water purfication..

10:31 a.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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what have you guys found to be the best way to purify water on the trail. ive been useing tablets but they have to disolve and then its a 30 min wait ive been looking at the SteriPEN AdventurerOpti.

has anyone used the SteriPEN or had luck with any other methods?

10:57 a.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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There have been many long threads on this topic on Trailspace, I suggest you start with my 4 part series found at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/backcountry-water-treatment-part-1-hydration.html Then use the search window at the upper right of any Trailspace page to search for "water purification", Note that what you want is to make the water "potable". It is not necessary to sterilize or purify it unless you are doing surgery. Boiling, filtering, and chemical options are all suitable, depending on your preferences and factors discussed in my articles

11:14 a.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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In the old days I was a hippie purist and figured all water to be "god-given" and suitably ingestible so I freely dipped the old sierra cup and drank without a second thought.  Ergo in '84 I squatted to dump a nasty load of giardia stool and then in '87 got cow-water flummoxed and puked all night near Elk Gardens.  The hippie bubble burst and now I treat 90% of all my water in the backcountry. 

It's also reasonable to assume that car-afflicted rolling couch potato tourists will stop at any pulloff and dump their loads next to or into the headwaters of any stream accessible to high mountain road access.  And it's assumed that favorite camping areas will get the uninformed and mentally challenged engaged in leaving their turds in full view atop ground with stained paper amply strewn.

Winter snow brings out the worst of these types as they tend to squat and release right on top of the white powder and leave it sitting as if a thaw will eradicate their perversities.  Never underestimate the imminent panic induced by the squirming turtlehead, etc.  And never underestimate the rectal clueless miscreants who must birth these piles.

SO I use a pump filter made by PUR---now Katadyn---called the Hiker. Pills and drops and drips and iodine capsules and chlorine squirts just aren't realistic if you spend alot of time outdoors---as who wants to ingest iodine or chlorine all the time?

12:15 p.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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 I use a Pur Water Filter "The Hiker" model, I have used it for two years and like it very well.

3:06 p.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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If I am expecting very silty water I will use the Katadyn Hiker.  If not, the Steripen Opti.  I used to use Micropur Tablets but the 4 hour wait time to kill Crypto was too long.

3:19 p.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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Here are links to a few previous thread pertaining to filtration/purification as well as other thoughts pertaining to this subject in general:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/68821.html

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/beginners/topics/76401.html

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/52795.html

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/40718.html

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/99006.html

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/backcountry/topics/12626.html

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/39769.html

The links posted above are just a few threads from the past that cover the subject.

Here is a link that should generate every various hit in regards to the subject as an over-all on the site:

http://www.trailspace.com/search/?q=water+purification

My thought is that if you skim through them ya may be able to gain some valuable info from their content.

Happy hiking-Rick






10:17 a.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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Hello Cup Tater, a long time ago, I was looking for a safe, effective, fast, easy to maintain, flexible and lightweight method to filter my water on the trail. I decided to go for the MSR Hyperflow Microfilter (a very controversial product) and the steripen. Bellow are their weights compared to the Katadyn hiker just for comparison:

MSR Hyperflow Microfilter 7.4 oz
Steripen Adventurer 3.6 oz (w/ batteries)
Katadyn Hiker 11oz

I didn't weigh the products, that's all website specs. The Hyperflow has never failed me as long as you store it safely and follow all guidelines, but its pretty easy to maintain, and it works well on treating the water enough for me to use the steripen.  The hyperflow works really fast, I never timed it, but I seen people using other filtration systems trying to fill a cup of water while I filtered enough water to fill up a big water container that I have which I use to store water for cooking and refilling my drinking containers for the next day.  On the downside, sometimes I fear the speed could indicate that it is not filtering as much as other systems, but thats where the steripen comes into play.  You already know what the steripen does, but it needs clear water to work effectively.

Here is what I do, if I go somewhere where I knew the water will be very clear, all I take is the steripen, if the water is going to be murky, I take both, if the water is really murky, I take my addition to the setup: a real fine bug net, a rubber band, and some coffee filter. This has never failed me, I drank from very questionable water sources before, and never gotten sick, sometimes I thought for sure I would get sick, maybe effect just takes a few weeks to happen, nothing happened.

Another thing, if you end up getting the steripen, make sure not to follow the instructions how to use it, and to not contaminate it by mistake. 

1:56 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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maxx said:

Another thing, if you end up getting the steripen, make sure not to follow the instructions how to use it, and to not contaminate it by mistake. 

