Jun 7, 2016 at 9:40 am #3407523Ian SchumannBPL Member
@freeradicalLocale: Central TX
I need a little decision-making help here. For an upcoming trip, I’m trying to decide between #1 hacking my Sawyer Mini into a DIY gravity filter setup, or #2 just using simple chemical treatment. I’ll be hiking with some less-experienced guys, 5 of us total, in Colorado’s Summit County for about 3-4 nights.
I got my Sawyer Mini on a whim a couple of years ago, used it as-is with the squeeze pouch on a solo trip and found it very inconvenient, but have really wanted to try a gravity setup since then. Just haven’t gotten around to it.
Meanwhile on all my other trips I’ve always relied on AquaTabs or comparable treatment. The places I hike, I am pretty much exclusively filling up from flowing mountain streams, so I’ve never had any real issues with brackish or cloudy water.
So here is my choice:
- Buy chemical tablets like MSR AquaTabs or equivalent (say $20 total).
Pros: dead simple to use, pretty cheap, <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>clearly</span> a winner in the weight department (maybe 1-2oz for the whole group), and frees up my brain to stop worrying about a DIY gravity filter and work on real trip preparations.
Cons: requires about a 15/30-minute wait time before safe to drink.
- Hack together a gravity filter setup for my Sawyer Mini which will probably require a new large-capacity bladder or dry bag, some drink tubing, and an adapter or two ($25 – $50)
Pros: produces instant drinkable water(!); safer for the (unlikely) event of a cloudy water source; more relaxing to use while stretching / snacking / resting during water fill-up?
Cons: more expensive, definitely heavier, requires more research and fiddling to get everything put together
For the above reasons, I am leaning toward option #1. But before I bail on my filter dreams, my questions are:
- Are there any important Pros or Cons that I am missing?
- What would you choose?
Thanks for your thoughts!Jun 7, 2016 at 9:57 am #3407525Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Ian……IF you go with Option #2 I would upgrade to a Sawyer SP-121 as you will have a faster flow rate for one liter (~ 54sec). and less issues with the flow rate……….that is probably close to the optimal Sawyer Mini rate for one liter. (If you use a Sawyer Mini to get a flow rate that is optimal, back flushing on a regular basis is needed.) I’ve use Sawyer SP-121 in a gravity set up for SIX individuals in a Base Camp environment with no issues.
Have you checked this recent thread out?Jun 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm #3407539Todd StoughBPL Member
I would suggest to not use the mini in gravity mode. Several of us have had very, very poor results. Takes me 9 minutes per liter with a brand new filter, it barely flows. There was a video floating around with similar results. For some people theirs flows great.
I have a 4 liter gravity works and it is super fast. 4 liters in about 3 minutes, it probably takes longer to fill the bag and hang it up than to filter.Jun 7, 2016 at 12:32 pm #3407542JCHBPL Member
Two of my hiking buddies have the 4L gravity works system and both love it. I agree with not using the mini as a gravity filter…It will work, but it’s likely to piss you off fairly quickly :) The squeeze does work well in gravity mode.
I created my own ~5.5oz, 2L gravity system with some bags I already had and one of the sawyer “black” filters. Just swap out whatever size dirty/clean bags you want. I like this better than spending $100+ when I had most of the pieces laying around. Total outlay ~$34 for the Sawyer water bottle and filter.Jun 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm #3407548Ian SchumannBPL Member
@freeradicalLocale: Central TX
Well now, I’m sure glad I checked here first. Thanks for the intel guys! Alright so I <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>might</span> consider hacking together a DIY gravity filter using a different filter element, but only if I can find a good deal on (what now looks to be) most of the components.
That leaves one question that seems not to have been tackled yet: if we forget about the work of DIYing, and just look at chemical vs. gravity filter for my particular trip scenario — is there anything I’m missing in terms of costs / benefits?Jun 7, 2016 at 1:52 pm #3407560Bob ShuffBPL Member
I have good luck with my Sawyer mini with a DIY gravity filter. I carry a 1L bladder with a smartwater drink nozzle that does any backflushing – and works for showers too. I can’t find info on the SP-121.
The key for me was having the dirty water bag a few feet above the filter. I’ve seen others with the filter connected to the bag, but the extra few feet of tubing made a difference in my setup.
Here it is separated into clean and dirty sides. I don’t use the straw – can’t remember why I had that here – maybe in case I did the drink from stream thing. It doesn’t weigh much.Jun 9, 2016 at 2:55 pm #3407996Chris ChandlerBPL Member
@chandler325i-2Locale: lost angeles
What’s the water like where you’re going? If it’s pretty clean mountain water and you just want to zap the typical bacteria, I’ve been happy with Aqua Mira for 2 people, and it would be pretty easy to open it up for more hikers. I use a premix bottle, the method Mike Clelland provides in Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips (I think there’s a youtube video where he discusses it as well). For more hikers, just use a larger premix bottle. Sure, you have to wait a bit for the treatment to act, sometimes I only wait 15 minutes based on the water source, but I also don’t really ever find myself collapsing at a source in need of water at that very second. I keep hiking, and when my watch beeps, I know I can start drinking if I want. If the source is safe, maybe you don’t need to treat for that source
pros: no worrying about a “clean” and “dirty” bottle. Fast. Light. Simple
cons: even if you treat on the lighter side for a clean source, you can taste it in your water. Kind of a bummer when you want to taste mountain fresh water. Doesn’t do anything for particulate, you either drink that or you pre-filter in some way (I usually don’t bother)Jun 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm #3408004David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Jun 9, 2016 at 4:10 pm #3408009Roger CaffinModerator
- In my mind, planning on using a filter (or UV) means also bringing chemical treatment as backup. You’re one clogged filter or broken light bulb away from no treatment otherwise and chemical treatment is so light and cheap.
