View Full Version : Filter suggestions for small/dirty water sources

11-21-2013, 14:50
I usually use AquaMira drops for my water treatment and on every trip I have ever taken they have worked out great. We are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon next year and I am concerned that the drops will not be such a great idea. There is very limited water there and often times the water source is a very shallow, soot filled puddle. It may be difficult to even get a jug into the water source without wasting the precious resource and then it may end up filled with stuff in the water. So I thought about purchasing a filter for the trip and my first instinct was to go with one of the sawyer squeeze models, but I think they still presents the same problem. Would I be better off with a standard filter type setup where I just need to get the intake below the water surface and then can pump the water out? Any suggestions? We will be off the main trails for 3 days so water is a concern for the trip and I just want to be prepared. Thanks.

11-21-2013, 15:35
When it comes to shallow water sources, I've had great success with the Sweetwater pump filter with the silt-stopper pre-filter. That's the setup I've used for years and had numerous situations where my water source was just a trickle on shallow ground. Worst case, I've only had to dig out a tiny-shallow bowl for the water to collect. About the only thing I've disliked with the Sweetwater is that the new ones come with a plastic 'sinker' with a screen filter. The plastic tends to try to float compared to the old Sweetwater filters that came with a metal sinker with screen filter (so I just use my old one the last time I bought a new filter). So worst case, you need two people to "easily" operate the Sweetwater (one to hold the intack 'sinker' in place, and one to pump).

I'm trying the sawyer squeeze, as it seems a lot quicker and easier when you're in a situation where you can easily fill a 'dirty water' bag.

But my last camping trip had a water source that was basically a stream of water coming out of the ground under a rock and simply running across the ground. There were no natural 'falls' to make it easy to fill a bag, and it took a while to try to partially fill the bag without digging out a big enough bowl in the ground and using some sort of cup to scoop the water up. For that situation, I would have rather had my sweetwater.

11-22-2013, 18:02
I've used the sawyer mainly as a gravity filter and it works great. But without moving water and a fall they can be a pain to fill. Moving them fast thru the water next to a lakeshore will usually bring up a lot of sediment. I always carry the backwash syringe. My next trip I will be taking a collaspable Pail I made of tyvek to let the sediment settle. I read once that alum could be used to speed the settling process of muddy colorado river water, is that an old wives tale?

11-22-2013, 20:10
I've hiked extensively in Grand Canyon NP during all four seasons. I don't think this - "very limited water there and often times the water source is a very shallow, soot filled puddle" is as common or problematic as you make it sound unless you get into more off trail routes/hiking. Particularly, I don't think that aptly describes the water sources on the corridor trails. However, even when obtaining water at seeps or shallow dank "puddles" I still don't see that huge a problem obtaining water. Many of the more popular known seeps, such as on the Tonto Tr, are already scooped out creating a deeper depression to scoop water from. Also, if you briefly explore uphill/downhill of where the trail crosses likely or noted water sources you'll have a better chance of locating deeper pools of water in some incidences. I "scoop" water with a Platypus 2.4 L back up reservoir, a Nalgene type bottle, or I break out my Snow Peak Mini Solo pot or the Solo cup(if I have it with me) and scoop water that way. Even if you do find a seep that isn't already dished out you can make a shallow depression yourself, wait for the water to fill up the depression, let the water settle large matter, and then scoop. If the water is really murky or large organic matter or grit(in the case of some Grand Canyon water sources)is in it I scoop first with the cup or Mini Solo pot and filter the water into my Platypus through my bandana. Then I treat w/AM. In place of a bandana some use a coffee filter or perhaps fine cheesecloth. Similar can be done by capturing water at a vertical/angled seep and straining through a bandana into a larger reservoir and then treating w/AM. BTW, wherever you do hike in GC NP FIRST PRE HIKE stop by the Back Country Ranger Station/Office(it's where you pick up permits anyhow) and ask about specific sources of water where you''l be hiking being sure to note current water conditions/updates. GC NP accepts hiker water conditions feedback as well as noting that info as gathered by BackCountry Hiking Rangers. I always make note of when the last water conditions update/availability was made and also ask the Rangers about when the last time it rained and seek their opinions on the reliability of water being in a certain place. I attempt to ascertain this info by specifically requesting to talk to a Back Country HIKING Ranger. ie; I'm not looking to obtain reliable current water conditions/availability info from someone like a front desk clerk who doesn't spend much time in the backcountry!

11-22-2013, 20:12
If you want to pump or filter you can do it as well after capturing the water into something smaller like a cup and proceeding from there as I described above.

11-23-2013, 13:03
Thanks Dogwood. We will be off the main corridor trails the majority of the time heading East on the Tonto trail. I was defiantly planning on checking in with the BC office before heading down to get some information on the current conditions. We will have a stretch of 18 miles without a consistent water source so I defiantly need to know if some of the other sources are available or we'll be carrying a lot with us to get through that stretch. I've thought about using a bandanna or something to prefilter the water and sticking with the drops, but it I won't be the only one on the trip and it may be easier for everyone else just to have a regular style filter. But thanks for the info and the tips for sure!

11-23-2013, 14:06
Where you dont have good reliable known water sources,
You bring your own
If you want to live, that is.

18 miles is nothing to carry water for, unless its all uphill at 100F.
Which of course, is a possibility.

11-24-2013, 14:26
how about scooping water out of the shallow source into a pot or bottle, then treating with Aqua Mira like you usually do?

11-25-2013, 10:53
Yeah 18 miles through desert terrain, in some decent heat, without water, with kids! Sounds like a good family vacation to me! The problem I thought I would have with scooping is that you get all the nasty stuff on top and tend to stir up the source at the same time getting even more "stuff" into the water. I may be over thinking this a bit since if we really load up at the reliable sources we should be able to carry enough so that if we hit these puddles we won't need to get a couple gallons of water out of them - just a liter or two. Hopefully. But we will have two dinners that we have to cook in that stretch so that's a liter right there. Just want to be prepared for the worst. I know I can always boil if I have to, but I would rather have something easier to deal with for the majority of time.