Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Post Hike Thoughts and Review: Part VI

Continuing with the series, let's talk about water treatment. Along most of the trails in the eastern U.S., it isn't hard to find water. But simply drinking from random streams is certain to lead to serious problems. If you were lost, out of water, and the only choice was to drink, of course, drink up, when you find your way out you can see a doctor.

Back in the days of yore, when I began these trips into the woods, I only knew of two options. Boiling and iodine tablets.

There you were, alongside a pristine spring high on a hillside. The water looks cold and would taste wonderful. You fill your canteen. Add two iodine tablets and wait a half an hour. Shake it up, let some run around the cap, and then drink. It's still cool, but it tastes like iodine.

When you make camp for the night, you boil water, rolling boil for 5 minutes. You do enough to fill that canteen again, and a second pot full to use in the morning. It tastes flat, but is safe to drink.

Now there are  microfilter devices and UV sterilization pens.

When the microfilters first came out, they were relatively heavy, bulky, and slow, requiring you to pump water through the filter like a small air pump. The revolution is the Sawyer filter. Last week, the only filters I saw in use were Sawyers in one size or another. 100% market share, which says something about the product  .

Here's their ad:



It's light, easy to use, doesn't flavor the water, and filters fast. I had iodine as a backup, but I won't bother next time. It was easy enough that I filtered all my water, even the water I was planning to boil. *NOTICE: I bought my filter system, I am not receiving anything from anyone for anything I have talked about.

The ultraviolet pens also look simple to use. You collect water and swirl the pen in the water until the light goes out. It's a effective means to kill bacteria in water. I have seen them used on other hikes. I have read they are not as effective in murky water, but I have no experience with them.

The other part of the revolution is the water bladder built into the pack, with a delivery tube that comes out and is always accessible as you hike. No need to stop and fish out a canteen or a water bottle, just bite down on the valve and suck like a straw. I would top off the bladder every morning with filtered water and the two liters of water it held served as my primary drinking water as I hiked.

Again, transformational changes in technology and resultant hiker behavior, all in the last 15 years.

2 comments:

Old NFO said...

Transformal is right! :-)

Unknown said...

Outdoor Research has a nice hat called the "Catchment" that collects runoff from the hat brim into your backpack water bladder. Very useful for hiking in Oregon in the wet season.