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  1. #1
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    Water filtration vs Water purification

    What are you guys experiences with water filters and water purification?

    More specifically, I'm looking to get something that can give me clean(enough) water quickly. So I'm not really looking into pills that will take 4 hours, or even 30 minutes. Mostly I'm looking into some of the smaller water filters like the MSR Sweetwater microfilter and the Katadyn Hiker Pro vs a Steripen of some sort.

    I ride in the South-East. At this point, all of my bikepacking trips have been in Florida. I don't think viruses are a huge problem here. Aside from springfed rivers, most of our rivers are tannic.

    How do the steripens handle tannic water? Waters clear, but red... Does that affect how affective the UV lights work?

    Do the tannins in the water clog the filters on the MSRs and Katadyn filters?



    What about if I'm riding nearer to the coast. Some of these freshwater rivers run into the gulf and ebb and flow with the tides... you can catch marine fish several miles upstream. I can only assume there's some saltwater influence in these creeks and rivers. Do the steripens(doubtfull, but I'll ask) and water filter systems deal with salinity at all?

    I've asked a couple outdoor shops about the tannins and salinity, and they had zero input. Both shops leaned toward filters, but one leaned towards MSR(did not carry Katadyn) due to it being servicable and reliable. The other shop leaned towards Katadyn(and carried both brands) due to it being a much simpler design and more reliable than the MSR. It seems the MSR will filter out smaller particles though...

    Anyway, thanks for any help

  2. #2
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    If you get a filter that is offering adequately high pressure, you get freshwater pretty much no matter what you start out with.
    4 bar is a good starting point.

    I have no clue as to how to press the water through though, as my knowledge come from using reverse osmosis in the medical field.


    Magura

  3. #3
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    Sweatwater's work great and if you need to filter water out of a murky steam to remove fines, add the pre-filter.

    To avoid carrying an extra peive of gear, consider this hydration pack with the added inline filter.

    Amazon.com: Geigerrig G1 1200 Hydration Pack: Sports & Outdoors

    Amazon.com: Geigerrig In-Line Water Filter: Automotive

    You can fill the bladder from the stream/lake and the inline filter cleans the water before you drink it. The pressurized bladder rocks too and can be helpful in cleaning dishes when camping or spraying out wounds if you crash.

  4. #4
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    I don't believe any backpacking filter will remove salt. That requires a distillation process.
    Cloudy water will reduce a steripens ability to mess with the bugs reproductive systems.
    The bugs are still alive they just can't have baby bugs and it does nothing for clarity.
    Yum protein in my water.

    If you want your water to be clear and taste good the MSR mini Works is the best I've found but it is also the heaviest.
    My backups are tablets yuk and boiling for 3 minutes with a small alky stove,

    As a recreational bikepacker one of the things I enjoy is to filter all my water for a given trip.
    I like the idea that my water is not filled with chlorine from my city water system.

    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 11-28-2012 at 08:00 AM.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleTrackLovr View Post
    I don't believe any backpacking filter will remove salt. That requires a distillation process.
    A pressure filter sure will remove salt. It's simple osmosis.

    I know such filters are available, as I have used them for a different purpose in my lab.
    Some are pretty small. I've seen them used for aquariums.


    Magura

  6. #6
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Everything you ever wanted to know about water filtering and types of filters used in the backcountry.
    This is a great read and a site well worth bookmarking.

    After spending several days studying this website and scaring myself half to death haha
    I settled for the MSR miniWorks.
    The quality of my water when bikepacking is very important to me.
    It might not be as much for you.

    Zen Backpacking - Water Purification, Filtration and Treatment

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  7. #7
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    Your average hiking filter will not desalinate seawater. Reverse osmosis is required and because of the nature of the membranes used, water often has to be pre-treated and may not be useable for freshwater applications as well. There are products that can do that, many used for military applications, but they are rather expensive. This Katadyn "Survivor" costs $900 and process 1.2 gallons/hr.

    Amazon.com: Katadyn Survivor 06 Desalinator: Sports & Outdoors

    Desalination plants are extremely expensive for municipalities to build and that is why we do not see very many of them. If it were cheap, you can bet Los Angeles wouldn't be pumping water from the Colorado River all the way out there.

