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View Full Version : Water filtration: UV vs. CHEMICALS vs. FILTER



gcobb1990
08-02-2009, 14:31
UV PEN: Steripen Adventurer:
Filters: 16 ounces in 48 seconds (good)- 2
Weight: 110 g/ 4 ounces(good)- 2
Volume of H2O/ battery: 58 liters (worst) -1
KILLS: EVERYTHING (best) - 3
Taste: does not affect taste of dirty or clean water (worst) -1
Retail cost/ 1000 Liters: ~$180 (worst) -1
Pack Space required: good -2
Use with: small bottles with wide mouths (not bags) (worst)-1
Simplicity: good - 2
Maintenance: Little (good) - 2
Pre-filter? murky water (good) - 2

PUMP FILTER: MSR Hyperflow
Filters: 3 liter/ minute (best)- 3
Weight: 209 g/ 7.4 ounces (worst)- 1
Volume of H2O/ filter: 1000 liters (best) - 3
KILLS: Bacteria and protozoa (everything on the AT) (good)-2
Taste: enhances taste of dirty water and does not harm taste of clean water (best) - 3
Retail cost/ 1000 Liters: $100.00 (best) - 3
Pack Space required: Worst - 1
Use with: wide mouth bottles or bags (or improvise) (good) -2
Simplicity: worst - 1
Maintenence: More (worst) - 1
Pre-filter? Not required (best)- 3


CHEMICAL: AQUAMIRA

Filters: Infinite Q of H2O in 30 minutes (worst) -1
Weight: ~85 grams/ 3 ounes (best) -3
Volume of H2O/ container of drops: 120 liters (good) -2
KILLS: Bacteria and protozoa (everything on the AT) (good)- 2
Taste: enhances taste of dirty water and does not harm taste of clean water (good) - 2
Retail cost/ 1000 Liters: $125.00 (good) - 2
Pack Space required: best - 3
Use with: Any water container (best) - 3
Simplicity: Best - 3
Maintenence: none (best) - 3
Pre-filter? murky water (good)- 2

Conclusion: If you are going to Mexico, take the steripen. If you are a weight-freak, take aquamira. If you are afraid of getting sunburn, don't take the steripen (just kidding...). If you are cheap, take the filter. If you can't ro don't want to resupply, take the filter.

If you are none of those things, by my rating system

RESULTS:

UV: 19
Filter: 23
Chemical: 26

brooklynkayak
08-03-2009, 09:45
You might want to consider taking two different items. Steripen electronics can fail, Aquamira can leak and filers can crack.

I use the Aquamira Frontier Pro in gravity feed configuration with Aquamira drops as backup or if the water quality is a bit scary, I use both.
The combination makes for a very reliable water purification system and weighs only a few ounces.

Jonnycat
08-05-2009, 23:02
PUMP FILTER: MSR Hyperflow
Weight: 209 g/ 7.4 ounces (worst)- 1


Hmmm, if that number is accurate, it is five ounces lighter than my Hiker. Hiker goes down to 0.3 micron, while the Hyperflow goes down to 0.2 micron.

I don't like the outlet though, my Hiker uses a hose which adapts to my platy bottles.

But hmmmm, cutting five ounces is a chunk of change, even though its a hundred bucks.

Hmmmm.....

Strategic
08-06-2009, 11:17
My gravity filter system is now down to just over 5oz with a Sawyer "Just Drink" filter element. It has all the advantages of a pump filter without some of the drawbacks (like weight.) The Sawyer element itself is a beautiful device; it was the first of the new hollow fiber elements and still has a pretty good lead on the competition. It filters down to 0.1 microns, which gives it a full 7 and 6 log rating by the EPA standards, sufficient for any bacteria or cyst. If I ever need to take it where viruses are a problem, they also have a full scale purifier element that filters down to 5.5 log, or 0.02 microns (and no, that's not a typo.) At that rating, you could damn near filter safely from a cesspool.

Summit
08-06-2009, 12:22
As with any analysis of data, you can make the data say what you want the outcome to be, and you set yourself up to be picked apart! :eek:

I'll do a little gentle picking:

Steripen Adventurer price is way off - http://www.rei.com/product/750366

Also, a Steripen can last up to 5,000 liters with only battery replacement costs, whereas if you add up that much chemical treatment or several ceramic filter replacements (almost the cost of a whole new one), the Steripen is BY FAR the cheapest total cost of ownership.

Simplicity: Giving the chemical treatment the gold medal here is very biased - to the mere mechanics of treating. If I were to say waiting 30 minutes or more to take a drink when I'm extremely thirsty, and then having water that isn't as cold to enjoy on a hot day, vs. chugging away on good cold water within two minutes of dropping my pack with a Steripen . . . well, I'd have to rearrange your points again.

Taste: What if one prefers water to taste natural, not enhanced? Did you just decide for all of us what is "preferred?" I don't want the taste of good cold mountain stream water altered at all. Rearranging points again!

As you can see, I manipulated the data and assumptions to make my candidate the winner! :D :p

Berserker
08-06-2009, 13:13
Hmmm, if that number is accurate, it is five ounces lighter than my Hiker. Hiker goes down to 0.3 micron, while the Hyperflow goes down to 0.2 micron.

I don't like the outlet though, my Hiker uses a hose which adapts to my platy bottles.

But hmmmm, cutting five ounces is a chunk of change, even though its a hundred bucks.

