View Full Version : Water

2007-03-22, 10:28
How do you guys handle water on the trail? Do you keep a camelbak with you, how does that fit with your pack over it? What about filters and pumps if you're in the middle of no where for a few days? What types of water sources do you use? I assume you would go for a large river first, but what about small creeks and little ponds? I know that the aqua mira kills off the bugs but what about pollutants like lead or chemicals, is there a filter type pump that works on these? I'm pretty paranoid about water while away and have frequently put up with the extra weight of carry 2 days worth.

2007-03-22, 11:49
No Rhino, you don't go for a large water source first, the lower in the watershed the greater the risk of contamination. Seeps and springs are best, not creeks. You can use Agua Mira or the katydyn tablets. You can use a filter, though most won't protect you from viruses. Your two major concerns in the backcountry are bacteria (like E.Coli) and protozoans (like giardia and crytosporidium). Do some searches here at Hiking HQ and at Whiteblaze, you'll find all you need to know.

2007-03-22, 12:43
Actually I was just going to get this (http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=3863&parent_category_rn=4500462&vcat=REI_SSHP_CAMPING_TOC) and some aqua mira. I can probably drink from a porta potty if I boil it first lol.

2007-03-22, 13:04
That filter is small enough to get bacteria and viruses, no need for the aquamira aftewards, although if you're as paranoid about the water as you say...

My personal choice is the Aqua Mira filter bottle. It won't take care of bacteria and viruses, but it gets the protozoa. I've used it for about 7 years with no problem, and the filters are only about $8 - 1 or 2 per year, depending on how many nights I'm out.

But then, I'm not paranoid about my water; before the filter bottle, I went over 40 years drinking straight from the source.

2007-03-22, 14:52
I'm not lightweight by any means (top pack weight on my California expedition last hear touched 70 lbs with food, but I had 10 days without a mailbox or road in sight) but here is my water system.

MSR Mini work filter.
Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets
3 liter platapus bladder (slides into a chamber in my pack)
Standard wide mouth nalgene
3 gallon sil-nylon water bag (Collapses to the size of tennis ball and with some 55 cord, you can use it to pull water up from the sides of bridges.

If the water is REALLY questionable, I will drop the iodine in the water bag, hang it for a while on a branch, then filter it. The filter gets rid of the iodine taste, but the water bag smells like iodine forever. (Do bears like iodine? How abou bears with goiters?) My finace and I drank greenish ag runoff last year with this method with no ill effect. Your milage may vary, I'm personally convinced I'm immune to everything except hangovers.

If you suspect chemicals or lead, don't even bother boiling, the only way to get past that is to distill your water.

The filter life on the mini-works is pretty long, as you simply scrub the ceramic off the sides. I know a scout guide who has been using hers for seven years with groups of 7-14 scouts and still hasn't gotten the filter down small enough to replace. I can't imagine pumping water for 14 kids with the thing though, I'd probably bludgeon somebody with it first. It does tend to clog frequently but cleaning is simple: just scrub the sides of the element with a green pad and rinse with clean water.

2007-03-22, 16:27
OK where do you get the clean water to rinse the filter:albertein

2007-03-22, 17:22
Man, oops, I love your pic. Usually, I clean the filter after the round of cursing that ensues when it winds up taking me ten minutes to fill half the nalgene. magine the ensuing hilarity when I have to dump half the water out to rinse the filter, which then takes five minutes to fill both our bladders and both our nalgenes, since it's not clogged. Sometimes I just lick it clean though, :puke: protein!

To the uninitiated: DO NOT LICK YOUR FILTER CLEAN! (Sorry, I have no idea who's reading this.)

2007-03-22, 18:48
Hi Rhino,
I just carry my water in old plastic softdrink bottles, they're very light, tough and flatten - but then I'm pretty cheap! :rolleyes:
I carry a small filter and also carry iodine tabs as a back up in case the water is suspect or if I can't be bothered filtering for whatever reason.
Like Take-a-Knee said, seeps and springs are probably best if you have a choice.
I have drunk water from a spring that had been trampled and contaminated by cattle when there was nothing else around that I could find, but I filtered it (which made the filter an interesting colour) then boiled it, then threw in some iodine tabs with no ill results.
Just as a matter of interest, if you're taking water from a creek or river, if there's a still patch of water, then generally this is the best place to take it from as opposed to the turbulent flowing part - giardia settles and sinks to the bottom of undisturbed water, so draft from near the surface as opposed to deep. Turbulent flowing water could have giardia mixed all through it.

2007-03-22, 19:50
Geo, good point about Giardia settleing, most bacteria are non-motile, they settle or attach to something also. I've read that a lot of paddlers fill their water bottles out in the middle of a lake and never treat it.

