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Water purifiers

9:03 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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I am so appreciative for the responses to the gps topic I posted. I know I have a lot more to learn, one of them being water filters. I have been following the outdoor retailer a few days ago when the new Steripen Freedom. I know there are chlorine tablets, water filters, and steripen systems. I would like to know the different options I have when it comes to purification.

9:27 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Boy are you in luck!

Well, if you don't mind a little reading that is.

Bill S. a long time & very knowledgeable member of Trailspace has written a 4 part article covering just about all you would need to know on this subject.

Part 4 covers the question you are asking, but reading all 4 parts will give you a comprehensive understanding of the broader topic.

Part 1 - Proper Hydration

Part 2 Keeping your water supply safe

Part 3 What's in backcountry water

Part 4 Methods for making water safe

Hope that helps!

9:28 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Keep Aquamira tablets stashed in the survival/first aid pocket of your pack for a failsafe backup.

Steripens are nice, light, and 100% effective, but for several reasons could fail, mostly due to bad, drained, or cold batteries. 2 or 3 day, three season hikes suit Steri-pens the best.

Pump filters? other then a clog these have pretty much always been the workhorses of water purification. They will give you all the clean water you want and most can be field stripped if needed for cleaning. But, I have never had that happen. Do regular maintenance at home and they work just fine.

Boiling water will work fine when cooking but otherwise is a waste on fuel and a hassle.

9:34 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Well if you are carrying a stove or use a campfire you can boil your water for I think its 10 minutes (have'nt done this method in a long time), or use a commercial water purifing system.

I use a Katadyn water filer called the Hiker seen below.


Katadyn-Hiker-filter.jpg

It is very light and is easy to use. Pumps about 1 quart/liter of water in about 20 seconds.

www.katadyn.com

10:18 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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I still have my Hiker from when PUR made 'em.   I guess I'm just old-school.  haha    Just paid $25 on another forum for another one, in "like new" condition.   Hell, buying a replacement filter element would cost me more than that, plus now I'll have spare parts, so it's a bargain!

KD

1:12 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey Trout man thanks for posting the water stuff.  Just read Section 4 and enjoyed.  I use a SteriPen and the SteriFitsAll Filter.  Sounds like I will not die tomorrow.

1:59 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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oruacat2 said:

I still have my Hiker from when PUR made 'em.   I guess I'm just old-school.  haha    Just paid $25 on another forum for another one, in "like new" condition.   Hell, buying a replacement filter element would cost me more than that, plus now I'll have spare parts, so it's a bargain!

KD

 On my last trip there was a guy using a PUR. I actually asked him if it was a Katadyn Hiker. I was surpised when he said it was a PUR. I know the history but haven't seen may PURs on the trail. Then again in some of the places I go I don't see many people on the trail in general. Funny how alot of individuals call it quits 1/4 of the way thru....

I like my MSR Miniworks. I can tear the whole thing down in the field including the check valve and butterfly valve very quickly(sub 5min.)

I always suggest using a coffee filter over the inlet as a pre-filter with a rubber band when filtering really nasty water. This cuts down on cleaning. I also like that the ceramic filter has a built in carbon element that help with the taste.

+1000 on the Aquamira as a backup. I have never had to resort to this but if needed I have it. Hey things happen. 

This is the same filter used by the military. Just different color. If I remember correctly it is issued to the USMC Recon division. I will check to make sure. I remember reading it in the paperwork. I think instead of red theirs is blue.

You also get a lifetime warranty with this filter, and they're made in Seattle.

Here is a bit more from Cascade Designs(MSR's parent company:)

http://cascadedesigns.com/msr/water-treatment-and-hydration/expedition-water-treatment-and-hydration/miniworks-ex-microfilter/product

Here is a reference to the USMC Recon Div use:

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPage?storeId=10151&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&mode=article&objectID=29075


2011-05-23_12-36-08_62.jpg

Completely field stripped(well all except the handle/accumulator which all comes out via pin.)

