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Water Treatment Strategy

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Kuenn, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    My son is planning a section hike on the Appalachian Trail in a few months and asked me the other day if I had knowledge of the canyoneering community's approach to water purification. Knowing the western back-country to have its share of hydration challenges, especially for multi-day excursions - he figured this would be a good resource for ideas.

    He then pointed to this article which contains a water treatment study for long distance hikers. Surprising number of folks that throw caution to the wind and don't treat at all.
    Is Water Treatment Necessary?
    Teaser
    I found a few scattered references on the collective, nothing real current or concentrated. I've always trusted a First Need filter system, hasn't let me down yet. Just curious, what's your method - filter, chemicals, both...neither?
  2. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    Location:
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    for backpacking type of excursions, including multi day river trips, I use this
    https://sawyer.com/products/sawyer-2-liter-water-filtration-system-2/

    and have good luck MOST of the time. I have had it jam/clog for unknown reasons twice and it wouldn't work, even with back-washing. It jammed on me in Belize when we were far away from home. After soaking the filter, it has worked again fine. I make sure to dampen the filter at home before a trip and make sure it is working. When it works, it works very well. I actually used it on water out of the escalante River and gave some to a friend and it was great (the stream was running clear at that time).

    Two separate times I have been out on all-day mountain bike rides where I ran out of water and didn't have a filter. I decided to risk it and drink unfiltered water from a tiny clean-looking stream. I never got sick and the water saved me from serious dehydration and bonking in the middle of no where.
  3. Steve Jorge

    Steve Jorge

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    I have been using the msr mini-works filter for several years. I tried other cheaper filters before and they would get clogged and worthless during backpacking trips. The mini-works is field cleanable and quite easy to use. It comes in handy when all you can find in the desert is silty stream water.

    About 10 years ago on a backpacking trip our filters clogged so we boiled our water. I'm thinking not for long enough because a few weeks later I got gastrointestinal symptoms common to giardia that lasted several weeks. I'm not saying this proves any correlation, but it was unpleasant enough that I don't take chances in southern utah. On the other hand, I do partake of delicious untreated spring water in the Uintahs when I can see the source. Never had any issues with that.
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  4. AW~

    AW~

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    Saywer mini($20ish) or pay more for the Renovo Trio($30ish).
    Thats the current which is fast becoming the past.

    The future is modular(as in many canyoneering applications)...Renovo is looking to market the Oasis....but they are mentioing $100+.
    I think what the results they produce can be had for a fraction of the price....but itll be much easier to buy one, and the price will drop as competitors latch on.

    Beyond that, supposedly it goes back to prefab filters like the drinkable book or cyclodextrin. Its easy to see the effectiveness like the Katadyn Survivor, just needs to be lower weight(it weighs 7 lbs).
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The problem with not treating water is not that the water is frequently bad. Found water is almost always good, at least along the AT. The problem is what happens when it is NOT. Picking up a bacterial infection can be anywhere from briefly unpleasant to life-threatening, but certainly would put a hitch in a long hike. I'd recommend against just going 'wild'.

    The 'fact' that people drink the water and do not attribute infections to it is not all that useful. Infections can take hours, days or weeks to manifest themselves - thus the infection is attributed to food poisoning at the Chipolte stop on the way home, rather than to that rather nice looking spring from a couple days prior. As they say, the plural of anecdote is not data.

    The likely culprit is human-borne germs, transmitted through poop directly or indirectly. Thus while hiking the great green corridor may LOOK like Wilderness, there is plenty of contamination in the area.

    The light solution would be pills or drops. Two-part systems tend to be more palatable. Aquamira works well when the water is not murky, but can be difficult to keep a set up to date. Not a problem if buying for a particular trip.

    I like my MSR Hyperflow filter, and have no idea why anyone would use anything else. 7.4 ounces, pumps fast, small and compact, very reliable. This is about 1/2 the weight of other 'backpacking filters'. Carry extra filters. OK, it's expensive, and the extra filters are expensive too. As an overall trip cost, not very noticeable.

    http://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/water/treatment/hyperflow-microfilter/product msr_hyperflow.
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  6. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    X2!
    Also a fan of the MSR Hyperflow.
    You only need to get Giardia once :grumpy:to become a believer.
  7. Steve Jorge

    Steve Jorge

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    Tom said "I like my MSR Hyperflow filter, and have no idea why anyone would use anything else. 7.4 ounces, pumps fast, small and compact, very reliable. "

    Because I didn't know it existed when I bought my mini-works, and maybe it didn't back then. Waiting patiently for my mini-works to die before I upgrade. Until then I deal with the 14 ounces...
  8. AW~

    AW~

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    Sawyer Mini is 4.8 ounces
    Renovo Trio is 3.5 ounces

    Sawyer Mini and MSR dont treat water. They just filter out bacteria by using a low micron size(.2) opening on the screen. You can get much more narrow and block 100% of bacteria....for example a simple $10 syringe filter is more effective than your $100 marketed water filter. Ask anyone in a hospital which one is preferable. The filters on the syringe are pennies BTW.