 Ummm, maxx, what do you mean "make sure not to follow the instructions"? How do you use the SteriPen, if you are making sure not to follow the instructions? Since the SteriPen works by immersing the UV illuminator into the water that you are intending to make potable, with the UV acting to inactivate or kill the biotics (bacteria, protozoa, viruses), how do you not contaminate it?

3:45 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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using a filter vs. using a steripen have some interesting and important differences.  both work well, by the way.
dirty water needs a filter - steripens don't work well when water is cloudy or  murky with floaties or other gunk.  (i use one of the MSR filters when i filter, but there are several good brands out there).  
if you use a filter, the water that comes out the clean end is drinkable.  even if you end up splashing some on the lip of your water bottle or hydration reservoir.  with the steripen, you're only purifying the water in the bottle or reservoir - meaning that if you dip the bottle/reservoir into a water source, the water on the lip is still potentially untreated.  my strategy for dealing with that is to purify with the steripen, wipe the mouth of the bottle/reservoir, then cap it loosely and shake, allowing some of the purified water to get into the grooves of the cap and mouth.  so far, it has worked.
another wrinkle i'm still figuring out is steripen use with hydration reservoirs.  steripens treat a liter at a time; my larger reservoirs hold close to 3 liters.  unless you can remove the tube, there is always a risk that a little unclean water gets into the tube and evades the UV light.  also, the newer large camelbak reservoirs have an internal barrier, right up the middle, that supposedly limits the water from sloshing around.  i have a feeling that this barrier, which isn't clear, might block the UV light from the steripen and interfere.  

the tube is easy to deal with; use the steripen, then vent some water into the tube so you drink clean water with a good degree of confidence.  according to this study, treating 3 liters via 5 cycles of the steripen is over 99% effective.  (i can't vouch for the bona fides of the study; it was done at the university of southern maine).

 http://www.steripen.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/1/02ac755595468c5da0c8d224bef3c2db/misc/usmp248_3literbladder.pdf

the baffle issues still concern me, so i use the steripen with a one liter bottle, then dump the bottle into the camelbak.  cumbersome, but again, it seems to be working.  and it is faster than treating 3 liters with five cycles of the steripen anyway.    


anyone have any thoughts about using a steripen inside a hydration reservoir? particularly a baffled one?  

4:58 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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Sorry, it was a typo on my part, i ment to say make sure to FOLLOW the instructions 

6:59 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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CuP TaTeR said:

what have you guys found to be the best way to purify water on the trail. ive been useing tablets but they have to disolve and then its a 30 min wait ive been looking at the SteriPEN AdventurerOpti.

has anyone used the SteriPEN or had luck with any other methods?

 The best way to do lots of things in the backcountry, including water treatment, is to start by educating yourself so you gain a basic working knowledge on the topic.

I highly recommend you take the time to read Bill S. four part article on water treatment that he links to in the second post in this thread.

This will answer a lot of your questions and give you a broader understanding of the topic so that you can more fully appreciate the answers you will receive in this thread, as well as other threads on the subject.

I think you will be happy with yourself if you take the time to do this.

Mike G.

7:46 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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Don't make it difficult on yourself - or expensive.

Just bring your water to a rolling boil (via campfire or stove)and it will be fine to drink after it cools off.

 

Filters are great if you decide you want to drink a mud puddle....but boil the water after you filter it.

3:02 a.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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Hi we have a Steripen and love it. We've only used it on fresh mountain stream water, though, which is clear and small particles are easily filtered out by the little filter/sieve that you pour the water through.  You need to use the Lithium batteries, and they last a long time. It is so easy, just ladle water from the stream into a bottle via the sieve and gently stir until the light goes off. No energetic pumping, nothing to block up. The filter/sieve screws onto a wide mouth Nalgene so the outside of the bottle and threads can't get contaminated with untreated water. We carry a tiny featherweight plastic cup purely for the purpose of ladling water into the filter and never drink out of this cup directly. It's pretty foolproof. We carry chlorine tabs in case of failure, but have never had to resort to this. The water tastes so pure, it's a joy!

6:12 p.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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SteriPen Filter and Adventure (light) Pen

11:19 a.m. on February 23, 2012 (EST)
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Camelbak has introduced a new UV water treatment device, to compete with Steripen. The device is a Camelbak .75 liter Tritan bottle and cap with built-in UV bulb. The UV bulb is inside the cap and the device is rechargeable via a usb wall charger. Its charge capacity is listed at 80 cycles per full charge or 3, .75 liter, bottles a day for 26 days. The types of water treated are similar with Steripen. No ice in the water, etc. Price is listed at $99.

