View Full Version : Filter or purify?

08-02-2003, 10:53
I usually carry a Pur Explorer filter, which is an excellent one (it does both filter and add Iodine) but it also weighs in at 2 Lbs!!
Would I be just as well off using Iodine tablets?


Lone Wolf
08-02-2003, 10:56
Or nothing at all.

08-02-2003, 14:36
ive tried both now, i personally dont mind the taste of iodine, so i always enjoyed polar pure. however on the trip i just returned from i tried out filtering, using the katadyn and another filter, and i was very impressed. the katadyn held up really well, however i was worried about storage, keeping the dirty end from the clean. but it fills up very fast, and you have ready to use water immediately. the only problem i found with filters is that if you need a lot of water it gets tiring, and the filters can clog. i think its up to personal preference. iodine can leave a strong taste which many people dont like, but filtering can be tiring and heavy.

08-02-2003, 17:04
filter...sweetwater..... .02micron...

08-03-2003, 16:04
Isn't "nothing at all" a bit risky?
Do you at least boil your water?

I protect the dirty end of my Pur by placing a plastic baggie over it and securing with a rubberband.

How much does the Katahdin weigh? Perhaps the answer is to get a lighter filter, and probably to take some iodine tabs along just in case the filter breaks or gets clogged...

sweetwater. Is that a Pur model or another brand?

08-03-2003, 17:35
You can buy Potable Aqua iodine tablets that come with a bottle of P.A. Plus that you add after the iodine has done it's work. It works fairly well at removing the taste and color of the iodine from the water.

08-03-2003, 18:31
or as a backup method just have a little extra fuel and boil if you have a filter problem.

08-03-2003, 21:45
Sounds like a plan :)

Lone Wolf
08-03-2003, 21:58
I've done "nothing at all" to my water for 16,000 miles on the AT. Works for me. It's not for everybody.

08-03-2003, 23:06
another brand....

08-03-2003, 23:34
16,000 miles?
How many thru-hikes on the AT have you done?

All I can say is whatever works. If unfiltered water doesn't make you sick, then more power to you.
I have used unfiltered water only in a couple of places, high in the Catskill mountains of NY (max elev is about 4200) and never became ill. But I would rather not experiment during an extended hiking trip <g>.

08-04-2003, 09:24
I just read a great artice on Giardia. Apparently it's difficult to get it from the water. Most people get it from fecal contact. Pooping, not washing, and then eating. Pooping, shaking hands with someone you just met who was just pooping, then eating and so on. Bring some alcohol with you.

08-04-2003, 11:58
Or some of that instant hand sanitizer.

08-04-2003, 12:40
An article was written on the lack of danger of Giardia in the Sierra Nevada. Interesting article, makes me question how dangerous other areas are too. That said, I haven't abandoned my chemicals/filter yet.


08-04-2003, 17:34
Grimace is right, you mostly get giardia from not washing your hands. Get sanitizer!

What about Aquamira? I used it for the whole hike. Id say its totally harmless and no bad taste like iodine. It weighs nothing and you can get about a month use out of it, drinking 5-8 litres a day. Forget the filter. Its heavy and will clog on you at the wrong times.

08-04-2003, 21:26
What is Aguamira?
Never heard of the stuff.

I use an alcohol based sanitizer. Either in a bottle as liquid or on towlettes in sealed packets.
I have always been a hand washer. Would never eat before using the stuff. Besides fecal matter, I may also be carrying DEET on my hands. I'm not sure which is more dangerous<g>

B Thrash
08-04-2003, 22:18
I have always used iodine tablets or a Sweet Water filter during my hikes. I will do a 125 plus mile trip in September 2003 and will try a Polar Pure kit for the first time. States on the container "Treats 2000 quarts of water - less than 1/2 cents per quart". Has any other users of Polar Pure iodine crystals had any problems using it?.

oui vult dare parva non debet magna rogare

He who wishes to give little shouldn't ask for much.

