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Maddog76
03-24-2017, 12:52
I'm relatively new to backpacking so forgive me if this is a dumb question, but I'm wondering if anyone uses a water filter AND water purification drops or tablets.

The trips I've been on so far I've used a Sawyer Mini and that's worked fine. However I know there are things it cannot remove from the water. I've been considering using Aqua Mira tabs along with the filter. Does anyone else do this, or is this just unnecessary overkill?

Uncle Joe
03-24-2017, 12:57
Overkill. The Mini will take everything but a virus and viruses aren't a particular issue. Why ruin the taste of your perfectly good spring water? :)

Engine
03-24-2017, 12:57
We watched multiple Sawyer filters (including ours) get ruined by the freezing in the extreme cold of the Smokies last week.

The guy with a Steri-pen had no issues...Our new Steri-pen is waiting at a post office just up the trail.

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Uncle Joe
03-24-2017, 13:01
You do have to take care of them. You can't let them freeze. Doesn't hurt to have a backup be it tablets or a stri-pen but it's not a failing of the Sawyer that it froze.

HooKooDooKu
03-24-2017, 13:07
We watched multiple Sawyer filters (including ours) get ruined by the freezing in the extreme cold of the Smokies last week.

The guy with a Steri-pen had no issues...Our new Steri-pen is waiting at a post office just up the trail.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

Can you elaborate on how you knew your Sawyers were ruined"?
I ask because according to Sawyer's own website, there is no way to field test Sawyer to determine if it's been compromised. Seem like the only way to KNOW a Sawyer has been compromised is that either the flow rate goes way up (i.e. lots of damage, easy for water to flow thur now) or way down (i.e. no water flow because the thing is clogged with ice).

Moosling
03-24-2017, 13:11
I've been told to put my sawyer in the tech pocket of my sleeping bag or down near my feet to prevent the membrane from freezing.

Uncle Joe
03-24-2017, 13:13
From Sawyer: While we have no proof that freezing will harm the filter, we do not have enough proof to say it will not harm the filter, therefore we must say that if you suspect the filter has been frozen, to replace it — this is especially true with a hard freeze.

I wouldn't trust a frozen one. I might continue to use it until the next opportunity to replace is if I had no other backup. I'd be particular about where I got my water, however.

Engine
03-24-2017, 13:18
From Sawyer: While we have no proof that freezing will harm the filter, we do not have enough proof to say it will not harm the filter, therefore we must say that if you suspect the filter has been frozen, to replace it this is especially true with a hard freeze.

I wouldn't trust a frozen one. I might continue to use it until the next opportunity to replace is if I had no other backup. I'd be particular about where I got my water, however.
Exactly...

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Old Hiker
03-24-2017, 13:23
I am particularly paranoid about my water.

I use(d) a Sweetwater Guardian filter with Siltstopper and these:

https://www.amazon.com/Potable-Aqua-Water-Purification-Tablets/dp/B0009I3T3S/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1490376094&sr=8-3&keywords=water+tabs

I let the tabs work at LEAST 30 minutes before drinking. Had NO water related problems or intestinal problems from any cause.

Now: ask me about Lyme..................

Slo-go'en
03-24-2017, 13:46
I'm surprised Sawyer doesn't have definitive answer to if a freeze damages their filter. You'd think it would be easy enough to test and should have been part of the R+D testing. They know it's going to happen.

I've never cut one of these open to see what exactly they use inside, but I bet freezing does little or no damage. There is a chance it may no longer remove the very smallest of contaminates, but it would still remove the bulk of the stuff you don't want in there. 99% of the water on the AT is fine to drink as is anyway, so you'd probably never know if the filter is doing anything or not. I use mine mostly to filter out the grit.

swjohnsey
03-24-2017, 13:50
Everything works because nothing is needed. 99% of the water is safe to drink right out of the side of the mountain.

Venchka
03-24-2017, 13:56
From Sawyer: While we have no proof that freezing will harm the filter, we do not have enough proof to say it will not harm the filter, therefore we must say that if you suspect the filter has been frozen, to replace it this is especially true with a hard freeze.

