clean water

2:34 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I am trying to find the best water system.  i dont like the taste of chlorine and the iodine pills gave me a headache(or at least i associated the  headache to the pills).  i realize that one of these two methods are the lightest way to go but i would really like an alternative that is still lightweight.  boiling doesnt seem practical.  im looking at filters and a salesperson tried to sell me some battery powered device that puts an electric current that kills the bacteria and other harmful toxins.  i recently shelled out some dollars to go lighter on my stove, bag and tent. its time to stop carring all my water around.  Basic background,  42 good shape 3-5 days is what im preparing for, mainly fall, winter and spring trips because im very busy in the summer. Mostly winter trips and mainly in kentucky.  I live in louisville but travel to red river gorge often and i am close to completing all the marked trails.  I will be mainly in the general area around kentucky .  i will carry the pills for an emergency but want the best lightweight filter or other means of purifying stream water.

what say you trailspace posters?

2:53 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I use the Katadyn Hiker water filter. It is lightweight and  will purify many liters of water. I have used mine now for 2 years. Its about $60


katadyn-hiker_main.jpg

The handle/pump is on the top of the filter above. It folds over the filter canister for easier carrying. The round object on the left is a fixture to put into a standard Nalgene style water bottle. The black end is the water float and screen.

It will clean about 1 liter of water a minute.

3:40 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I have both the Steripen and the MSR Miniworks. The Steripen i assume is the battery powered device that was shown to you. It uses UV light to kill/inactivate everything in the water.

Ther steripen is an awesome light weight option, however it is an electric device and so some care needs to be taken. Always carry extra batteries for it. It is fast and easy to use and is awesome when it works. Extra batteries and a alcohol prep pad to clean the sensors will fix any problems you find in the field minus a broken bulb. I use the steripen in the winter when a freezing water filter would result in a broken water filter.

The Miniworks I have had for quite a long time, 10 years?. For a  pump filter the miniworks to me is the best there is. Field cleanable, rugged, and reliable. It can take the skankiest water you can think of and make it crystal clear beautifully tasting water. During low water periods I carry the miniworks. I have had to filter water from swampy/marshy areas, and even mud puddles quite a few times and it works great despite having to clean it often under such conditions. The activated charcoal core of the filter also removes bad tastes from the water, so it makes that nasty swamp water actually taste good. Extreme care must be taken in winter to prevent it from freezing.

I was issued the miniworks in the military and have really put it through its paces around the world in almost every environment you can imagine. It is a reliable workhorse. It runs around $80 i think.

One new option on the market which i have heard alot of good things about is the Sawyer Squeeze filter. I just bought one for my nephew for xmas. If I had to buy a filter today I would buy the sawyer squeeze filter.

Unless your going to be in low water areas frequently where your water sources are going to be stagnant swamps, marshes, mud puddles etc I would recommend the sawyer squeeze. It is 49$ most places, but i just bought one for $43 at moontrail.com.

I carry a small 1/4 oz eye dropper of regular household bleach as a backup. Far cheaper than the commercial alternatives. 2-3 drops per liter and up to an hour or so and water is good to go. To me, i can't really taste a major difference and to me tastes about a million times better than iodine even with the neutralizing tabs with it.

 

So unless you have a special situation, I recommend going with the sawyer squeeze filter. It seems durable, easily field cleanable by back flushing, fast, and easy to use.

http://www.moontrail.com/sawyer-squeeze-water-filtration.php

 

5:21 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Gary i saw the katadyn at the store and the salesman said its the most popular i was worried however about the weight.  i like the idea of a filter and that squeeze seems to be really lite since i wont need to take all three bags and the shipping weight was .8 lbs. i appreciate the response by you rambler and thank you very much gary.  i will wait to see if anyone else owns a squeeze and if they like it or if i should just carry the extra weight and go with the tried and tested.

rambler how much does the miniworks weigh? and to keep it from freezing what do you do?

5:52 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I have the same filter as the rambler. Can't really add much to what he has said about the mini.

I wouldn't go with anything else personally just because I know it works and doesn't cause any headaches. 

I weighed mine in at a hair under 16oz. 

6:13 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I use a couple of filters. In my area I'm plessed with clean water. And I carry a cheapo Coghlans water filter. Where the waters are more questionable I have a Sweet Water. I dont worry about the weight very much becouse it is lighter than carring your own water in. I am thinking of getting a Sawyer gravity system though.

6:43 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Using the SteriPen and the Sawyer Squeeze filter.

6:50 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I use a Sawyer gravity fed.  Light weight and no moving parts. It can also be but inline with a camelbak reservoir.  The main problem is getting water into the dirty reservoir.  If it's not deep enough to submerge the opening or you can't get it under a trickle then you have to scoop the water.  A pump does not have this problem.

7:53 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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The miniworks is about 16oz, maybe a hair less. It is a heavy option nowadays, but let me tell you, when you need it it's worth every single oz. I prevent it from freezing by not bringing it! lol, in winter i just use bleach or the steripen. I have used it in winter before in the military and would just keep it wrapped in my extra clothes in the middle of my pack. If its really cold I sleep with it in my sleeping bag, or put one of those chemical hand warmers in with it. If the miniworks freezes its done. Same with the Katadyn hiker filter. Even gravity filters can suffer some severe damage if they freeze. Bottom line is to use extreme caution in winter, i just melt snow normally and use  bleach or the steripen otherwise.