Also if you notice there is a short piece of tubing in the cap. This is used for filtering into bottles like 20oz soda bottles. It attaches to a nipple on the bottom of the filter. I found this to be a great place to keep it and its completely accessible if needed:


filter-005.jpg

***on a side note that is a very good read by Bill S./OGBO. I would strongly suggest all to take the time to read it.***

7:01 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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+1 for the MSR Miniworks, Mine was issued to me in the military about 9 or 10 years ago and I have been using it frequently since then. In my opinion the miniworks is one of the best, if not the best pump filter on the market. The only other pump filter i have seen give it a run for its money is the Kat Pocket. The pocket is like $300 retail where as the miniworks is like 80.

Some of the main reasons I love the Miniworks:

-Completely field maintainable

-vastly improves the taste of water via the activated charcoal portion of the element

-filters to .2 microns

I have been to places where the miniworks is the only filter that works due to the amount of fine silt or other particulates in the water that can really wreak havoc on any filter, including the miniworks. The difference being that the miniworks allows you to clean every single part of it, the valves on down to the element itself.

Here is a link to a thread over at backpacker.com that is exactly what I am talking about.

http://forums.backpacker.com/cgi-bin/forums/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=832107219;t=9991149583

7:06 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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@TheRambler- is yours blue? I have seen blue ones and I was thinking this was the issue version? I am not sure, just curious.

7:13 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Oh and as far as boiling goes, as soon as the water comes to a boil and cools down its safe to drink. The boil for x number of minutes is a myth that just wont seem to go away! Most places that do say to boil for 3,5, 10 mins etc is purely for liability purposes.

Everything else below is from other sites that have factual information and studies to backup what i have said in case there is any doubt.

This is from CDC website:

Directions for Boiling Water

  • Boil water vigorously for 1 minute and allow it to cool to room temperature (do not add ice).
  • At altitudes greater than 6,562 feet (>2,000 m), boil water for 3 minutes or use chemical disinfection after water has been boiled for 1 minute.

From Wilderness medical society:

The correct amount of time to boil water is 0 minutes. Thats right, zero minutes.

“According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude.”

Source: http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/manual/water.shtml

“What is not well known is that contaminated water can be pasteurized at temperatures well below boiling, as can milk, which is commonly pasteurized at 71°C (160°F)…”.

Source: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Water_pasteurization.

The fact is, with a water temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F (74 C) it takes just half an hour for all disease causing organisms to be inactivated. At 185 degrees this is cut to just a few minutes. By the time water hits its boiling point of 212 F (100 C) – plus or minus depending upon pressure or altitude – the water is safe. Even at high altitudes the time it takes for the water to reach a rolling boil and then cool means you can safely drink it.

Lacking a thermometer to measure water temperature, you only need to get your water to a rolling boil. By that point you know the water is hot enough and that the disease organisms in your water were destroyed quite some time earlier. End of story, turn off the heat. Stop wasting fuel. Let the water cool down. Your water is safe to drink!

7:15 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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No mine is the standard red/black. I have seen the blue ones though, but they are exactly the same minus the red parts being blue.

7:17 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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What was the deal with that? Earlier model maybe? I remember reading something regarding an older design of the MW having a different type of valve which was replaced by the duckbill valve. I think the older version had a ball in it that people were losing?

8:00 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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I used to have a PUR Purifier and an earlier Pur Pioneer.

I now have the Katadyn Hiker & Guide models.

Also, TheRambler is correct, bring your water to a boil, shut down the stove, and you're good to go. No need to boil several minutes.

8:27 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Here is a good article on boiling water. How long do you need to boil water?

I recently got my first water filter. It is a Sawyer Gravity feed. It is a .1 micron absolute hollow glass fiber filter.

I didn't want to use tablets because I'm impatient and don't want to wait for them to work nor do I want the taste. I get enough of that from city tap water. I have some iodine type for backup.  Remember chlorine dioxide tablets have an expiration date.

