[pct-l] Water Treatment

dicentra dicentragirl at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 17 15:27:11 CDT 2008

A note about the steripen - from what I understand some are better than others. I have the basic version (read the review on my blog) and have used it with no troubles, but I've read reviews and heard reports from people that have the fancier version that it can suck through the batteries... Crappy to have happen if you have no backup!




--- On Wed, 9/17/08, Paul Magnanti <pmags at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Paul Magnanti <pmags at yahoo.com>
Subject: [pct-l] Water Treatment
To: "PCT MailingList" <pct-l at backcountry.net>
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 11:32 AM

 A little blurb I wrote 

from http://snipurl.com/2yyu2  [www_pmags_com] 

On a topic related to hydration, is the topic of water treatment. 
Most of the time, it is almost impossible to carry enough water for an 
entire trip. Luckily, except in desert hiking, water is obtainable
fairly frequently. But, you may have to treat your water. There can be 
nasties in the backcountry that can ruin a trip in the long term if bad
water is drunk. Some people will drink out of every cow-pattie
infested, smelly water puddle without even using a drop of iodine.
Others will filter, treat chemically and boil water three times before 
drinking from the clearest Sierra spring 12000 feet above anything.
Most people are somewhere in between. This document will not go into 
the various arguments about water (or lack of) treatment, but
sufficient to say most people do use some form of water treatment.

  Four common ways to treat water are:

1)    Boiling 
Boiling water to a rolling boil will kill nasties in the water. But, it
takes very long, makes the water tastes flat, and uses lots
of fuel. 
Most use boiling as a last resort only

2)   Chemically Using iodine is the old standby for water treatment up until
Typically known as “Portable Aqua” these tabs will 
treat one liter of
water each. They take longer to treat water than a filter/purifier but
are lighter and less complex than the filters. Iodine 
does have an
aftertaste that some people do not like.  You can also use iodine
crystals (i.e. Polar Pure) and a newer chemical treatment 
known as Aqua
Mira. Aqua Mira takes less time to treat water than iodine and is a two
stage chemical process.

3)    Filters/Purifiers Filters and purifiers are for most people the standard
tool in the
backpacker’s water treatment arsenal.  Though they 
are heavier, bulkier
and can break down/clog, they will treat water quickly and without a
chemical after taste. If using a filter, be sure to 
keep the intake
(dirty water) and output (clean water) hoses separate.

4)   Steripen  The
equipment of choice for geeks! :)  This pen-like device uses UV
radiation to sterilize water. Besides being a bit 
expensive (~$80
online), it also depends upon batteries. Its main attraction is that it
is quicker than other methods of treating water.  

Finally, be
sure to wash your hands after “doing #2” and before eating. A simple
bottle of Purrell (alcohol based hand sanitizer) can do 
wonders to
prevent GI illnesses (tummy ache and the runs to non-medical types like
me!). No point in treating water if you are sticking a \
dirty hand in
your food..or worse yet, you may stick YOUR dirty hand in someone else's
GORP. Yeeech!


As a side note, I predict Steripens replacing filters as the "go to"
water treatment for most people. They are lighter than filter, are coming
down in price and they have the "gee whiz factor" that so many people
find intriguing.

On a social backpacking trip this past summer (more camping, less hiking), one
woman had steripen. The amount of people who wanted
to use the pen was quite high. It lights up, it runs on batteries..it is

I'm mainly a "dip and sip" kinda guy and use iodine tabs once in
a great while.

This photo about says it all... ;)

The true harvest of my life is intangible.... a little stardust 
caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched

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