Water Filtration?

5:57 p.m. on March 11, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm fairly new to backpacking and have gone on a few trips with friends that have had water purifiers. I've only used the pump filter but I'm trying to cut back on cost and I know a decsent one goes for around $70. Do the iodine tabs work well? I'm worried about taste. And also, what did people use before these filters? I mean, whats wrong with using a bandana to filter your water, granted its somewhat clean already?

6:29 p.m. on March 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace, TJ.

To begin answering your questions, I recommend you first read Bill Straka's four-part Backcountry Water Treatment series in the Gear Guide:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/

Part 1 covers Proper Hydration — http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/backcountry-water-treatment-part-1-hydration.html — but later parts deal with treatment options and what might be in the water.

6:38 p.m. on March 11, 2009 (EDT)
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TJ,

The short answer is that bandanas (and coffee filters and plain muslin) are far too coarse (the technical term is "pore size") to filter out any of the critters that can cause diseases. You need pore sizes in the micron size, where the bandana is some 20-50 times larger in the thread spacing. So giardia, and cryptosporidium will just pass through unimpeded (not to mention bacteria and viruses.

6:58 p.m. on March 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace TJ

And now to add my 2 cent's

At the present day all those nasty bacteria, viruses & disease darn near run rapid in our water sources so they are needed.

10:18 a.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I use different methods of water treatment depending upon the trip. For a solo trip I use idodine for drinking water and simply boil my cooking water.

On my latest group trip I used a Katadyn camp filter.

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___81915

This worked very well. When we got to camp I hung the filter from a tree and had it drain into a 2.5 gallon jug. By the time camp was set up our water was ready to go. I was quite pleased.

I camp in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and lake water is perhaps not as murky as you might get from a river full of silt. Depending upon where you go you may have different performance from this, or any filter. I used to use a pump and hope to never do that again.

11:13 a.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Tj Iodine tabs definitley have a taste. I use to use the all the time years ago while in scoute and would "somewhat" get use to the taste. I now use a Katadyn Hiker pro filter.

12:16 p.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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For most of my three season hiking with any group larger than two people, I use the Katadyn Hiker pump.  It makes getting water go alot quicker and easier. Plus no iodine tast and you use alot less fuel. For one or two people, and for winter trips before there is any snow, I use a Steripen. For winter hiking in 6" plus snow, I just melt snow for water.

There are lighter option, but most take three to six hours to work.

Hope this helps.

3:11 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Iodine is pretty horrible to drink IMO.

 

MSR and Katadyn make some awesome filters. I personally use the MSR Sweetwater, which gives you the option of adding drops of calcium hypochlorite if you're in a really bad area. I haven't used the drops yet. Also look into the gravity fed systems too.

12:35 a.m. on March 14, 2009 (EDT)
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I have both the MSR Sweetwater & Katadyn Hiker Pro, both systems work well, both use pump filtration followed by chemical treatment.

This is for now my preferred method, I've got my bases covered with proper use, and the chem treatment puts my mind at ease even though it's probably overkill most times.

My next upgrade will be the Steripen.

2:02 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I love the Steripen. Nothing works better IMO and it kills many viruses, unlike a filter. It works within seconds instead of hours, like most chemical treatment. Plus, once you use it, there is no residual water retention like there is with a water filter. Downside they do not work well for large groups and they use up batteries.

2:08 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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the option of adding drops of calcium hypochlorite

Is calcium hypocholrite very different than bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in terms of this use? Would something like a Katadyn Hiker and a dropper bottle of bleach do a similar thing?

2:20 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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cparekh--

You are correct in your assumption; it's the hypochlorite portion of things that does the killing of what needs killin'. The trick is always to avoid too much of the stuff; a too-distinctly alkaline solution is bad for us, too. Remember all those lost trailhands dying from drinking from alkali lakes? Now, admittedly, that's on the far end of things, but you catch my drift. I'm not sure what the proper amount of either substance, for water purification, would be.

11:53 a.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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After hiking my last trip (last portion was about 3 hours straight up a bluff face), I swore off a bunch of my equipment. My MSR pump was one of those items. I always carried Potable Aqua tabs (chlorine dioxide) as backup, and I ended up using them anyway this trip after my pump quit working. Hiking the extra pound or better up that stupid bluff face was the last straw. I'm using Potable Aqua from now on.

11:55 a.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Potable Aqua is cheap, but if you're going to use bleach the correct amount is 8 drops/gallon for relatively clear water. I don't remember which book I got that from (boy scout handbook maybe?), but I memorized it a long time ago. Make sure you carry bleach in a container that light can't get into or it will break down.

