- May 13, 2019 at 2:05 pm #3592809
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I had a Steripen Opti. It kept dying in the field so I returned it. I can see the argument for not depending on complicated electronics. Although I think if I always started with new brand name non rechargeable batteries it would have been okay. And always bring a second set of batteries. If you leave batteries in unit between trips they’ll discharge.
If I tried it again I’d get the USB rechargeable model. Always charge it up before trip.
I have been using Sawyer Squeeze for years. Never more than a week at a time. Never had a problem with it. Sometimes it gets down to 20 F – If it’s warm during the day so the ground is above freezing I’ll just shake all the water out of it, then put it on ground with stuff on top. I can tell it hasn’t frozen because there are still water drops on it. Carry it around in my pocket in the morning.
About half the time I drink untreated water. Cascades mountain streams. I’ve never gotten sick that I know of. Once I got quite sick from eating at a restaurant before hand.
It’s hard to make sense of slightly conflicting experiences. Either Squeeze or Steripen are good solutions. Or Befree.
I don’t think a backup is required, at least for where I go. If the unit dies, just drink untreated water, or boil it. The chance of getting sick from just a few days is small, at least where I go. If you do many trips drinking untreated water, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually get sick. Treatment is so easy and requires little weight and isn’t that expensive so it makes sense.May 14, 2019 at 4:09 am #3592918
Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
James, and all:
As noted, used with the pump described in my older OP, I’ve had no problem with the minis if not allowed to dry out, and if used continuously for one trek, and replaced for the next trek.
Another light cartridge filter that might work better is the Platypus Gravityworks, which weighs about 1.66 oz without the RBBB (Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers): https://www.platy.com/accessories/gravityworks-filter-cartridge
It should connect to my pump and inlet hose in the same manner as the mini, but costs around twice the price. Have not tried it yet, as the mini has worked OK for me, and pumps clear water much faster than heavier pumps on the market.
A beauty with pumps is that only clean, filtered water goes into my water bottles. Unfiltered dirty water never touches any containers, and no messing with plastic bags.May 14, 2019 at 11:08 am #3592936
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
It is very difficult to beat the weight of a Steripen. I understand that there are a few out there that don’t respond well. Bottles and bags are about even, weight-wise. The only other reusable system is the Sawyer Micro at around 5oz (including the back-flush plunger and cap.) It is heavier and doesn’t have the reliability. It takes a lot of work to fill the squeeze bottle, and, it is a bit larger in total.
Anyway, we are reaching the limit as far as effective filtering/cleaning of hiking water. It seems around 4oz is the maximum needed to carry to do the job. Regardless of the overall cost (MUCH higher with the Sawyers) or the heavy pumps, a few ounces for total water treatment is fine with me.
The one advantage of filters is that with a larger filter, you can add some mineral cleaning filter material. This can remove stuff like mercury, pesticides etc. But you pay a lot in carrying the wet filter.May 15, 2019 at 1:36 am #3593044
Timothy HBPL Member
I’ve used the Sawyer Squeeze, Sawyer Mini and Platypus Gravityworks in various combinations with adapters, hoses and fittings, mesh carry bags for all the parts, etc.
For the sake of simplicity I’ve switched to the Katadyn BeFree 1 Liter. It doesn’t need backflushing and has an excellent flow rate.
I use it mostly for bikepacking where it can fill two 1 liter bottles in a few minutes. If I’m in an area where no water is expected or setting up camp for the night the Katadyn will also be filled and taken on the run.
I realize that bikepacking is different but I don’t miss the bladders, hoses, fittings and such. Simple works for me. It has made my trips somewhat more enjoyable.
-Tim-May 15, 2019 at 12:25 pm #3593072
Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
James Marco – I’m not sure I’d call the Steripen reliable. REI.com and Amazon.com are littered with negative reviews of Steripens that suddenly quit working in the field. Most failures seem to be for the models with drop in batteries, but there are several associated with the rechargeable Ultra model as well.
I’ve never had a Sawyer Squeeze model fail completely in the field. There are definitely reports of the flow rate decreasing, particularly on the Sawyer Mini.