I didn't get a pump for this trip (Appalachian Trail, Roan Mountain area)  because:

  1. It was cheaper. Gravity feeds usually are because they are simpler to make not because they are not as good.
  2. I had 5 people in my party and didn't want to pump that much water. I had tried a couple of pumps in an outfitter store and I was worried about pumping enough water in a reasonable amount of time. 
  3. I would have plenty of places I could easily fill the dirty water bladder. A pump is easier to get water from a shallow source than filling a bladder.  You could scoop up water with a cup and pour it in.  I'm currently looking for a pump that I can attach to the filter and use it as a pump filter.  
  4. It is extremely easy to clean. I didn't need to clean it with the nice clean water in the Appalachian streams but the French Broad was a bit muddy from the rain and if I had been using it I might have. To clean it all you have to do is disconnect the dirty water bladder and squeeze or hang the clean water bladder (I was connecting directly to my CamelBaks) to back flush the filter. 

I am currently keeping my eye out for a SteriPen. Not for hiking but for trips to countries which you can't trust the water, preferably one that is powered by AA batteries not rechargeable.  I wouldn't want one for hiking because of the possibility of cloudy water and it being ineffective. 

PS I forgot to hit post message early today. The rambler quoted the article at the top of my post.

9:02 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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I, too, have the MSR Miniworks. I am 'ok' with it but would like it to be faster, lighter, and less bulky to pack. And I have found it doesn't take long for the filter to clog enough to require cleaning, especially if I need to use it in shallow/muddy water sources - but I guess this is probably an issue with any filter (this is the only one I have used... Back in my days in the White Mtns of NH I used the water unfiltered & untreated.

Lately I have been using a Sea to Summit bucket to let the water 'settle' a bit before filtering, and that does seem to help. But that's more weight/bulk and only works for a deep water source (or waterfall).

9:06 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said:

I, too, have the MSR Miniworks. I am 'ok' with it but would like it to be faster, lighter, and less bulky to pack. And I have found it doesn't take long for the filter to clog enough to require cleaning, especially if I need to use it in shallow/muddy water sources - but I guess this is probably an issue with any filter (this is the only one I have used... Back in my days in the White Mtns of NH I used the water unfiltered & untreated.

Lately I have been using a Sea to Summit bucket to let the water 'settle' a bit before filtering, and that does seem to help. But that's more weight/bulk and only works for a deep water source (or waterfall).

 I would much rather it clog than never clog. At least when it clogs I know its doing its job. A trash can liner will do the same thing your bucket does and not only weighs nothing but can also multi-task for other purposes.

One of the reasons its slow in regards to filtering is because its good to .2 microns. I think another thing in regards to gravity filters is other than filling it up with water and hanging it in a tree etc there is little to no effort. Things seem to take longer when one has to put a bit of effort into the process. :)

9:24 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Honestly the first thing is what type of use will this be utilized for? Solo, group, etc. That will be a good starting point of what would be a good option as compared to what won't be.

A gravity filter is good for a group but with less than adequate water sources can be a hassle. For solo use a filter can be great but I would not want to pump the water for a group of 5.....

10:55 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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yes the miniworks could be lighter, could be faster, and could pack smaller. but if it was any of those things it would not be the workhorse it is.

the miniworks will clog after a liter or more of filtering really skanky water. but the point is that you can break it down, clean it, and be filtering water again in less than 2 minutes. (with practice you can get close to a minute)where some other filters would be useless at that point. so what if the miniworks only does 1L/min instead of 2+, that is a trade off I am willing to accept for unsurpassed reliability.

11:34 p.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Ipanderson:

Where do you intend to camp? Out west most areas do not need any efforts or treatments to make water potable.  No point buying/hauling something that delivers only piece of mind.