12:13 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I got used to the iodine water taste on my NOLS trip many years ago. The tablets were the only option you had and everybody got used to the taste. Since then the taste doesn't bother me as much as it did before tha trip.

1:35 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I can tolerate the taste of Potable Aqua-treated water, but I'm still willing to carry the weight to avoid the taste. Even at 11-12,000 ft up in the Colorado Rockies, I carry my filter. Each of us have our own little luxuries, I suppose.

Thanks for the comment re: amount of bleach necessary. Is your recipe based on using bleach as it comes from the Clorox bottle, or some other concentration? Good point about protecting it from light, too, btw.

4:38 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I haven't filtered my water for about 5 years and i've never been sick. At first i was very doubtful about my sanity, but then i saw a girl on the PCT in Yosemity that was filtering AND treating every drop of water she used. She was so sick from Giardia she had to spend 3-4 days in the hospital.

There was also a big problem in Canada last year with 2-3 people getting sick and dying from bad city water in a couple of remote places.

So now I wonder: yes there's some stuff in the water that can make you sick, but is drinking sanitized water with chemicals in it good for you?

My 2 cents: I think bad hygiene in the backcountry is probably responsible for way more people getting sick than the quality of the water. So until i do get sick i intend on continuying to drink from every lake or river i encounter in the backcountry. My philosophy is: if i was to buy the expensive filter or drink a chemical slurry and still get sick, i would get incredibly frustrated.

so, I DON'T SUGGEST ANYONE SHOULD TRY THIS AT HOME!! Maybe i've just been lucky, but my internal organic water filter works for me and it was free.

8:43 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I like my MSR Hiker. I had a Sweetwater that broke in the backcountry.

I've seen friends with giardia and it's not pretty. I filter or treat all my water regardless of where I am

9:10 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc--

It would seem that the unfortunate lass on the PCT conntracted Giardia (if, indeed, that's what she had--without testing, it's quite easy for folks to assume Giardia erroneously) because of poor technique or carelessness with her equipment, etc., not because of the effort.

And if we assume she did indeed become ill with Giardia to such an extent she required hospitalization (an outcome experienced by only a small minority of those who do become diseased from the protozoan), that serves as evidence that Giardia was present in significant quantities in something (presumably water) she ingested.

It seems you may well be one of the lucky folks who have developed effective immunity to the bug, but I'm sure you also remember that there are lots of other things out there that can make one ill other than just Giardia. But you also make a good point about chemicals, etc. Improper use can be threatening to one's health, even with something so simple as iodine tabs. But the use of tabs or filters, etc., is generally pretty easy, and so I think it's unlikely that people are going to suffer significant adverse effects from their use.

But, as they say, you pays your money and you takes your chances.

12:29 a.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc:

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on the wards (I'm a medical student). Most cases of Giardia are asymptomatic. Even if you get it, it's not going to kill you. You'll be miserable and crapping your brains out, but we don't even treat it in the hospital unless the patient has some underlying problem like AIDS. This one is out there regardless of sanitation; beavers and muskrats are a natural reservoir, and they obviously poop in the water (hence the old-timer's name: "beaver fever").

Other things like Crypto are really hyped by the filter makers, but it's almost exclusively immunocompromised persons who ever get it. Upwards of 90% of the population has already been exposed to crypto and doesn't even know it.

You don't have to worry about much of anything else in this country. All that being said, I still purify my water. I have the worst luck of anyone who ever lived, and even if it doesn't kill me, I don't want to have 2 days of misery in the backcountry. Plus, running out of TP is what ended my last trip early!

1:01 a.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Plus, running out of TP is what ended my last trip early!

LOL that does stink (no pun intended) but you could always use leaves ??

Ill have to admit I don't filter or treat water like I should but I have only had one issue in many years of camping. Also that doesn't mean I wont have a problem next time I go camping. But the really funny thing is I filter all my drinking water at home with a Brita or buy bottled spring water because the local city water tastes like crap. But when i'm in the backcountry I don't even think twice about dipping into a stream for a drink.

2:06 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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It's nice to be able to read different points of view on this subject! The girl i saw was in the middle of a 6 days stretch when she first showed symptoms of giardia. I guess having to hike out for 3 days and stopping every half hour to run for the bushes really took it's toll. I gave her some antidiarrhea pills and forgot about it. Next time i saw her on the trail was a week later and she was just getting out of the hospital! She told me the pills helped her make it to the trailhead.

I didn't know most people didn't react to crypto, i've read in magazines and such that it was pure evil. It's good to hear something else than a marketing strategy for a change.