Hmmmm.....
My Hyperflow packed up with everything in the sack it comes in minus the bottle adapter weighs 8.64 oz dry. As for pumping water into a platy, the end of the filter that the clean water comes out of press fits into the the platy bottle opening. It's actually quite convenient, and gets rid of the need for an outlet hose. There is a small fitting on the outlet that you could push a hose onto if you wanted to use one though.

I also have a Hiker, and the speed of the Hyperflow blows it away. If you get a Hyperflow keep the hiker though because you'll need it in cold weather (per the manufacturer the Hyperflow should not be frozen...so you need another filter when it's cold).

Mags
08-06-2009, 13:25
Chemicals are best for people who treat their water on occasion (or rarely).

If you regularly treat water, esp over the long haul, other methods may be better.

(Not looking to get in a debate about treatment....just stating why chemicals may be a better fit for certain hiking styles).

gcobb1990
08-06-2009, 15:14
As with any analysis of data, you can make the data say what you want the outcome to be, and you set yourself up to be picked apart! :eek:

I'll do a little gentle picking:

Steripen Adventurer price is way off - http://www.rei.com/product/750366

Also, a Steripen can last up to 5,000 liters with only battery replacement costs, whereas if you add up that much chemical treatment or several ceramic filter replacements (almost the cost of a whole new one), the Steripen is BY FAR the cheapest total cost of ownership.

Simplicity: Giving the chemical treatment the gold medal here is very biased - to the mere mechanics of treating. If I were to say waiting 30 minutes or more to take a drink when I'm extremely thirsty, and then having water that isn't as cold to enjoy on a hot day, vs. chugging away on good cold water within two minutes of dropping my pack with a Steripen . . . well, I'd have to rearrange your points again.

Taste: What if one prefers water to taste natural, not enhanced? Did you just decide for all of us what is "preferred?" I don't want the taste of good cold mountain stream water altered at all. Rearranging points again!

As you can see, I manipulated the data and assumptions to make my candidate the winner! :D :p

this is exactly what i hoped for actually! as for any biases, i can actually say that I am not. I knew nothing about any of these water treatment options before this research! haha I just pointed to what the data and numbers showed but you're right, taste is subjective. And as for the UV pen numbers: I did the cost with all the battery replacements. And I know that the actual object lasts a great amount of time- I was just in essence doing how long it would last until something needs to be replaced- i.e. battery, filter, or the whole thing in the case of the drops. And as for a candidate- I am looking for one, thats why I did the research and posted this so you guys could help me decide. Thanks for your help!

gcobb1990
08-06-2009, 15:17
Chemicals are best for people who treat their water on occasion (or rarely).

If you regularly treat water, esp over the long haul, other methods may be better.

(Not looking to get in a debate about treatment....just stating why chemicals may be a better fit for certain hiking styles).

Aw come on man! debating is how we realize who is truly right! You gotta help me get it right on the first time. I dont want to realize on the first few days of my thru hike that i'm carrying the wrong gear

Mags
08-06-2009, 15:37
Aw come on man! debating is how we realize who is truly right! You gotta help me get it right on the first time. I dont want to realize on the first few days of my thru hike that i'm carrying the wrong gear

The first lesson, and one to learn for all gear choices: There is no best gear.

It all depends on what works for you and your hiking style.

Light and minimalist? Rarely treat water? Then go with chemicals

Prefer not to trust electronics or batteries? Want an older technology that is proven? Want an easy way to deal with "floaties"? Go with a filter

Like high-tech? Want the overall fastest treatment method? Want even less futz than chemicals? Go with a steripen

Despite what others may tell you, there is no best of any gear. Certain people have found gear that works for their hiking style, budget and personal tastes. That does not mean that gear is the best by any stretch. :) So tell us more about your hiking style and preference.

I'm a minimalist who rarely treats water so chemicals work for me. (Search on the myriad debates about water treatment. Some people treat everything regardless of the sources. Some people treat nothing regardless of the source. :) Most people are somewhere in between the spectrum.)

brooklynkayak
08-06-2009, 15:43
Taste: What if one prefers water to taste natural, not enhanced? Did you just decide for all of us what is "preferred?" I don't want the taste of good cold mountain stream water altered at all. Rearranging points again!

I do carry a small light filter (Aquamira Frontier Pro) for those occasions when I wouldn't like the taste of the water. We don't always have clear mountain streams as our water source. Sometimes they are a still putrid pool, a stream running through a forest fire area, stagnant wells with iron or sulfur taste, ...

If you only filter when needed, you can get by on a frontier pro (2 oz.). If you have a clear stream as your source, just use the UV or chemicals.

Summit
08-06-2009, 18:27
this is exactly what i hoped for actually! as for any biases, i can actually say that I am not. I knew nothing about any of these water treatment options before this research! haha I just pointed to what the data and numbers showed but you're right, taste is subjective. And as for the UV pen numbers: I did the cost with all the battery replacements. And I know that the actual object lasts a great amount of time- I was just in essence doing how long it would last until something needs to be replaced- i.e. battery, filter, or the whole thing in the case of the drops. And as for a candidate- I am looking for one, thats why I did the research and posted this so you guys could help me decide. Thanks for your help!That's cool. :cool: Here's another category that your "Simplicity" one touched at but didn't quite hit the mark (I think) of what's really important: CONVENIENCE

And like Mags said, the Steripen wins hands down in that department, which is a lot weightier than some of the others.