    If seawater is all one has access to, there is always the simple method of recapturing transpiration using a tarp and collecting that. But as far as a filter and drink on the go, there are not really any affordable seawater purification systems out there.

  8. #8
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    This type is my favorite. It's a gravity system. Simple, works almost as fast as pumps, and you don't have to do anything. It is subject to clogging but flushing is easy enough and pre-filtering with some cloth has given me no issues. I have the Platypus version, which is the exact same filter but different style bag. I would recommend this one over the Platypus. Using you own bladders/bottles you already have can shave weight too.
    MSR Autoflow Gravity Filter | Backcountry.com

  9. #9
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    In the Northern Rockies i use this system: Mike C's ULTRALIGHT TIPS - treating water - YouTube

    Simplest, lightest, smallest, and quickest method I've found to treat clear water.
    Casey Greene - President, Board of Directors - Bikepacking Roots
    bikepackingroots.org

  10. #10
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    Lot of great info here. Paramount is knowing your region and what you're up against. I'd like to add my fav to the mix considering we roll on similar terrain(Ga) even though I consider Florida a foreign territory for a number of reasons. Sawyer squeeze is hard to beat in my mind. It can be used as a gravity filter at camp - immediately at the source via included bags - inline using a camelbak - claims 1 million gallons with backwashing - is under $50 - and weighs a scant 3oz.

    That said, stick with the conventional wisdom and bring aqua mira as back up. Also, buy from REI so you can return if need be.

    Fun fact: Jason Lewis, in his 13 year circumnavigation of the world using only MANPOWER, used the desalinator wahday mentioned above while PEDALING his sea kayakamajig across multiple oceans. Blows my mind every time I reread the story.
    Last edited by Renruthsoj; 11-29-2012 at 04:13 PM. Reason: Corrected name of dude thanks to wahday

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahday View Post
    Your average hiking filter will not desalinate seawater. Reverse osmosis is required and because of the nature of the membranes used, water often has to be pre-treated and may not be useable for freshwater applications as well. There are products that can do that, many used for military applications, but they are rather expensive. This Katadyn "Survivor" costs $900 and process 1.2 gallons/hr.

    Amazon.com: Katadyn Survivor 06 Desalinator: Sports & Outdoors
    Wow that's expensive for that.
    The filter costs like 50$, add another 20 for a filter housing, and throw in the first and best small pump you can find.
    I'd say a real reverse osmosis water filtering gizmo could be made for like 100$.

    Magura

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Magura View Post
    Wow that's expensive for that.
    The filter costs like 50$, add another 20 for a filter housing, and throw in the first and best small pump you can find.
    I'd say a real reverse osmosis water filtering gizmo could be made for like 100$.

    Magura
    And you're just the guy to do it! That would be a very cool DIY/MYOG undertaking and would have a lot of interest I suspect. I haven't looked around at any DIY filter projects but I find that many of the survivalist websites have some interesting ideas for these kinds of things. That's how I first learned about the beer can alcohol stoves. Some of the discussions of the end of the world are a little too extreme for my taste, but some cool ideas nonetheless.

    And just for clarity, I read the article on the guy that pedal-boated around the world. Totally amazing! But Graham Bensinger is the guy who wrote the article and interviewed the traveler, not the guy who circumnavigated the world. The adventurer is named Jason Lewis (a Brit). Credit where credit is due... Thanks for sharing that link - super cool!

  13. #13
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    +1 for the Sawyer Squeeze. Super-light, pretty much maintenance free, and great flow.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Magura View Post
    Wow that's expensive for that.
    The filter costs like 50$, add another 20 for a filter housing, and throw in the first and best small pump you can find.
    I'd say a real reverse osmosis water filtering gizmo could be made for like 100$.

    Magura
    I'd be interested in making one. I think it would be great to have for the bug out bag.
    It would have to be a pretty strong hand pump. High pressure low volume. RO filter membranes are quite small. A very good pre filter to prevent clogging the RO would also need to made.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahday View Post
    And you're just the guy to do it! That would be a very cool DIY/MYOG undertaking and would have a lot of interest I suspect.
    I'd say anybody could pull that off.

    A simple pump, a couple of fittings, a filter and a housing. That ought to be a cosy afternoons work.

