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Poll: What is Your Current Preferred Method of Water Filtration/Purification?

Currently, what is your preferred method of water filtration/purification?

  • None. I drink directly from lakes or streams.

    Votes: 5 8.8%
  • Boiling

    Votes: 1 1.8%
  • Chemicals (usually iodine/chlorine, or alum settling)

    Votes: 4 7.0%
  • Pump filter/purifier

    Votes: 17 29.8%
  • Gravity filter/purifier

    Votes: 22 38.6%
  • Water bottle filter/purifier

    Votes: 1 1.8%
  • Squeeze filter

    Votes: 4 7.0%
  • Straw filter

    Votes: 1 1.8%
  • Ultraviolet purification

    Votes: 1 1.8%
  • Something else (what?)

    Votes: 1 1.8%

  • Total voters
    57

Glenn MacGrady

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The question is which water filtration or purification method would you use if you could only choose one for the typical tripping you do, even if you have used various methods over time and even if you still use alternative or backup methods. However, feel free to comment on alternatives or backups you use, and why, because the overall purpose of the poll is to inform one another about our choices and reasons.

I've been very happy with my Platypus gravity filter for the last 10 years. I have some chemical tablets as backups that I've never used. In California 40 years ago, I sometimes would collect drinking water directly from steep side streams that tumbled into the rivers I was paddling.
 
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Platypus gravity 4 liter is now my primary. Was Katadyn Hiker (pump) before that. I carry some Micropur tablets as backup, a carry over from Philmont trek 10 years ago. They are pretty convenient and unlike 50+ years ago, no taste at all.
 
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Where I mostly travel the risk of drinking without any type of filtration/purification is extremely low, that said I boil drinking water 95% of the time.
 
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Kathleen and I have filtered on only one of our trips, the South Saskatchewan River that flowed through cattle country in Alberta. Otherwise, we have always drunk directly from rivers or lakes. Most of our trips have been in northern Canada. We have never worried. Perhaps we are foolish, but I like to quote Bill Mason, responding to this question: “I would never paddle on anything I couldn’t drink.”

So far so good. Besides, this past summer, out on the Barren Grounds, was likely our last trip. I hope to post a trip report in a couple of months.
 
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Gravity filter. Even when they get blocked and slow to a drip, once you set it up there's no more effort involved. Just come back half an hour later, and POOF, magic clean water.

The only exception these days is that where the water can be particularly silty, I sometimes take a ceramic pump filter, as they are much easier to field clean, whereas the only solution with gravity filters is to take more filters. The problem with the ceramic filters, though, is they're fragile.

I always carry treatment tablets as a backup. The ones we have now are far, far better than 20 years ago. I used to carry a piss sample jar with bleach or ammonia and an eyedropper. And failing all that, then yes, boiling is an option.

What I don't like about boiling drinking water is the fuel cost. Unless you're boiling over a fire, which requires a lot of time gathering firewood and tending a fire to get a day's worth of water, the weight savings you get by not carrying a filter is eclipsed by the extra fuel you need to then carry. Plus, unless you boil water mid-day, you're stuck carrying an entire day's worth of water all day, instead of just filtering more. I don't find boiling water to be worth the weight savings, and it eats a lot more fuel, either fossil or wood - and wood, in busier places, can be environmentally destructive.
 
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I voted no treatment, but should elaborate. I dont treat unless I determine there’s a fair amount of human activity upstream or on the body of water. If I’m cooking on a fire I boil, if not I use aquamira, (chlorine dioxide). It’s light, fast and has minimal effect on taste. Having said that, on a 5 month continental divide thru hike I used roughly half a thing of aquamira, so I’m not using much.

I have had giardiasis one time, and that water was from a public water supply that was signed as not safe to drink. Why did I drink it? I was 23 years old. The only other confirmed case of giardiasis that I personally know of was a friend who drank from a beautiful clear stream just a couple miles downstream from a small town in rural New Mexico with all of its failed or non existent septic systems. I pointed that out but he guzzled a whole quart anyway. 8 days later his tent was pitched 3 feet from an outhouse for 2 days.
 
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We generally go on short enough trips that we just take enough water with us. I carry a Sawyer gravity filter but have never used it except to test it. Tried it the last time we went out and could not get anything through it and tossed it in the trash.
 
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Katadyn BeFree if I’m on a lake/river with no homes or human activity other then fellow trippers. Otherwise I bring my own or boil in a pinch for drinking.

Bob
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Katadyn BeFree

Bob, did you vote? I'm not sure whether this product would be considered a bottle filter or a gravity filter. It looks like there are different sizes, the smaller ones looking like bottle filters from which you directly drink.
 
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Up here, I generally don't filter. I do take a small filter, but seldom use it. I purchased some of those gravity filter things for the school club, and there must be something about the water up here, because after one use, they were useless, completely clogged, tried all the tricks to get them going again, to no avail.
 
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Up here, I generally don't filter. I do take a small filter, but seldom use it. I purchased some of those gravity filter things for the school club, and there must be something about the water up here, because after one use, they were useless, completely clogged, tried all the tricks to get them going again, to no avail.
They do have a bit of a learning curve, and they're not quite fire-and-forget.

Backflushing helps immensely as part of a regular maintenance regimen - every second bag of water or so. Not leaving the filter sitting in water but filtering a whole bag into another container first also helps a lot. They also tend to get stopped by air bubbles that can take a couple of minutes of fiddling to work out of the tubing and filter.

I found them quite frustrating at first as well, but now that I've got them figured out, I'll never look back. It helps if you have someone demonstrate for you in field conditions. I'd be happy to show you mine next time I find myself in your neck of the woods.
 
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Bob, did you vote?
I did. I consider it a squeeze because the one I use gets squeezed…. You can drink from it directly, but I typically fill a Nalgene. They do have larger gravity fed models, but I forgot about those to be honest because they didn’t exist when I got mine. I only use it for drinking. If I’m cooking, it gets boiled.

Bob
 
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I back flush a liter every use of my 4 liter platypus, and never slow or clogged. I also gather water in a collapsible bucket, let it sit for 10-15 minutes to and then fill "dirty" bag. I started the bucket and let it settle regeim with my Katadyn hiker, and it solved the slow or clog problem.
 
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I used iodine tablets at first and then switched to a steripen because my daughter took one to Kenya and used it successfully for the year she was there. But last year I was on a silt laden river where the steripen made the water safe to drink but it had an unpleasant taste. I then bought a gravity filter that I used on a trip this summer and was very pleased with it. I did have to back flush at the beginning of each filtering session which was only a minor annoyance. I used the steripen as a back up mid-day one day when I didn't want to take the time to use the filter.
 
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Take your time, professor. After all, this not only is the rare peer reviewed journal that people actually read, but it also gives out Likes and avoids sesquipedalianism.
Sort of a self-contradiction in that second sentence, Glenn. George Orwell, in an essay regarding good writing, would not approve of your closing word. As you likely know, he strongly advised against using long words.!
 
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