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water gear basics


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Hi all, newb here

Trying to figure these basic gear needs out, trying to be almost ultra light, not quite. Overall I am trying to be budget conscious when possible, aka, not buy everything at REI. For some things though I am willing to spend.

-I just bought the MINI Sawyer filter gizmo. Not sure with what water bottles it works to plug into besides the Smart Water bottles?

-If I take a Camel Back, how big capacity wise should it be?

-To accompany Camel Back, a 32 oz bottle ok?

-Some folks suggesting a Nalgene canteen over Camleback. No idea why....?


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In most cases stuff sold by REI is gear backpackers want because it's been proven in the woods. Stuff sold by WalMart and most sporting good stores is the cheapest crap they can find to stock the shelves. A lot of that cheap stuff will let you down when put to the test.

I have a Sawyer Mini I bought from WalMart and it never leaves my garage. The problem with it is you can't fill up the 16 oz. dirty water bottle in a pool of water. You'll get maybe 8 oz. of water, which means you'll filter a quart of water in about 10 minutes if you are good at it. The Katadyn Hiker filters a quart of water in 50 - 60 pumps, which is much more efficient. The Hiker filter cartridge needs to be replaced about every year, and the replacement cartridge is irritatingly expensive, but I think it's still the best water filter for the beginner backpacker. The Sawyer Mini is not really useable by a backpacker without significant modifications  - specifically to the dirty water supply. A lot of interesting modifications are described on the internet.

So I say go with the Katadyn Hiker fitler. Other popular filters are the MSR Sweetwater & Miniworks - both of which pump water slower than the Katadyn Hiker. The MSR Hyperflow filters a quart of water in about 20 strokes, but the filter plugs really quickly and replacement cartridges are hard to find.

I've had the 2l & 3l Camelbaks and the 2l is really all you need. I like to carry a 2l Camelbak and a 1l bottle for filtering and drinking in camp. I take a Nalgene wide mouth 1l for long hikes, but something more flimsy like a Smart Water bottle 1 week or shorter trips.

Nalgene may work o.k. over Camelbak, but it's personal preference. I use Camelbak after reading about someody running over one with a car.

The way I save money on quality gear is to to wait for it to go on sale or use a 20% off coupon code. Some worthwhile gear, like a NeoAir XLite, never goes on sale, so you wait until someone sends you a 20% off coupon.

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I use a 3L bladder since I tend to drink a lot of water hiking, my fiancee uses just a 2L and it seems to be enough for her and lite enough as well. We bought 2 mini Sawyer filters and put them in line of our bladders. 

It's nice because all we do is just scoop water into the bladders and it filters as we drink. So it's fast and clean water, but I have heard of complaints when people use them for gravity filters. The down side is that your bladder will always be contanimantes unless you clean it with some bleach or bladder cleaning tablets. The upside is that with proper maintenance the filters last for 100,000 gallons which is more than anyone will drink in a life time, well it should be. So long as you keep your filter in line you'll be fine. And since I use a pot and boil water to hydrate food I don't worry about filtering that water since boiling it is going to kill everything anyways.

It's pesrsonal preference but i like knowing that I have a lot of water, it's always easy to access and I have to refill less often, and with a in line filter it's just scoop and go.

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I have four different water filters in one of my gear boxes. The Sawyer mini is my favorite by far. I have mine set up as an inline gravity filter. I bought several "Quick Connects" from REI. I use a 4 L platypus for dirty water and filter into either a 2 L Platy or a 1 L Platy. I prefer to camp near a water source. As soon as I pick my campsite I fill the dirty water bladder and set it up to filter while I set up my tent or hammock.

The mini Sawyer is not as fast as the big Sawyer of the Platypus Gravity System but it is lighter weight and easier to backflush.

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