The sawyer squeeze filter weighs 3oz not counting the bags.

You will quickly notice that pump style filters weigh more, however they also do a much better job of improving the turbididy of the water(i.e. making it clearer), and improve the taste. Then you have gravity or modified gravity filters which the sawyer squeeze falls under, which are light weight, filter fast, but do not improve the taste of the water a great deal, and can be prone to clogging very quickly if filtering 'skanky' water. Then you have the steripen which kills everything, but doesnt improve clarity or taste at all. You have to at least use a bandanna etc to capture floaties.

I use the steripen for trips with known good sources. Otherwise I bring the miniworks.

8:22 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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jock said:

I am trying to find the best water system.

The place to get the answers and criteria you need to answer this search is in my 4-part article here on Trailspace.

You state that you will be doing a lot in winter, and in Kentucky. While you won't be melting snow (or much anyway), you will be able to get liquid water most of the time. But for your cooking, you have to heat the water, so you will waste little fuel raising the water temperature above the 155 deg pasteurization point, and for many cooked foods, all the way to boiling. So, for meals, problem solved - you are boiling anyway, so you have done the sterilization (way beyond what is needed for making the water potable).

Note the point made in the article that with chemical treatment (halogens, usually in pill form, meaning chlorine dioxide, chlorine tabs, iodine, and the MiOx), the required treatment time increases with colder water, potentially into the several hour range (basic high school chemistry - reaction time increases with decreasing temperature).

Treatment with ultraviolet radiation (the SteriPen) is not temperature dependent, although you need to do some minimal filtration (couple layers of coffee filter are sufficient to remove most turbidity and certainly the larger particles). Only limitation is that the SteriPen requires batteries. For the time you say you will be on an outing, starting with two sets of fully charged batteries (one set in the SteriPen, the other as spare) is plenty. Follow the directions and you will not have the sometimes reported problems, expecially with the Opto models. SteriPen served me well in Africa.

Filters are convenient and sufficient for your water for critters. I personally use the Katadyn Hiker Pro most of the time, though their Pocket filter with the ceramic filter can easily be field-cleaned and with its submicron pore size filters out viruses.

Your biggest problem is not going to be handled by any of the above - industrial, agricultural, and mine runoff, which you have plenty of in Kentucky, including the Red River and its tributaries. Study the maps of the area, including upstream, for mining, industrial, and agricultural areas. Luckily (in some sense), the health effects of most of the chemicals in the runoff are long term (takes several years for the carcinogens to act, even if you are getting all your water from such sources. The Pur water treatment system (which uses flocculation) does remove some of the heavy metals and a number of the pesticide and fertilizer chemicals. The problem is that you have to treat 10 liters at a time.

I have no idea what this magic device the sales person was trying to sell you, and have never seen a device that uses an electric current to "kill bacteria and other toxins." Either he was scamming you or he was more than a bit mixed up on either the SteriPen or MSR MiOx. Both are battery powered. the SteriPen uses the battery to light the UV lamp, and the emitted ultraviolet light is what kills or immobilizes the critters (parasites, bacteria, viruses). The MiOx creates chlorine dioxide by electrolyzing salt water, which you make by dissolving salt crystals in a tiny amount of the water you will be using. Neither sends a current through the water itself to act directly on the critters and the current would not act on any industrial, agricultural, or mining contaminants.

9:54 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I use the MiniWorks like Rick and Rambler, I have had the system since the mid 90's.  I find it a great system.  I don't do a lot of winter hiking, and when I do it's rarely freezing, being that I am in the PNW (Western Washington).  But that said this is what I do in the winter.

1) after pumping water, clean filter rinse.

2) shake off as best you can, being careful and not losing your grip! 

3) put pump back together with all parts clean and dry.  A small towel or paper towel will help with this.

4) leave pump cap lose

5) bundle up kit and wrap in towel or something else to keep it dry, or your sleeping bag dry.

6) if I know it is going to get below freeing, I put in in the bottom of my sleeping bag. 

Another option if you have a fire is to carefully dry the filter, this is slow and the filter needs to be turned often and not set to close to the fire.  If you can't hold your hand in front of the filter it is too close to the fire, your trying to dry it not heat it.  The only part that need to be protected from freezing is the ceramic filter, the rest of the pump is very durable.  But get any water out of it anyway.

Wolfman

10:04 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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With the mini you can also pop the ceramic element, put it in a ziploc, and put it in the interior pocket of your shell or whatever you are wearing to keep in from freezing. 

10:21 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Option 1 - Steri-Pen with Steri-Filter with Nalgene 32oz

Option 2 - Katadyn MyBottle Water Purifier

10:40 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I Think I read somewhere here that CamelBak will soon be coming out with t bottle that has its' own ultra violet light in the cap/lid

10:43 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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I see a Leatherman Wve on your list.

I just bought a Leathermn Charge TTi.  This is a great further adaption of the same tool.

10:47 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Callahan, I think this is the Camelbak product you are referring too.

Camelbak All Clear: 

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/camelbak/all-clear/

10:51 p.m. on December 11, 2011 (EST)
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Yeah thats the one.

There was also another water bottle similar to the Katadyn but at a supposedly higher level and much higher cost. Couldn't remember that one.