    Amazon.com: 75 GPD Reverse Osmosis (RO) Membrane (removes fluoride): Home Improvement

    Even cheaper than expected.

    Those are the filters that millions of households are using.
    A nice tried and tested solution.

    Magura

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleTrackLovr View Post
    I'd be interested in making one. I think it would be great to have for the bug out bag.
    Cross posting. See above


    Magura

  17. #17
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    A couple of pump options:

    Online Pumpshop :: Pond & Garden :: HAND WATER PUMP

    Amazon.com: Magnum Fuel Pump - Hand Crank: Toys & Games

    I trust you to find the housing and fittings yourself

    Magura

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Magura View Post
    A couple of pump options:

    Online Pumpshop :: Pond & Garden :: HAND WATER PUMP

    Amazon.com: Magnum Fuel Pump - Hand Crank: Toys & Games

    I trust you to find the housing and fittings yourself

    Magura
    Thank you for the links. That hand pump looks awesome.
    I though I would look at the housing this filter was made for and adapt the fitting accordingly.
    Add a fishtank foam prefilter and maybe an inline paper filter should allow the RO membrane to last a long time.

    I hope the OP is taking notes this is a lot cheaper than 900 Katadyn although it might not be as robust..

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  19. #19
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    I carry a pump filter, used to be Pur Hiker, now Katadyn I think. Backup is Aqua Mira drops.

    The filter does many things well. You can pump water from tiny seeps which are too small to dip a pot or cup into. They remove mud. You can pump directly into your water container.

    Aqua Mira works well. I go ultralight with just that sometimes. I have to wait for the chemical reaction. I get to drink dirty water. I don't worry about the residue, as I don't drink this stuff all the time. I have to think which water bottle has had dirty water in it, and whether it has been purlfied.

    All in all, I prefer to take a pump filter with a tube.

  20. #20
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    Don't have experience with the MSR filters. Have found the Katadyn Pocket FIlter to be more than sufficient filtering water in nearly all conditions. One aspect that really impressed me was when we had to cross a cedar bog and filter water. The water started a thick murky black and ended up looking similar to a light ice tea tint. If we made a second pass filtering the water I think it would be clearer. Another nice feature is they are all metal with no plastic to break in rough conditions. It is a little on the heavy side but it has been reliable.

  21. #21
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    Another vote for the Sawyer. I use one with the inline kit and love it. Getting clean water is as easy as filling my bladder and drinking as normal. And it's only 3 ounces! You'd be crazy to get anything else.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renruthsoj View Post
    Sawyer squeeze is hard to beat in my mind. It can be used as a gravity filter at camp - immediately at the source via included bags - inline using a camelbak - claims 1 million gallons with backwashing - is under $50 - and weighs a scant 3oz.


    As Sawyer Squeeze user I thought I would share my thoughts/experience. I purchased the Sawyer Squeeze to use on my 3,000 km Chasing the Dirt tour.

    What I learnt:

    (1) Sawyer Products don't tell you on their website well they didn't when I purchased the Squeeze that they DO NOT warrant the pouches. I found this out via a piece of paper in the box after I purchased the product. For me I found this quite disturbing and in my view shows a lack of integrity on the behalf of Sawyer Products. I guess I am used to consumer laws which would not allow this to happen.

    (2) Sawyer Products will, if you put the pressure on them, allow for the return of damaged pouches for inspection; however keep in mind that their standard response appears to be that damaged is caused by users, i.e., squeezing too hard. If they come to this conclusion then you have wasted your time sending the pouches back. I haven't bothered with mine as I don't trust Sawyer Products to properly inspect the pouch.

    (3) I made an error of judgement and took only one pouch with me which failed with minimal use (seam started leaking). I don't believe I squeezed it to hard and in fact I am struggling to see how one can do that without standing on it or something along those lines. So I would suggest if you are using the Sawyer Squeeze pouches take spares.

    (4) Because I only took one pouch I had to go without filtration (my bad).

    (5) The filter itself is easy to use and seems to work well based on my use. Put it this way I didn't get sick

    (6) I have since learnt that should one buy one of these Sawyer Squeeze systems that the smart thing to do is dump the pouches and replace them with Evernew Water Carry pouches. Something to keep in mind when considering the purchase.