I’ve read reports of Sawyer filters that hardly worked after a year of storage, but I can only recall reading ONE report of backpacker who had their Sawyer’s completely fail, as I recall, on a trip to the Winds.
Even OutdoorGearLab noted it’s poor reliability in their review. https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/reviews/camping-and-hiking/backpacking-water-filter/steripen-ultraMay 15, 2019 at 6:56 pm #3593131
Barry PBPL Member
@barrypLocale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
On all the “bad” reviews they mention batteries failing. I just wish one of them would state what brand of battery they were using. In my 10+ years of using the steriopti, I’ve never had a battery failure. And I will state I use Surefire Batteries. They are low cost AND high quality. I get them direct from Surfire themselves at $2/ea. Side note: If Surefire is bought on Amazon, how does Amazon guarantee they’re really from Surefire? I have this problem with Tevas; bought on Amazon my Tevas fall apart much faster than when I buy direct from Teva. END SIDE NOTE.
It’s interesting how reviews of filters— they’re either loved or hated.
Electrical or mechanical filters will have problems. The opti may have burned-out batteries. The Sawyer squeeze may have bags splitting, gaskets breaking, fittings leaking or filters clogging. To me it appears some people are more skilled with different types of filtering.
I’ve appreciated the Opti because:
- Obliterates viruses and so forth
- I can stir while walking instead of pumping
- Keeps the mineral taste of the Tetons
- Can work below freezing.
- I know it’s working because of seeing the lamp. E.g., I don’t know if a filter is cracked until I get home and test it.
- Works in distilled water. This comes up sometimes because some water appears so clear (i.e. very little minerals) that a regular steripen won’t work. The water needs minerals. But the opti doesn’t detect by conduction; so it always works. My rechargeable steripen failed in this scenario.
If I know I am backpacking in some agricultural area, or the lakes are muddy, then I take a filter that will take out pesticides and viruses. And for psychological reasons, I need a filter that turns brown water clear.
The Tetons were made for TevasMay 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm #3593135
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Well, I would disagree with OutdoorGearLab. I have gone through 3 units since 2008. The first one I lost on a hike after two years. The first place to look was several miles back. The second one I spilled a bottle of DEET on it after three years, it still worked, but it was flashing an immanent bad battery even with new batteries. The last one has lasted from 2013-now but, it is flashing the signal for a new bulb. I purchased a replacement, but, I haven’t put it in service yet (I used it anyway on a 3 nighter out to the Cold River this spring.) I got a deal on one for $49 last year and it tested fine. The second one got dropped about 20 feet down a rocky waterfall with no cover on it. It worked fine when I retrieved it. I thought for sure it was dead as I watched it bouncing off the boulders below.
I’ve had more trouble with filters than the Steripen by about 4x. The pumps, were always a bit of work to fill my bottles (hoses, connections, fiddling to get it submerged, and/or working the pump) and I had to replace the filter module every spring. And, I carried more water to avoid running short.
I decided to try the new Sawyers. I had all three drop to less than half the new flow after ~week out, even back flushing it. A pain in the butt, they were always slow.
One was left out in an unexpected frost one evening (my platy had ice in it.) None were as easy as the Steripen. At that rate (it is around $29 each,) I was paying about $80 per year (I still have one left that was working last year…) for a slower flow, it was heavier (unless you skipped the back flush plunger,) It is more difficult to fill the squeeze bottles at a stream, a LOT more finicky with the threads (it did NOT bolt on to the platy,) and I always worried about loosing the damn gasket. (I had to redo several bottles where it was leaking dirty water into the clean water when I applied some pressure.)
The Steripens lasted about 10 years for a total investment of $129 (recharge kit,) $89, and $69 or about $30 per year (I still haven’t used the new one.) Far simpler to use and I NEED simple to match my brain.May 16, 2019 at 1:12 pm #3593226
Anyone using the Platypus Gravity Works Cartridge adapted as a squeeze system alternative to the Sawyer?
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