All this made me thirsty. Creek water anyone?

2:40 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Just because you asked nicely, I dug through my archives to the lecture we had on this in February. This is what medical students are being taught these days, so take it for what it's worth to you.

Amoebiasis (amoebic dysentery): 1-2% occurcence in U.S. No animal reservoir (must be exposed to human feces). Reservoir maintained by asymptomatic human carriers.

Giardia Lamblia: Worldwide distribution. Second most common protozoan parasite in Arkansas (second to trichomonas, an STD). Reservoir is beaver and muskrat. Asymptomatic human carriers may spread disease by fecal-oral route. Self-limited disease involving 1-3 days of non-bloody, watery diarrhea.

Cryptosporidium: Worldwide distribution. Major medical concern is in immunosuppressed individuals (transplant patients, AIDS patients, etc.). Many animal reservoirs (mammals, reptiles, fish). Self-limited infection in immunologically normal individuals, including diarrhea.

3:03 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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One further medical note--the time between ingestion of Giardia cysts and disease is, if I recall correctly, on the order of 10-14 days. (Nate--Is this handy in your notes, by any chance?) Many other GI bugs, both viral and bacterial, have a much quicker onset, and are in most cases self-limiting, too.

When it comes to differential diagnosis, one can get into multiple other variables, such as presence/absence of fever, vomiting, rash, character of stools, abdominal pain, timing of signs relative to each other, and more.

(By the way, Nate, if you're interested in a good read about clinical diagnosis of the acute abdomen, find Cope's Early Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen. Quite useful when lab tests are limited, etc., and refocuses one on learning actual clinical course of disease and associated physical findings, etc. Single best medical book I've ever read. And yes, I'm a doc.)

4:35 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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My notes were not this specific, but I found some more information on AccessMedicine (a clinical resource the school pays for).

1) About 50% of infected persons have no discernable infection and about 10% become asymptomatic cyst carriers.
2) Acute diarrheal symptoms develop in 25-50% of exposed persons
3) Infectious dose is low, as few as 10 cysts required
4) Incubation period is usually 1-3 weeks but may be longer

6:34 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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The information east-stingray gives is readily accessible in Auerbach's book on Wilderness Medicine (5th edition is latest, published by Mosby, referenced in my Trailspace series on water and the discussion forum). His point 4 is an important one - the incubation period of 1-3 weeks means that a lot of people who get a giardia reaction do not associate the symptoms with their backcountry experience, which means a lot of people who claim "I never react and am immune" actually have reacted and are no immune. However, there are some (the 10% number is also given in Auerbach) who appear to actually be immune.

Perry and eaststingray, you guys really ought to spring for the Auerbach book. It lists for $200, but as med student and MD, you get a substantial discount. The $200 includes a DVD (yes, DVD, not CD) with all the references and in most cases URLs of all the original articles (some require a subscription to the actual journal, which you probably have already). It is much easier to find the information, since it is already sorted by topic.

8:10 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm not a doctor, but having had an actual medically-diagnosed case of giardia I'll jump in to share my experience.

First, I think Franc is right on about personal hygiene being the biggest culprit for intestinal distresses. That said, I still filter or treat all water.

Giardia does take 1-3 weeks on average to make itself known, so if someone starts suffering on thet trail and hasn't been out there that long, I think it's more likely they have something else. But, I'm sure there are exceptions.

Also, most people equate giardia with having to go to the bathroom very very frequently (as I also thought before having it), but while it does increase the necessity and ah..certain symptoms of diarhea, it's not necessarily that extreme. There can be a range of symptoms.

I had giardia symptoms for more than a week and a half before I even went to the doctor. It would get better and worse and I thought I just had a little stomach bug that wouldn't go away. I lost my apetite by degrees, got more tired, had to take a nap each day, lost about 7 pounds, and got very dehydrated. Once I passed out on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night I figured I should go to the doctor.

All that said, the onset wasn''t very dramatic. It was more of a cumulative breaking down. I wouldn't have even thought I had giardia until I read the actual symptoms of it online after my doctor's appointment and had the hospital call me with my test results a few days later.

I had to go on a round of flagyl. Then several weeks later I had to go on a second round, because it hadn't been completely knocked out.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about giardia and its symptoms, so thanks for spreading some facts above.

I also found some pertinent info here:

http://giardiaclub.com/giardia-symptoms.html

I still have no idea how or where I got it and luckily no one else around me got it. But, I don't want to get it ever again.

8:19 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Clinically, we were taught to look for it in anyone with a history of drinking from lakes/streams OR people operating in close contact with other people and not practicing good hygiene (the paradigm here is the daycare center).