7:04 a.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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The individual filters such as the Katadyn Mybottle and the Camelbak All Clear are nice in theory, but in actuallity I don't think they are worth what you pay for them. I think they are a gimmicky marketing ploy and not really intended for backpacking.

They are only good for 155ish liters? $50/155= 32 cents per liter , and replacement filters are $25.

Compare that to say the Miniworks retail of $90/4000(rated for 3k-5kliters)=2 cents per liter, and replacement filter elements are $40.

If your going to go the Mybottle etc route just get in the habit of leaving 30 cents at the water source because thats essentially what your doing.

9:11 a.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Welcome to TrialSpace, Jock! 

I use a Hiker Pro, and like it quite a bit. My brother has an MSR sweetwater, and I really like it as well. I have not used the Miniworks, but I have never heard anything but positive comments about it. (except from people who didn't know how to use and maintain it, which doesn't count)

Almost any filter needs to be protected from freezing, if for no other reason than you can't use it when the element's pores are clogged with ice. At night you can put it in your sleeping bag with you. During the day in really cold temps you can do as rick suggested and keep it on your person, or roll it up in some clothes with a hand warmer. If it isn't too cold out, you can just bury down in your pack near your body. 

11:21 a.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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thanks for all the great information, i dont think im going to deal with the iodine again i know that much.  The steri-pen looks like a go for me since most of the water i get "looks clear".   Im going to also get a filter, but i want to hold it and look at it before i buy so it will be something i can find in a retail store.  Bill s thanks for the article it was very informative.  Im hoping i dont have to worry about the chemical elements. 

how many liters of water do you guys carry at a time?

11:28 a.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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jock said:

how many liters of water do you guys carry at a time?

For me, that greatly depends upon the location, weather/temperature, what I will be doing, distance between reliable water sources, etc. 

At the very least, I will have one liter on me just about all the time. I just got back from an overnighter in the mountains of NC, in an area that I know well. I only carried a single full nalgene the whole time, as I knew there were reliable sources the whole way. (and there was snow everywhere)

At one juncture, I asked another TS member, Tipi, where there was water up up ahead just to make sure before I walked away from the source near at hand. If it is going to be many miles, or in lots of heat, I will carry two to four liters.

 

11:43 a.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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I use a 3L bladder, and I carry a liter in my bottle which is for cooking in the evening or emergency if I get stuck without anywhere to refill.

I have found myself on more than one occasion where the water supplies were very limited in the summer due to the lack of rain and everything was dried up.

I don't mind the weight considering the trade-off. 

11:49 a.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Without a doubt, I will carry plenty of water if I am unsure if there will be water or not. Many sources dry up at different times of the year. So before you rely on them,  you really need to know how reliable they are for the time you will be going.

4:20 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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FYI just bought the katayn like gary has.  The mini looked more heavy duty and if the weight and price were the same i liked the design but this microfilter was $25 less and 3 oz lighter so thats what i bought.  thanks for the help,  i really was able to make a more informed decision. i also bought a bladder to replace my water bottles like rick uses. looking foward to a trip later this week

5:01 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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I absolutely love using a camelbak or other reservoir, but I offer one word of caution: In cold weather the drinking tube is difficult or even impossible to keep from freezing. Of course a frozen drinking tube renders the whole thing pointless, so bottles are often still the best route in the winter. 

6:26 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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the bladder i bought is more of a soft bottle, i have a camelback i use when dirtbike riding.

7:55 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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Caleb,

There are easy ways to prevent freezing in really cold weather with a Camelbak. I was using one in my avatar, and that's Antarctica at about -20F at the time the photo was taken.

8:18 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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I ordered one of these:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/osprey/insulated-delivery-system/

Not sure how well its going to work but I suppose I will find out. I can always go with the down the sleeve technique that Bill S has mentioned in the past. 

8:05 a.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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Rick, I have the insulated sleeve on all of my camelbak tubes. I didn't buy them that way but they came with them because they are the miliyary model that I was issued moons ago.

They do help some, but IMO don't make a major difference. I agree that the down the sleeve method works, though I have since given up using my camelbak in winter. I just use bottles for winter and save the camelbak for warmer months.

8:22 a.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S said:

Caleb,

There are easy ways to prevent freezing in really cold weather with a Camelbak. I was using one in my avatar, and that's Antarctica at about -20F at the time the photo was taken.

 Cool- I must have missed your posts talking about those methods. I would love to hear about them. 

8:53 a.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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Great Info everyone, this turned out to be quite the informative thread! 

Jock, have fun hiking and stay safe.

Wolfman

10:57 a.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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gonzan said:

Without a doubt, I will carry plenty of water if I am unsure if there will be water or not. Many sources dry up at different times of the year. So before you rely on them,  you really need to know how reliable they are for the time you will be going.

 Report back on your new gear's performance!

11:06 a.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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Well, my Sherpa Gear shell pants were quite nice on my trip last weekend, they were welcome in the sno...oh, wait, you weren't asking me ;)

12:22 p.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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jock said:

FYI just bought the katayn like gary has.  The mini looked more heavy duty and if the weight and price were the same i liked the design but this microfilter was $25 less and 3 oz lighter so thats what i bought.  thanks for the help,  i really was able to make a more informed decision. i also bought a bladder to replace my water bottles like rick uses. looking foward to a trip later this week

 Hey Jock,

After your trip write a review here int he review section.