(as seen below)



Advantages seem to be the UV bulb in the cap is more protected than the Steripen bulb which is exposed. The cap and bottle are integrated into one system so quick to use. Just fill the bottle, screw on the UV cap, activate the UV bulb, rotate the bottle about ever 10 seconds and 60 seconds later it is ready to consume. The bottle can also accommodate a pre-filter (another cap) that secures onto the bottle before directly filling from the source (whether with or without the pre filter, just remember to wipe the outside of the bottle, especially the thread area around the mouth).

Some disadvantages seem to be the cap is recommended to be used only with the appropriate Camelbak .75 liter bottle. No way to pre-filter or treat water in other types of bottles, especially light old Gatorade bottles. No way to charge or change batteries if they die prematurely on the trail.

Have used Steripen in limited, short duration hikes and found it to work well. You just have to make sure instructions are followed. Especially wiping dry the anodes after each individual use. Will be using it on more extended hikes this summer to the Grand Canyon and the Yosemite high country. However, this might be something to try.

Still partial to MSR Miox for quick, on the trail treatment and MSR Autoflow (Gravity bag) for filling the water bladder or for evening camp use.

12:04 p.m. on February 23, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi said:

Ergo in '84 I squatted to dump a nasty load of giardia stool and then in '87 got cow-water flummoxed and puked all night near Elk Gardens.  The hippie bubble burst and now I treat 90% of all my water in the backcountry. 

 

I was eating when I read that.

I couldn't decide wether I was going to choke on my food in laughter or throw up from disgust.  I bet it was WAY better in person though. 

 

 

 

J

1:31 p.m. on February 24, 2012 (EST)
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I carry both Aquatabs and Micropur. The Aquatabs are good for long term use (and are used by the Red Cross in disaster zones) and they kill everything except cryptosporidium. Micropur kills everything, including crypto and beaver fever but they're not recommended for long term use.

Dwell time is indeed the problem, and it is severely affected by water  temperature. Note that the '30 minute' time is only applicable when the temperature is at 20°C. However, I usually carry a bladder I can fill and leave overnight at a camp for water in the morning, and carry two 1 l. bottles, switching from one to the other after the water's been treated long enough.

Note that water filters, depending on the type, can only remove contaminants down to 1-3 microns, so they don't guarantee protection from viruses that may be smaller.They are also heavy and prone to failure or clogging.

1:44 a.m. on February 26, 2012 (EST)
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peter1955 said:

Note that water filters, depending on the type, can only remove contaminants down to 1-3 microns, so they don't guarantee protection from viruses that may be smaller.They are also heavy and prone to failure or clogging.

 

This is incorrect.  The MSR Miniworks and Katadyn Hiker will remove contaminants down to 0.2 and 0.3 microns respectively.

As far as viruses are concerned, you are correct in that a filter requires a purification element.  The only filter and purifier that currently exists is the First Need.

1:30 p.m. on February 26, 2012 (EST)
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CWF said:

..  The only filter and purifier that currently exists is the First Need.

 Actually, that's not quite right. Katadyn and a couple others have an iodine resin attachment for their filters, and several of the filter water bottles also include an iodine resin element. I have one for my Hiker Pro and a Katadyn filter water bottle. That is what First Need includes inside their filter housing to take care of the viruses.

7:31 p.m. on February 26, 2012 (EST)
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I should have said, "The only filter and purifier all in one that currently exists is the First Need."

With the others you mention the purifier is an add on.  One could just as easily add AM or Pristine to what is filtered.  But then that wouldn't be 'all in one.'

12:56 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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the best way ive found to purify water so far is nature,the other way to avoid contanination is dont backpack at sewerage treatment plant.are you kidding me?jokes over,if waters no good why are you there?just go next door to the skyscraper and get some water out of the spring water dispenser(refrigerated).P.S. dont drink the water from mississippeepee.

11:12 a.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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unk said:

are you kidding me?jokes over,if waters no good why are you there?just go next door to the skyscraper and get some water out of the spring water dispenser(refrigerated).P.S. dont drink the water from mississippeepee.

 There is a great deal of difference between getting something inadvertently in your mouth, and ingesting large quantities of contaminated fluid.  Secondly, our bodies adapt to deal with bacterial pathogens that we are exposed to regularly- this includes those from our own fecal matter. 