    Personally I will keep using mine but with Evernew Water Carry pouches as I have the filter but I wouldn't purchase from Sawyer Products again. Their "ethics" just don't sit well with me.

    It seems that what I experienced is not uncommon going by the discussion at BackpackingLight forums.
    Regards
    Andrew

  23. #23
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    Thank you all for the great information, if there's more, keep it coming!

    Definately going to get something this Christmas to make my water needs easier(at this point I'm carrying water and planning my trips around resupply points).

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Magura View Post
    I'd say anybody could pull that off.

    A simple pump, a couple of fittings, a filter and a housing. That ought to be a cosy afternoons work.

    Amazon.com: 75 GPD Reverse Osmosis (RO) Membrane (removes fluoride): Home Improvement

    Even cheaper than expected.

    Those are the filters that millions of households are using.
    A nice tried and tested solution.

    Magura
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Magura View Post
    A couple of pump options:

    Online Pumpshop :: Pond & Garden :: HAND WATER PUMP

    Amazon.com: Magnum Fuel Pump - Hand Crank: Toys & Games

    I trust you to find the housing and fittings yourself

    Magura

    The reverse osmosis filter linked above is for super-purifying already-clean and safe water. Desalination requires RO pressures on the order of 1000 PSI, while the linked filter is tested at 65 PSI. (Not even sufficient for brackish water.) Which is mostly moot, because there's no way those hand cranks will get anywhere close to the required pressure. Sometimes things are expensive because there's a conspiracy to keep people from getting the cheap & easy alternative. Other times, things are expensive because they are hard. This is one of the latter. The best you'll get with this solution is equivalent to a $50 backpacking filter, but with greater bulk & weight.

  25. #25
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    So does this mean we are back to distilling or the $900 buck pump filter to make saltwater drinkable?

    Second note: I saw a guy drop his squeeze bag, it hit a boulder and burst open at the seam.
    Thank goodness he had a platypus spare bag and the filter fit it as well.

    I was really sold on the Geigerrig pressurized bag system after watching the youtube video of the guy throwing one out the window of a car at 90mph and it did not break.



    However after less than a year of service one of my bags developed a leak from simple rubbing in my pack. I have since switched back to nalgene bottles.
    They have never let me down, some of my bottles are 7 years old, and have seen every abuse from freezing to warping from being to close to the fire to rolling down a hill, dropping, etc.

    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 11-29-2012 at 08:46 AM.

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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleTrackLovr View Post
    I was really sold on the Geigerrig pressurized bag system after watching the youtube video of the guy throwing one out the window of a car at 90mph and it did not break.



    However after less than a year of service one of my bags developed a leak from simple rubbing in my pack.

    Did you request a warranty replacement? They are supposed to be lifetime on the bladder and I'd like to know how they were to deal with. I love mine so far!

  27. #27
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    One of probably several MYOG threads on gravity filters: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...thread_id=8994

    I've used one similar to what's in that thread for a few 100+ mile hikes on the PCT, quite successfully. It uses one of the Walmart dry sacks and the filter cartridge is mounted internally. I love being able to get other camp chores done while water filters unattended (vs. manually pumping several gallons for a small group camp). Just need to be careful about managing the clean end of the system, i.e., not contaminating the outlet hose or letting unfiltered water dribble down into your bottle/hydra pack.

    Depending on where I'm at, Aquamira drops are used for back up.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogerfromco View Post
    Did you request a warranty replacement? They are supposed to be lifetime on the bladder and I'd like to know how they were to deal with. I love mine so far!
    No I did not. A lifetime warranty doesn't help you on the trail with no water and a bag that leaks. I guess I could have turned it in and them sold it but I'm not that kinda guy.

    For me it was just better to go back to something I trusted. Just know they aren't bulletproof and have a back up plan.

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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aushiker View Post


    As Sawyer Squeeze user I thought I would share my thoughts/experience. I purchased the Sawyer Squeeze to use on my 3,000 km Chasing the Dirt tour.
    Hey,

    Seems you like the Sawyer filter itself, though the bags (from you and others) seem pretty suspect.

    I've found divided information on what other water bladders can be used with the filter. Does a regular small-mouth Platypus bladder fit the filter? Or should I get one of the Evernew bladders you linked to, if using the Sawyer?