For instance, you can zap a 1/2 liter in 45 seconds. Assuming you have a cargo pants pocket for your Steripen and your water bottle reachable without having to remove your pack, you can scoop and zap a cold nice drink at any and every (if you want) stream you come to, while barely breaking stride/pace. Try that with a filter or wait 30 minutes each time with chemicals.

No freezing water issues with a Steripen like filter users have to contend with. I've heard that even if a frozen ceramic cartridge doesn't crack, it may become ineffective without the user even knowing it.

I think discussions like these are more valuable than numbers and rating systems, but I applaud your start to this thread and eagerness to learn.

MikenSalem
08-06-2009, 22:11
ya ya ya The sawyer bottle is instant, dip and drink. Thats is as cold and fast as it gets short of using nothing. The Steripen batteries can fail in cold weather as easily as the filter freeze up on any filter. It's also susceptible to being dropped by numb fingers and thats "lights out" for the pen. The same fix works on both for freezing in winter, keep them inside your coat. As far as any filter media cracking the Steripen's light that actually does the work - I think the human eye can't detect it something about the "ultra" word. Aquamira drops work fine, if you've pushed it so far you can't wait it's your own fault.
All that said the purpose of debate is not to be correct but to win, ask my kids :{D
Debate aside I with Mags and the rest of you. There's allot of freedom allowed by all the cool products to fit anybodies hiking style and personal preference. Used properly "Crapus explodus" should be limited to the results of eating cashews and pickled eggs..

Summit
08-06-2009, 22:29
Only objection, MikenSalem, is that lithium batteries work very well and keep their charge in very cold weather. My Steripen worked fine last April in 15* weather. Fragility is a risk with a Steripen. I wouldn't recommend one for someone who is hard on stuff, like my son. For him and others like him, I'd recommend Aquamira, protected from breaking in a heavy duty military ammo can! :eek: :D :p

MikenSalem
08-06-2009, 22:44
I use the Aquamira more than anything. As long as you don't overdose the water it's pretty good. If you do you'll have the driest water on the planet. The weight is nothing and with the filter bottle I can drink while I wait. I'm with you though Summit, nothing matches a cold drink of water and I've eye'd the Steripen Adventurer. Lithium batteries:-?

Tinker
08-06-2009, 22:51
First Need or boil, the second especially in the winter when most filters fail due to icing up.
As I've stated before, many lowland streams and ponds along the AT are polluted with agricultural runoff (pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers) along with other chemicals. The First Need removes many organic chemical compounds. Most filters don't. No chemical or uv treatment does.

gcobb1990
08-06-2009, 23:57
Huh! I'm definitely a minimalist. I did all my run training barefoot for six months :) I picked the osprey exos over the atmos. I chose a down bag.

And I've been known to break stuff...that's why i went with the decagon alcohol stove: SIMPLICITY+ DURABILITY! it looks to me like my original point scoring system has worked for me!

Now talk which chemical! Is aquamira the best? I can't find anything saying there is something wrong with it...

Maddog
08-07-2009, 04:02
i use the steripen for cold, fresh water while i'm hiking and chlorine dioxide tablets for over-night purification! always have a back-up!!!

Summit
08-07-2009, 07:03
I have dropped my Steripen three times. Luckily each time it hit dirt and not rock. So it's not as fragile as a light bulb with a filament that will likely break on any drop. From my experience the Steripen will take drops better than you might think, but there is a risk for sure, just like there's a risk a tree limb will fall and rip a hole in your tent.

Snowleopard
08-07-2009, 10:01
Huh! I'm definitely a minimalist.
...
Now talk which chemical! Is aquamira the best? I can't find anything saying there is something wrong with it...
From my reading:
For cryptosporidium, use filters or boiling.
Aquamira requires 4 hours for giardia.
Iodine takes much less time for giardia (depending on pH); acidic water can take a long time.
Both do well on bacteria and viruses in a reasonable time.
Filters do well on giardia and crypto, some filters do OK on bacteria, some filters don't work on bacteria (serious deficiency).
Boiling for 1 minute is reliable on giardia, crypto, bacteria and virus. Above 2000 meters (6,562 feet) boil for 3 minutes.

From the CDC:

Protozoa - Cryptosporidium

Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute) has a very high effectiveness in killing Cryptosporidium;
Filtration has a high effectiveness in removing Cryptosporidium when using an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated "cyst reduction / removal" filter);
Disinfection with iodine or chlorine is not effective in killing Cryptosporidium;
Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Cryptosporidium;
Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing and killing Cryptosporidium when used with chlorine dioxide and an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated "cyst reduction / removal" filter).


Protozoa - Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia)
...
Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute) has a very high effectiveness in killing Giardia;
Filtration has a high effectiveness in removing Giardia when using an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated "cyst reduction / removal" filter);
Disinfection with iodine or chlorine has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Giardia;
Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a high effectiveness in killing Giardia;
Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing and killing Giardia when used with chlorine dioxide and an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated "cyst reduction / removal" filter).


Viruses - (e.g., enterovirus, hepatitis A, norovirus, rotavirus)

Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute minimum) has a very high effectiveness in killing viruses;
Filtration is not effective in removing viruses;

Disinfection has a high effectiveness in killing viruses when used with iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide.