Being cautious about sanitizing after you use the bathroom isn't going to keep you from getting giardia. If it's in your poop, that means you've already got it. There are plenty of other reasons to be clean, but in the backcountry the only way you're going to get it is by drinking untreated water.

8:34 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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...Being cautious about sanitizing after you use the bathroom isn't going to keep you from getting giardia. If it's in your poop, that means you've already got it. There are plenty of other reasons to be clean, but in the backcountry the only way you're going to get it is by drinking untreated water.

Sanitizing is more about protecting the others in your party than yourself. Plus perhaps touching others who haven't sanitized their hands after they went to the cathole. That's why all states require food handlers to wash their hands before leaving the bathroom (most states have prominent signs to this effect in the bathrooms in restaurants).

Your mention of the daycare centers reminded me of the signs in all the US Post Offices around here - "Do Not sit your children on the counter!"

8:40 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, I should have said that I think personal hygiene can be a major contributing factor in passing on intestinal disorders, not protecting yourself from your own germs or parasites.

Though washing your hands before you eat or drink can help lessen your own chances of getting sick, if you've just come into hand contact with something you'd rather not ingest.

When a friend heard I had giardia he couldn't help making crude jokes. I tried to explain that I didn't give it to myself. It was passed on to me by someone with poor hygiene somewhere along the line.

11:26 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for the quick update, Nate. Much appreciated. Was pleased that my memory was fairly accurate; what you describe is more or less what I recalled, with a bit of number-fudging that's probably well within the standard error of whichever number we want to talk about. But I digress.

 

Bill--why spring for the book when I can just make Nate look it up? (That's how the world of medical education works...as Nate's gonna learn here real soon! Though these days, the student or intern just wanders over to a computer and looks it up online--and if they've got a friend who has successfully distracted the attending physician for a moment or two, they can surreptitiously acquire the information during rounds and "suddenly remember" the answer--heh-heh.

As a neonatologist, though, I seldom had to worry about Giardia on the job. Only a recreational hazard, by and large. Though if it did make it into the NICU, Giardia in an immunocompromised premature 900 gram baby isn't gonna be good news for anybody, that's for sure.

Alicia, I'm not sure I'd press the point about you having contracted the disease because of someone else's poor hygiene--I mean, if you really stop and think about it, the cysts made it from someone's (or something's) poop to, well, your GI tract, and that could happen if, well, I think you get the idea! The so-called fecal-oral route (isn't THAT a lovely name....) is far and away the most common for these sorts of things, though between the one and the other there can be numerous diversions, pit stops (ooh, bad pun, sorry 'bout that, completely unintentional), and so forth.

As an aside regarding sanitation:

I once had the entire team, during rounds, wash their hands, and then we each stuck our hands directly onto agar plates for bacterial culture. Quite informative about what hand-washing techniques were satisfactory and which weren't. Equally interesting was that if one failed to clean under the nails, there remained oodles of potential nastiness lurking there--easy to find by simply putting fingertips, including nails, against the agar surface. Artificial nails are forbidden in most NICUs for this very reason--a potential source of infection transmission. (Instead of pumping water, modern women get their nails done, I guess. In either case, take away the pump handle or the artificial nails, and the infection rate goes down.)

11:47 p.m. on April 2, 2009 (EDT)
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How about different members of your hiking party taking turns pumping the same water filter, cross contamination risk? Of course the same could be true of any object I suppose.

The guys I frequently go with all pay close attention to hygeine, we use hand sanitizer frequently, especially when doing food prep or treating water, but I have been in some groups that worried me a bit. I tend to be a little more self sufficient in new groups I'm not accustomed to. I dislike letting others use my water filter, flashlight, knife etc. Especially if I don't see any Purell around.

9:41 a.m. on April 3, 2009 (EDT)
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So only those with Purell at heart get to play with your stuff, eh, trouthunter?

10:46 a.m. on April 3, 2009 (EDT)
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.... I dislike letting others use my water filter, flashlight, knife etc. Especially if I don't see any Purell around.

Is this why "obsessive-compulsive" is referred to as an... er, sorry, bad pun ;)

And way off topic, too.

Yes Perry, I know about how med students acquire knowledge. But I think you would find Paul's book fascinating bedtime reading. Or you could put the copy in the bathroom to read there during long contemplative moments.

Nate, we are relying on you to do the research and provide a digest of the material (so to speak).

12:00 p.m. on April 3, 2009 (EDT)
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I have no problem with that. I have access to thousands of dollars worth of subscription-only clinical resources through the school. Even most doctors don't have access to all of this stuff if they don't work in academia because of the sheer cost of all the subscriptions.

