- Aug 31, 2006 at 1:12 am #1219452
Reluctant to dump chemicals into pristine water from a clear stream, I have been trying to figure out what the lightest functional water filter system is. From what I found, it seems to be the Seychelle filter. However, the reader reviews at BPL are less than encouraging.
Are there other experiences with this filter? Also, do people, who use it, recommend the addition of the Sweetwater Siltstopper?
Are there other filters in this weight category that people like?
Finally, I am wondering about the ultimate ultralight solution, no treatment at all in alpine areas with clear streams. I was surprised (and somewhat encouraged) to read that Andrew Skurka only treated his water once for the last 1400 miles of his C2C trip without problems (http://andrewskurka.com/advice/gear.php).
Just luck, or are the chances of catching Giardia or worse really quite small?
Any experience with untreated water in the Cascades, the Olympics, or elsewhere?Aug 31, 2006 at 5:41 am #1362076
@pivvayLocale: Rocky Mountains
The new mini steripen looks awesome. I’m totally getting one when they’re out. Protection, no chemicals and *fast*.Aug 31, 2006 at 7:58 am #1362080
I know several people who drink the water straight out of the source without problems. They have all had plenty of opportunity to develope immunities over time, but the fact remains they carry no water purification at all.
I was recently on a trip where we tested water quality from the headwaters of the CO river, and followed it down for about 50 miles testing along the way.
At the headwaters, impurities were slight, but coliforms were always present and more often than not they were fecal in nature. Coliforms dont in and of themselvs means “nasties”, but they do indicate that the water is a likely host of those nasties.Aug 31, 2006 at 8:24 am #1362083
There have been several studies of water quality in the Sierras, and the findings are that in general, treatment isn’t needed:
The correlation between human/backcountry use and contamination seems to be fairly weak, while that between stock animal/grazing use and contamination is stronger.
Despite these studies, one reason to treat the water is that you could be unlucky enough to obtain your water a few hundred yards downstream of a dead animal that’s contaminating the water. Another would be if you know you’ll be obtaining water downstream of an area with active grazing or heavy stock use.Aug 31, 2006 at 9:09 am #1362085
Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Andrew Skurka was traveling in areas of light to moderate human usage. His risks were mainly from agriculturally-influenced watercourses. The danger in untreated water lies in statistics. Yes, you may contract something but your chances are against it in these remote areas.
The last 1200 or so miles of the C2C follows the Pacific Northwest Trail, the companion handbook to which is very clear on water sources. As you read along it is almost assumed that users won’t be treating water and there only few notations in which they prompt users to be certain to filter.Aug 31, 2006 at 10:15 am #1362092
Denis HazlewoodBPL Member
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
I have been using a Timberline filter since 1991. I Haven’t weighed it but it is seriously lighter than any other I’ve handeled. I believe it filters down to 0.4 microns and that’s enough for giardia.
I know about a dozen hikers that have been using them and no one has contracted anything.
Best of all, the price has ranged from $21 to $30 since I got my first one. My last one was $22.50. Replacement filters are presently about $14.
With proper care (backwash, purify with Chlorox and let dry thoroughly, when you get home) The filter lasts me about 4 years, at about 30 days per year, on the trail. The pumps are dirt simple and last about 5 or 6 years.Aug 31, 2006 at 1:20 pm #1362107
Thanks to all for the input. The Timberline looks promising, definitely lighter at 5.6 oz. than all of the mainstream filters, and much better price. The Seychelle, of course is even lighter at just 3.6 oz. and just as inexpensive. Still, there seem to be no takers, or are there?
Thx Aaron for the links, most instructive. I can only recommend to all to read these articles. I was suspecting something of the sort. Rockwell, for example cites a study of a survey of the state health departments: ““Neither health department surveillance nor the medical literature supports the widely held perception that giardiasis is a significant risk to backpackers in the United States. In some respects, this situation resembles (the threat to beachgoers of a) shark attack: an extraordinarily rare event to which the public and press have seemingly devoted inappropriate attention.”
