1. I am thinking of using the Katadyn Mp1 Micropur tablets for drinking water along the AT. I like the lightness they offer, but are there any health risks associated with the product (i.e. will using this as my sole purification for 6 months result in problems?)
2. Also, how common is Cryptosporidium along the AT as I know the above treatment takes 4 hours to treat it?
3. I am looking for something similar to a NOLS Frybake maybe a little bit smaller as I only need to be able to cook for 2-3 people, but that doesn't weigh 5lbs. I want to be able to cook on the lid like you would with a Fry-Bake (using round the clock method for baking) so it can't have any plastic parts. Any suggestions?
Water in the backcountry and in water sources along the A.T. can be contaminated by microorganisms, including giardia lamblia and others that cause diarrhea or stomach problems. Waters may be clear, cold, and free-running and may look, smell, and taste good. In spite of all that, giardia and other waterborne parasites may still be present, and can cause debilitating illness. We recommend that you treat all water, using a filter or purifier or water-treatment tablets, or by boiling it.
They don't mention cryptosporidium, but they do go on to comment on the effectiveness of boiling, chemical tablets and filters against them.
For a through hike like th appalachian you wouldn't want to take the risk. That said, as has been pointed out previously, it shouldn't take anywhere near 4 hours with clear water that has no particulates.
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
Cysts are not guaranteed to be killed without a 4-hour wait. I've read that the dose can be halved if the waiting time is doubled. So, you might want to consider treating water for the day the night before. Less chemical=better taste and less for your body to deal with.
Also, water that you use for cooking does not have to be treated first, as long as you are heating to a minumum of 180 F for common disease-inducing micro-organisms, hotter & longer for cysts.
On a thru hike I would combine the chemicals with a filter like the Aquamira Frontier Pro. The filter is light but does not do anything for small organisms, due to the pore size; however, it will clean the water of cysts, which tend to be the largest critters, and then you only need to wait for the chemicals to kill the smaller things present, giving you a much shorter wait time.
The Frontier Pro is about $25 and would fit in a bounce/resupply box - you could probably also pick one up at an outfitter in town along the way, could get a list of dealers from the Aquamira website.
The only chemical treatment I'm aware of with a warning about long term use is iodine - since it's not really effective for giardia and less so for crypto, probably not a good option anyway.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Loc: Washington State, King County
I'm tentatively carrying a Frontier Pro on the CDT, but I wouldn't on the AT --- apart from tannens now and then, lots of good looking water on the AT, much of it from springs. And I took over two weeks off on the AT last year due to something Giardia-like (not certain how that came about, due to lag between "getting it" and symptoms, always hard to know).
If going with chlorine dioxide (I do), I suggest Aqua Mira liquid instead, it's a lot less expensive.
Cooking: an alternative is to KISS. Lots and lots of places to go off trail and get a restaurant meal on the AT, so IMO that's the ideal place to go simple, just stick with dinners that require only hot water to hydrate, and no-cook breakfasts. I was happy that way last year, but of course we're all different on this stuff.
I was looking at my steripen that I have had for a couple of years now, and after exploring their website I think I found a good solution to why it wasn't working for very long--you got to get rechargeable batteries. This should increase the number of 1L doses I can do by a factor of 10 from 10 to 100. I'll still carry the tablets as back up though because who knows with electronics and water something will probably go wrong.
As to cooking, yeah I could KISS haha, but I enjoy cooking food like pizza and garlic bread in the back country. Anybody know of a good pan/lid combo?
Thanks again for everyone's contributions, and I welcome more!
Loc: Washington State, King County
"... but I enjoy cooking food like pizza and garlic bread in the back country."
In the context of a long-distance hiking thread, FWIW I can't recall ever seeing thru-hikers baking things. I'm not saying that none do, but in two long trails now I've not seen it, and I suspect that if you stay on trail, assuming a long-distance thru-hike of one of the long distance trails, that you'll find that the miles you're cranking out will leave you disinclined to do things like bake bread in camp.
Thru-hikers and their preferences and styles certainly do vary (sometimes by a lot); I don't doubt that some have done this sort of thing, but FWIW it's at best a rare behavior. Less time spent fiddling with meals is more time to do other things at the end of the day.
Rechargeable batteries for streipen: I suggest that you rethink this one too. The recharging units are heavy and require a lot of exposure to sun to do much good (I carried a solar charger on much of the PCT for my smartphone). If you use UV light, better IMO to just buy the batteries in towns or get them in resupply boxes.
Again, I'm speaking in the context of long-distance hiking, and not relatively short trips (few days to a couple of weeks). The dynamics are definitely different.
Loc: Portland, OR
I am not sure that a solar recharger would be much better than dead weight in The Green Tunnel that is the AT. You could try it, obviously, but I would rate your chances of sending it home in the first 500 miles as very, very high.
As for baking on the trail, I would consider just how psychologically important it would be to you to preserve that option. Psychology is a big factor in thru-hikes (many thru-hikers would say that it is much more than half the battle), and food is a big factor in hiker psychology, but making big miles eats up (no pun) so much time and energy that you'll find that occasions for campsite baking while you're on the trail will be rare treats, widely spaced.
You should be able to satisfy the urge for baked goods when you venture off-trail for rest and resupply.
I wasn't thinking of using a solar battery charger-like people have said those things are iffy at best esp. on the AT. I was thinking more of just recharging them in town or having them charged at home and cycled through with each resupply (have a couple sets and send the depleted batteries back to be recharged and then sent back to me and so on.)
I keep forgetting that on the AT you are not entirely removed from civilization. In the time I have spent in Wyoming, I was gone from creature comforts for a month at a time. Perhaps it would be easier to leave the baking stuff behind...
Loc: Washington State, King County
"I was thinking more of just recharging them in town or having them charged at home and cycled through with each resupply (have a couple sets and send the depleted batteries back to be recharged and then sent back to me and so on.)"
I suggest that you don't cycle through to charge things at home via resupply boxes, because that strikes me as a lot more boxes than you want, fixing you to too many post office open/closing times. I had five resupply boxes on the AT last year (new pair of shoes in each one) and that was just right. For me, at any rate. Bring a charging cord for electronics you carry on the trail, and charge at hostels, motels, and when you go to a restaurant (or fast food place or even gas station mini mart) try to sit where you can charge your device(s) while you eat. I found that was plenty on the AT.
You might also want to limit how many different devices you carry that need to be charged. My smartphone does most things for me, including acting as my only camera on long trails. I do carry a separate MP3 player (long green tunnel ...), but I use one that takes a single AAA battery, so no problems there.
Of course there are different approaches to this stuff, but --- unless you have some really specific/limited dietary restrictions --- I think you'll regret it if you set yourself up to get a large number of resupply boxes along the way. Just get a good guidebook and figure out resupply as you go.