1:10 p.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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ok will do callahan im going to do 2 days 20 miles or so of trails in the red river gorge fri-sat i think.  i noticed the bike in your picture what kind of riding do you do and where?  i have ktm 300 2 stroke that spends too much time in the garage.  i used to ride all the time and take 2-3 day trips its harder to find folks to ride with , so im doing alot more hiking. 

thank you wolfman

5:48 a.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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"boiling doesnt seem practical."

 

for me boiling works the best. 

 

Doesn't take much extra jetboil fuel to boil all my water and the extra tiny fuel can is lighter than my katadyn filter.

 

If you don't like boiling - get one of them water carrying bags that filters the water via gravity.

 

 Always nice to carry a product that serves multiple purposes.

5:20 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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I have the same filter as Gary; I like it a lot. Pretty lightweight, takes up only a little space, and easy to use.

5:40 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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Boiling is a viable option, but IMO drinking boiled water tastes like poo. Yes you can pour it back and forth, shake it etc to reairate it some but it still doesn' taste the greatest. I never bother filter the water for my coffee, tea, meals etc. But water for drinking I avoid boiling at all costs.

9:31 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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I went on a day hike today in the red river gorge. i was trying to hit several of the small trails that i havnt hiked to complete the region.  I came across a memorial for rob carrico at princess arc.  Rob was a good friend of mine who died way to soon in 1990 at the age of 20 from an apparent fall from a 145' cliff.  The accounts from the folks he was with doesnt make alot of sense but they were young and probably drunk or stoned.  My day was a grim reminder of how the beautiful places i love are not very forgiving.  Didnt have to use the water filter but im sure its going to be fine since ive tried it at home.

8:07 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
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"drinking boiled water tastes like poo"

LOL...

What's your spaghetti taste like?

 

I have to admit, where I camp the water is mostly sulphur water - a blind person could track it from 100 yards.

The boiling does help the taste...and I throw a decaf tea bag in the reservoir containing the clean water.

8:58 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
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I have two approaches to clean water . . . at extreme ends of the scale!

- Steripen Opti, with Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets as backup

or

-  Katadyn Pocket filter

Yes the Pocket is heavy, but solid, trusty, easy field clean.

2:38 p.m. on February 28, 2012 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

I ordered one of these:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/osprey/insulated-delivery-system/

Not sure how well its going to work but I suppose I will find out. I can always go with the down the sleeve technique that Bill S has mentioned in the past. 

 When using a bladder with drinking tube in winter, all you have to do is remember to blow air back through the tube every time you drink out of it. If it's below freezing, the insulation really doesn't help much.

2:53 p.m. on February 28, 2012 (EST)
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peter1955 said:

When using a bladder with drinking tube in winter, all you have to do is remember to blow air back through the tube every time you drink out of it. If it's below freezing, the insulation really doesn't help much.

 I do that. I also find that this is a nice way to cool off in the summer(just squeeze the bite valve air trapped turns your bladder into a shower.)

I don't have much trouble in the winter. I keep my bite valve in my chest pocket of whatever shell I am wearing and this keeps it from freezing up. The tubing is wrapped.

8:44 a.m. on February 29, 2012 (EST)
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I use the Katadyn Pocket, & Steripen Opti, and carry Katadyn tablets.

I do not carry both the filter & Opti, I use either, and always carry the tablets.

Yes, filter is heavy, but it never fails with the worst of worst water.

1:19 p.m. on February 29, 2012 (EST)
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what about heavily tannin stained water, should it be treated any differently after initial straining? also how do you deal with water that you are 99.9% sure hunters havae used for a gut dump or gut shot or otherwise injured animals have went to die? my reason for this question is i have trailed several shot deer and everyone of them went to a creek or stream, the last one my partner shot had actually crawled into basicly a cave cut into the wall of the creek, we walked by him atleast 4 times back tracking the blood trail before one of us finaly made out the tips of one side of the antler. had we not found him that would have made for some nasty water down stream.

 

thanks.

 

earl

2:52 p.m. on February 29, 2012 (EST)
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Basically, the standard water treatment methods for backpacking will make water from streams you are worried about into potable water (though not surgically sterile).

Filters will remove bacteria and anything larger (giardia, crypto, etc). Some filters (with sub-micron pore size) will remove viruses as well. So your answer is that anything that gets in the stream from animals (including humans), dead or alive is taken care of by filtering.

UV treatments, such as the SteriPens and the new CamelBak AllClear bottle kill or inactivate any bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, but will do nothing for discoloration, glacial flour, or volcanic ash.

As for chemical stains (like tannin), these are removed to a large extent by those filters that have an activated charcoal (carbon) element or add-on. This also removes most objectionable tastes.

Boiling won't remove stains, but does kill everything from viruses to protozoa (except certain encysted bacteria). It doesn't remove things like glacial flour or volcanic ash.

For practical purposes, none of the backpackable methods will remove mining, industrial, or agricultural runoff, though the PUR flocculation kit will remove some heavy metals.

This is oversimplified in interests of brevity. For a more complete answer, go to my 4-part article here on Trailspace on water - http://www.trailspace.com/articles/backcountry-water-treatment-part-1-hydration.html Part 4 deals with water treatment methods, while earlier parts deal with what is in the water.