...
Based on that non-information gobbledygook, I wouldn't trust Sawyer.
How long does it take to freeze a handful of filters and find out if they still work?
I also wouldn't trust the Mini.
Wayne



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Turk6177
03-24-2017, 13:57
I use the full size sawyer squeeze filter and bring around 8 water tablets as back-up. If it is going to be cold, I just put it in a ziplock and sleep with it to prevent it from freezing. If you know that the filter gets ruined by freezing, I am not sure why anyone would leave it in a position to freeze. i like the sawyer because it is instant drinking water. I have not heard good things about the steri pen due to its durability, need for batteries, and effectiveness in cloudy water.

bigcranky
03-24-2017, 14:01
I carry chlorine dioxide tablets as a backup, and also for use when I need to grab a liter of water and keep walking.

Maddog76
03-24-2017, 14:10
So I'll be heading to the southern AT at the end of April. Probably somewhere in Virginia. Should I expect freezing temps in that area, that time of year? If so I'll definitely pick up some purification tabs as a backup. Or just sleep with my filter under my pillow!

Maddog76
03-24-2017, 14:11
Thanks everyone for your comments!

saltysack
03-24-2017, 15:42
So easy to keep in pocket so it doesn't freeze....but yep ship happens...Ive forgot to sleep with it several times so I make a habit to replace yearly with some of my dividends from rei....may go back to regular from mini but honestly mini has been fine.....no bag or real flow issues since using the 2l evernew bag....taking a minute or two to filter just gives me a longer break!


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bigcranky
03-24-2017, 16:00
I found the Mini difficult to squeeze, but I have some hand and wrist issues. The regular Sawyer is much easier, I can pretty much just hold it in the air and the water flows through.

Maddog, it is possible to get below freezing temps in late April in Virginia. Not as likely, but not out of the question. I still take my 20F bag into mid May around here.

Slo-go'en
03-24-2017, 16:06
Maddog, it is possible to get below freezing temps in late April in Virginia. Not as likely, but not out of the question. I still take my 20F bag into mid May around here.

Not very likely by late April. It would have to get into the 20's for an extended amount of time to freeze a filter if it's even a little protected from direct cold air contact, like being in a pack.

Sarcasm the elf
03-24-2017, 16:28
We watched multiple Sawyer filters (including ours) get ruined by the freezing in the extreme cold of the Smokies last week.

The guy with a Steri-pen had no issues...Our new Steri-pen is waiting at a post office just up the trail.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk


Hey engine, just curious what sort of temperatures were you seeing in the Smokies last week?

I hope your hike is going well!

Sarcasm the elf
03-24-2017, 16:28
For what it's worth, I have used sawyer filters in deep winter in the last, but it's a pain since I have to be meticulous in order to keep them from freezing. I now use aqua mira or boiling in the winter.

Engine
03-24-2017, 16:34
Hey engine, just curious what sort of temperatures were you seeing in the Smokies last week?

I hope your hike is going well!
Most of last week we saw highs in the 30's and lows ranged from 10-24 degrees. We waited for 2 days in Fontana for things to improve, so we didn't see the worst of it.

Caboose is resting her leg for a couple days (tendonitis), but we'll be back on the trail tomorrow. Having the time of our lives... It's been even better than we hoped! 😁

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Rain Man
03-24-2017, 16:45
... I'm wondering if anyone uses a water filter AND water purification drops or tablets. The trips I've been on so far I've used a Sawyer Mini and that's worked fine. However I know there are things it cannot remove from the water. I've been considering using Aqua Mira tabs along with the filter.

Be sure to read chemical instructions closely. Those little itty bitty critters that filters don't get?... well, chemicals can take up to 4 hours to kill some of 'em, based on my reading. So, I simply use a Sawyer Mini, set up on gravity system. No squeezing, no pain. It filters as I prepare lunch, set up camp, whatever. BUT, I do replace it if it's been subjected to over-night freezing temps (20s or below).