08-05-2003, 07:44
i myself use the "nothing at all" method. i cant say ive ever treated my water. i always had to lie to the scoutmasters back in the day because they would of had a hissy fit had they known i was drinking straight from the streams. then again i try not to drink out of rivers and stagnant ponds, but if i had to i would. ive never been sick from it. as for deet and hand sanitizer, cant say ive ever used those either. always ate dinner on my thru hike with a nice coat of dirt on my hands. helps clean out the system. :p

08-06-2003, 15:09
what if you have a thyroid condition that requires you to take synthetic thyroid hormone? someone told me that people who take that medication shouldnt be using iodine tablets...is there any truth to that?

08-06-2003, 15:24
I have come to understand that my participation in this forum is counter productive. In an attempt to ammend this I am deleting my posts and have requested to have my account deleted

08-06-2003, 15:24
Originally posted by Companion
what if you have a thyroid condition that requires you to take synthetic thyroid hormone? someone told me that people who take that medication shouldnt be using iodine tablets...is there any truth to that?

Talk to your Doctor.

08-06-2003, 16:58
gee..i just assumed that there were people here with said condition...

08-06-2003, 17:14
If you have a thyroid problem, iodine will affect it.

Here's a little blur about what it does for you :

About 60 percent of the body’s iodine content is kept in the thyroid gland, located in the neck. The gland uses the iodine to produce the two thyroid hormones (T3 or tri-iodothyronine and T4 or thyroxine) that regulate your body’s metabolism, including the rate at which you burn calories, as well as the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, cholesterol synthesis, protein synthesis and carbohydrate absorption . Iodine also plays a role in maintaining connective tissue, which comprises the tendons and ligaments, that hold tissue together. Iodine is also important for the physical and mental development of children.

Here are a list of symptoms of thyroid problems :

In some patients, symptoms clearly indicate hyperthyroidism. In others, symptoms are not so obvious. Problems can occur in many parts of the body. Most of the time, you will notice some of the following if you have hyperthyroidism:

Your eyes may protrude or seem to be large and staring (because of swelling behind the eyes and injury to the muscles used to blink).
Your heart may pound or beat very fast.
You may have an enlarged thyroid gland (sometimes called a goiter), which causes a swelling in the front part of your neck.
You may feel nervous, anxious, irritable, or forgetful. You might fidget or tremble. Elderly people may feel listless or depressed.
Without changing your eating habits, you may be losing weight.
You may be too warm when people around you are comfortable. You may sweat more than usual or have dry, itchy skin.
You may have trouble sleeping.
Your hair may fall out when you wash and comb it.
You may have diarrhea or frequent bowel movements.

Of course most of that happens on a thruhike anyway. Except the swelling neck thing...

So, if you have a thyroid problem, check with the doc!

Gravity Man

08-06-2003, 17:15
Education is the best way to stay health. You can't just rely on doctors. Don't worry about those other people...

Gravity Man

08-06-2003, 17:18
thank you.

08-06-2003, 17:30
Companion, sorry about that. I used Polar Pur on my thru-hike and suffered no ill effects. I did discuss it with my doctor first. I have a healthy thyroid.

I ain't no doctor, so anytime someone asks a medical question on an open forum like this, I caution them to check with one. Just trying to be helpful, not curt.

08-06-2003, 17:39
thats ok. i do appreciate your intention and call for caution.

Moon Monster
08-08-2003, 19:33
Another option is straight bleach (without additives). It's the cheapest/lightest treatment option. This year, I used a 1 oz. Nalgene bottle with a dropper cap full of bleach I got for free from a restaurant. That 1 oz. lasted me the entire Trail. Two-3 drops per quart meets the CDC's reccomended concentrations for emergency water treatment. I personally started to taste the bleach at 3-4 drops/qt and not at two, but everyone has a different yuck thresh-hold. Theoretically, bleached water should sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the proteins to denature, but I often cheated and drank straight away.

I wittnessed every type of treatment in use this year (except boiling) and I saw many hikers not treating at all. I met four or five thrus who had 3 or 4 day bouts with sickness, but they all figured it was food poisoning and not anything waterborn.

