazardous, but so walking across a street and driving to the supermarket. Don’t be scared to do it, but don’t blame us if you end up with Giardia, a snake bite, an alligator attacks or some other random act of God. Stuff happens. That’s life.

And just because it’s not enumerated explicitly in this terms of service doesn’t mean it’s not allowed. If you do something we consider bad and you try pointing to this terms of service and say, “Oh, yeah? Where is it prohibited?”—then we will add it to this terms of service and point to it. If you do something that is encouraged on this website and somehow manage to hurt yourself, get sick or whatever the case may be, it’s always your own fault.