Do you bring a back up water filter

6:28 p.m. on May 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Just wondering how many hikers out there bring a back up water filter I have a pump filter that can also be set up as a drip one, but thinking of getting an in bottle filter as back up as the horror stories I have heard when one filter breaks or fails. Do you think it is worth the extra weight for the added security  of knowing you have a failsafe?

10:08 p.m. on May 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I am looking for a bottle filter/purifier that I like and does not break the bank for exactly the same.

10:18 p.m. on May 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Well....my fail safe consists of Chlorine Dioxide tablets (Aqua Mira, Micro Pur, Potable Aqua) or boiling.

I personally would not carry two filters. You can also use Sodium Hypochlorite (plain household bleach - NO additives like perfumes) at the rate of 4 drops per liter of water.

Because the water where I go is not fast flowing and has a lot of sediment I generally carry a water filter + chlorine dioxide tablets and use both to treat my water.

In 25 years I have never had a pump to fail.  If you keep the filter clean, or replace the cartridge when needed, and you protect it from freezing, don't abuse it, etc. you should not have any "horror stories" to deal with.

In case of a pump failure I would just filter through a bandanna or coffee filter and then use chlorine dioxide tabs, or bring the water to a boil.

Mike G.

10:05 a.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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trouthunter said:

Well....my fail safe consists of Chlorine Dioxide tablets (Aqua Mira, Micro Pur, Potable Aqua) or boiling.

...

In case of a pump failure I would just filter through a bandanna or coffee filter and then use...tabs, or bring the water to a boil.

 +1

I carry AquaTabs and Micropur in my emergency kit on every hike, whether I'm carrying a water filter or not. In case of an emergency, I can always be assured of safe water to drink. The weight is just few grams, probably about the equivalent of carry a half-dozen aspirin.

11:28 a.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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If this is something that concerns you, for your own peace of mind go ahead and carry a back up. Might be just a filter straw, or some tablets. You might never use them. But they are always there. There is nothing wrong with having a back up plan.

In the winter I carry a tent and a bivi. I have never used the bivi and don't plan to. It's just the little fear of the what if happens. Makes me happy. 

12:33 p.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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If my Katadyn water filter doesnt work I boil the water.

2:46 p.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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My backup: matches, just boil it.

3:55 p.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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I agree whole heartedly to have a backup way to treat water.  But the only con with getting a seperate filter is the $ and the extra weight. I always have the surefire method of boiling as a backup, but to me boiled water tastes like poo for drinking water. My backup method is a small dropper bottle with about a 1/4oz of bleach in it or 150ish drops. Takes 3(2-4) drops to treat a liter, so i can treat quite a bit with 1/4oz of bleach. The dropper with the bleach in it weighs about .4 of an ounce.

My main method is either a steripen or my MSR miniworks depending on the trip.

6:08 p.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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Aquamira droplets make a great secondary sytem and rather inexpensive for what you get..

5:21 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
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no,not even a primary

5:32 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
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i agree wholeheartedly to not bring any filter,why?because my source has 0 possibility of even having scat,at higher elevations.how much industrialization or population at source?if you cant trust your water,DONT GO THERE!thats the whole purpose of the backcountry!if you dont have protected land,get it.call your senators,congressmen and tell them you need you are american and you vote!YOU WANT PROTECTED LAND,say it.

6:11 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
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unk said:

if you cant trust your water,DONT GO THERE!thats the whole purpose of the backcountry!if you dont have protected land,get it.call your senators,congressmen and tell them you need you are american and you vote!YOU WANT PROTECTED LAND,say it.

 

Unk, the question is not about "Protected land," but about organisms that naturally live in water sources, even at high elevation in many areas of the country.

There are multiple gorgeous, protected, difficult to access backcountry locations near where I live. The water sources available there are below 2000ft, and are in gorges surrounded by forests and habitat that support large populations of deer, turkey, bobcat, racoon, and hundreds of other animals. ALL of those animals defecate in and around the watersheds. Beyond that, during various times of the year large pools become semi-disconnected from the main flow, and can breed bacteria and other organisms. All of that is natural and unavoidable, even though remote and protected, and I will definitely continue to visit and enjoy them! 