Bacteria - (e.g., Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli)
...
Boiling (Rolling boil for 1 minute) has a very high effectiveness in killing bacteria;
Filtration has a moderate effectiveness in removing bacteria when using an absolute less than or equal to 0.3 micron filter;
Disinfection with iodine or chlorine has a high effectiveness in killing bacteria;
Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a high effectiveness in killing bacteria;
Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing and killing bacteria when used with iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide and an absolute less than or equal to 0.3 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated "cyst reduction / removal" filter).


Ultraviolet Light (UV Light) can be used as a pathogen reduction method against some microorganisms. The technology requires effective prefiltering due to its dependence on low water turbidity (cloudiness), the correct power delivery, and correct contact times to achieve maximum pathogen reduction. UV might be an effective method in pathogen reduction in backcountry water; there is a lack of independent testing data available on specific systems. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.
MIOX® systems use a salt solution to create mixed oxidants, primarily chlorine. Chlorine has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Giardia, and a high effectiveness in killing bacteria and viruses. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.


http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/backcountry_water_treatment.html

Strategic
08-07-2009, 10:06
Sorry Summit, but it's now my turn to pick a few bones that you've thrown out here.:D

Seriously, though, you're mischaracterizing the new ceramic filter elements, especially the Sawyer's. First, they can and do last a heck of a lot longer than 5000 liters. Sawyer now has a million gallon guarantee on their elements, so at about $45 for one that's a lot cheaper than any other method, including the Steripen (over that same lifetime you'd need about 600 Steripens, not including the batteries.)

Second, my Sawyer gravity setup filters at about twice the rate of a Steripen, just under three liters a minute (and with no pumping, of course.) It does that into any bladder, bottle or waterbag I care to use, too.

Third, it's not nearly so susceptible to freezing as rumor and fear make it. Simply put, if you don't have sense enough to drain it out for about 10 or 20 seconds after you're done filtering (a quick spin-dry does the trick) then it might freeze up on you. Otherwise, it will work just fine in anything but sub-zero weather, when you're unlikely to be finding unfrozen water in any case.

Now don't get me wrong, I think the Steripen is a neat device and performs it's function very well for a good weight. But it doesn't help others to run down other methods that also work well by mischaracterizing them. I love my filter, but the only treatment method I argue against is none at all, because I think it a foolish risk and don't want to let the cavalier attitude of some to water-bourn disease lead newbies astray (and into a nice Giardia infection :D)

Snowleopard
08-07-2009, 10:24
I wanted to keep opinion separate from the facts in my post from the CDC.
My opinion on Aquamira from reading their website and other information:
Aquamira's website seems dishonest to me. Perhaps their packaging gives clear information on what their products are good for and clear instructions on how to use them, but their website does not. They put a lot of words on their site but don't state basic specifications.

Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide uses the same chlorine dioxide that Aquamira uses. Potable Aqua states it takes 4 hours treatment time on their package. This seems more honest to me than Aquamira's information.

Aquamira filters: The Aquamira Frontier Pro filter is a nice design. They say it filters out 99.9% of giardia and cryptosporidium. This is actually not all that good. They do not mention bacteria. Presumably, this means that it does not filter out bacteria.

Sawyer says about their 0.1 micron filter:

removes 7 log (99.99999%) of all bacteria like salmonella, cholera, and E. coli. And 6 log (99.9999%) of all Protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. You will find these removal rates to equal or exceed competitive options. EPA guidelines allow ten times more Protozoa left in the water than we allow.

Fiddleback
08-07-2009, 10:57
Aquamira filters: The Aquamira Frontier Pro filter is a nice design. They say it filters out 99.9% of giardia and cryptosporidium. This is actually not all that good. They do not mention bacteria. Presumably, this means that it does not filter out bacteria.


But that filter rate is as good as it gets for those two buggies and it's doubtful there are filters that claim higher filtration rates (more decimal points not withstanding). No one will/should claim 100% filtration of anything if for no other reason than measuring/evaluation accuracy can't verify such.

Filtration is all about size. Giardia cysts run about 8-14 microns, crypto about 4-6. Bacteria, most of which are not harmful and not necessarily found in water, run .1 - 600 microns. I've read that Aquamira Filter "removes other contaminants down to 3 microns." I don't know what percentage of the bacteria world that is or what percentage of the harmful bacteria that is. Anyone?

Now, the question is, what percentage of other available filters do better? For comparison, the MSR Sweetwater filter pore size is .2 micron and that filter is claimed to filter 99.99999% of "waterborne bacteria" and 99.9% of protozoan parasites (giardia and crypto)...

FB

Cannibal
08-07-2009, 11:36
Sawyer now has a million gallon guarantee on their elements, so at about $45 for one that's a lot cheaper than any other method, including the Steripen (over that same lifetime you'd need about 600 Steripens, not including the batteries.)
Why would you need to replace the SteriPen 600 times? I bought my SteriPen in early 07 and have hiked pretty solid since then. I have no idea how many treatments I've used the SP for, but I'm certain it's in the thousands now. Batteries sure, but the whole unit? Why? :confused:

Summit
08-07-2009, 12:40
Sorry Summit, but it's now my turn to pick a few bones that you've thrown out here.:D

Seriously, though, you're mischaracterizing the new ceramic filter elements, especially the Sawyer's. First, they can and do last a heck of a lot longer than 5000 liters. Sawyer now has a million gallon guarantee on their elements, so at about $45 for one that's a lot cheaper than any other method, including the Steripen (over that same lifetime you'd need about 600 Steripens, not including the batteries.)