Pathogens that are not common in domestic modern life, which are potentially found in mountain streams, are much more difficult for our bodies to identify and combat. 

Furthermore, though there certainly are safe spring and stream sources, it is impossible to know the reliability of that vast majority of sources we find in the backcountry.  It only takes one instance of pathogen introduction into a stream or body of water for contamination to continue and remain forever. Neither does it require human waste or action to provide introduction, but any animal.

Have I drunk from streams or sources without treatment before? Yes, does that mean it is a wise thing to do or recommend without verifying the reliability of a given source? Most categorically not.   

6:43 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

..it is impossible to know the reliability of that vast majority of sources we find in the backcountry...

This is not so.  Search and you shall find.  There are folks assaying water sources all over the place, with lots of this data available on line.  I use such resources when planning trips to unfamiliar destinations, as I do not treat water unless the source is known to be unwholesome.

Ed

7:48 p.m. on March 2, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

...  It only takes one instance of pathogen introduction into a stream or body of water for contamination to continue and remain forever. Neither does it require human waste or action to provide introduction, but any animal....

 That depends on the quantity of the pathogen. For example, according to the wilderness medicine literature, it takes a fairly large number of giardia organisms to result in a case of giardiasis (hundreds, not a dozen, much less a "single instance"). For encysted crypto, the cysts have a good chance of passing on through your system without becoming active (implying "don't hold it in!"). 

I am not advocating ignoring water treatment. One of the big risks in the woods and hills, especially in popular areas, is that there is a group of hominids just upstream from you who don't practice LNT principles. It used to be on many mountains that are frequent favorites of climbers that during warm spells as the snow melted off the surface of glaciers, there was a lot of "brown" and "yellow" snow around favorite campsites, while just after a snowstorm, the whole surface appeared a pristine white. On mountains like Denali and Rainier, the rules are now that your use designated latrine areas or carry WagBags or ResTop bags, and even carry and use your pee bottle while moving from camp to camp. And as has been pointed out, there are non-hominid mammals and other critters out there. The old name for giardiasis was, after all, "beaver fever".

Despite this, as noted previously, trailhead surveys give statistics that personal sanitation is strongly associated with cases of intestinal problems in the backcountry.

3:38 a.m. on March 3, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S said:

 That depends on the quantity of the pathogen. For example, according to the wilderness medicine literature, it takes a fairly large number of giardia organisms to result in a case of giardiasis (hundreds, not a dozen, much less a "single instance").

 

In fact virtually all metropolitan water sources have higher giardia counts than most of the water sources in the Sierra Nevada

Several factor influence getting ill from the bugs in drinking water.  Bill alludes to one, being the speed ingested contents pass through your intestines.  If the reproductive rate of the bug is too slow, it lacks time sufficient to build up a population harmful to health.  How many bugs you can tolerate is influenced by their reproductive rate, and the toxicity of their presence.  Hence why you can drink giardia tainted tap water.  Another factor is how the bug becomes a health issue.  Some bugs remain in the digestive track, wreaking havoc by disrupting the processes there.  Some secrete chemicals that are absorbed by the body, causing problems elsewhere, depending on the nature of the chemicals.  And some pathogens actually enter the bloodstream, using that as a base of operation to carryout their unwelcome activities.  This quickly become a very technical discussion; suffice it to say we can tolerate relatively high levels of some pathogens while others are a problem at relatively low counts.

Another factor influencing susceptibility is the robustness of each individual’s immune system.  Like Bill I hardly ever suffer dysentery while traveling, but I know a few people who get travel illness even while traveling domestically.  (Perhaps drinking all that bottled water has made their systems lazy and incapable of dealing with otherwise sundry everyday bugs.  

Ed

10:39 p.m. on March 5, 2012 (EST)
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We use a MSR filter, a Sweetwater now and maybe switch to a Mini-works EX. We treat the water with Nutri-Biotics GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) and it works very well. We do 3-4 drops per quart.

6:02 p.m. on March 6, 2012 (EST)
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CWF said:

peter1955 said:

Note that water filters, depending on the type, can only remove contaminants down to 1-3 microns, so they don't guarantee protection from viruses that may be smaller.They are also heavy and prone to failure or clogging.

 

This is incorrect.  The MSR Miniworks and Katadyn Hiker will remove contaminants down to 0.2 and 0.3 microns respectively.

 Sorry. You're right of course - that's what I get for binging out numbers from memory. Missed a decimal point.