2:36 p.m. on April 3, 2009 (EDT)
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You're exactly right about that last, Nate. It's one of the little-known bits (littel-known outside of the field, at any rate) that both directly and indirectly affects the rate of both acquisition and implementation of useful knowledge. I would hope that during your career you will see a marked transformation in the ways knowledge and information are disseminated. That said, there are a lot of entrenched forces that will fight long and hard to protect their turf. The altruistic claims of science being "for the good of all" never displace the love of power and money in the hearts of men.

But back to the book. I'm sure you're right, Bill, that it'd be good reading, and I've often contemplated picking up a copy; when I've needed it, though, I just plod over to the library and dig it out. My shelves are already filled and then some with all sorts of things. But I do have an opening on this year's Christmas wish list....

6:23 p.m. on April 3, 2009 (EDT)
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It's hard to tell your hiking buddies that no, they can't dig in your gorp or drink from your water bottle. After a while, sharing everything sorta comes naturally, so i guess it's everyone's responsability to sanitize. I know I always carry my purell since i don't know what i might be incubating without me knowing! Thanks a lot everyone for this most interesting discussion.

7:40 p.m. on April 3, 2009 (EDT)
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Yeah your right Franc, I don't have a problem letting my hiking buddies use my stuff, I know them well enough. It's strangers mostly, that worry me.

Bill, I was asking everyones thoughts on sharing their water filter I guess, I'm kinda finiky with not mixing my intake & output tubes. I've noticed that some aren't, nor do they wash their hands before handling the water containers. Am I really being obsessive? Don't get me wrong I'm not scared of dirt, just prefer good hygeine when it matters.

Perry, good one! I'll have to remember that.

10:18 a.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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I filter, and if I don't like the look of the source I add Micropur. As I go out with groups often and never know who is allergic to iodine that's right out - iodine also cumulatively can cause health problems even if you aren't allergic, and it isn't entirely effective against everything.

The one thing none of these methods will help is mineral and/or chemical content. Choose your source carefully, know your area well enough to stay away from old mines or industrial endeavors (past or present).

I frequent Yosemite trails - the thought of drinking downstream from the tourons without filtering makes me ill, all by itself.

Original poster - you can find the Amigo Pro filter online at ULA. It costs a few dollars more than the cartridge it uses, the Katadyn Hiker Pro, and while a gravity filter sometimes requires scooping of water and isn't ideal in very late season when most water sources are trickling, it's great when you know you will be around flowing streams and lakes. It's also one of the lightest options around at 7.5 oz and doubles as a shower.

2:04 a.m. on April 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Seychelle Water Bottles & Straws

Check out these Seychelle Water Purifier Bottles: http://www.seychelle.com/prodsingle.php?prodkey=46

Just open the top, pour in the water (virtually whatever level of contamination), close the lid, and open the other end and drink out of it! That's all there is to it! No pumps, waiting, or added chemicals. Seychelle is used around the world and there is a special going on on these 30 oz bottles at the moment - $15 each if you purchase before the end of the month. I took one of these with me to Africa 2 years ago. Left it with a man in the Sudan who needed it far more than I.

Also, if you're wanting to go compact, Seychelle makes a purifying drinking straw: http://www.seychelle.com/prodsingle.php?prodkey=11 Only $13.

BTW: Use "standard" for most hiking outtings, use "advanced" (has added iodine in it, but can hurt some peoples stomaches [like my own]) if you need the most protection such as going on a trip to a 3rd world nation without a guide.

1:52 p.m. on April 10, 2009 (EDT)
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I've had filtration bottles before, but not by Seychelle. I think mine were Oasis brand or something like that. They were really difficult to drink out of because of the amount of suction you had to apply.

We tried to use them on a few river trips and finally threw them away after much frustration.

11:11 p.m. on April 11, 2009 (EDT)
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For a few years have used an MSR SweetWater pump filter. Only one pump failure. Snapped the handle in half. Just had to be careful from that point while pumping. A bit of an inconvenience, but I still had a functional pump.

Too lighten the load made couple DIY gravity filters using existing and new gear. Ended up copying Jason Klass's Platypus/FrontierPro/chlorine dioxide tab system. Video demonstation at backpackinglight.com's gear shop. Less than 5oz, but slow.... The AquaMira Frontier Pro only filters the big stuff (3microns). To deal with virus & bacteria you need to either UV-C or chlorine dioxide the water. Picked up a MSR/Platypus gravity filter unit for the system. Adds ~3oz. Filters at much higher rate. No need for tablets unless virus issue. Tabs are light and try to always carry some for backup.