Given the scientific evidence that Rockwell and others present, it seems entirely reasonable to not treat spring water at all, as well as surface water at higher elevations. The lightweight solution thus might be to follow Rockwell’s smart drinking rules, and then just carry a little Klearwater as backup should one be forced to drink from a suspect water source.Aug 31, 2006 at 5:33 pm #1362127
I wasn’t impressed with the construction of the Seychelle–it seemed to allow water to bypass the filter element, but this was just an impression. One unit also had a broken internal nipple that definitely would bypass the filter. It would probably work perfectly fine in the Sierra, however :-)
I’ve been recently using the UV AquaStar. The main downside is it doesn’t work in colder water–and not ice-floating-in-the-lake cold, just pre-July-4th runoff cold. Then again, most chemical methods probably don’t really “work” in similarly cold water, either, but you don’t get a red flashing light telling you to let the Aqua Mira (or Miox brew, or iodine, or whatever) do its thing for 4x as much time. Not counting the bottle, it’s similar in weight to the new SteriPen. A lighter bottle (soft-sided Nalgene cantene) than the one included could be used, but you’d need something to protect the AquaStar.Aug 31, 2006 at 9:47 pm #1362156
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
This fall there will be an in-depth comparison of the options posted to BPL:
If you can put off your purchase by a couple of months (or less?) you might find the article highly enlightening.
Having used an MSR pump filter at my sister’s behest (yech) and having used Aqua Mira for two seasons, I am personally excited about ultraviolet. I get “the runs” from Aqua Mira (45 drops in the 3L Platy for standing water) and at high concentration it taints the taste as well.
/my 2C CADAug 31, 2006 at 10:28 pm #1362159
@blewisLocale: Northern California
The 3.7 ounce SteriPen (6-8 oz with batteries) uses ultraviolet light to kill virus, everything. It cleans 16 ounces of water in 48 seconds. You can read my review here http://lightbackpacking.com/2006/07/13/steripen-water-purifier-review/
Or try one of the lightest: Safewater Anywhere (4.5 ounce) in line filter and hydration bag. Backpacker magazne reported that it will clean 60 gallons of water, removing 99.9999 percent of bacteria and protozoa and 99.8 percent of pesticides, herbicides, and petroleum byproducts.
One problem: if it is your only source of water, getting water thorugh the small bit valve into your pot can take a while.Sep 1, 2006 at 12:48 am #1362168
There was a Backpacker Magazine cover story article in an October issue a few years back (can’t remember the year) that did a thorough job on the issue: “To Treat or Not to Treat”, I believe the title was.
There was three main factors for people getting sick from “extremely tiny critters” I recall.
First off, statistically like others have posted, your chances of getting sick or very ill are really small.
Factor one was bad water source choices, live stock ponds, heavily used trails, heavily used sources around campgrounds, etc.
Factor two was poor hygiene in around other people with the same. In fact this factor was found by researchers to be the greatest cause of those that got sick.
Factor three, despite poor water choices and being in contact with people infected, an individual’s immune system strength determine whether you got sick and if so how bad.
The underlying answer to the article’s title was generally “no” for those with normal to above average immune systems. People with below average or weak immune systems or those already sick from something else should treat all water as a precaution.
A historical note found in the article, the whole worry of bad things in the water in the backcountry and on trails was due to an usual outbreak in those areas in the 1970’s especially among the deer population. But even then among people the percentages of people that got sick or worse were extremely low, too. It was mostly big media fear mongering and those glass-half-empty folks rousing the rest. Prior to the 70’s the statistics match what has occurred after the 70’s outbreak.
Finally, prior to the article’s publishing, there were recent research tests done on water sources at popular backpacking areas; al la the AT, the parts per whatever of extremely tiny critters was suprisingly super low.
If you can find the article it’s a great read. Probably the only full length article I ever read in the mag all the way through.
By the way, I’m one of those that has an above average immune system and so I don’t treat 90% of the time though I always carry something lightweight just in case or if the circumstances might arise like a tent site located within a campground.Sep 1, 2006 at 6:43 am #1362179
@mikeclellandLocale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
I work a lot in the backcountry of the North-Cascades. Some summers I’ll spend over 60 days campin’ out among the big trees.
And – – – I “ALMOST” NEVER TREAT MY WATER!
It’s my understanding that the water in the Pacific NorthWest is very clean, and there are virtually NO reports of giardia (or other water born illness) reported in areas around the big mountains. Ask the rangers – if you see any.
That said, I treat from lakes and rivers that are big and in areas of a lot of people traffic. Use judgment.
BUT – You can find so many lovely little streams EVERYWHERE in the north cascades, and I drink right from the streams with confidence.
BUT – Please don’t sue me (or BPL) if you get sick!Sep 1, 2006 at 9:13 am #1362187
> Or try one of the lightest: Safewater Anywhere (4.5 ounce) in line filter and hydration bag. …
The Safewater Anywhere inline filter was a good product, superior IMHO in construction to the Seychelle as well as being a bit lighter and smaller, but it hasn’t been available in years…
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