Bottom line, I beleive water treatment is primarily for peace of mind given the most typical source of giardia is lack of sanitation and not ground water. I treated because it made me feel better, and that's what's really important--choose what makes you feel the safest.

GA-ME '03

08-27-2003, 22:05
i agree with Lone Wolf (LONE WOLF what's up!!!)... I filtered water to Damascus then stopped... like he said... it's not for everyone... I didn't filter for 3000 miles and never had a problem. But I also took into consideration where I got my water from. Only one time I boiled water... people get the dreaded G who filter as well... do what you feel comfortable with...


Kyle & Lisa
08-30-2003, 15:02
smokymtnsteve, B thrash:

do you use the anti-viral adapter with your sweetwater? I love my sweetwater, but i have never used the anti-viral adapter.


08-30-2003, 15:32
meBrad -- why dont you quit talking about deleting your account and acyually do it. i get tired of reading good stuff to then see your same bs comment. do us a favor and just quit posting. Aquamira is good stuff - cheap and light w/o a bad taste :D

08-30-2003, 21:07
Originally posted by Kyle &amp; Lisa
smokymtnsteve, B thrash:

do you use the anti-viral adapter with your sweetwater? I love my sweetwater, but i have never used the anti-viral adapter.


is sweetwater still making them...I thought they had quit..
I have used them..probably not nescessary..I have not used one in a few years....

more important is just taking care of your water bottles...keeping them clean...I

Rain Man
08-30-2003, 22:46
Originally posted by Grimace
I just read a great artice on Giardia. Apparently it's difficult to get it from the water. Most people get it from fecal contact. Pooping, not washing, and then eating. Pooping, shaking hands with someone you just met who was just pooping, then eating and so on. Bring some alcohol with you.

I have (or had) a book of scientific (more or less) studies about AT thru-hikers. I recall that very few hikers got Girardia from water supplies. Most got it from other hikers ... sharing water bottles, spoons, eating from the same pot, and the like. Anyway, the study found that the biggest threat was not water supply, but infected hikers.

Still, I'd filter or purify too. But... if you fear the disease, then beware the real danger... SHARING.

Rain Man

Lone Wolf
08-31-2003, 02:05
Rain Man is on to something. I NEVER share my chow.

08-31-2003, 02:40
Aqua Mira...I will never use a water filter again.

08-31-2003, 18:09
I used a filter for years, then switched to iodine tabs, but in my hikes this summer (Irwin NC to Mt. Rogers VA) I used aqua mira drops. You basically mix two liquids (how much to use depends on the volume of water) and let them sit for a couple of minutes. They form chlorine dioxide solution, which is what many municipal water supplies use. It definitely kills or "inactivates" bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisims that you don't want to drink. Enough of both drops to purify 30 gallons of water weighs something less than 2 ounces and costs $13.50 at www.mountaingear.com. You can probably find it a little cheaper elsewhere. I hope this helps.

Kyle & Lisa
09-01-2003, 00:12
re: sweetwater


I bought my viral guard probably 3 yrs ago and never used it--so you're probably right that they dont come with it anymore

09-01-2003, 00:23
The Aqua Mira drops sound like an interesting idea.

My only concern is whether the 20 minute wait (per their web site) is a problem. I was envisioning drinking a liter of water at the source and then filling it before continuing to hike. With the drops, it seems like this would be more difficult to do---now I would probably hike with 2 liters for the first 20 minutes or so. And, it seems like the water would tend to get warm in that time. One good thing about the filter is that you can drink all the refreshing, cold water you want immediately at the source.

However, I can see where the drops offer numerous other benefits. They weight much less, require less maintenance and probably provide safer drinking water.

All in all, the drops are sounding like the better alternative...


09-01-2003, 12:51
Just a note about Aquamira:
I found the following on the product page at www.campmor.com

Note: To remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium pathogens, use (#25674) Aquamira™ water bottle and filter kit.

The filter and bottle are available for $18.99.

Does this mean they want you to use both the drops and the bottle/filter?