Second, my Sawyer gravity setup filters at about twice the rate of a Steripen, just under three liters a minute (and with no pumping, of course.) It does that into any bladder, bottle or waterbag I care to use, too.

Third, it's not nearly so susceptible to freezing as rumor and fear make it. Simply put, if you don't have sense enough to drain it out for about 10 or 20 seconds after you're done filtering (a quick spin-dry does the trick) then it might freeze up on you. Otherwise, it will work just fine in anything but sub-zero weather, when you're unlikely to be finding unfrozen water in any case.

Now don't get me wrong, I think the Steripen is a neat device and performs it's function very well for a good weight. But it doesn't help others to run down other methods that also work well by mischaracterizing them. I love my filter, but the only treatment method I argue against is none at all, because I think it a foolish risk and don't want to let the cavalier attitude of some to water-bourn disease lead newbies astray (and into a nice Giardia infection :D)First, my comments were toward the traditional pump filters. Was not familiar with Sawyers systems.

Second, I think we're getting into semantics when saying my 5000 use or your 1 million use. Really, is either one of those likely to be breached for most hikers. Plus, something newer and better will come along long before one could get there, so let's just say both are "buy once and forget it!"

Lastly, I wasn't "running down" other methods, just telling it like I see or have experienced them. Some may want to draw upon my experience while others may want to find out for themselves, which is OK with me either way! :)

Advice given here on WB should be treated like a visit to the grocery store . . . take/buy what you want and leave on the shelf what you don't want! ;)

Summit
08-07-2009, 15:32
Why would you need to replace the SteriPen 600 times? :confused:In the event you should live to be 14,376 years of age! :D :p

brooklynkayak
08-07-2009, 19:20
From my reading:
For cryptosporidium, use filters or boiling.
Aquamira requires 4 hours for giardia.


One reason why I use the Frontier pro and Aquamira drops combination.

The chemicals tend to work better and faster on the smaller critters, while the Frontier pro filters out the bigger ones. So since I don't need to wait for the chemical to kill the big critters, I only have to wait 20 or 30 minutes before filtering.

Also, because the frontier pro has activated carbon it removes most of the chemical taste.

The combination weighs about 4oz.

I have heard that UV methods have problems with suspended particles requiring that water be carefully pre-filtered if the source is murky.

I guess there is no perfect solution:(

I wonder about using the Frontier Pro with UV method?

Mags
08-07-2009, 19:39
Some of you folks should look into this possible career path. (http://www.us-army-info.com/pages/mos/quartermaster/77w.html).. :)

Summit
08-07-2009, 20:59
Some of you folks should look into this possible career path. (http://www.us-army-info.com/pages/mos/quartermaster/77w.html).. :)Thanks for the suggestion, but I've done my time, got a 20 year retirement from the AF, that's enough! :)

Summit
08-07-2009, 21:05
I have heard that UV methods have problems with suspended particles requiring that water be carefully pre-filtered if the source is murky.
Let me pose this question . . . how often is the only available source of water on the AT "murky?" Been hiking in and around the AT and other parts of the world for 36 years and only a hand full of murky water situations. Boil your water on the rare occasions that happens.

Hoop Time
08-07-2009, 22:49
I just bought a Steripen and took it for a walk two weeks ago. I absolutely loved it. It is light in weight, fast, convenient and easy. I use a piece of pantyhose to filter any floaties, zap it 45 seconds and drink, with no chemical after taste.

Just to clarify, btw, I think the original post said Steripen only works with wide mouth bottles. Not true. I like to carry a 16.9 oz water bottle to mix individual drink packets in and it works fine with those. In fact, I think it was easier with the smaller opening on those than on the wider mouth of a Gatorade bottle because it will seal tightly allowing you to turn the bottle upside down to swirl the water while treating.

gcobb1990
08-08-2009, 12:20
Yikes. I am back to having no idea what to use...haha thanks guys we're back-tracking!

Hoop Time
08-08-2009, 13:47
Yikes. I am back to having no idea what to use...haha thanks guys we're back-tracking!


I posted a similar query a few weeks back, and got the same range of responses, so I know how you might feel at this point.

I think the bottom line is that all methods work. Which is right for you comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. Is treatment time more effective than weight? What weather conditions might you encounter and how might that effect your chosen method? etc., etc., etc.

Doctari
08-08-2009, 14:50
I treat so rarely as to qualify as "Never treat" but on the long hikes I do carry PA Plus "just in case". And indeed, last trip [18 days hiking] the PA Plus was just extra weight as it never came out of my pack. I'll still carry it, but, , ,

When I did treat: I always hated the time I had to spend pumping with a filter. The Steri Pen seems to be a questionable "Whiz Bang" thing. I do get a kick out of watching the chemical reaction when I add the nutralizer to the iodine in the PA Plus. :D

BrianLe
08-09-2009, 12:42
Just catching up on this thread; a couple of days ago Snowleopard was comparing Aqua Mira's website to what Potable Aqua says about their Chlorine Dioxide tablets. I don't recall which thread or site I read this on, but someone checked the seemingly equivalent Micropur tablets --- which also say 4 hour treat time --- and was told by the company that the 4 hour wait time was specified to pass federal standards for the worst conditions. So indeed, if I need to treat really mirky water that's really cold, I would (after prefiltering via bandana or whatever) wait 4 hours with Aqua Mira too --- indeed, it's the same chemical. But I almost never encounter water that mirky, so I feel comfortable waiting 1/2 hour in normal situations (for me that's clear but quite cold water).

