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Ultralight Water Treatment Options for Backpacking


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Ultralight Water Treatment Options for Backpacking

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 53 total)
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  • #3679953
    Backpacking Light
    Admin

    @backpackinglight

    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    The purpose of this article is to present three ultralight water treatment options for backpacking. We chose these three for their diversity and efficacy, and they include a chemical method, a physical method, and an electro-ultraviolet method. We included a video to demonstrate each technology in the field.

    #3680070
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    We’ll host a Live Facebook Q&A on the topic of backcountry water treatment this morning at 11 AM US Mountain Time.

    #3680155
    Jim C
    BPL Member

    @jimothy

    Locale: Georgia, USA

    Any updates on when we might see a UV-C LED Steripen? Products like the LARQ bottle already use UV-C LED for water treatment, but that’s a heavy, stainless steel bottle that isn’t great for backpacking.

    Advantages of LED should include better battery life, slightly more compact size, and no mercury. I’m surprised Katadyn hasn’t adopted them already.

    #3680157
    obx hiker
    BPL Member

    @obxer

    ^^ Hadn’t heard of the Larq so I did some quick checking. Couldn’t find a specific spec for battery life but did get this on a search for “battery life larq adventure mode”

    “The UV-C technology built into the lid, eradicates up to 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of viruses in Adventure Mode, meaning you can sterilize water found in streams while out hiking for example. One charge lasts up to 1-2 months for Normal Mode, based on 3-4 cycles a day. Adventure mode, on the other hand, will last around 10-12 days. Low battery indicator lights will let you know when to recharge your bottle.”

    #3680178
    William N
    BPL Member

    @will-n-too

    Thanks for this. A few years ago I got sick using a probably dysfunctioning 2 year old MSR filter and Aquamira but using it wrong. Squinting at directions on the tiny bottle that had no dropper function? 1. I somehow missed  looking for the yellow color. 2. I ended up making an error that I thought was correct because the instructions were not user friendly. Normally I think when it’s feasible as we do something we have a wait time we will read and re-read the instuctions.   The MSR filter? Or my Sawyer or any filter. What happens to them if you don’t use them for a year? How to store them? When to decide I’d better replace them

    Also I wrote MSR and Aquamira about what happened. They never responded. I find that to be inexcusable. I wasn’t accusing them, I just wanted to know what went wrong. Except for terrific articles like this one almost all the information on these systems is PR happy talk. (You know, like on Amazon when you want to know more so you click on the video and it’s complete crap.”Here at Eff-You corp we’re making great strides to provide you the customer with the most up to date…..”  Or a cute young person in khakis stands at a table and talks about this piece of back-country gear.)     Thanks again

    #3680189
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    As I posted on the live video of this topic my two-part solution is:

    1. Katadyn chlorine dioxide tablets (I eschew Aqua Mira liquid)

    2. SteriPen Adventurer UV wand

    Both of these are classified by the FDA as purifiers.

    In addition I use #2 coffee filters for times when the water may have some solids floating in it like bugs, leaves, etc.  I am DONE with regular filters.

     

    #3680250
    D M
    BPL Member

    @farwalker

    Locale: What, ME worry?

    I love my steri-pens and have used them 90% of the time in the last decade with fantastic results, BUT their customer service is THE WORST EVER. I had several failures with the lamps and all I wanted was a repair for this hundred dollar item and sent them videos of the failure to perform in action and got NO RESPONSE AT ALL. So I quit buying them. I will not support a company that will not back their product. Now I just strain the water with a clean bandanna and use Aqua tabs.

     

    #3680252
    Mike M
    BPL Member

    @mtwarden

    Locale: Montana

    I think Ryan validated my thoughts on Aqua Mira vs just tabs; I don’t see the infatuation with it- it’s heavier, bulkier and clearly a lot more fuss than throwing a tab in a bottle.

    He did point out that per treatment it’s cheaper per dose than tablets- I’ll take the money hit for lighter weight and a LOT less fuss

    I did recently purchase a Ultralight Steripen (rechargeable)- if it works as well as my Adventurer, I’ll be very happy :)

    #3680290
    Chip Brown
    BPL Member

    @dorino12

    Locale: Midwest

    Great info here, Ryan.  I never see MicroPur discussed as a chemical option.  I have used it for years without problems.  That is what the BSA gives scouts at Philmont. No mixing.  Lightweight. Is it as effective as Aquamira??

    #3680325
    Michael Ray
    BPL Member

    @topshot

    Locale: Midwest

    @dorino12 MicroPur are chlorine dioxide tablets so would be as effective as Aquamira, just more expensive as he noted.

    #3681053
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    DM’s comments on Steri-Pen’s TOTAL lack of customer service is bad.

    If and when my SP Adventurer dies I’ll look for another brand of UV purifier – if one exists.

     

    #3681064
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    The Steripen company used to have wonderful customer service, really,
    Then Katadyn bought the company.
    Thus it goes.

    Cheers

    #3684412
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Hey does anyone know if the Steripen Ultra makes a seal in a Gatorade bottle?

    #3684414
    Cameron M
    BPL Member

    @cameronm-aka-backstroke

    Locale: Los Angeles

    I keep coming back to my Steripen. I like the fact that I don’t have to get my hands wet and freezing cold as opposed to most filters, not to mention the super-annoying diminished flow factor of filters.

    I just drop it into a 550 ml pot. No need to seal it to any bottle.