 Now, there are locations where is perfectly safe to drink the water untreated, but it is important for a person to do so because of an informed decision. 

9:59 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I carry Aquamira drops as a backup, but I've never had to use it.

10:21 a.m. on July 22, 2012 (EDT)
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I use a sweetwater filter, and a steripen, the steripen only seems to work about half the time so I will either upgrade it to a newer more dependable model or dispense with it all together. I like the idea of carrying the aquamira or the bleach and will probably start doing that. I have rarely if ever hiked where the water comes bubbling up from a pure aquifer, so no mater how "pristine" my surroundings, I always treat it.

1:13 p.m. on July 22, 2012 (EDT)
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My current and new water treatment tools from lightest set-up/least amount of gear to overloaded are,

Ultra Light

#1 - SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier ,  0.281 pounds =

        TTL = 0.281

#2 - SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier ,  0.281 pounds +

        SteriPEN FitsAll Filter                               ,  0.102 pounds =

        TTL = 0.383

#3 - SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier ,  0.281 pounds +

        MSR SweetWater Water Purifier System ,  0.664   (UL))  =

        TTL =  0.945

#4 - SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier ,  0.281 pounds +

        MSR SweetWater Water Purifier System ,  0.773   (L))     =

        TTL = 1.054

The total weight of the  MSR SweetWater Water Purifier System is 0.953 though I would probably never use it this way, Option 3 is my favorite.  

2:24 p.m. on July 22, 2012 (EDT)
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One filter is enough.

If I had to I could makeshift a filter and boil water. You will want to boil it at a full boil for four minutes.

If you can't boil it for some reason and you have a plastic see through container. Expose it to sunlight for six hours.

5:57 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Most places I camp don't require any treatment.  A little known secret: the quality of most water sources in the mountains out west is better than the city tap water or suburban well water.  Research on the internet will find ongoing water quality assays conducted on wilderness water sources by government agencies and universities.  But if I go into areas of unknown quality, I use the two part chem treatment systems that oxidize out of solution and leave no residual chemicals.   These very UL, and require no back up.  Chem systems intended for marine use are potent, requiring relativly short pickling times to be effective. 

Ed 

12:18 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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gonzan said:

unk said:

if you cant trust your water,DONT GO THERE!thats the whole purpose of the backcountry!if you dont have protected land,get it.call your senators,congressmen and tell them you need you are american and you vote!YOU WANT PROTECTED LAND,say it.

 

Unk, the question is not about "Protected land," but about organisms that naturally live in water sources, even at high elevation in many areas of the country.

 

 This reminds me of when I was sitting on the Kittitas County Planning commision during a very contentious period in Washington State history where growth management was a huge issue. We were all (counties) required to plan for growth and infrastructure for the following 20 years. We had dozens of public hearings and often a core of colorful attendees that were at all meetings. Some very well meaning, but a bit misguided. At one hearing, a man who came to every meeting was up testifying and he had a copy of the Clean Water Act in his hand. He had got himself all worked up about potable water and began screaming "THE TEANNAWAY RIVER IS FULL OF SH*T! THE WATER IS NOT POTABLE!!! When he calmed down enough for a response from the committee, we pointed out what the report had said about the teannaway: there was cow crap, fish crap, deer crap......not human crap......so the water was not potable. he was so humiliated by his display that he never returned to another meeting!

2:06 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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jchanman33 said:

Just wondering how many hikers out there bring a back up water filter

I have a "Frontier Emergency water Filter" (basically a straw with a filter) in my pack.  I figured it's worth the .8 oz.  I'm also most likely going to pick up some "potable aqua" tablets to toss into my first aid kit before my upcoming trip.

I use a Sawyer Squeeze filter now, and have heard too many stories of the bags breaking... and even with a spare or two I still can't risk not having water I can trust.

4:10 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Think about your containers, too. You can treat water and put it in a hydration bladder, but if the bladder is your only container and it breaks or leaks, you won't have any place to treat more.

