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  1. #1
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    Default To filter or not to filter

    I understand there is a sizable group in the ultralight community that does not filter or treat their water before drinking it.
    If you happen to not filter your water is it across the board that you never filter or is it dependent on location?
    Thoughts on this?


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User swjohnsey's Avatar
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    Depends on location. I think I treated water twice on my thru, once at a beaver pond and once at a good sized river near population. Used bleach both times.

  3. #3
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    Yes, depends on location. And I don't carry a filter, but treat chemically with AquaMira (chlorine dioxide). I treated maybe ten gallons on the AT, less on the PCT and CDT. I'd carry enough water to get past the cattle pastures and septic tanks, to get water from high mountain springs.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  4. #4
    Registered User hikermiker's Avatar
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    Some people are immune to giardia. Some are not.

  5. #5

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    There are also people who have contracted parasites like Giardia from water that looks pure and those who have not. Which group do you want membership in? You can't tell by looking at water what is in it.

    This falls squarely into the "If there is a doubt, there is no doubt" category. Having had the misery of Giardia, I filter all water, regardless of the source. A number of animals carry this and other parasites and you don't know what animals have defecated in the water upstream from where you dip your water bottle. For example, the Giardia parasite passes through animals and people as cysts that can survive several months in water, a week or so out of water but not yet ingested. Giardia can be found most anywhere there is water. Its considered endemic in western states, with snowfield and glacial melting creating conditions where it can thrive. Even on the top of mountains and ridges the risk remains unchanged.

    Filters like those made by Sawyer and other vendors are not heavy and provide relatively high protection against parasites like Giardia. Other systems can filter out chemicals and viruses that can be in the water, though these are more expensive and/or heavier. I prefer the filter over chemically treating water for several reasons, suffice to say I find filtering to be better overall for me.

    Some people never filter water and claim no ill effects, however. Some may not have had any contact with parasites, some may have but do not suffer from them and become carriers with the infection merrily going with them. To me, the risk is moderate, the consequence of failure high and can ruin a well planned trip. For the time it takes to ensure clean water, I am not sure why there is a resistance to this, but to each their own.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post

    Some people never filter water and claim no ill effects, however. Some may not have had any contact with parasites, some may have but do not suffer from them and become carriers with the infection merrily going with them. To me, the risk is moderate, the consequence of failure high and can ruin a well planned trip. For the time it takes to ensure clean water, I am not sure why there is a resistance to this, but to each their own.
    i've walked 16,000+ miles on the AT. never treated/filtered any water. never got sick. it's not for everyone

  7. #7
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    My prehike standards were:

    Not treat if I saw it coming out of the ground as a natural spring
    Filter if it was a small stream or a piped source
    Filter and treat (aquamira) it if it was a larger stream or if I thought it was sketchy

    Hiking standards evolved into:

    I never not filtered or treated water, I just couldn’t do it.
    I filtered and treated all sources if I had the time, ie at camp
    I filtered almost everything
    Sometimes I just treated in my dirty water bag if I grabbed a liter and kept walking

    YMMV

    Somebody joked that he filtered tap water out of force of habit
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  8. #8
    Is it raining yet?
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    You are very lucky if you don't need to treat. Unless traveling to a first world country, I invariably get sick when traveling overseas, so I wouldn't even think of not treating water coming out of anything dirtier than a spigot or well. It's an individual thing and I'm one of the weak ones.
    Be Prepared

  9. #9
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    i've walked 16,000+ miles on the AT. never treated/filtered any water. never got sick. it's not for everyone
    That's called "luck". And the one thing about luck is that it eventually runs out. It's like saying "I've driven 20,000 miles and never been in an auto accident, so the fact that I've never worn my seat belt means I'll never need to." Filtering water is like that.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

  10. #10
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    whatever works for you. no luck involved for me

  11. #11

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    It's all fun and games until you actually deal with giardia. Miserable experience I'd rather not repeat.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikermiker View Post
    Some people are immune to giardia. Some are not.



    and some of us just dont want to take an unnecessary chance.......

  13. #13

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    I rarely filter water. I have to be desperate for water to take it from an iffy source in the first place. Most of the water on the AT is coming right out of the ground in the form of a spring, or a small mountain stream which is being feed by a spring a bit higher up. I never take water from a stream next to a road, you never know if a farm is up stream and has a higher chance of being contaminated by chemicals, or there could be a house with a poorly maintained septic system. Ponds and lakes are also sources to generally avoid.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  14. #14
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    Always from pond or stream, never from spring or spigot.

  15. #15

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    I'm either very lucky or immune. Been drinking mountain water nearly all my life and never got sick. In fact, the water I drink at home is piped directly from a small stream up behind the house. I once found a dead mouse in my small holding tank up at the stream. That was a little concerning, but didn't have any adverse affects.

    I always get a kick out of people I see filtering water coming out of a pristine spring.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

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    I carry water tablets as a back up. Use them maybe 5% of the time, I mainly just rely on picking good sources. No issues so far...

  17. #17
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    I don't filter unless it's questionable. If it's right from a spring source or a steady running stream, I don't. But I will filter in water that's somewhat stagnate and not flowing well. I have had Giardia once, it wasn't pleasant, but it was not from my hiking trips on the AT, more like 30+ years ago in my scouting days. Never had it since and the one time I did get it was from so called filtered water from a Katahdin (?) pump filter. I still carry a sawyer and I'm not in the ultra light category by any means (more like very light) just for those times when I feel I need to, but mostly it just rides in my pack.
    - Trail name: Thumper

  18. #18
    Registered User Tuxhiker's Avatar
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    I have not thru hiked yet, but in my section hikes on the AT I have found plenty of spring sources which I do not treat. I carry tablets for the rare exceptions and may also filter thru my bandana before using tablet if needed. Saw some using UV treatment. The tablets are lightweight and easy to use. The only down side is the wait time. I relied on my guidebook to tell me if a water source was not good to use (livestock or industry upsteam,etc) in which case I tried to avoid using it altogether.

  19. #19
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    I don't play Russian Roulette and don't advise it for anyone else.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

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  20. #20
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    I don't play Russian Roulette and don't advise it for anyone else.
    {Thumbs Up}

    Here's the thing about those "springs"... all the water that comes OUT of the ground, started OUT of the ground. So you have no idea what that water flowed over before it went IN the ground, and you have no way of knowing how much natural filtering has occurred while it was under ground.

    And I don't know why anyone would even mention something about "filter thru my bandana" in a discussion about filtering water for parasites. A bandana is only going to filter out sticks and leaves, perhaps some large silt particles. It's going to do NOTHING for microscopic parasites.

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