9:04 p.m. on March 1, 2012 (EST)
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thanks Bill S, that was excellent info, one more question if you guys dont mind.

how important is filtering out viruses in the U.S.? should folks lean toward something that will remove viruses when selecting a filter?

well i guess that was two more questions.

 

thanks

 

earl

9:24 p.m. on March 1, 2012 (EST)
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Viruses - really depends on where you are. For emergency preparedness (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) where the municipal water supply would likely be disrupted, you do need to take precautions about viruses. In the backcountry (real backcountry, that is, not something close to urban areas), most filters will do just fine, since it is protozoa and bacteria, with viruses not much of a problem in the water. But if you want to take precautions, you can just use halogens after filtering the water. It does take some extra time, from 30 min to 4 hours depending on the halogen, to be lengthened if the water is cold (below 50-55F).

Filtering is not the only or necessarily the most perfect answer. There are filters that have a pore size of 0.1 to 0.2 micron, which will remove most viruses. And there are filters that have an integral iodine resin section or add-on. Boiling will kill viruses (actually pasteurization, which only requires 155F). UV also works, as well as the aforementioned halogens.

If you are using water from streams and rivers that run through urban areas (like canoeing the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, etc rivers), then viruses are a problem. But runoff is a serious problem in those cases (industrial, agricultural). Filters will not remove those industrial, agricultural, or mining runoffs - such as in the hills near my house with lots of abandoned mercury mines, or in the hills using streams having lots of runoff from coal mines (especially the ones where they remove the whole top of the hill).

The answer is to go far and high into the mountains. What you do depends on where you go (within the US or elsewhere in the world) and how often for how long. You need to weigh for you personally the cost/benefit. If you are going on 1 weekend trip in a year in the Sierra, Cascades, Rockies, halogen tablets work just fine at a very low cost. If you are going to be near urban areas or near livestock farms every weekend for the next 5 years, then one of the more expensive, submicron filters is worth it (2 pills per liter, drinking several liters per day, 52 weekends a year, for 5+ years is a lot of bottles of the tablets - you can get any of the most expensive filters for the same cost).

10:04 p.m. on March 1, 2012 (EST)
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thanks Bill, the area i was most concerned with is a small river near my home (extremely rural but little agriculture, bee keeping is the living of choice here) we will be going upstream into a small community of probably 100-150 households before it runs into a larger river on its way to the gulf of mexico, the reason for my concern is that like my community they are on septic tanks but i feel comfortable now that a good filter should be sufficient for my needs bot here and hopefully on future trips north.

thanks Bill for your help.

 

earl.

11:49 p.m. on March 1, 2012 (EST)
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the real question is,how tolerant are you w/diahrea and how strenuous and how long is the hike,and are you under time constraints to finish hike.poo-poo pants?it happens on every hike at least one person gets the squirts,regardless of the cause it slows everybody down and you you have to factor it in,if you planned on 8 miles that day,you'll be lucky to get 4.don't forget your shovel,LNT!

12:01 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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the real question is,how tolerant are you w/diahrea and how strenuous and how long is the hike,and are you under time constraints to finish hike.poo-poo pants?it happens on every hike at least one person gets the squirts,regardless of the cause it slows everybody down and you you have to factor it in,if you planned on 8 miles that day,you'll be lucky to get 4.don't forget your shovel,LNT!

 

Hmmmm....

Well, I can say in all of the trips that I have been on I have yet to experience this reoccurring phenomenon. Then again maybe I am just one of the odd balls out there that goes to extreme lengths to make sure that I do not have this problem by taking the necessary steps to kill the nasties.

At the very minimum I filter everything I drink when in the backcountry. I don't care how clear it looks. I know many will say "oh that stream is good to drink from." Great, go ahead and have a few slugs from it. I'm gonna filter. Last thing I need is to get the runs 35 miles into a 70 mile trip. Then I have to deal with the possibility of dehydration, etc.

For the minimal effort it takes to filter, boil, etc the possible tradeoff from not treating your drinking water just doesn't seem worth the risk.

It happens on every hike? Sounds like ya need to find a new group of hiking companions or if nothing else make sure everyone you are with knows how to boil water.

I don't see where one would have to account the time for this into their trip plans.

To be blunt if this is happening regularly blame it on lack of experience, common sense, and/or preparedness.

12:41 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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i agree Rick, no way would i drink directly from any pond, river etc' when inexpensive water treatment is available and as i have read many times purell or some other hand sanitizer should always be handi. i have used them for proably 15 years and know they have been a help to me. the only time i remember getting sick was on a lease i shared with my brother in law and father in law about 25 years ago, all three of us were getting sick with cramps, the runs and throwing up frequently until my wife saw me stop at a creek and drink from a beer can with the end cut out we kept on a limb at creek side, when i woke up sick the next morning she made the connection. we quit drinking from the creek and lo and behold the intestinal problems vanished.

earl

 

12:45 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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Definitely. Just beacause a stream looks "crystal clear" doesn't mean that some critter isn't up stream using your potential drinking supply as a toilet.

7:16 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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smithcreek said:

thanks Bill S, that was excellent info, one more question if you guys dont mind.

how important is filtering out viruses in the U.S.? should folks lean toward something that will remove viruses when selecting a filter?

well i guess that was two more questions.