I've gone from a bladder to a two bottle Camelbak system - I only have to carry one full, so the weight of the second empty one isn't much, but I can treat and carry my water in one or the other or both.

I was drinking water off a glacier last weekend, but it had run down a stream bed a kilometre or two long before it got to me. Lots of plants and animals all the way. With a UV system handy, why WOULDN'T I treat it?

9:10 p.m. on July 25, 2012 (EDT)
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I do one of two things to treat my water. I either filter it in my Katadyn Hiker filter or boil it when cooking.

9:27 a.m. on August 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Buy some iodine or other purification tablets as a backup. They are cheap and weigh almost nothing. If the filter breaks you can boil you're water at night when you have time and use the tablets for water during the day.

5:36 p.m. on August 18, 2012 (EDT)
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summer, i carry tablets or a very small container of chlorine solution as a backup.  i use either an MSR filter or a steripen.  because my primary solutions haven't failed, i just keep carrying the backup and occasionally make sure it hasn't hit the expiration date. 

winter, i melt snow or boil water - not to purify, but so i'm not ingesting cold liquids and lowering my core temperature.  one of the places i like to go in the winter has a spring that runs year-round (i occasionally have to chop it clear with an ice axe), which is a treat.  i'm guessing the water is clean due to the high location, but i still boil it to make tea. 

i'm interested in the comment about the steripen only working sometimes.  what is the problem? i bought the cheapest, heaviest steripen i could get a couple of years ago.  takes 4 AA batteries, requires either lithium or rechargeable batteries.  i don't use it in the winter, but in the summer, i have never had issues with it, nor have i gotten sick from drinking water i treated with it. 

7:04 a.m. on August 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I'm (sort of) with Unk on this one -- I think people in the US have gone a little crazy over the whole purification thing, and I suspect that the water purifier industry has more than a little to do with it. I'm sure there are areas where it is hard to find clean water, but I also think that at least in most mountain areas and with a little common sense judgment you should be able to find good water somewhere along the way. Certainly back in Vermont and NH, I never carried a filter and would take water from springs and first order streams without a second thought. Lakes and bigger streams I wouldn't trust so much, mostly because of beavers, and would boil if necessary. But we do own a filter and used it, for example, in Zion NP where there a lot of people and we weren't too sure about the water.

As has come up in previous threads, here in Norway no one ever filters or purifies, and it's pretty much taken for granted that most backcountry water is safe. At the huts there is usually some designated water source, often just a nearby lake, but there are never instructions to purify. Exceptions: In areas where there is relatively high density hut development I have seen warnings, presumably because septic systems or composting toilets (very common) aren't doing their job. There are sheep around in the mtns, but not at high densities, but I guess you wouldn't want to take water out of some farm pond, and you have to be a little more alert in lemming years when there are dead lemmings in some streams.

To me a filter, or maybe more importantly feeling like I can't trust the water, is a kind of artificial barrier between me and the land that I'd as much as possible rather do without.

4:32 p.m. on August 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Hello All, new member, have been lurking awhile.

As far as purification goes, I have a katadyn hiker with potable Aqua for backup. never have had to use the backup, but good to know its there. In winter snow situations, I don't bring either, I just melt snow. I do bring a backup stove in winter.

6:53 p.m. on August 20, 2012 (EDT)
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to back up a minute, i think there are valid reasons to treat water in some manner (chemical, UV, filter, boiling, whatever). 

Giardia and cryptosporidium can be found in a lot of streams, rivers, ponds, and other surface water in the US and elsewhere.  if you ingest these protozoans or their cysts  and they start reproducing in your small intestine, you may experience a series of highly unpleasant and moderately to severely debilitating symptoms that i won't disgust you by describing here.  it's not something you want to acquire on a trip.  Various bacteria and viruses are out there too but generally not as common or as great a concern.  the cysts are the main risk because they can survive for a long time in cold water.   

it is fair to say that these little guys don't live everywhere, but that it's not so easy, looking at a water source, to know if it's safe.  higher-altitude water sources and sources in more remote/less traveled areas in the wilderness in the US are more likely to be safe.  well-used hiking areas, campgrounds, places that have significant pack animal activity, and water sources adjacent to where domestic farm animals live are most likely to be infected.  

does that necessarily mean filtering or some other treatment? actually, there is significant literature to suggest that the primary means of spreading these buggers is hand-to-mouth, and that basic hygiene like washing your hands before you eat on the trail can significantly reduce one's risk.  However, I think most people who call themselves experts in this area would still recommend treating water from any of the high-risk areas i just mentioned.  in other words, well-used trail systems (AT, Adirondacks, Smokies, for example) and campsites probably warrant treating your water.   