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aushiker View Post

    As Sawyer Squeeze user I thought I would share my thoughts/experience. I purchased the Sawyer Squeeze to use on my 3,000 km Chasing the Dirt tour.

    What I learnt:

    (1) Sawyer Products don't tell you on their website well they didn't when I purchased the Squeeze that they DO NOT warrant the pouches. I found this out via a piece of paper in the box after I purchased the product. For me I found this quite disturbing and in my view shows a lack of integrity on the behalf of Sawyer Products. I guess I am used to consumer laws which would not allow this to happen.

    (2) Sawyer Products will, if you put the pressure on them, allow for the return of damaged pouches for inspection; however keep in mind that their standard response appears to be that damaged is caused by users, i.e., squeezing too hard. If they come to this conclusion then you have wasted your time sending the pouches back. I haven't bothered with mine as I don't trust Sawyer Products to properly inspect the pouch.

    (3) I made an error of judgement and took only one pouch with me which failed with minimal use (seam started leaking). I don't believe I squeezed it to hard and in fact I am struggling to see how one can do that without standing on it or something along those lines. So I would suggest if you are using the Sawyer Squeeze pouches take spares.

    (4) Because I only took one pouch I had to go without filtration (my bad).

    (5) The filter itself is easy to use and seems to work well based on my use. Put it this way I didn't get sick

    (6) I have since learnt that should one buy one of these Sawyer Squeeze systems that the smart thing to do is dump the pouches and replace them with Evernew Water Carry pouches. Something to keep in mind when considering the purchase.

    Personally I will keep using mine but with Evernew Water Carry pouches as I have the filter but I wouldn't purchase from Sawyer Products again. Their "ethics" just don't sit well with me.

    It seems that what I experienced is not uncommon going by the discussion at BackpackingLight forums.
    Regards
    Andrew
    Did you know that you can screw it onto pretty much any pop bottle? That your never more then 50 feet from, unfortunately. And the best option in my opinion is the inline kit. I just carry a bag as a backup. I actually have never even used my bags now that I think about it.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_papa_nuts View Post
    Did you know that you can screw it onto pretty much any pop bottle? That your never more then 50 feet from, unfortunately.
    Can't recall 100% but I think I did try it with a 1.5 litre bottle that I had with me and it didm't screw on well and hence leaked.

    Given the remoteness of my location at the time, options where limited to what I had with me. No shops out there; carrying water for five days says volumes

    Andrew

  32. #32
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    Here's a blog post for a gravity filter I put together this evening, using the cartridge from a Sawyer 0.1 micron filter bottle, a 4 liter Walmart dry bag, miscellaneous plastic fittings and silicone tubing.

    Lightweight Hiking and Bikepacking Gear, Techniques and General Musings: 161g 4L Gravity Filter

    169 grams (6 oz.) field weight.

  33. #33
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    if you might encounter water with lots of junk that needs to be filtered out (i.e., tannins), stay away from paper filters. The cleanable ceramic filters will require lots of cleaning if you're using them with dirty water, but it's nice that they allow that option. I use the msr miniworks ex, which is a good price on amazon. You have to make sure the filter doesn't get cracked from being frozen or impacts, but otherwise they're good for a long time. I attach my camelback tube to the outgoing end and fill that way.

  34. #34
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    Shame Amazon wont ship MSR products to Australia. I'm real keen for a Miniworks.
    Forum member Wildwazza recommends a coffee filter wrapped around the "pick-up" and secured with a rubber band to reduce sediment clogging the filter. Miniworks is next on my wishlist with a maintenance kit and a helinox chair.
    Australia's Leading Ultra light Camping Chairs | Sitting is Believing

    Update:
    Impluse buy which arnt usually a good idea.
    Just grabbed a miniworks off (used) of ebay.
    Hopefully its ok.
    I'll grab a maintenence kit for it and give it a strip down and seal refurbish.
    Hopefully the element is in good nick.
    ebay.com.au/itm/151074573160
    Last edited by rifraf; 07-09-2013 at 01:25 AM.

  35. #35
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    the msr sweet water is field servicable and has my vote

  36. #36
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    Surprised to see this thread bumped back up!