As a side note, I hadn't been aware that Potable Aqua sells chlorine dioxide tablets too, as they're so well known for the iodine tablets. Like the Micropur equivalents, however, I don't understand why anyone would buy these given that Aqua Mira liquid costs about 12 cents per treated liter and Potable Aqua tablets are almost 5x that cost at 50 cents per liter; I believe the Micropur tablets are similar in cost.

The one thing I like about the tablets is that I can keep one or two in a day-hike emergency kit and maybe also as backup for my Aqua Mira --- it's possible to misjudge how much is left in the little bottles before a trip. But one can buy micro bottles at BPL and repackage Aqua Mira if a smaller/lighter amount is desired.

scope
08-09-2009, 13:18
Let me pose this question . . . how often is the only available source of water on the AT "murky?"

How about when it rains... and how often is that? :-?

I tend to carry more water, so the filter works for me since I can get a large quantity done when needed, and like you, I don't want to mess with the taste of spring water, so I'm not fond of chems.

I'd like to see how the Steripen performs sometime, but in making a purchase choice, I went with the filter based on a similar sort of analysis to what the thread originator did. As I try to get smaller and lighter, the Steripen gets more and more attractive.

I think Mags is right, its all about hiking style and what fits for your style. Fact is that you make the best decision you can now and then you still might have to make a subsequent purchase later for something that's a better fit. That's been my experience with almost all of my gear. Even after looking at all the back and forth that goes on here at WB when a certain piece of gear is "discussed". :rolleyes:

Rocket Jones
08-09-2009, 13:28
It looks as if everyone selects one type of system and that's it. As an inexperienced LD hiker, is it necessary to carry a backup? For instance, a Steripen and tablets for 'just in case'. Or tablets and a filter straw.

scope
08-09-2009, 13:39
It looks as if everyone selects one type of system and that's it. As an inexperienced LD hiker, is it necessary to carry a backup? For instance, a Steripen and tablets for 'just in case'. Or tablets and a filter straw.

Always the option to boil water if your primary system fails, assuming you're carrying a pot/stove.

Rocket Jones
08-09-2009, 16:01
Always the option to boil water if your primary system fails, assuming you're carrying a pot/stove.

Good point. That other thread about not being able to really boil water with the CAT stove takes on new meaning with this in mind.

Snowleopard
08-09-2009, 17:20
Just catching up on this thread; a couple of days ago Snowleopard was comparing Aqua Mira's website to what Potable Aqua says about their Chlorine Dioxide tablets. I don't recall which thread or site I read this on, but someone checked the seemingly equivalent Micropur tablets --- which also say 4 hour treat time --- and was told by the company that the 4 hour wait time was specified to pass federal standards for the worst conditions. So indeed, if I need to treat really mirky water that's really cold, I would (after prefiltering via bandana or whatever) wait 4 hours with Aqua Mira too --- indeed, it's the same chemical. But I almost never encounter water that mirky, so I feel comfortable waiting 1/2 hour in normal situations (for me that's clear but quite cold water).
For the old iodine tablets and iodine solutions there used to be charts on how long to treat the water depending on water temperature. For the chlorine dioxide treatment, I have no idea how long to treat and the vendors don't tell me. I suppose I could search the literature, but the vendor should give me that info.

Info I've read on another forum has said that Aquamira started selling tablets because a competitor MET 'federal standards' with tablets that supplied a higher concentration of chlorine dioxide. I've also read that the 4 hour is for giardia and cryptosporidium. I have no idea if either of those statements are true. From reliable info I've read (e.g., published articles in peer reviewed journals), it looks like both iodine and chlorine dioxide take a long time to treat for giardia or crypto.

What I've decided for now is to use a Sawyer 0.1 micron filter in a gravity filter arrangement plus one of the chemical treatments when I suspect the possibility of viruses. I'll also carry some tablets as a backup. The truth is that boiling is probably the most reliable method for those that cook with wood.

I'm not sure how small harmful bacteria present in water can get, but I've worked with images of bacteria that are 0.5 micron in diameter and 1 or 2 microns long. They not rigid mechanical objects, so it's plausible that one could get through a filter smaller than 0.5 micron, but probably not through a 0.1 micron filter.

Summit
08-09-2009, 19:03
How about when it rains... and how often is that? :-?Rain may make lower country streams run silty, but I never experience any problem on the AT ridges.

Fiddleback
08-09-2009, 19:18
Good point. That other thread about not being able to really boil water with the CAT stove takes on new meaning with this in mind.

You don't need to boil water to kill the bad buggies...depending upon ambient pressure, of course. Generally, bad buggies are killed at 160° and virtually all are dead at 185°. Boiling is merely a good visual clue that your water is hot enough to do the job...even at very high elevation.

My soda can stove will boil water if I burn additional fuel but I let it burn out short of that as the lesser amount of fuel suffices for reconstituting dehydrated food and presenting it piping hot...

FB

Rocket Jones
08-09-2009, 19:21
You don't need to boil water to kill the bad buggies...depending upon ambient pressure, of course. Generally, bad buggies are killed at 160° and virtually all are dead at 185°. Boiling is merely a good visual clue that your water is hot enough to do the job...even at very high elevation.