8:01 p.m. on August 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Hafford said:

I use a sweetwater filter, and a steripen, the steripen only seems to work about half the time ...

 You do not say which SteriPen™ you have. People sometimes have problems with the older models which have the electric contact buttons that must be immersed in the water during the whole treatment duration. If you lift the contacts out of the water during the stirring motion, the UV light will shut off.

I have both an electric contact and an optical sensor model of SteriPen™. I have had no problems with either, nor with the AllClear™ I reviewed for Trailspace a couple months back. I recently ran across another UV treatment device on another website, which I will try to get a link to. Basically, used properly, all the UV treatment devices are 99.9% effective against all the critters that cause problems in the backcountry. Solar UV treatment requires a longer time (6-12 hours of exposure to direct sunlight and a UV-transparent container). They do not remove silt and other things causing turbidity, nor do they remove mining, industrial, or agricultural runoff. Filters do reduce turbidity, but also do not remove the chemicals in mining, industrial, or agricultural runoff.

Contrary to the commonly cited "boil for 5 (or 10 or longer) minutes", it is sufficient to pasteurize water at 155F or hotter for a few minutes to kill all the bacteria, protozoa (and their cysts), and viruses. I refer you to the extensive discussion is Paul Auerbach's 11-pound tome "Wilderness Medicine" for a detailed discussion of this and other water treatment methods (you can also get this in electronic form for your iPad and other electronic "pads" and "tablets"). This means that you can effectively make the water potable (safe to drink, not necessarily surgically sterile) at any altitude you can get to by walking or climbing.

When using chemical treatments (halogens including iodine and chlorine in bleach or chlorine dioxide form), keep in mind that all these halogens take time to act (anywhere from a half hour to days if the water is cold - action time is highly temperature dependent). Chemical treatments, as with filters, UV, and heating are ineffective against chemical contaminants like mining, industrial, and agricultural runoff. In fact, chlorine compounds and chlorine gas combine with a number of agricultural chemicals to produce carcinogens (often cited as the reason that cities along the lower Mississippi have a significantly higher rate of certain cancers than the US as a whole).

Filters must be of sufficiently pore size to remove the critters - 1 micron removes protozoa and their cysts, 0.2 microns removes bacteria and most viruses as well. Be aware of your filter's specifications.

While Ed WhoMe and Big Red are correct that (1) personal hygiene has been shown to be the major cause of backcountry intestinal problems and (2) most backcountry watersources are fairly safe to drink, there is a wide variation in the critter content of water in both front-country and backcountry water sources. Some front-country sources are quite free of critters, while some backcountry sources are highly contaminated. Here in the SFBay Area, where we get much of our water from Hetchhetchy, our city water is minimally treated (well, ok, right now, there is a major maintenance project on the San Francisco water transport tunnel system, so a fair amount of well water is being added, requiring heavy chlorination by our standards - and it tastes bad, too - we are all praying for a rapid finish to the project so we get our pure mountain water back soon). 

Personally, I have for years and continue to drink a fair amount of my water while in the backcountry directly from streams and springs. Not in Almaden Valley (site of a number of abandoned mercury mines), of course. And it is true that I spent part of my youth in 3rd world countries. So I may well have developed a certain amount of immunity. Still, I try to be very conscious of the situation with the water sources where I am.

10:10 p.m. on October 20, 2012 (EDT)
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I carry Micropur chlorine dioxide tablets for my back-up. Pre-filter with a bandanna to as to eliminate large particles, which reduces the Micropur's effectiveness. 