 

thanks

 

earl

 Bill S answered these quite well also.  If you are worried about viruses I would filter first which should get rid of the bacteria and cysts which are much less vulnerable to UV and then hit them with a steripen or similar to get rid of the viruses.

8:18 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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unk said:

..poo-poo pants?it happens on every hike at least one person gets the squirts...

I don’t know anyone with issues of this magnitude.  I would suggest your poo poo problems have nothing to do with the water, but everything to do with personal and kitchen hygene of the group.  In fact most illnesses attributed to drinking bad water from domestic steams and lakes lacking an obvious source for contamination (e.g. run off from mines, residential and industrial, agricultural and livestock areas) result from poor personal and kitchen hygene.  I very rarely treat or filter my water.  My domestic venues have been all over the Sierras, many locations in the Cascades, many areas along the Colorado Front Range, and several of the parks in Alaska.  Only once in the hundreds of days I has enjoyed camping did I get a bug; that was as a Boy Scout 50 years ago.  It most likely wasn’t the water since only members of our patrol got sick, while the other 14 scouts in other patrols were fine.  Thus I suggest you educate your companions, and urge all to step up their hygiene practices:

  • Always wash your hands immediately after relieving yourself.  Touching equipment before washing creates a vector, regardless you eventually do wash up.
  • Wash your hand before handling food, eating utensils, stoves, or anything food may come in contact with.
  • Wash you hands before collecting water. (good news you filter – bad news is you contaminated the water with your dukie covered hands).
  • While of secondary importance, I also dip all freshly washed food related utensils and equipment in a sterilizing solution.  I make my solution with the chemical used to rinse bar wares, but beach will also do.

I also preclude problems caused by others' poor hygiene habits by volunterring to perform all cooking, bulk water collection, and KP.  No one complains.

Ed 

8:50 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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I have had intestinal issues while backpacking once or twice. However, I agree with rick and the others, someone's "not going it right" if a person in your group is getting the runs every time your out.

11:22 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks, Ed. I should put a comment about personal sanitation at the top of every response I make in water treatment threads. All the trailhead surveys show that lack of attention to the sanitation practices, whether for the group as a whole or individuals, is linked to the overwhelming number of cases.

It cannot be overemphasized -- WASH YOUR HANDS AND/OR USE HAND SANITIZER AFTER RELIEVING YOURSELF AND BEFORE TOUCHING ANY FOOD!!! This is especially important for the group cook and other food handlers.

11:48 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S said:

Thanks, Ed. I should put a comment about personal sanitation at the top of every response I make in water treatment threads. All the trailhead surveys show that lack of attention to the sanitation practices, whether for the group as a whole or individuals, is linked to the overwhelming number of cases.

It cannot be overemphasized -- WASH YOUR HANDS AND/OR USE HAND SANITIZER AFTER RELIEVING YOURSELF AND BEFORE TOUCHING ANY FOOD!!! This is especially important for the group cook and other food handlers.

 Absolutely...

12:38 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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Please refer to the sign that is posted in every public bathroom I've been in lately.

Employees must wash hands before returning to work.

I've seen several variations/additions.

On a pre-printed post-it:

If an employee is not available please feel free to wash your own hands.

Usually scribbled somewhere.

If you don't have to be told this please apply for management position.

Or one of my favorites


images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR55n1H3tg8enL0xPW1gub

1:48 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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Here on the Left Coast, and in California in particular, where Anglos are in the minority, such signs in restaurant bathrooms are in 4 to 5 different languages. In fast food places where the preparation is in the open, like Quizno's, Subway, Togo's, Chipotle, and other shops, they have a wash basin with soap, hand sanitizer, and paper towels, with the signs above the wash basin, plus all personnel have to wear plastic gloves, which are replaced every few minutes. The supermarkets have sanitizer wipes at the doors for you to wipe the handles of the shopping carts.

The only intestinal problem I have had in years was in Peru last summer. Barb did not get sick. Even though I carry a bottle of Purell with me and use it assiduously, I believe it was due to a particular item in the lunch that was provided to me at the Inti Raymi festival. The one item I ate that Barb didn't was a bag of fried banana chips that had a slightly rancid taste (I didn't finish the bag). The lunch was hand-packed, with the chips in a small paper bag. So I don't know how they were handled before I was handed the lunch. Usually, I have very good resistance to such things, having lived and traveled a lot in 3rd world countries and spent many years drinking directly out of the streams in the hills, and even directly out of the Colorado River during kayak and canoe trips.

6:16 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S said:

..In fast food places.. ..all personnel have to wear plastic gloves, which are replaced every few minutes...

The only intestinal problem I have had in years was in Peru last summer...

Actually there is quite a debate in the food service industry, regarding the effectiveness of gloves.  There are highly regarded studies indicating gloves do little to improve poor hygiene practices.  You still have to wash your hands every time before touching fresh gloves; meanwhile gloves do nothing to mitigate the effects of bad habits such as scratching yourself, or touching other suspect surfaces.  In the end these studies conclude diligent hand washing is at least as effective as any restaurant kitchen hygiene program utilizing gloves. 