Have only used the Katadyne marketed chlorine dioxide tablets. Significantly less chlorine taste than MIOXed water. Tablets alone would be the lightest and most compact option. Personal preference for clean water that looks clean keeps me carrying a filter.

.

3:49 a.m. on April 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I've had filtration bottles before, but not by Seychelle. I think mine were Oasis brand or something like that. They were really difficult to drink out of because of the amount of suction you had to apply.

We tried to use them on a few river trips and finally threw them away after much frustration.

Ah, but not Seychelle. Their upside down 30oz bottle will filter 100 Gallons+ and comes in the form of a squeeze bottle so you don't have to suck! lol

No pun originally intended. ( :

11:54 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I have never used a filter. I say I am going to boil every ounce of water, but I tend to get lazy and once it is hot just make some green tea. I got sick once, years ago, and yeah it kinda sucked, but I did what I always do when i have a messed up tummy. I drank water till I puked, then I did it again. I repeated this until I vomitted pure water, then i took a nap. When I woke up, I wasn't 100%, but I was good.

I have hiked all over the U.S. and being a bit of a Hippie (as if my name didn't give it away) I have gone to my share of Gatherings, and even when in the middle nowhere with 30,000 people urinating and defficating everywhere, I still didn't need to filter or Boil my water.

Also, from everything I have read there is only 1 sure way to clean your water, and that is to boil it for 3 to 5 minutes. If you want to cary stuff, go ahead, the security you feel may keep you well, but if you want to save 100 dollars, go ahead you might just get a bit sick 1 day, I think its orth the trade to leave it in the store lol

9:19 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Oh, come on now. I use potable aqua. It costs 5 bucks for 50 tabs (treats 25L of water) and weighs one OUNCE. That's not expensive OR heavy!

BTW, for anyone who gets caught in a situation where you have to boil, all you have to do is bring the water to a boil. The "boil for 10 minutes" advice is to adjust for altitude variations and a few bugs that are not very common or dangerous but are harder to kill.

4:09 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I thought about taking pills and all that other junk, but everything I have read says they aren't as good as boiling. Although the Steripen looks very promising. I might just break down and buy 1, but until then I will drink the water I feel is safe.

1:09 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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OK, interesting info, all, but what about rinsing pans, water on the outside of nalgenes, etc about contamination? HOw much exposure, how much amount, etc constitutes concerns? This is a conversation I have had several times, and have not been given a clear answer. Maybe one of you official medical types can give me a much more final answer...

1:50 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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You don't have to worry about water on your dishes... assuming they have time to dry before you use them. Especially pots and/or pans, which are heated over your stove during use.

Water on the outside of your nalgene isn't an issue (unless you lick the outside of the bottle), but water on the threads can carry bugs. That's why the tablet treatments (like potable aqua) advise you to loosely cap and shake so that the threads get the treatment too.

6:46 p.m. on April 18, 2009 (EDT)
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I thought about taking pills and all that other junk, but everything I have read says they aren't as good as boiling. Although the Steripen looks very promising. I might just break down and buy 1, but until then I will drink the water I feel is safe.

 

Yep, you can do as you please, all right. Just like I can drive for thousands of miles without a seatbelt and not get hurt. Haven't been in an accident yet. Heck, I don't even need car insurance, I'm so sure I'll go another bunch of miles without a single problem. Nothing's happened so far, so nothing will happen in the future. Right?

10:52 a.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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I just bought the Katadyn Vario and it seems to do a good job. Haven't had the "wont pump water" issue I've read about yet. I'm not to keen on drinking untreated water. I've done it but don't see the point if I don't have to.

10:24 p.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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TravHale, glad you got a filter. Drinking unfiltered water is not how I want to get TRUE GRIT. Or anything else!

Remember, ducks poop in that water....mmmm!

Earlier today I went to a site I thought might have some useful info on dogs and camping. Not so, in fact this guy cited one of the benefits of having a dog in camp was that the dog licked his pots clean, and since dogs have antibodies in their saliva he felt it was as good as washing them.

No thank you! Dogs have antibodies in their saliva because they NEED them. I don't think that makes a dogs mouth clean.

Now, if I can just teach my dog to dig cat holes and pump water...

8:14 p.m. on April 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Water on the outside of your nalgene isn't an issue (unless you lick the outside of the bottle), but water on the threads can carry bugs. That's why the tablet treatments (like potable aqua) advise you to loosely cap and shake so that the threads get the treatment too.