- When you hike with newbies, they will not have light packs. So don’t bust your butt or your pocketbook trying to save every last ounce. Focus on their choices of tent, pad, sleeping bag, stove, pots, pack and ESPECIALLY on the “packing their fears” mindset and trying to avoid, say, 4 or 5 people each bringing crappy store-bought First Aid kits instead of having ONE thoughtful group kit. If they’re really new to it, your low-hanging fruit is to get them out of blue jeans and for them to NOT pack a set of clothes for each day like how their mother sent them off to summer camp.
- I’ve mostly switched to UV treatment once I embraced the idea of “pound-miles”. In the 40 minutes of required contact time for chemical treatment, I’ve carried a liter (2 pounds) of water an extra 2 miles instead of immediate treatment and drinking it at the source. Times twice a day = 8 extra pound-miles. Versus 6 ounces for the larger Steripen models x 16 miles/day = 6 pound-miles. And the Steripen water tastes great without the chlorine / iodine taste.
- The above pound-miles effect multiples hugely in a group: for five people: 5 liters (10 pounds)x 2 miles x twice a day = 40 pound-miles versus the same 6-pound-miles for whoever carries the Steripen.
- Advanced topic: I’ve gone to a more spherical container (a 47-ounce plastic applesauce jar) and feel comfortable giving that 1.5 liters of water the standard 1-liter zap because the average distance from the bulb is the same or less than standard tall bottles and the worst spots (the bottom corners) are far better than in a taller bottle.
- Really cheap chemical treatment: chlorine bleach (no end of resources on how to do that) and some bulk Vitamin C crystals ($14/pound on Amazon) to kill the chlorine taste AFTER the required contact time. Just keep adding a pinch until the smell/taste goes away and you’ll quickly get dialed in.
- Or use Polar Pure which dissolves iodine crystals into water you’ve added to the bottle after each use. $20 on Amazon, treats 2,000 liters. One cent per liter. If you start a trip with any crystals in the jar, you’re good to go. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) if you want to kill the iodine taste AFTER the contact time.
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
5 people? Do you have to use just one treatment thing for that many people? Can some of them carry the responsibilty for their own health? Perhaps they should?
The Sawyer may be effective, but it is slow – very slow. The RapidPure is much faster – see our review. It would be my second choice.
CheersJun 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm #3408020Clue MBPL Member
My mini works great in gravity mode with a 2′ hose above the filter.
I would suggest sharing a 10L dromedary bag and a filter if you are going as a group.
Fill ill one large thing, filter 2L per person.
Carry a shared large pot incase you need to boil sketchy water for the group.Jun 10, 2016 at 2:32 pm #3408167Chris BBPL Member
You don’t need to lash up your own Sawyer
I have used it on a few trips in the Sierra Nevada and it has worked fine.
I also have a 4 Gravity Works that has been used extensively and is way faster that the sawyer Squeeze. Definitely worth considering. My only reservation is MSR changed the design of the filter cartridge a year of so ago and and based on my experience they seem more prone to clogging. Maybe this is just down to the water I am filtering however it seems strange one filter lasted 5 years and now I seem to get through one every six months.
For the next trip I am planning to use a hybrid of the Platypus bags and pipe and the Sawyer Squeeze filter. I’ll report back on how this goes.Sep 17, 2016 at 10:26 am #3426685Dan LeeBPL Member
FWIW.. I recently went out with a buddy who used a Steripen while I carried my 4L GW system. (I know that it is way more than two people need but I primarily have my system for my Scout outings.) I’ve also thought about DIYing a couple of my 1L platy bottles with the Sawyer Mini for a smaller/lighter set up. The interesting point is that now my buddy is interested in the GW while I’m more convinced/satisfied with using UV. (I really don’t like the chemical taste of iodine, bleach, etc.) We’re talking about the Colorado Trail next summer so this discussion is a good primer. Thanks…Sep 17, 2016 at 3:24 pm #3426732Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Sort of related, but when five of us did the Wonderland Trail I took a 6 liter Platypus so I could treat lots of water at one time. Usually at night I’d fill it up, then put in about half the recommended amount of AquaMira. Since it would sit overnight the very long dwell time made up for the lowered concentration (the relevant measure is concentration times dwell time, so doubling one allows you to halve the other, although you can’t take this too far, and efficacy drops in sunlight or dirty water or when clumps are present).
- Buy chemical tablets like MSR AquaTabs or equivalent (say $20 total).
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