    I guess it gives me a chance to update though I ended up getting the Katadyn Hiker Pro and now have 5-6 trips on it in the last 7 months. The filter pumps relatively easily and fills a standard water bottle quickly(maybe a minute?) and a 100oz Camelbak bladder in just a couple minutes at most. I've yet to clean/replace the filter but its still easy to pump. I've mostly used it in spring fed rivers or directly from spring basins, but have occasionally used it in black water rivers full of tannins. It doesn't filter out all the tannins, but does reduce it down to a mild tea - lol. Seems clean, and I've found nothing on the interwebs to say that ingesting a little tannic acid with my water may be incredibly detrimental to my health.

    These things are not made to deal with salt, but it seems as there really isn't a low cost option for that unless you are ingenious enough to DIY. As a lot of my biking is along the coast, its something I have to watch out for and plan around fresh water sources with consistant positive outflow that don't reverse with the tides.

    I fabricated an aluminum carry-all bracket for my bike that fits the Katadyn just fine(and can also fit a full JetBoil kit, or anything else up to the size of a 2 liter).



    The Hiker Pro has been a great buy, very functional, priced well, and would recommend it to anyone would preffer a little extra ruggedness and value from a product rather than lowest possible weight and size.

  37. #37
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    Water filtration vs Water purification

    I just got the kataydin (bad spelling) vario. It seems nice and I'm looking forward to using it soon.

    Thanks everyone, this thread was a awesome insight and I've learned a ton.

    Bill

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by rifraf View Post
    Update:
    Just grabbed a miniworks off (used) of ebay.
    Hopefully the element is in good nick.
    when using it, if it seems like you're not pumping much water, it's probably a dirty filter. Even when clean you will see that a little water goes back down the intake, but it gets more pronounced as the filter gets dirty and the same pressure pushes less water through. Clean the filter. I just use my hand for most cleaning, since it seems like this will wear the filter down less than regularly using the included scrub pad.

    pumping tannin water would seeme like it might be a good way to test for any invisible cracks. Not sure if those exist, though. Pure speculation.

  39. #39
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    Water filtration vs Water purification

    Steripen with a pre-filter. It's never failed me yet.

  40. #40
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    Second the steripen

    Quote Originally Posted by 1 Speed View Post
    Steripen with a pre-filter. It's never failed me yet.
    This. If the water is very silty (Colorado and Green rivers come to mind), alum to let things settle out before pre-filtering. I've had poor luck with pump filters.
    The older I get the better I was...

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    This. If the water is very silty (Colorado and Green rivers come to mind), alum to let things settle out before pre-filtering. I've had poor luck with pump filters.
    I've used the pre-filter in some pretty sketchy cow ponds and stagnant water. If you're relatively careful (taking the water from the surface) it helps to keep the sediment from entering and possibly clogging the filter. FYI - it's a Steripen pre-filter which detaches so you can insert the Steripen or for cleaning. I was actually surprised myself how well the system worked. I use it with a 1 liter collapsible Nalgene bottle (so I can roll it up and put it in my frame bag) and then pour the good water into my bottles or Osprey bladder. Here's what I have - SteriPEN Classic portable uv water purifier with Pre-Filter and the kit came with the pre-filter.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbphilly View Post
    Does a regular small-mouth Platypus bladder fit the [Sawyer] filter?
    Yes. It's also the same size and threading as the old standard two-liter soda bottles you find in most grocery stores. (Possible way out of a jam.)

  43. #43
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    Best, cheapest pre-filter I have found were the ones made for home-brew biofuels. Pretty cheap and you can get them in various densities. Some will remove almost all silt, but it takes time to let gravity do it's job.

    After that, I use a filter like most guys use above.
    - The only thing that keeps me on a bike is happiness.

  44. #44
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    Glad the line of discussion about a "cheap, easy" way to desalinate water was debunked early.

    If you have salty water to deal with on a bikepacking trip, your best bet will probably be to carry what you need and cache water where you can before the trip. Hikers have been doing this stuff for ages.

    Also, WRT tannins, you can't "filter" them out as some have suggested. Tannins are dissolved chemicals (organic acids) in the water, which is why clear water can be colored by tannins. A paper filter won't remove them, but neither will a ceramic one. What WILL remove them is activated charcoal or a carbon core in a filter. This works by a process called adsorption where the tannins stick to the activated charcoal. The charcoal has a finite capacity for this, however, and if you are filtering from tannin-rich waters frequently, it will probably reach capacity before the rest of the filter wears out. You can get some of the adsorption capacity back by boiling the filter.