Cheyou
03-24-2017, 17:00
Can you elaborate on how you knew your Sawyers were ruined"?
I ask because according to Sawyer's own website, there is no way to field test Sawyer to determine if it's been compromised. Seem like the only way to KNOW a Sawyer has been compromised is that either the flow rate goes way up (i.e. lots of damage, easy for water to flow thur now) or way down (i.e. no water flow because the thing is clogged with ice).

I have read don't know if it is true !!!! If you can blow through it it is bad .

Thom

HooKooDooKu
03-24-2017, 21:03
The way Sawyer works is that it is a tube folded such that both open ends are facing the dirty water side. These tubes have hole in them that are too small for protozoa to pass thru. We all know that water expands when it freezes, and if the water that remains in those tubes (there's no way to get all of it out) freezes, it will split the tubes wide open allowing protozoa thru the filter.

The holes in the sides of the tubes are so small that it is difficult to blow (or suck) air thru the filter, so yea, if you can blow air thru it, it's toast.

KDogg
03-24-2017, 21:57
We watched multiple Sawyer filters (including ours) get ruined by the freezing in the extreme cold of the Smokies last week.

The guy with a Steri-pen had no issues...Our new Steri-pen is waiting at a post office just up the trail.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk When I went through the Smokies on my thru hike last year it was raining like crazy. The folks with steripens, tablets or drops weren't too happy then. The water looked like melted chocolate ice cream with leaves thrown in for texture. Contrary to common advice, a bandana will only remove mud to a point.

TTT
03-25-2017, 01:36
If it was raining like crazy why are they messing about with muddy water? Am I missing something?

Dex
03-25-2017, 02:57
The platypus can be checked by blowing into it. Not sure about the Sawyer.

Smithereens
03-25-2017, 05:47
I'm surprised Sawyer doesn't have definitive answer to if a freeze damages their filter. You'd think it would be easy enough to test and should have been part of the R+D testing. They know it's going to happen.

I've never cut one of these open to see what exactly they use inside, but I bet freezing does little or no damage. There is a chance it may no longer remove the very smallest of contaminates, but it would still remove the bulk of the stuff you don't want in there. 99% of the water on the AT is fine to drink as is anyway, so you'd probably never know if the filter is doing anything or not. I use mine mostly to filter out the grit.


Everything works because nothing is needed. 99% of the water is safe to drink right out of the side of the mountain.

Uh, identify the unsafe 1% please! (Hint: you can't without lab testing!)

I did water quality surveys in college. I covered waterways in the TN/NC area including some streams on the trail. That 99% safe isn't true! All the streams I tested had some form of pathogen.

It's a numbers game. If you play enough, you will hit the jackpot sooner or later.:)

I filter and treat.

TTT
03-25-2017, 13:21
I'm unfamiliar with cold conditions. From delving into the internet and reading, it seems the way forward is to use heavier water bottles in winter with water purification tablets, and lighter bottles with a filtration system in warmer months. This approach reduces the chances of filters and thin bottles malfunctioning in freezing weather.

swjohnsey
03-25-2017, 13:46
Uh, identify the unsafe 1% please! (Hint: you can't without lab testing!)

I did water quality surveys in college. I covered waterways in the TN/NC area including some streams on the trail. That 99% safe isn't true! All the streams I tested had some form of pathogen.

It's a numbers game. If you play enough, you will hit the jackpot sooner or later.:)

I filter and treat.

If it come out of the side of the mountain it is safe to drink. If it comes out of a beaver pond or a stream, maybe not.

Smithereens
03-25-2017, 15:59
If it come out of the side of the mountain it is safe to drink. If it comes out of a beaver pond or a stream, maybe not.

Well, I may be a bit of a hypocrite. I know a few water sources that I will not hesitate to drink straight from. If you find water from an artisan well or similar the water usually tastes so good it would be a sin to treat. And they are almost always safe.

The general rule used to be that if the water is flowing and getting aerated for something like 25 feet, it was safe to drink. (Little critters called rotifers like moving water and eat other microbes.) Not sure how well that holds up nowdays though. Stream health isn't always that great anymore.