Good to know. Told ya I was inexperienced. This kind of information is priceless.

Based on what you said then, there really isn't any reason to boil water for 3 minutes or whatever other number you sometimes see. Just getting it to a boil should be sufficient.

Fiddleback
08-10-2009, 11:39
With the three-minute boil rule of thumb, you can't go wrong. It's simple, does the job and all it costs is fuel, time and pack weight.

Less than that requires that you know your water 'boiling' system very well, e.g., how hot does the water get for how long using the lesser amount of fuel. I ran lots of kitchen tests with my soda can stove and am confident about it's minimum performance. Still, there are many more variables on the trail such as ambient temps, water start-temps, air currents, elevation, etc., all of which affect performance and, ultimately, the peak water temp. But 'just getting the water to a boil' (and then holding the temp fairly high through the use of a cozzy) will kill the buggies. Personally, my water for meals is usually already treated anyhow, either from squeezing it out of a Bota filter bottle or from a chemical treatment.

Again, though, the three-minute boil is fool proof.

FB

brooklynkayak
08-10-2009, 11:56
Always the option to boil water if your primary system fails, assuming you're carrying a pot/stove.

Or as I almost always do when I chose to boil, I use found fuel. This may seem weird and backwards to many, but works very well;)

Snowleopard
08-10-2009, 12:36
Milford (Mass) has a boil order because of coliform bacteria in their water. This situation usually arises when too much rain causes untreated sewage to enter the water supply. Even along the AT this could happen when a home's septic system gets overwhelmed by too much water (ground gets saturated). In New England, this would usually be a problem at lower elevations where you may have a house higher up than where you draw your water.


With the three-minute boil rule of thumb, you can't go wrong. It's simple, does the job and all it costs is fuel, time and pack weight.

Less than that requires that you know your water 'boiling' system very well, e.g., how hot does the water get for how long using the lesser amount of fuel. I ran lots of kitchen tests with my soda can stove and am confident about it's minimum performance. Still, there are many more variables on the trail such as ambient temps, water start-temps, air currents, elevation, etc., all of which affect performance and, ultimately, the peak water temp. But 'just getting the water to a boil' (and then holding the temp fairly high through the use of a cozzy) will kill the buggies. Personally, my water for meals is usually already treated anyhow, either from squeezing it out of a Bota filter bottle or from a chemical treatment.

Again, though, the three-minute boil is fool proof.

FB

Fiddleback is right. Testing boil times for stoves turns out differently when you measure the temperature of the water. Often it'll look like it's starting to boil way before 212F (100C); it's probably dissolved gases coming out of solution. So, the safest thing to do is bring it to a rolling boil. Unless it's cold or you're at high elevation, letting it then sit for a minute or two is probably fine (CDC says 1 minute of boiling at low elevation).

scope
08-11-2009, 10:11
Rain may make lower country streams run silty, but I never experience any problem on the AT ridges.

My experience is mostly GA and southern NC. Not too many "streams" to pull from, mostly springs with small pools to dip from, or in my case, place a prefilter into to pump from. Most of these springs are on a hillside and they immediately cloud up from runoff with any thundershower or moderate rain. I could filter with a bandana or coffee filter, but I figure if I'm working to do that, I might as well have a real filter - one product one step.

Every time I pack the thing I wish I had something else (bulk & weight), but when I'm out there I'm usually glad I have it.

Summit
08-11-2009, 11:13
My experience is mostly GA and southern NC. Not too many "streams" to pull from, mostly springs with small pools to dip from, or in my case, place a prefilter into to pump from. Most of these springs are on a hillside and they immediately cloud up from runoff with any thundershower or moderate rain. I could filter with a bandana or coffee filter, but I figure if I'm working to do that, I might as well have a real filter - one product one step.

Every time I pack the thing I wish I had something else (bulk & weight), but when I'm out there I'm usually glad I have it.Strange, because my experience is pretty opposite, and I've been hiking N. GA and NC extensively for 36 years. Very, very rarely have I had any issues with drawing water and cloudy/silty water without a pump filter. Patience and picking the right spot from a spring or pool are key.

Three years ago I was beat when I got to Bly gap (October) and due to the drought, the normally reliable spring there was dry. Refusing the thought of having to hike more miles, I bushwhacked around the area of the spring and found a small but steady seeping of water off a rock. I fashioned a leaf to channel/collect the water and set a water bottle under it. It took about 15 minutes to collect a liter but I just checked it, dumped it into my collapsible jug, came back 15 minutes later and repeated until I had all the water I needed - over two gallons.

When the trail maintenance guy came by who had told me a few hours earlier there was no water at Bly Gap, I noticed his raised eyebrows when he eyeballed my full jug of water.

Other times I have had to dig out a spot to draw water, let it settle, and carefully draw my water a half cup at a time, sometimes taking 45 minutes to get enough water, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. In those rare times, yeah, I would like to have had a pump filter - would have gone much faster, but not worth carrying one for these rare occasions, when my Steripen is so fast and efficient 99% of the time.

gcobb1990
08-12-2009, 10:44
so i'm confused...are you a salesman for steripen? haha just messin. your constant reminder of the greatness referred to as the steripen has almost convinced me...

Christus Cowboy
08-12-2009, 11:30
No freezing water issues with a Steripen like filter users have to contend with. I've heard that even if a frozen ceramic cartridge doesn't crack, it may become ineffective without the user even knowing it. I think discussions like these are more valuable than numbers and rating systems, but I applaud your start to this thread and eagerness to learn.

