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Water Filters: advice needed

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  • #16
    I'm not aware of any backpacking filter or common chemicals that will neutralize ag chemicals or heavy metals. Research your sources in advance. If you can't, I'd carry it all or cache it. Charcoal will help with smell/taste. I'd use Aqua Mira and then gravity filter with an Aqua Mira Frontier Pro most likely, but if you're not wanting to wait at all (no chemicals) you'll need a filter with pore size small enough to get bacteria (~ 0.1-.2 micron) and hand pump it. The Frontier Pro is 3 micron. Viruses aren't much concern in the US.

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    • #17
      Previous SM was a transplant recipient and he was scrupulous about what he put in his body, ESPECIALLY when backpacking/camping.
      His choice was the MSR Sweetwater filter for everything but viruses and he used the MSR Sweetwater Solution to handle the viruses.
      The Troop partially follows his lead to this day substituting the MSR Hiker Pro for the Sweet Water filter due to initial cost and ruggedness issues with the boys (we have one Hiker Pro with an interesting pump handle fix but haven't broken one of those to un-usability yet.)

      I've used many different filtration methods and really like the Troops answer, yes, there is an aftertaste, but to me it is VERY slight and nowhere near that of any of the tablet answers I have ever used, plus the wait time is only 5 minutes after adding the solution.

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      • #18
        Well, this was our second year taking an extended 6-day August backpacking trip in the wilds of West Virginia, and I'm compelled to report that both our Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter and Sawyer Water Filter slowed considerably due to some rather turbid water. I was able to do a field-level back flush with the Sawyer, and keep it going at a slow but acceptable rate, but the Katadyn clogged to the point it was non-usable. Once were were back to running water, I was able to properly back flush the Sawyer filter, and it now runs at a good rate.

        We're now we are faced with a decision - do we purchase a $50 replacement filter for the Katadyn system (which we purchased last year for $80) that will last a year or so, or purchase another Sawyer filter for ~$80??

        Yes, we do need two filters. We will be doing a another backpacking hike on the AT in October, so we need to make a decision either way.

        What do you think?

        Are there any other filters we should consider?

        Thanks!

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        • #19

          Our Troop has used two different filter systems, and both were prone to clogging until they started following the directions, ie let the stream water settle out and then prefilter it through a clean hankee/kerchief. Made the filters pump easy for a much longer time. Rinse out the hankee, wash hands with soap, and reserve the hankee for that duty only.

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          • #20
            Check out the Camping& High Adventure/Backpacking and Sharing the load thread.

            When we went backpacking with no clean water source in New Mexico, this is what we did. We had three adults and six youth. We carried two steripens and three water filters (micron pumps). Earlier dry run trips we used a miox water purification and different types of filters as well as tablets. As adults, we took the lead wrt water purification methods because we were aware of our water source in New Mexico - stagnant pools in open galvanized tubs, often with lots of algae and a few dead carcasses floating in it.

            We "bandana filtered" first to remove the big debris and to keep from clogging up our micron filters. The steripen killed the virus' that could get by the filter. The water was the best tasting I've ever had. The scouts responsibility was to get the water (three gallon collapsible container). That required about a 100-200 yard hike. We would work as a team to filter the water which required quite a bit of hand pumping but the adults did most of it. We would then use the steripen (watch out for red colored Nalgene bottles - you can't read the LEDs!). A steripen may do the trick on its own but seeing debris floating in your water, regardless of it being sanitary, was not a appetizing. I feel the filter plus steripen was an excellent choice.

            We would filter, as a minimum, two full Nalgene bottles per person plus enough water for cooking and cleanup for the meal at hand. Being the desert, water was a precious resource and if you are very careful, clean up can be done with about a cup of water.

            Boiling the water is too time consuming and carries a heavy burden in weight for backpacking. If time and weight is not an issue, boil away. As for "tablets" - the thought of putting in poisons in my drinking water so I could drink it didn't sit very well with me.

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            • #21
              Most of our troop uses Katadyn filters. I use a Steripen with a prefilter (one of the screw-on caps for a Nalgene bottle). We're mostly in the Cascades though, and not much industrial or agg runnoff to worry about - nice mountain streams and you can often see the glacier the water you're getting melted off from a few minutes ago...

              I haven't had any problems with my Steripen. I carry spare batteries and an emergency bottle of iodine tablets.

              So far no clogging problems with the filters - but we're generally getting pretty clear water without much silt or particulates in it, which I imagine helps a great deal.

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              • #22
                Check the Sawyer Squeeze for about $50 and infinite life. It's simple to backflush in the field. I used one for 6 weeks and 800 miles on the Arizona Trail this spring, getting water from puddles, troughs, creeks, and ponds. Water colors ranged from clear to pistachio green to butterscotch. :-)
                Water temperature and turbidity don't matter. No mechanical parts to break. No waiting for chemical reactions. Just fill the dirty water bag and squeeze out clean water. Plus, the company is doing great things to help provide clean water to communities around the world.

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                • #23
                  I appreciate the advice, and will look carefully at the Sawyer Squeeze -- it looks good! I think the Scouts would like it, as they are always squeezing the other Sawyer anyway! It also sounds like we need to do more to pre-filter as well, so I'm going to work on modifying the big Katadyn base camp bag with a cloth or coffee filter to get the big particulate out before it goes to the Sawyer. I reckon that will be far cheaper than buying the $50 replacement filter!!

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