    #3684424
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Yeah. I want to try a Steripen but I like the idea of treating in my preferred drinking bottle, which oscillates between Smartwater and Gaterade bottles rather than juggling a bottle, the Steripen and a cookpot or cut down Platy like Ryan suggests.

    #3684463
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    I’ve been using Aquamira drops since the mid 2000’s but would love something better.  I tried a Steripen in ~2009 or 2010 and it failed on me the first time in the field, so I decided I didn’t want to rely on something that used batteries for something as crucial as water.  I tried a Sawyer Micro a couple of years ago and it’s flow decreased quickly even with Sierra water.  It did so much so that by the end of the trip I was drinking mostly untreated water and only using the filter on sources I felt most suspect.   It was also awkward as it was really tall on top of an already awkwardly tall smartwater bottle.

    Like you my preferred water bottle is a Gatorade bottle, which of course doesn’t work well with a filter or steripen.

    I did pick up a Steripen Adventurer Opti used for cheap last year to try a Steripen again but of course it only works with wide mouth (Nalgene style) bottles so I haven’t used it on anything other then some dayhikes.

    I keep going back to Aquamira but I’m not happy with it.  I hate the wait (both for the mix and the water treatment) and the taste, which is noticeably worse in some water then others for whatever reason.  That being said, I’ve yet to find anything better in over a decade.

    #3684535
    Chip Brown
    BPL Member

    @dorino12

    Locale: Midwest

    I have been using MicroPur for nearly 15 years.  I love the simplicity and convenience.  Yeah, it’s a little expensive but so simple to use – no mix, no mess.  Even teens (i.e., boy scouts) can’t screw it up.  It takes about 30 minutes before you can drink the water but that’s not a problem if you plan your water needs.

    I used the Sawyer Squeeze the past 2 summers for week long scout high adventure trips to Boundary Waters and Isle Royale.  We took 3 filters for 9 people, flushed each filter every day and noticed no loss of flow rate.  We used the same filters both summers.  (Daily flushing really is the key to sustained performance.)  We opted for the Squeeze over the Micro based on guidance from an AT thru hiker who said it was worth the extra ounce for the performance of the squeeze.  (My son used to use the Micro until he saw my Squeeze – the flowrate difference is quite noticeable.)  Tip: dump the Sawyer bags and get Vecto bags – so much easier to fill and use for groups.

    I have also used the Steripen Adventurer with a group of scouts on a week long backpacking trip to the Adirondacks.  I chose this model because I could take backup batteries so we always had power.  By the end of the trip we quit using the Steripen because MicroPur was so much simpler.  Fill up your water, dump in a tablet and go vs. the Steripen where you have to sit there and stir your water for a few minutes.  Never used the Steripen again.  The Sawyer Squeeze or MicroPur for me!!

    #3684536
    John
    BPL Member

    @johnnyh88

    Locale: The SouthWest

    I use a Steripen Ultralight and treat water in an old Mountain House bag (I pack this along anyway to use as a scoop for filling up Platypus bladders in camp). It’s been reliable for me, and I don’t see the scoop as a hassle. This lets me use whatever bottle I want. Chemicals require a wait, especially if crypto is a concern, but I have them as a backup and I use them to treat water overnight.

    #3684563
    Dondo .
    BPL Member

    @dondo

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    This year, I went back to using my Steripen Adventurer with a wide-mouth bottle.  Currently, my two favorite bottles are a peanut butter jar (1.5 oz) that holds .5L of water and a Planters Peanut jar (1.6 oz) that holds .75 L.  Either is easily retrieved and replaced into the the bottom side pocket of my Mariposa without taking off the pack.   Micropur tablets are my back up, though I haven’t had to use them.

    #3684564
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    One of the wide mouth “milky” Nalgenes is 3.8oz for a 32oz bottle.  That’s compared to 1.8oz for a 32oz Gatorade bottle.

    #3684571
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Let’s try this a different way: does anyone have a Steripen Ultra handy? I’m curious about the min/max diameter of the tapered part.

    #3684572
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I do use a Steripen Classic3 when I need to treat water. But I see the whole thing rather differently.

    I am a little puzzled about the claimed need to be able to get stuff out of the pack to treat a bottle of water almost at the run. If we need to stop to take on water in the middle of the day – which is pretty rare anyhow, we welcome the opportunity to sit down and rest for a few minutes while I treat the water in my cooking pot.

    Then after that brief rest we set off again, somewhat recharged. At the end of the day I don’t think any such little stop has any effect on how far we have traveled. In fact, we often find such a little stop to be part of the day.

    Cheers

    #3684574
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    That’s a funny answer to what is the diameter of a thing?

    #3684581
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Yeah, a bit OT, but it happens.
    Cheers

    #3684583
    Eugene Hollingsworth
    BPL Member

    @geneh_bpl

    Locale: Mid-Minnesota

    That was a good article.

    We blessed with a wealth of anecdotal reports what can go wrong with our water treatment:  filters clogging, or using them in freezing temperatures, Steri-Pen’ failures and the even worse failure of their support, and the inconvenience of waiting for AquaMira to sanitize our water.

    My current but no longer used is the HikerPro. My last hike I carried AquaMira for the first time and it’s ok – just a little fiddly. If I understood correctly, doubling the dose halves the treatment time, so with the freezing water I did just that. Didn’t mind the taste at all. I really like the compactness of it.

    After this AquaMira runs out, I guess I’ll try either of the 2 tablet options, and I don’t see myself going back to anything more than a coffee filter and chemical treatment.

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