-------------------- 

My wife is Peruvian.  I can assure you as a culture they are more lax regarding kitchen hygiene in most every regard.  Like you I too am fairly immune to travel bugs, except when I travel to Peru.  Go figure.

Ed 

 

6:44 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

Definitely. Just beacause a stream looks "crystal clear" doesn't mean that some critter isn't up stream using your potential drinking supply as a toilet.

 This is a given, Rick is correct.

 Fish, crustaceans, amphibians, aquatic reptiles, aquatic insects, overflying or aquatic birds, etc, all poop in the water! I have watched some of them do it.

The safer route is to treat the water in an effective manner & practice proper hygiene.

Mike G.

10:16 p.m. on March 19, 2012 (EDT)
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@TheRambler

Sorry for being late to the party, but did I just hear about a super lightweight water filter that is simple to use and works!? :O

I just looked it up at REI, and I see it won Backpacker's 2012 Editor's Choice award?

Well then, in addition to a new tarp for my hammock, I think I'll pick up one of those the next time I am in REI :D

11:54 p.m. on March 19, 2012 (EDT)
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Habla no English Wakarimas

9:22 a.m. on March 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Latitude,

If you are referring to the MSR hyperflow, there have been endless reports of clogging issues with that one. They may have resolved the problem, or maybe it is especially easy for user error to cause failure, etc. But you'll probably want to really research that and evaluate the potential for problems. 

9:03 p.m. on March 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Everyone has gave great information, I still not sure for myself of what to use for clean water.  I have look at the sawyer squeeze bottles, but I feel there is a problem of filling the bottles up.  I was thinking of getting a 2 liter Platypus Big Zip and putting the sawyer 3 in 1 filter.  I feel that this would be a better setup for getting water and filter it.  I don't like using a bladder or bottle that I use for drinking all the time and risk getting them contaminated with no way of cleaning them in the field (I carry Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets). When I go on longer day hikes more than 12 miles I will use trails that are out and back or loops and leave water bottles near the trail were I think I could be low on water, I also carry 5 gallons in my truck.  I don't have the problems of the multi-hiker but still concern about clean drinking water.  I have used the tablets with coffee filters which taste wasn't a problem, but for now I feel I just carry water and not worry about the weight, the most I carry is 6 liters, but most of the time 3 liters and 16 oz's of hot coffee.

12:20 a.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I have a 2 liter sawyer gravity fed .1 micron filter.   The main problem with it is you have to have a way of getting the water into the dirty bladder. 

8:46 a.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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@gonzan

Negative, I was referring to the sawyer squeeze

9:52 a.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Ah, sorry- I missed his reference to the Sawyer. I haven't tried that system, but am curious to check it out sometime. 

5:36 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I have very good resistance to such things, having lived and traveled a lot in 3rd world countries and spent many years drinking directly out of the streams in the hills, and even directly out of the Colorado River during kayak and canoe trips.

 

Me to.

I must be lucky and dumb, but I’ve never filtered or treated my water with anything, ever.

I grew up in New York, and as a kid I was stupid enough to drink from the gutters when it rained!

Backpacked all over New England, bits of England, Wales, Scotland and canoed for some weeks in Canada, and not once did I, my wife or any of our companions ever bother to treat our water in any way.  Nowadays I guess I don’t go outside of the northern Idaho / Washington area much though.

Never got sick once. So far, anyway.

My wife really thinks filtering water is just plain dumb, and loves to plop down and slurp up a big mouthful right next to anybody she sees industriously pumping away, filtering water from some lake or stream. She hasn’t  traveled down south or overseas though!

Maybe it really is what a fella is used to drinking?

If ya drink chlorinated city water I bet yer intestinal flora really isn’t up to the challenge of much wild water.

We live on an off-grid homestead, and don’t have running water. For more than ten years we hauled water from local springs and ponds, melted snow in the winter and of course, collected rain water. All that stuff we drink right as we find it, never had any trouble.

 

This is a spring about 1/2 mile below our cottage where we often get water -


P1010059.jpg

 

Sucking water from a local pond -


P1010274.jpg

And carrying it home in our much abused pickup -


P1010276.jpg

 

Shoveling snow from our porch to melt beside our wood stove for drinkinmg water -


P6070307.jpg


So I’d like to say all this nonsense about filters and chemicals is just hogwash.

Except that I’m smart enough to know that sometimes, especially for some folks, it’s not.

Still and all I’d like to think that most places we all backpack that it’s perfectly safe to drink “wild” water, and I for one am sick and tired of folk acting like water is pure poison!

I dunno, am I crazy? Or do others feel as I do?

6:08 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Personally, I'll go for the tabs.

Aquatabs:

-Effective against giardia, bacteria, and viruses

- sodium dichloroisocyanurate

- Approved and used by international aid agencies including: NATO, WHO, Unicef, International Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and Oxfam.

No odor after purification is completed. Light and safe. Dwell time 30 minutes.

MicroPur:

- Chlorine dioxide

- Effective against viruses, bacteria, giardia, and cryptosporidium

No odor after purification is completed. Light and safe. Dwell time 30 minutes to 4 hrs, depending on water temperature.

Anybody ever worked at a swimming pool? The only time you can smell the chlorine is when it's being released by reacting with something! If you get a whiff when you open the jug, it's because it bleached out some organic contaminants.

