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Meegads

Favorite Water Treatments/Filters?

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I'm relatively new to backpacking - I've done day hikes pretty much my entire life but I've never done an overnighter or longer.  (Planning on rectifying that soon.)  How do you guys handle finding water on a long trek?  Do you prefer water treatments or filters?  Anyone use a Lifestraw or Lifestraw Go?  Pros?  Cons?  I like the idea of being able to find water along the trail and not have to carry a ton of it.

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I have had a Katadyn Vario for a couple of years now and am very happy with it.  It's reliable, can be used with dirty water sources and does a really good job of improving the taste of otherwise skunky water sources. Its geared toward supporting a small crew (maybe 4 or 5 people) so its bigger then other water filters out there, but it does fill up a 3 liter bag quickly.  If the water source is dirty you can switch to longer life mode which forces the water through a cleanable porcelain filter, or you can switch to faster flow in clean water which uses the paper filter and activated carbon only. 

Pros:

  • Great for groups (up to 2 quarts per minute)
  • Improves the flavor of water by using Activated Carbon
  • Reliable

The downsides

  • Bulkier then other products
  • Costs around $80 new
  • Replacement filter cost ~$40
  • Filter can freeze if it gets to cold

If you are hiking in the mountains with consistent access to clear water you could try using a UV purifier.  They are quick and light weight. On the downside they rely on batteries, and won't work if the water is cloudy.

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I use the Sawyer Squeeze Filter.  It's good for 1-2 hikers but not more.  I have heard of the squeeze bag breaking if pressed too hard.  Always carry the plunger to reverse rinse the filter of debris or it can plug up.  For a larger group, Sawyer and MSR have a great gravity system bags that filter several liters without any effort or if you want the workout, use a pump filter.  My buddy who spent a tour in Afghanistan used the SteriPEN over there without problems, but it does not filter out debris.  It doesn't kill bugs either just makes them sterile unable to reproduce in your gut.  Good for clean spring or river water.  In freezing weather, sleep with the filter in your bag to keep it from freezing.....same for your clean water bottle.

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On 4/12/2017 at 11:54 PM, Wishful_Hiker said:

My buddy who spent a tour in Afghanistan used the SteriPEN over there without problems,

This is what I've used for years now. I bring tablets or aqua-mire as a backup. I love the SteriPen. Quick, easy, takes up hardly any room and while not as light as the Squeeze is still ok. Like Wishful_Hiker mentioned there is no filtration unless  you cover your bottle with some kind of cloth.

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I use the MSR Guardian. Pricey yes, but water sources can be iffy in my neck of the woods. The $400 cdn price was worth not risking getting sick from potential contaminated water sources to me. Been there, done that, no thanks! The high water flow rate and compatibility to dromdary and large nalgene's was also a plus. 

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Never used a lifestraw, but I have tried the sawyer mini. I wasn't really a bit fan. It's great because of how light it is, but I struggled to find a bottle that had a large enough volume with threads that matched the filter itself. Sawyer says that is uses universal threads, but that's not the case. Maybe if I was on trails with plenty of water, like it sounds like you will be, this would be a good option.

I used to carry the Katadyn Hiker, but after a few times of having to replace the filter for almost the same cost as a new filter I decided to explore other options. Also because the hiker clogged up on me in the field and there is no way to backflush.

After trying the Mini and the Hiker I picked up one of the Platypus Gravity Works filters and this thing is the bomb! Back flushing is super easy (after a bit of a learning curve), it's pretty lightweight, and virtually involves no work. Just fill the dirty bag and hang it from a tree to let gravity do the rest. If you are wanting to get into backpacking, in my opinion, this is your best option. It comes if a few sizes and you can pick and choose what parts you need to carry on the trail. For example, I only carry the filter and the dirty water reservoir then I just run the clean water straight into my bladder/bottle. This literally cuts the weight in half to about 5 ounces.

My guess is that you will love overnighting and will eventually talk family and friends into coming along on a trip. You will want something like this when that time comes, but it's still light enough to carry hiking solo. 

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