Re: boiling. I prefer not to, as it consumes fuel that is best used for cooking, especially when the Micropur tablets are so light and work so well. But boiling has its place in my system. Remember that water you are going to cook with does not need to be purified or filtered. Again, use the bandanna if there are large particles of matter swirling around in it, like bits of leaf etc. Since you will be boiling the water anyway as you cook, it is a waste of resources to treat it first.

9:27 p.m. on November 12, 2012 (EST)
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unk said:

if you cant trust your water,DONT GO THERE!thats the whole purpose of the backcountry!if you dont have protected land,get it.call your senators,congressmen and tell them you need you are american and you vote!YOU WANT PROTECTED LAND,say it.

 Yeah, because that will result in land being protected the very next day and the water will instantly become perfect, clean water.

5:05 p.m. on November 17, 2012 (EST)
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My Katadyn Hiker has quit working correctly. I wrote to the company to see if they will replace it? It squirts water out of the intake area and does'nt pump it thru the filter into my water bottle. Luckily I am cycling and stop along the road at gas stations to get water from their drinking fountains.

7:55 p.m. on November 17, 2012 (EST)
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I bring a tiny backpacking stove and a canister of fuel. It weighs 1 pound or less and boiling is the only method that takes care of every water sanitation need without changing taste or requiring the consumption of chemicals.

1:34 p.m. on November 18, 2012 (EST)
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Boiling without changing taste is right! I once boiled water from a source in the Grand Canyon which came from a spring beneath a green Slate layer in the Sandstone formation. The water smelled and tasted like sewage, before and after boiling it. I just held my nose and drank it anyway, even cooking with it and adding Gatorade mix didn't take away the sewage taste.

5:56 p.m. on November 18, 2012 (EST)
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gross Gary haha

10:36 p.m. on November 18, 2012 (EST)
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GaryPalmer said:

Boiling without changing taste is right! I once boiled water from a source in the Grand Canyon which came from a spring beneath a green Slate layer in the Sandstone formation. The water smelled and tasted like sewage, before and after boiling it. I just held my nose and drank it anyway, even cooking with it and adding Gatorade mix didn't take away the sewage taste.

 Gary, any chance there was sulfur in the water? Or was this something else?

3:06 p.m. on November 19, 2012 (EST)
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Not sure what the bad taste and smell was. But don't think it was sulfur. May have been the seep came from a algae spring.

5:34 p.m. on November 19, 2012 (EST)
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Katadyn is sending me a new outer body for my hiker filter. May need it on my way back east.

10:56 a.m. on November 20, 2012 (EST)
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Ick - sounds like hydrogen sulfide or selenium.  Both occur occasionally in water in the southwest.  Neither is anything you'd want to drink. Hydrogen sulfide can be boiled off or removed with activated carbon filtration, but dissolved heavy metals like selenium are much harder to remove.  In any case, it sounds like Gary's iron gut dealt with it just fine!

1:14 p.m. on November 20, 2012 (EST)
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Well I boiled the water to purify it but even after it cooled down by the next morning, it still smelled bad.  I even put instant Gatorade in it first. Smelled like gatorade sewage! Yummm :(

4:12 p.m. on November 22, 2012 (EST)
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If you're boiling of Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S - 'Sour Gas') stand well clear. That stuff is one of the most toxic gases on Earth. Fatal at levels as low as 100 ppm depending on exposure.

But if you boiled it, the taste afterwards might be more likely to come from the rotting algae in the water

3:28 p.m. on November 23, 2012 (EST)
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The water appeared clear with no green color at all. It was a dripping spring beneath the Redwall formation in the south area of the Grand Canyons above the Tonto Platform between Cremation and Grapevine Canyons.

1:07 p.m. on November 24, 2012 (EST)
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I recieved my new Katadyn outer body yesterday in the mail. Am ready again to filter water along the road on my current bike trip.

6:29 a.m. on December 19, 2012 (EST)
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Hi , WELCOME TO THIS FORUM SITE HERE YOU CAN FIND LOTS OF THINGS,BUT FOR YOUR QUESTION I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH KNOWLEDGE,SO YOU CAN CONTACT TO ANY EXPERT FOR A BETTER REPLY. -----------------

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