I just ordered a steripen and I didn't really think about contaminated water on the threads. The steripen likely would not kill bacteria or viruses on the threads but your lips would touch the threads when drinking. Should this be a concern? Does any one here use a steripen and have any thoughts on this? I suppose one solution would be to carry a clean nalgene and a contaminated nalgene (or other scooping device). Use the contaminated nalgene to scoop water from the source and carefully pour into the clean nalgene before using the steripen.

Also, I had planned on carrying some iodine tablets I had picked up as a back up. Any advice on testing if my wife or I was allergic? I figured a would I would take a small amount of treated water when near medical services (ie not 50 miles from the nearest road in the woods). If that went well I would take a full dose.

8:43 p.m. on April 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Iodine didn't make sense to me - I had read that it can have cumulative effects on your kidneys and if you are allergic it will trigger some pretty severe issues. Plus, things like MicroPur are effective on crypto and iodine is not. Iodine is also listed by the CDC as being only moderately effective against giardia.

 

http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/backcountry_water_treatment.html

 

I don't know of any way to "test" if you are allergic other than to ingest some and see what happens. I use MicroPur as my backup water treatment. I really don't want to find out if I'm allergic to iodine.

9:44 a.m. on April 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Jett, they sell a special cap for filling your Nalgene. Or, you can just wipe the threads off with a bandana like most folks do. Better yet, you could use a scooping device, like you said.

My bottle of potable aqua says right on it that it kills giardia and crypto. I've never heard anyone say otherwise except NotQuiteThere.

12:55 p.m. on April 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks.

2:43 p.m. on April 26, 2009 (EDT)
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All chemical treatments depend on the water temperature for their effectiveness (as noted in my 4-part article here on Trailspace on water treatment). If the water is fairly cool, the time needed for iodine to kill crypto is many hours, and gets into the day+ range for the cysts. Iodine at "room" temperature (20C/70F approx) is faster than chlorine, including chlorine dioxide - 30 min or less vs 4 hours for the ClO2 (read the label on the Potable Aqua!).

The problem with iodine is not allergy, but thyroid problems (not kidneys). If you have known thyroid problems, you should not use iodine for water purification. In any case, it is generally recommended that you not use iodine for water purification for more than 3 or 4 weeks, if that is your exclusive purification system.

You do not have to use any chemical purification system for the water you use in cooking - once the water is raised to 150F/65C or higher, crypto, giardia, viruses, and most bacteria are immobilized or killed outright (including cysts). Those bacteria that are not killed (mostly ones in cyst form) are generally not harmful to humans. If you need sterile water for medical purposes, then you should use the CDC and EPA recommendation of boiling for 1 minute or longer at altitudes below 5000 ft, and up to 10 minutes at higher altitudes. Note - to repeat, water raised above 150F/65C is potable from the standpoint of protozoa, viruses, and bacteria. When medically sterile water is required, then boiling becomes necessary. Boiling in general does not remove chemical contaminants, nor does chemical treatment (except flocullation), nor do the vast majority of mechanical filters (except reverse osmosis, which is generally not practical for backpacking).

9:59 p.m. on April 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Jett, they sell a special cap for filling your Nalgene. Or, you can just wipe the threads off with a bandana like most folks do. Better yet, you could use a scooping device, like you said.

My bottle of potable aqua says right on it that it kills giardia and crypto. I've never heard anyone say otherwise except NotQuiteThere.

When did I say anything whatsoever about potable aqua? It's chlorine dioxide, same as the Micropur tablets I have. I'm sure it works fine.

I did muck up secondhand information about iodine problems - somewhere in the hazy mess of my memory I do know that salt is iodized to provide the minute amount necessary for proper thyroid function. It would have only been a short jump to reason that too much would cause a malfunctioning thyroid. But I have a totally random access memory, apparently.

12:06 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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No, the "old-school" potable aqua is iodine based. They have a newer chlorine dioxide form out. Somewhere (possibly in this monster thread somewhere) I said something about it being chlorine dioxide, but I double checked my bottle and I do have the iodine version after all.

9:24 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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It's the reasons above that I decided to go with a filter.

9:37 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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No, the "old-school" potable aqua is iodine based. They have a newer chlorine dioxide form out. Somewhere (possibly in this monster thread somewhere) I said something about it being chlorine dioxide, but I double checked my bottle and I do have the iodine version after all.

I'm not the only one who's ever said iodine is less effective. The CDC says so, too. So does potable aqua, otherwise why change?

12:14 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Somehow, the actual facts on effectiveness of the various methods seem to be getting lost here. One thing to keep in mind is that the CDC and EPA recommendations are "belt and suspenders" recommendations - that is, to be really on the safe side, do the following, and if you don't, there are the following list of risks. The basic fact is that there is no 100% risk-free method and there is no 100% effective method.