My point though was that I don't think there's any filter that is fine enough to screen out all the smallest pathogens, so to be sure you're safe you have to add something that will kill them.

6:25 p.m. on March 6, 2012 (EST)
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peter1955 said:

My point though was that I don't think there's any filter that is fine enough to screen out all the smallest pathogens, so to be sure you're safe you have to add something that will kill them.

 There are such filters. However, they are not practical for backpacking. Boiling, or rather pasteurization (heating to 155F), will kill any pathogens that make it through the 0.2 micron filters, as will UV (SteriPen, Camelbak All Clear) and halogens (given sufficient time to act, which is 4+ hours at "room" temperature of 68F/20C, longer for lower temperatures). None of these work for chemical contamination (heavy metals, industrial, agricultural, or mining runoff).

1:48 p.m. on March 8, 2012 (EST)
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SteriPen Filter then SteriPen works for me

5:29 p.m. on March 18, 2012 (EDT)
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I used tabs for years but have grown tired of the wait time.  Steripen Opti is dope... and... the Steripen folks sent me a new Opti model for free to try out and review.  It supposedly has a new heavy duty glass bulb that won't break if dropped.  We’ll see.

5:55 p.m. on March 18, 2012 (EDT)
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jad said:

I used tabs for years but have grown tired of the wait time.  Steripen Opti is dope... and... the Steripen folks sent me a new Opti model for free to try out and review.  It supposedly has a new heavy duty glass bulb that won't break if dropped.  We’ll see.

 I just bought one about 3 months ago - I wonder if it is the newer model?  How would I know?  Thanks,

6:05 p.m. on March 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Traildog #2 said:

We use a MSR filter, a Sweetwater now and maybe switch to a Mini-works EX. We treat the water with Nutri-Biotics GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) and it works very well. We do 3-4 drops per quart.

 Traildog #2, Welcome to Trailspace!

I like the MSR Sweetwater, I used one for a while.

I don't use GSE because there is a good bit of controversy regarding GSE.

There have been several studies done that linked its antibacterial & antiviral properties to various additives used as a preservative, not pure GSE.

Here is an excerpt from a study done in Germany in June of 1999, I beleive it was published in Die Pharmazie:

"von Woedtke T, Schluter B, Pflegel P, Lindequist U, Julich WD.

Institute of Pharmacy, Ernst Moritz Arndt University, Greifswald, Germany.

"The antimicrobial efficacy as well as the content of preservative agents of six commercially available grapefruit seed extracts were examined. Five of the six extracts showed a high growth inhibiting activity against the test germs Bacillus subtilis SBUG 14, Micrococcus flavus SBUG 16, Staphylococcus aureus SBUG 11, Serratia marcescens SBUG 9, Escherichia coli SBUG 17, Proteus mirabilis SBUG 47, and Candida maltosa SBUG 700. In all of the antimicrobial active grapefruit seed extracts, the preservative benzethonium chloride was detected by thin layer chromatography. Additionally, three extracts contained the preserving substances triclosan and methyl parabene. In only one of the grapefruit seed extracts tested no preservative agent was found. However, with this extract as well as with several self-made extracts from seed and juiceless pulp of grapefruits (Citrus paradisi) no antimicrobial activity could be detected (standard serial broth dilution assay, agar diffusion test). T
 hus, it
is concluded that the potent as well as nearly universal antimicrobial activity being attributed to grapefruit seed extract is merely due to the synthetic preservative agents contained within. Natural products with antimicrobial activity do not appear to be present."

Here is more.


I first heard of GSE on the Backpacking Light website, but after doing a bit of reading I have concluded it is not a viable option for me due to the finding of studies like the one above.

If you have more up to date or clarifying information I would be glad to read it.

Mike G.

6:27 p.m. on March 18, 2012 (EDT)
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I’m not sure because the glass looks the same, as I recall, although I haven’t had an earlier model side by side to compare.  I called Steri awhile back and was telling the tech dude that I was considering buying a new Opti from REI.  He said he had a pile of new heavy-duty models sitting loose on his desk and would send me one free to test and report back.  I couldn’t refuse.  Saved me $100

6:32 p.m. on March 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Give him a call and see if he’ll send you one.  No guts, no glory... lol

6:49 p.m. on March 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks - going to call them tomorrow.

6:54 p.m. on March 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Be sure to ask for the dude in the tech dept. (I forget his name... Tony, or Troy, or something like that...) because Customer Service is clueless.

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