Don't understand why anyone would mess around with a temperamental mechanical gadget when you can get safe drinking water from one tiny tablet.

6:36 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Peter 1955 said:

"MicroPur:

- Chlorine dioxide

- Effective against viruses, bacteria, giardia, and cryptosporidium

No odor after purification is completed. Light and safe. Dwell time 30 minutes to 4 hrs, depending on water temperature."

Without filtering first, Chlorine Dioxide requires 4 hours at room temp to be effective against chlorine resistant protozoan cysts like Cryptosporidium or Giardia, longer in turbid or cold water.

Chlorine Dioxide is not effective in 30 minutes, that is a very common misconception. The Katadyn website says to wait 4 hours, 30 minutes is not mentioned for Micropur MP1 tablets.

The reason many people prefer to filter, or filter before using chemical treatment, is because filtering easily removes protozoan cysts, sediment, and plant material - these are all things that reduce the effectiveness, and greatly increase the wait time of chlorine based water treatments.

Filtering first reduces the wait time to less than an hour by removing the protozoan cysts.

Neither method will remove heavy metals, chemicals or pesticides.

5:53 p.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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It appears you were misinformed.


Micropur_Chart_5dd125d94d.jpgSource Katadyne website.


Katadyne recommends a dwell time of from 15 minutes to 4 hours. It's always nice to filter drinking water through a coffee just get rid of the floating bits, and that makes it work even better.

There is also an interesting article on the same site saying that the US military is now adding MicroPur tablets to their water treatment kits.

It is also my understanding that cryptosporidium, while fairly common in sewage sludge, is not frequently found in alpine terrain or other isolated areas. Aquatabs don't work very well on crypto, but that doesn't seem to be of much concern to the disaster relief agencies that use them.

7:55 p.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Peter,

You are absolutely correct that the chart showing the test results for EPA water #1 lists a contact time of 30 minutes.  That is not however Katadyn's recommended wait time for backcountry users. I too saw that chart and contacted Katadyn who told me the chart was the lab test results under the EPA testing guide and protocol and not their recommended wait time for backcountry users.

According to the product use instructions on both their website and on the product package Katadyn's recommended wait time for unfiltered water is 4 + hours for safe, effective treatment. For water filtered through a 1 micron absolute pore filter the recommended wait time is 30 minutes for water temps of 68 F (20 C).

My own thinking is that very few, if any, backcountry water sources will provide water clarity to match EPA water #1 at the needed 68 F (20 C), you may have access to some I can't say you do not, most people will not.

You are also right about using a coffee filter, I think this works much better (faster I guess) than the method of letting water sit and settle.

I do not know the rate of occurrence for Crypto or Giardia in your area, most studies indicate it can be found in any freshwater source contaminated by human or animal fecal matter.

So some of this is subjective depending on what you read into the information presented and the amount of semantics used by the various chemical water treatment manufacturers.

Some say their product "kills" crypto others say it "inactivates".

According to most of the studies I have read Chlorine Dioxide only "inactivates" crypto so it can not reproduce while in your gut.

Other studies did not say as best I understood them.

In any event, filtering removes protozoan cysts & turbidity to begin with and that gives you clear water free of cysts to chemically treat with wait time still dependent on water temp.

Mike G.

3:50 p.m. on April 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Okay, I did a review of the Camelbak AllClear™ UV filter, in which I added more information to supplement my 4-part What's in Your Water article of a while back. It should answer a number of questions raised in this thread, and hopefully prove helpful. One of my conclusions in the review is that the AllClear is a good 1-2 person approach for week to 2 week backpacks. (and you can mark it "helpful" as well {8=>D)

3:58 p.m. on April 5, 2012 (EDT)
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OGBO, nice review on the All Clear. That is a product that I have been interested in since I caught wind of it from the OR show awhile back.

Thanks. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

4:01 p.m. on April 19, 2012 (EDT)
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Man, what a thorough review! Sounds like the answer to all our prayers.

I got the runs after drinking water laced with glacial silt - a common cause of intestinal problems. I see you responded to that issue as well. Maybe a coffee filter still has some value after all.

1:13 p.m. on April 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Have you seen the worms that live in the glacial ice ?

8:48 a.m. on April 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Yes, but the aquatabs kill them, and I'd think this would too. It's the actual glacial flower that causes stomach upset.

Had one guy raving about the purity of glacial water. When we actually hiked to the glacier's toe, we came across a stream of water flowing into the lake off the ice across the half-frozen body of a dead marmot.

1:48 p.m. on April 21, 2012 (EDT)
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peter1955 said:

... It's the actual glacial flower that causes stomach upset.

 That's "flour", not "flower". very fine, ground-up rock (and everything else the glacier moves over). On dry days when the wind kicks up, it is miserable to breathe. Hmmm... wonder if a dust mask would work as a water pre-filter. Lots cheaper than the official pre-filters and I suspect smaller pore size than most coffee filters.

The worms are quite common in glaciers and a surprise to people who have never seen them before.

8:54 a.m. on April 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Silly spelling mistake. (darn autocorrect!). I knew that.

A dust mask sounds like a good idea. I don't think you'd have to get too much of the silt out, but I don't know what the different pore sizes are.

11:37 a.m. on April 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Just turned hte tap on,,,,,,, and ,,,,,,,,,, got a nice shot of dirty brown water.

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