As for the chemical treatments, there is a lot of research on the effectiveness of the various chemicals on the various pathogens under various conditions. You can be selective (as some of the above statements illustrate) and compare apples and oranges (one chemical at "room temperature" vs another using glacial melt at just above freezing) and "prove" the one to be "effective" against one pathogen and the other to be "ineffective" against a different pathogen. And all the treatments have negative side effects.

Iodine is sufficiently effective in most cases against most pathogens (including giardia and crypto) for "room temperature" water, and is by the tests that have been run, faster than ClO2 for bacteria and viruses (half hour or less). Chlorine bleach is sufficiently effective as well, but takes longer than iodine. Same with chlorine dioxide, which requires 4 hours or more, according to the label on the several brands of ClO2 I have at present. But if the water is cold, all the chemicals take a lot longer (remember your high school chemistry?), and iodine becomes unacceptably long for protozoa for all us "instant gratification" types. What we would like, of course, is to dip the water out of the stream and have a 10 second treatment that makes the water potable. Closest things to that are pump filters (heavy, pass viruses) and UV (Steripen) (requires batteries and fairly clear water).

NotQuite - Big reasons for Potable Aqua adding the ClO2 version are taste, people's worries about the (very real) side effects that affect some people, and the lesser effectiveness of iodine at the low temperatures of mountain streams. Keep in mind, though, that if you are going to the tropics, where the temperatures are higher, and if your trip is less than a couple of weeks, and if you have no thyroid problems (most people), iodine is faster by a lot and more effective. Again, no one answer, no panacea.

12:17 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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east,

Have you looked into the question of expiration dates on chlorine dioxide, iodine, and the other chemical treatments? The bottles I have mostly do not say, but I recall that some (most) of them deteriorate within 6-12 months after unsealing the bottles and somewhat longer when sealed in the blister packs.

1:53 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill:

I have not, but I think that's something that's worth my time researching. We're in the middle of finals at the moment, so I won't have time for a couple of weeks, but I will definitely report my findings here.

On closer inspection of my potable aqua bottle, there is a "peel here" part of the label that peels back. Despite claims on the outside of the label which make it sound like it's effective against crypto, the inside label says "this product has not been shown to kill cryptosporidium".

I guess this is where personal comfort levels come in. I'm not worried about crypto, personally. I discussed earlier in this thread the fact that most of the population has already been exposed anyway, and that we usually only see cases in immunocompromised folks.

I do know that both the iodine formulas and the chlorine formulas I've had experience with are sensitive to UV and moisture. The bottles are dark glass to help combat UV breakdown, but if you get the pills wet they don't stay good for long.

6:05 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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It is my understanding that you do not need to "KILL" crypto in order to have safe drinking water, rather it is sometimes referred to as being "INACTIVATED" This is part of the word games being played by competing brands & types of treatment.

If Cryptosporidium can not reproduce, you're not going to get sick.

Any 1 micron filter can easily remove crypto, and that makes chemical treatment much faster. That is why I choose to filter first and then treat chemically. If you don't want the added weight of a filter get a trained ferret and strap it to the ferret!

5:00 p.m. on July 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes I have heard that as well. It is more of a deactivation than a death of Crpto.

6:48 p.m. on July 25, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm a big fan of water filters... I've used the MSR miniworks & it's been my fav; 1 liter of water in just a couple of minutes. If you are filtering dirtier water it WILL clog up the filter more quickly, however the miniworks is super easy to clean on site. Still, if you are in an area that you know has more particulates in the water, purification might be a better solution than filtration.

9:04 p.m. on July 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Hey hobo, welcome to Trailspace!

11:36 p.m. on July 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Re: Water Filtration

I just bought the Katadyne Hiker Pro filter though I'm not thrilled about hauling it. The SteriPen looks intriguing as well. I also worry that it doesn't take too many stray drops of unfiltered water to contaminate all your hard work.

Does anyone filter then SteriPen as back up? I've got tablets as backup just in case my filter fails but (aside fromn the low weight) chems are the least appealing option to me.

PS I'm in the Sierras and pretty close to "the source" though I realize that's no guarantee.

My first post here. Thx in advance

=CPW=

12:21 a.m. on July 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome cpw,

I would recommend that you read Bill S's 4 part article on water treatment in the gear guide, here is a link:

[url=http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/backcountry-water-treatment-part-1-hydration.html]http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/backcountry-water-treatment-part-1-hydration.html

December 26, 2014
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