Mr. Clean
09-02-2003, 08:54
Both of these critters are very hard to kill chemically. Filtering is really the only way to avoid having them in your water bottle. When both are in the cyst form, they have a hard shell which is impervious to chlorine or chlorine dioxide. If you are scared of them, filter your water. Also, I believe to remove virus's, you need to filter. But if you get your water from a spring, I doubt that any of those bugs will be in the water.

09-02-2003, 11:38
Tumbling Run Shelter had a paper posted on purifying based on new research reported in Boston Globe recently. Apparently most bacteria are in the biofilm--a layer of bacteria on the water surface and in the settled detritus or scum. You lower your risk by a huge factor if you use flowing water below the surface and don't let the neck of your water bottle hover on the surface. As I remember, the article suggests that lack of proper handwashing/sanitation may be more problematic than the water source, if biofilm is avoided. I still use Acqua Mira, but I'm less concerned than I used to be.

09-02-2003, 19:10
Problem is up here in northern NJ and southeastern NY you never know what is upstream of where you are taking your water from.
Someone might be using the stream as a toilet. Never seen that myself, but I've heard that it does happen from time to time.

I was once forced to take water that smelled really bad from a stagnant pool in Harriman Park NY. I used my Pur Explorer, AND boiled the water (a needless process from what I have read).
It still smelled bad, but I didn't get sick from it.
It was peace of mind to boil in addition to filter. Normally I won't go that far, especially with as good a filter as the Explorer.

09-02-2003, 21:08
Good point. And if a hundred hands are dipping out of a spring, it won't be only the natural biofilm that lingers on the surface.

09-03-2003, 12:47
I would never drink water from a stagnant source... even if i did filter. I never carried more than a quart or two at a time. I always found water from good sources... Never had that issue...


warren doyle
09-10-2003, 10:53
26,000 miles walking on the AT - I do not filter or purify my water. I use my common sense (which is free) and my $2.50 Sierra cup.
Water is part of me - why should I fear what is part of myself?
But then again, I was one of the few who didn't believe that the Communists were going to take over the world; and one of the few who believed that the multi-national corporations would. I feel comfortable in what I should be afraid of and not afraid of. Water on the AT (in most places) is in the latter category.

Jack Tarlin
09-11-2003, 14:52
Mr. Doyle has left out a few things. Most folks don't have 26,000 trail miles. Most folks, at least at the start of their trips, don't have enough backwoods background to properly decide what is and what isn't safe water. It's not merely a matter of "common sense"; there's more to it than that.

I think it's better to err on the side of caution, at least at the beginning of your thru-hike. (Another point is that the Trail is extremely crowded in the early days, and many of these folks know little or nothing about Leave No Trace principles, especially regarding water safety. I assure you I've seen people do things in Georgia and North Carolina water sources and springs that'd curdle your blood; there are some water sources in the early days that will absolutely make you sick if drunk untreated).

In short, I think encouraging folks to drink all their water straight is reckless, irresponsible, and is bad advice. I note that elsewhere on Whiteblaze Mr. Doyle was ardently defending the $300 cost of his thru-hiking Institute, claiming that the information was valuable, and that the price compared favorably with Nols, Outward Bound, or A.M.C. workshops. I must say that if telling thousands of folks that they should drink all their water straight is an example of his trail wisdom, then I think people can do better things with $300.00 For starters, they might want to spend some of it on a cheap, reliable, water purification system.

Lone Wolf
09-11-2003, 14:59
Your total dislike for Warren is showing. If thousands of future thru-hike wannabes take one man's advice, they gotta be pretty dumb to start with. Go back and read his post. He encourages NOBODY to drink water straight. It works for HIM.

Jack Tarlin
09-11-2003, 15:14
Quite right, Wolf. It works for him. But I don't think it'll work well for others, at least not at the start of their trips. Most folks don't know enough in the beginning to make these sorts of judgments, and I think it's better to err on the side of caution, at least at the outset of their trips.