Ed

1:34 a.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Yeah, Rick and Rambler, I understand your points. It's as good as it can be for what it is. I did consider an alternative a while back that was reported to be faster, lighter, and more compact, but abandoned that idea when I read of issues with it.

I'm thinking about the trash can liner idea...

One thing I like about the bucket is that it can serve as a water supply if I ever have a campfire while backpacking (though I haven't yet)... I don't put untreated water in my water bottles, pots, etc and wouldn't want to waste filtered water on a campfire :-).

2:21 a.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said:

Yeah, Rick and Rambler, I understand your points. It's as good as it can be for what it is. I did consider an alternative a while back that was reported to be faster, lighter, and more compact, but abandoned that idea when I read of issues with it.

I'm thinking about the trash can liner idea...

One thing I like about the bucket is that it can serve as a water supply if I ever have a campfire while backpacking (though I haven't yet)... I don't put untreated water in my water bottles, pots, etc and wouldn't want to waste filtered water on a campfire :-).

Last trip I was on I ran into a 20+ mile stretch that had no water.  Sure it showed on the maps but everything that was on the map was dried up and non-existent. 

To make the situation more interesting when I got to the next shelter site the well was dry.  Nothing, nodda.

I drank the last of my water about 4 miles back. I was going thru no less than 4 liters a day due to the humidity levels and the amount I was sweating.

I was a lil worried because I really wanted something to drink and I really wanted a hot meal and in order to have a hot meal I had to re-hydrate my food. 

This is where the the trash can liners came into play.

Off to the side of where I set camp was a creek bed.  When I inspected it closely I found that there was a slow but steady "trickle" flowing through it. 

I took 2 liner bags(doubled up) and walked the stream downhill.  I found a spot that didn't have alot of rocks.  I positioned the bags in this area and used 2 rocks to secure them in place.

Within 1hr not only did I have enough water accumulated in the bags to fill my 3L bladder I also had enough water for the night as well as enough to cook.  Without the bags this never would have happened. 

I let the sediment settle in the bag the same way one would set a bear bag for the night.  Only difference was I didn't elevate the bag completely off the ground.  I just put enough tension on the bag to lift it w/o lifting it completely off the ground using a biner(w/cordage) hooked to the tie loops on the bag and an overhanging branch which I tied off to support it.

I wanted the ground to take some of the load because I didn't want the tie handles on the bag to bust and dump my water all over the place.

After I let it sit for around 30min I filtered.  Maybe I didn't need to filter but I always do.  No point in finding out the hard way right?

I know alot of people say "oh its flowing, no need, just drink it."  I am not one of those people.  I don't know what animals are upstream using the stream I am using as a toilet.  Last thing I wanna do is get a case of the nasties mid-trail miles away from everything.

***Oh one more quick thing, you can also filter by positioning the draw tie loops that are built into the bag over your knees so the bag doesn't collapse on ya while filtering.  Works pretty well, trust me I have put that method to the test as well.***

I carry liner bags with me at all times in the backcountry to keep my gear dry, etc.  There are many uses for them.

In some scenarios they may just be the difference maker as far as having a miserable time or a good trip. 

9:36 a.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick, I like what you say about using the liner bags to collect water in a  stream that just has a trickle running. Could you clarify these liner bags for me? are they kitchen sized garbage bags? smaller? I am trying to picture it in my mind. I have had situations where the water avalible was so scant that some way to collect it would have been a big help.

Thanks

10:55 a.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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I assume he is refering to a trash compactor liner bag, that seems to be the norm when refering to a liner bag. But, really any bag will work. I have done the same type of thing with everything from a compactor liner, a trash bag, a plastic bag from the grocery store, and ziplocs. You just need something relatively flat and flexible.

I use a trash compactor bag as a pack liner, and I also just have a regular kitchen trash bag 30gal? that i keep on hand for whatever need may arise be it gathering water or cleaning up a trashed area i find.