    The Trio uses a .5 which is approaching the limit of usability(bacteria could get through in theory)....but still cant desalinate. But it does attempt water purification. What they dont tell you is water purification takes longer, so a person who just scoops water up and then drinks it didnt really purify the water.
    When it comes down to scooping up sewage, urine or saltwater, even the Oasis wont deal with that. Thats when one needs reverse osmosis (aka Katadyn survivor) or distillation. Bring ph paper while you are at it.

    There is an emergency one that uses sugar(forward or passive osmosis) to filter, like NASA did, but apparently tastes horrible and has a short shelf life.
    http://www.htiwater.com/divisions/personal_hydration/products.html Not to mention that Seapak's capability is 17 oz in 5 hours.

    The part about bacteria is more of a selling point. .2 microns dont even stop viruses like West Nile. Over here minerals have more priority than bacteria. Clear 'bacteria free' water could contain high levels of iron, arsenic, and all other kinds of crazy minerals that will be harmful with repeated intake.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
  9. SARguru

    SARguru

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    [​IMG]

    Relevant!!!!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. townsend

    townsend

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    AW -- I know it is just for sake of illustration (i.e., viruses are very small), but none of need worry about catching a virus like West Nile from untreated water.
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  11. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    I'm a huge fan of the ClO2 (chlorine dioxide) tablets from katadyn. If you find reasonably clear water, you're good to go. You have to wait a few hours for full effect but as long as you're conscious of that fact, it's the way to go.

    Aquamira is the same stuff and is available in a 2 part liquid formula, or tablets.

    I have a filter but I rarely take it on dessert trips anymore because of its propensity for clogging in marginally murky water.

    The best part about the ClO2 treatments is that because it's a powerful oxidizer, it greatly improves the flavor of not-so-fresh water. It makes pothole water fairly palatable.
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  12. Asmith

    Asmith

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    In Colorado the Steri Pen is the way to go since our streams run very clean...uses ultraviolent light to kill bacteria. Downside is water can't be cloudy/murky otherwise the light doesn't penetrate. Takes less than 1 minute.

    Otherwise Katadyne Hiker Pro for all backpacks. Treatment tablets are great for a backup or emergency but otherwise archaic IMO.
  13. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I've been thinking about a Steri pen for Mt biking since they are pretty small. My regular filter is way too bulky to carry in a jersey pocket.
  14. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    I don't see how something that is light, effective, and easy to use is archaic.

    Obviously they aren't ideal for short trips where you need water quickly, like mountain biking. For multi-day minimalist trips, they are ideal.
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  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Actually "Tablets", especially the two-part kind and Aquamira, are pretty much our go-to solution when weight counts (which is most of the time). We are usually clever enough to find clear water where the "Tablets" work. Much much lighter than carrying a pump. Much easier than using a pump. Not so good when the water is scuzzy...

    Tom
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  16. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Has anyone found that the tabs mess up their digestion?
    Not as bad as Giardia, mind you, but a little funny?
  17. Jman

    Jman

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    I would think that since tablets only make the stuff in the water inert, you are still drinking the residue, scum, and other material in that "clean" water of yours. Sure, take it through a coffee filter but it still doesn't take out the sediment and other debris that ceramic filter would easily filter out.

    So while the giardia may now be inert, your stomach and intestines are like "ugh...sand...ugh...inert material....ugh..Gluten! (ha. It's a joke!)...etc....ergo, digestive problems.

    I've used tablets and while it doesn't make you have diarrhea it can make your stomach gurgle like it wants to depending on the clarity of your "clear" water.

    Personally, I stick with ceramic for nearly 99% of all trips. A little less than a pound is worth it. But then again, I always seem to be the mule of the group.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Tablets and filters also do not make the water "good to drink". Alkaline water will give you the runs - a fair amount of this in the backcountry in Utah. Chemical contaminants like lead, gasoline, etc. will not generally be removed or altered. You can run your piss through a filter, but it won't change it.

    :moses:
  19. Mike

    Mike epic blarneys

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    Original size Sawyer Squeeze 90% of the time. I like the flow rate better than the mini. I like having the extra bag for more water carrying capacity. Cheap. Light (6-7 oz? for filter and bag) Follow some basics (backflush after trips or really dirty water, don't freeze it) and it will apparently last 1,000,000 gallons. Has worked perfectly for the past two years at least. Fairly sure its the majority of thru hiker's filter of choice the past few years.

    Tablets for going extra mega light.
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  20. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Awesome. Just ordered one.

    T
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