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Uncle Rico

Water Purification

My older-model MSR Sweetwater water filter broke over the weekend so I'm in the market for a replacement. Wasn't ever terribly enthused about this system because I found it bulky, cumbersome and it didn't work well in shallow pools.

What are y'all using for water purification? What do you like and dislike about whatever system you're using? Anything that you would highly recommend?

Katadyn hiker pro is my filter of choice for years. Not very fast but reliable
Uncle Rico

Katadyn hiker pro is my filter of choice for years. Not very fast but reliable

Thank you kind Sir. Is that your only water purification tool, or do you also take a gravity flow system like a Platypus for over-nighters?

I have a Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L but it has been relegated to car camping and  earthquake supplies.  I just use the hiker pro for everything.  I have a quick connect on the hydration sleeve which I fill as needed.  Then fill 2 , 2 liter PLATY BOTTLEs one for dinner one for breakfast.  I also drink one 1 liter Gatorade or other hydration / electrolyte solution.  If it is dry I can fill up where needed and keep hiking

I use a DIY treatment kit as a backup to Hawaiian Springs bottled water....with my mad scientist goggles(joke). The components that do the 'treatment' are usually a one-time use.

The only commercially sold filter I would endorse is the Katadyn Survivor 06. Other than that, its all marketing gimmericky...imo. Germ factories long since overused. There is no regulation on this stuff and plenty of misleading info....

I gotta give a shout out to Frogg-togg too cause it keeps my head area comfy and cool. I was without a freshwater source(oops) and kept a nice pace on trail in the direct sun Smile
Uncle Rico

Thank you Gentlemen. As usual, you are both a bounty of helpful information. Of course, I also hugely appreciate the tinge of cynicism that AW brings to the table in these important matters.  Razz

I have a Katadyn Hiker Pro but seldom carry it anymore, it is rather bulky and heavy. Picked up a Sawyer Mini a couple years ago, with the right attachments I can pump directly into the Camelbak drink tube. That's helpful when backpacking since the bladder rests in the airflow space of my Osprey pack.

Water filter

An alternative to filters is iodine tablets. You have to wait 30 minutes for them to kill everything in the water.  Then, the iodine taste is neutralized by a followup vitamin C tablet. They are sold by REI under the brand name Potable Aqua. They sell iodine only and iodine plus vitamin C combos. After the vitamin C, you can add a powdered energy drink if you like.

The big advantage to iodine is that there is nothing to break and the weight and size are near zero.
Uncle Rico

Thanks for the info guys. I kinda want to get away from a bulky pump, but then again I like pumps for when you're spending the night and cooking. Not a huge fan of iodine tablets.

What about a SteriPen? Anyone using one of those? Potential downside seems to be battery life.

Not just battery life, all things electronic can fail. Usually when you really need them.
For what it's worth, I don't filter in the Sierras, ski hut or at Columbine Spring.

I too used to use a big, bulky Sweetwater filter.  One weekend two years ago, I pulled a day permit for Whitney and Muir and did not want to drink untreated from the lake at Trail Camp so I picked up a Sawyer Squeeze filter at Elevation.  I've had one bag fail but replacement bags are reasonably cheap.  The Sawyer Mini is a little smaller but doesn't flow as fast.  Either can be used as a squeeze or gravity system.  I haven't been sick yet.
Uncle Rico

Thanks for the suggestion Duke. I think I'm tending toward the Sawyer myself at this stage. The simplicity of it has a lot of appeal.
Rudy Rodriguez

I always liked using Iodine tablets. With the taste neutralizer tablet, there's no bad taste to deal with! Of course this means I carry less bulk and less weight. Often, I drink water straight from the flowing stream. I don't recommend it, but I've never gotten a bad experience, like getting sick. I've been drinking socal river water for decades. Maybe I've developed a sort of aqcuired immunity to the germs as a result of life long drinking..? The thing I do not like about the Iodine tablets is having to wait 30 minutes after finding my water source to finally drink! Still, I'm curious and would try a water filter if I knew what I wanted from one.

That's funny to hear the Sweetwater called a "bulky" pump.  When it came out, it was considered light and small.  By today's standards, though, yes, it is bulky as are all pump type filters.

The trend these days is away from pump type filters and more toward squeeze/gravity type filters.  The Sawyer has taken the ultralight and long distance through-hiker crowds by storm.  There is also a sizable contingent of Steripen users which works well in clear water.  

I personally like the Steripen, but as Jeff said:
JeffH wrote:
Not just battery life, all things electronic can fail. Usually when you really need them.

I was out yesterday in the San Bernardino National Forest on the Santa Ana River Trail and my Steri-Pen failed. The green indicator light came on, but it would flash red after a few seconds.   I *always* carry a spare set of batteries.  I tried it multiple times with both sets of batteries but no go.  Dunno what's going on.  The UV bulb may have burnt out?  Water was plentiful at Forsee Creek, so the unit was fully submerged.  I know that the unit will shut off if not fully submerged.  

I wonder if there is a way to confirm that the bulb is burned out and it's not some other problem?  And I guess I'm just screwed, i.e. no repair is possible if a bulb burns out?

I hope the water in Forsee Creek isn't polluted.  I drank it "raw" from a point down stream of the Hwy 38 crossing.  Ulp.


I tried my Steripen again when I got home.  It did not work when I got home — using the same batteries, batteries that tested well into the “good” range on a battery tester.

However, I just now tried a brand new set of batteries, and… it worked just fine.  So, I guess you have to have just really really strong batteries with the darned thing.  Sigh.  But at least it isn’t broken.  

Guess I’ve been incredibly lucky up til now (I actually don’t treat my water in a lot of the places I go).

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