Bacteria are a nusiance, you get a little diarrhea and your body deals with it. Protozoans however, are another matter, they have a cell neucleus, like most of the cells in our body. As such, they don't respond to most antibiotics, and the ones that do work against them can be pretty toxic. This is why you should filter your water. A lot of you non-filter types are giardia carriers and don't even know it.

Just Jeff
2007-03-22, 20:43
I've also read that in still water the sun can kill the bacteria on the surface...more reason to not put your water bottle down deep.

2007-03-22, 21:11
A lot of you non-filter types are giardia carriers and don't even know it.
60% of the earth's people are infected with giardia (not to mention mammals in general). This is probably 95% in the tropics. Ill effects from the cysts are unusual and probably come from massive exposure/s.
You, Take-a-knee, if you are feeling "holier than thou", are very likely a carrier, in spite of your filter use. There's plenty to go around.

Poo is everywhere.:bootyshak

Woods Walker
2007-03-22, 22:28
I use the MSR Mini work filter as it will screw right on a wide mouth bottle. I also use a platypus reservoirs. To add more punch to the MSR I carry some bleach. The combo is 100% effective in my view. There is also the trusty used plastic soda bottle. These never leak and are free. As a back up I carry some tabs. Then there is the trusty boiling method. Kills everything.


2007-03-22, 23:38
Since tabs have a limited shelf life, I skip bleach as it's not very effective, and once you open the bottle of iodine tabs, they deteriorate in a few months time. I personally can't cope with the smell of iodine, as I got to spend a few weeks drinking swamp water with the stuff and no citric acid to kill the smell / taste. Grossness. I love the fact that the mini works filters out the iodine smell / taste.

My buddy once sent me a bunch of links to pictures of small proto cyst bggers that THRIVE at the temperature of boiling water. I responded that since I won't be hiking into any active volcanoes, they probably won't come walking to find me.

2007-03-23, 00:19
Rhino, that First Need water filter is the first filtration system we used. A great filter, and replacement filters are relatively cheap. Not a bad purchase. Instead of $97.50 at REI, try $69.97 at Campmor. http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=38866&memberId=12500226 I figure you can send the $27.53 difference to me.....he' he' he'....

2007-03-23, 05:41
First we run it through cheap pump/filter to get rid of the impurities if water looks impure then MSR MIOX to make it drinkable. Frequently if water looks clean just MSR MIOX :bath:
Filter is only cleaned in impure water since we do not rely on the filter for vira and bacteria.
We use clean or filtered but untreated water for our cooking but only if we are sure it achieves boil.

2007-03-23, 08:49
If you really want to question the effectiveness of your water treatment regimen, consider the results of some research done a few years ago: the rate of infection of various types was no different between two groups. Group 1 filtered all their water, Group 2 didn't treat their water, but was consistent and diligent in their personal hygeine - they washed their hands.

There are so many treatment options available - use your head, and be as paranoid as you want.

2007-03-23, 09:57
Rhino, that First Need water filter is the first filtration system we used. A great filter, and replacement filters are relatively cheap. Not a bad purchase. Instead of $97.50 at REI, try $69.97 at Campmor. http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=38866&memberId=12500226 I figure you can send the $27.53 difference to me.....he' he' he'....

Do you need to clean that after you pump or just replace the filter every 100 gallons or so? If you need to clean it, how do you go about that?

2007-03-24, 01:05
Shame on me, I have lost the instructions....the unit does have a prefilter. We would reverse the hoses, and draw tap water backwards thru the device at home after our trips. I do not remember seeing a whole bunch of crud ever come out. Be sure to let the unit drip out after your trips... not a bad filter, a bit dorky looking and clumsy compared to others....fit the budget.

2007-03-24, 01:13
I normally use iodine.
However If I find a spring I'll drink straight from the source.
Upon occasion I've also drank from streams and ponds with no ill effects.
As I really enjoy swimming and feeling clean, I'll get into any puddle that's big enough for me to fit in. Normally I'll ingest some water while doing this.
So I am most likely a carrier. But as I have good trail hygene practices I doubt if I'm a spreader.
--While I'm not positive that I am, overall I think being a carrier to be a good thing, as you are then immune to the bowel problems brought on by a new infestation.

I carry either 3 or 4 one liter Nalgene bottles.
One for drinking on the trail.
One for letting water set while being treated.
One for rehydrating food and cooking.
And the last is extra.

P.S. If I have to drink fouled water (stagnent, dead animal, etc.) I'll boil it for a good 20 minutes or more and then dump some of the charcoal from the fire in it. After it settles (usually a few hours or overnight) I scoop off any floating charcoal still left and siphon off the top. (Charcoal is mainly for taste and to make the water clearer).

Woods Walker
2007-03-24, 12:00
Good point on that charcoal to sweeten water. I have also used charcoal from the fire when sick. It helped settle my stomach

Just Jeff
2007-03-24, 12:35
White if you're tight, black if you're slack. Chewing black charcoal can clean your mouth if you can't brush, too. Doesn't taste very good though.