Mags and Summit bring up good points..... I personally use an MSR Miniworks filter with iodine tablets as a backup... but I will say when Summit and I got hit with two days of snow and freezing temps in the Nantahala National Forest this past April, I was glad he brought his steripen.... I was unable to use my filter after the first day of our trip for this reason.

As Mags pointed out the options presented are often chosen on factors related to people's style of hiking and conditions in the field as well... A positive for one option may not lend itself to be that beneficial for a certain style of hiking while a negative for another style may be magnified depending on the conditions on the trail that you are on..... For example, when we went to the Nantahala National Forest where water sources were fairly free flowing the steripen was CONVENIENT and definitely the way to go.... However, a couple of years ago on a run from Carver's Gap to Hampton, TN where drought conditions where prevalent, most of my water sources were small puddles of water where the filter was more preferable.

Feral Bill
08-12-2009, 13:05
Filters: Heavy, can freeze and break, don't get viruses
Steripen: Needs clear water. breakage and battery issues
Boiling: Uses lots of fuel, takes forever to cool
Chlorine Dioxide: Long contact times for protists
No treatmrnt: You can get really sick

Summary: You can't win :(

Summit
08-12-2009, 18:33
Filters: Heavy, can freeze and break, don't get viruses
Steripen: Needs clear water. breakage and battery issues
Boiling: Uses lots of fuel, takes forever to cool
Chlorine Dioxide: Long contact times for protists
No treatmrnt: You can get really sick

Summary: You can't win :(Mountain stream water is 99% clear enough for Steripen, haven't broken mine in 3 years - about a dozen backpacking trips including 6 week-long ones, and have had zero battery issues. In fact I'm amazed at how long I can go on a set of 4-AAs (lithium). I almost feel guilty because it feels like I'm winning! :D :p

Snowleopard
08-12-2009, 19:18
Summary: You can't win :(
FeralBill, Congratulations, you've just rediscovered the first law of thermodynamics.
Laws of Thermodynamics:
1. You can't win.
2. You can't even break even.
3. You can't get out of the game.

gcobb1990
08-12-2009, 22:39
Drinking from springs and streams is winning. Getting sick is losing. I might have to buy a steripen...haha. After all your posts you may have convinced me. I'm somewhat broke right now though

gcobb1990
08-12-2009, 22:41
Drinking from a tap one's whole life is losing...meaning we are free and that is a win in my book!

Berserker
08-19-2009, 12:53
I'm not going to debate with the Steripen users because I have no personal experience using one. As a filter user I do want to point out that the filter is very convenient, and fairly quick to use. This was only briefly mentioned earlier, but as long as there is a tiny puddle the intake hose of the filter can be thrown in and you can go to town. There is no scooping up water, and messing around with coffee filters or whatever other "pre-filtering media" you choose to use to get rid of all the big stuff if using the Steripen or chemicals (assuming you want to get rid of the junk floating around in your water). The only downside is if you were to get into a lot of dirty water you likely would need a field maintainable filter (most filters are field maintainable by back flushing, scrubbing the filter element, etc.). Typically dirty (turbid) water does not appear to be an issue on the AT in my experience, but I have run into it in other areas like Southern Utah.

For the record I use a MSR Hyperflow and Aqua Mira…I’m paranoid.

David@whiteblaze
08-19-2009, 14:36
why not just buy a steripen for sub 40* daytime temps, send home when daytime temps reach 50-65* then, use method of choice, i will probably go w/ filter for versatility. If cold snap expected, carry the steripen for a few extra hundred miles, and be safe rather than dropping out from e. coli:(.

Jonnycat
08-19-2009, 15:12
I also have a Hiker, and the speed of the Hyperflow blows it away. If you get a Hyperflow keep the hiker though because you'll need it in cold weather (per the manufacturer the Hyperflow should not be frozen...so you need another filter when it's cold).

Ah, thanks Berserker, that all but rules it out for me then. This picture was what I woke up to Saturday
morning on a recent trip; there is unfortunately no such thing as "it won't freeze" in this part of the world! :)

http://i28.tinypic.com/ofsdw.jpg

David@whiteblaze
08-19-2009, 16:04
looks like u need some sun on those leaves...
:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:s un:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun :sun:sun:sun:sun:sun
I hope that's enough, remember, i do live in "the sunshine state" so theres plenty to go around:D.

Hikes in Rain
08-19-2009, 17:27
FeralBill, Congratulations, you've just rediscovered the first law of thermodynamics.
Laws of Thermodynamics:
1. You can't win.
2. You can't even break even.
3. You can't get out of the game.

Also the title and chorus of a song sung by the late Michael Jackson in a hideous musical called "The Wiz".

I like the definition for entropy:

If you have a hogshead of sewage and add a spoonful of wine, you have sewage.
If you have a hogshead of wine and add a spoonful of sewage, you have sewage.

We must have had the same Thermo instructor! :)

Jonnycat
08-19-2009, 18:36
looks like u need some sun on those leaves...
:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:sun:s un:sun:sun
I hope that's enough, remember, i do live in "the sunshine state" so theres plenty to go around:D.

Aye, thanks for that, David! The irony is that day turned out to be the warmest (and sunniest) of the lot.

Weather is funny like that. ;)