And as for re-reading his post, I note that he also sagely writes: "Water is a part of me---why should I fear what is part of myself?" Well, every human body also contains arsenic, but that doesn't mean I wanna ingest more of it every day. Nobody is talking about fearing water here; we're merely talking about what is sensible and wise.

My post has little to do with my alleged dislike of Mr. Doyle. I am merely observing that comments like his, buttressed and re-inforced by his (yet again!) reminder of his trail mileage and expertise, are a dis-service to a lot of the prospective hikers. What works for him is clearly not advisable for everyone, and this is the point I was attempting to make.

09-11-2003, 15:38
It's a good point that Jack made, and one that had to be made. What about the poor person who takes this advice, drinks from a source that is contaminated, and then gets crypto. It can happen, that's for sure. Warren can say "Hey, I said I used MY common sense, not yours" but that person now has a thruhike that is ruined, and a thruhike is a terrible thing to waste. Now, there's no promise that the person wouldn't have gotten crypto even with a filter, but at least he had a fighting chance. And Jack wasn't the one that gave him the advice to not fear something that is a part of themselves.

Me, I now purify all my water with aquamira. It's cheap (relatively), it's light, the hassle is small, and the payoff is big. Getting to do a thruhike is a once in a lifetime chance. Why roll the dice with you water treatment methods? For warren the cost of getting sick is a lot lower, since it isn't a once in a lifetime chance.

Also, wash your hands before eating ANYTHING! Or picking your nose :)

Gravity Man

Lone Wolf
09-11-2003, 15:51
Gee I wonder what Earl Shaffer and anyone else before the internet, did to purify water?

09-11-2003, 16:25
At least the young babies did. They just got the runs, were sick, and if they didn't get better, they died. Well, that was normal folk. Not super-hikers.
What do people in Mexico do? They just live with it. Heck, most people don't even know they got it since they show no symptoms... Like you, L.W.

That's part of the reason we have longer life expectancies - better knowledge of what makes us sick, and keeping it away from us.

Gravity Man

09-12-2003, 01:18
Truthfully who gives a rat's ass what anyone else thinks. I've met both Warren and Jack and think they are both eccentric but very intellligent people. I personally am not going to take the word of anyone about anything regardless of how many miles he or she may have hiked on the A.T. I don't filter or use iodine drops. Is this because someone else has said its not necessary? Hell no. I havent filtered water since I was 12 and doing camping trips with the boy scouts. Filtering I think is about peace of mind. If you want to do it knock yourself out, if not who gives a ****. The only person you have to answer to when it's all said and done is yourself anyways. As for L. wolf's assesment that Warren enocourages NOBODY to drink water straight, maybe i read the wrong post because i didnt pick that one up. Warren mentions he doesnt treat his water but he never mentioned anything about what he feels ANYONE OR NOBODY should do.

warren doyle
09-12-2003, 10:43
The question in this forum was "filter or purify?". I gave an answer. I speak for only myself. I have stated in public many times that I consider myself way off 'the normal bell curve' when it comes to MY practices of water, food and equipment while hiking. I will state it again on this info superhighway.
I hear many people saying to 'hike your own hike'. I wish this was reflected in their reactions/responses.

Matt Pincham
09-15-2003, 07:59
This Warren chap sounds pretty clued up. Sounds like a clever guy even if a bit arrogant (rather like myself) ;)
I will probably use Iodine on the trail as opposed to a filter, but to be honest I'm not afraid of drinking water without any treatment if I have to.
At the end of the day...if it's good enough for the animals, it's good enough for me.

09-15-2003, 09:16
Parasites are good enough for animals...

09-15-2003, 10:52
The sad thing is that on trail, you will get a lot of pressure to drink it raw, or with bleach, or something, if you filter. It's pretty much a constant topic of conversation, and each person thinks their way is 100% right. We got swayed into the don't treat options. I'm even guilt of pressuring a little bit when I saw people treating water that came right out of a pipe from the ground.

So, I would like to say to everyone that reads this, at least on trail, try not to pressure people on way or another. Answers questions if asked, but don't tell someone "Why are you filtering? That is SO much work!" Respect their decision, and let them do it.

Gravity Man