Another trick in such an instance is to find an area downstream and dig a small hole, maybe 6 inches deep. And then either line it with a green leaf etc if the water is soaking back into the ground or just let the hole fill up and filter away. I do this more often than the bag method when needed. The bag method I have only employed when the stream is truly a trickle and I leave the bag there overnight to collect water.

I put these methods through their paces many times in the mountains of Afghanistan where in the summer months water can really be hard to come by at times. I have also used the trash bags to squeeze water into from forest duff, or mud using a bandanna etc. Then filter.

11:43 a.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks Rambler I usually bring a thick garbage bag as a pack liner as well as several 1 gallon sized zip locks for trash and what ever. Its nice when something I carry can do double duty.

11:45 a.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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TheRambler said:

"But, really any bag will work. I have done the same type of thing with everything from a compactor liner, a trash bag, a plastic bag from the grocery store, and ziplocs. You just need something relatively flat and flexible."

Absolutely,

I use one of those small waterproof fabric food / water bowls you can roll up, made for dogs.

It is multi purpose for me, from gathering water, using as a wash sink, to filling with twigs for fires, to filling with rocks as a toss bag for my bear hang, etc.

You just have to find something that works for you, that is also as multi purpose as possible.

1:34 p.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Interesting stuff. In the past I have filled my water bottles/bladder by filtering right at the water source. Since carrying the bucket I have been able to fill the bucket and carry it back to my campsite... some distance from the water. I'm thinking over in my mind whether this would be feasible with a plastic bag (it might stretch & rip?).

I totally see how a bag could work great for catching water where it is sparse, great idea!

Has anyone weighed one of these compactor bags?

2:13 p.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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The compactor bags I have weigh like 2.5oz each, think they are Hefty brand. They are much thicker and more durable than a regular trash bag. Think a slightly thiner version of painters plastic. I find they work better than a regular trash bag just by simply being more resistant to tears and punctures from packing gear. I found myself having to replace regular trash bags every few trips. Have been on the same compactor bag now for over a year(25ish trips) and its still got plenty of miles left on it.

The box of 25 i bought i think will last the rest of my life lol.

2:28 p.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Hafford said:

Rick, I like what you say about using the liner bags to collect water in a  stream that just has a trickle running. Could you clarify these liner bags for me? are they kitchen sized garbage bags? smaller? I am trying to picture it in my mind. I have had situations where the water avalible was so scant that some way to collect it would have been a big help.

Thanks

 I am speaking in reference to the same type of bags TheRambler is talking about(heavier gauge Heftys.) Just remember you can always stuff less in a large bag but can't always stuff more in a small bag. ;)

They also work as a great rain catch, make-shift poncho, etc.... Oh they are pretty good at hauling your trash out too lol.

2:50 p.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

Hafford said:

Rick, I like what you say about using the liner bags to collect water in a  stream that just has a trickle running. Could you clarify these liner bags for me? are they kitchen sized garbage bags? smaller? I am trying to picture it in my mind. I have had situations where the water avalible was so scant that some way to collect it would have been a big help.

Thanks

 I am speaking in reference to the same type of bags TheRambler is talking about(heavier gauge Heftys.) Just remember you can always stuff less in a large bag but can't always stuff more in a small bag. ;)

They also work as a great rain catch, make-shift poncho, etc.... Oh they are pretty good at hauling your trash out too lol.

 Yep, I use the compactor bags as a pack liner too, they are very durable, multi purpose, and duct tape adheres to them very well if you need to construct something out of them like a shelter or poncho, etc.......or pair of pants haha.

2:54 p.m. on August 14, 2011 (EDT)
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trouthunter said:

 Yep, I use the compactor bags as a pack liner too, they are very durable, multi purpose, and duct tape adheres to them very well if you need to construct something out of them like a shelter or poncho, etc.......or pair of pants haha.

 I have seen people use them as gaiters. I suppose in a pinch it would work... As long as you are not in a green brier thicket. :)

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