    I use an MRS Miniworks EX, and while heavy, does all I need. I boil the ceramic cartridges after a trip and let them air dry. Does a couple of things: kills all the bugs that were filtered out of my water on a trip and are now sticking to the filter element, and then gets some of the chemicals that have been adsorbed on the carbon core to release and give the carbon core a longer lifespan.

    For where I live and need to draw water, a pump is almost a necessity most of the year. Only during wetter times of year is enough water flowing in many streams to draw without a pump. During much of the year, a pump is required to access the scant supplies. And this time of year, a pump might not be enough...you have to cache water. This is the biggest reason I still use a heavy pump.

    I use a prefilter on my pump, too. They're called coffee filters, and they keep the largest sediment from clogging the ceramic element. They're dirt cheap. A couple of times, however, I've filtered water with such fine sediment that my element has still clogged in spite of the coffee filters. For those occasions, I've thought about also carrying some finer filter paper only for use in really challenging situations. It's more expensive, though, and I'd probably not use it in every case unless I could find a really good price.

  45. #45
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    Just to bump this thread back up. I'm on an ultralight rampage right now tryign to reduce my gear and I'm hoping to replace my water filter with something lighter. The Steripen gets good reviews but it apparently doesn't work with cloudy water and I will hopefully be using it in the Chilcotins with silty glacier runoff. Is there some gravity bag that I can prefilter it with to clear it up first?

    How about the Sawyer Squeeze? It also seems to get good reviews except for the bags breaking, but maybe now they've fixed that problem, or there are better aftermarket ones available, or maybe some different kind of container to attach it to like a plastic pop bottle.

    BTW, regarding desalination, there is no easy way. The Katadyn Survivor 06 is really slow and monotonous and I can't see how anyone could make water for their bike trip doing that, you'd go insane. Maybe for a day or two over terrain where you need to make water, but nothing beyond that. The larger model 30 produces quite a bit but is much larger.

    The good news is that they are now super cheap since the military is unloading them, you can get them on ebay for like $100 for the 06 and $300 for the 30, I got a 30. They are unused, but a few years old so the membrane might be suspect. Who knows, but still cheaper than a new one.

    Also, you can desalinate seawater fairly easily using a stainless camp pot with a gasketed latched lid. Attach a brass fitting through the top and attach to 4' of 3/8" flex copper tubing and run that into your stainless water bottle sitting downslope in a seawater cooling bath. You could nest your pots and use two if you need to, and use one or both for cooking. Surprisingly straightforward, although not something I'd recommend for a bike trip, more for like a survival situation. For a bike trip I'd lug along the Katadyn 30 and have the desalination pot as a backup.

  46. #46
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    I run a sawyer mini inline with my hydro bag. I've brought a coffee filter along just in case I've ever needed to pre filter but haven't yet.

    Works really well. Fill the bag, ride. I carry a platypus fading bottle with the top cut off for a dirty 'fill' bottle. Works well.

  47. #47
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    Mark_BC, check the link below for info on using alum to settle silt from the water before filtering or treating with a steripen. Ive used alum with both methods with silty water on the Colorado and Green rivers with good results. Needs more research on whether it will work with glacial silt, but I don't see why it wouldn't. Good luck!

    How to Purify Silty Water | How To Articles - Paddling.net

  48. #48
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    I've used a Sawyer for a few years now, the mini specifically for about 1. I'm really happy with the performance of their stuff. An occasional back flush seems to be all they need.

  49. #49
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    Thanks for the alum idea! I think I'll try that, I have one of those REI collapsible buckets I can use to settle the sediments. My water won't be as bad as those pictures of the desert rivers. I won't need to lug around huge amounts of alum since most of the time I should be able to find water from sidecreeks or lakes etc, but for when I do need to use the river water I'll have the alum available. Now, to use the Sawyer Squeeze or Steripen afterwards...

  50. #50
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    There's also the Katadyn gravity bag which gets really good reviews although it is 12 oz so no different than my water pump. The Steripen and Sawyers are neat ideas but they have their share of bad reviews which makes me a little hesitant.

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