Water Systems

Posted by: Sponge

Water Systems - 11/22/20 07:06 PM

I broke my sawyer mini this weekend, so it's time to replace it. I liked the size of it (could fit in my fly fishing sling pack), but the bag it comes with is small and it never really had the flow rate I would've liked so it took forever to fill up water bottles.

What's your water system and what would you recommend?
Posted by: Tom7654

Re: Water Systems - 11/22/20 07:31 PM

I switched from a Sawyer mini water filter to AquaMira chlorine dioxide water purifying drops. The drops are much more convenient, and they're also a bit lighter weight. The treated water tastes fine, unlike the iodine drops I tried years ago.
Posted by: BZH

Re: Water Systems - 11/23/20 10:09 AM

If the trip has access to clear stream water I prefer the Steripen. Lightweight and fast. If you expect occasional debris then just pre-filter with a bandana. If you expect a bit of off-putting flavors then I bring a water bottle with an activated charcoal filter (Steripen in the bottle, then put the cap on and drink through the AC filter).

For larger groups, where sterilizing a liter at a time gets annoying I have a BeFree filter with a reservoir. I'm not sure I would recommend it though. I've read an awful lot of failure reports of the thing getting clogged and last I checked they do not have an appropriate integrity check.

Some years back I did a trip in the desert during rainy season. Water was available but very muddy. It was nice to have a filter that was easy to clean. I think we had an MSR Miniworks. Pump until the filter clogged. Open it up and pop out the filter, clean it off, put everything back together, and keep filtering.

The one thing I bring along with me is the piece of mind that backcountry water (at least in the US/Canada) isn't really that full of nasties. They did a survey of people coming off the AT. No correlation was found between water treatment technique (including people who did not treat at all) and getting sick. A strong positive correlation was found with cleanliness habits. I treat all my water because, even if the chances are low, I don't want giardia or the ilk, but I spent more time worrying about if I washed my hands well enough after I went to the bathroom.
Posted by: Tom7654

Re: Water Systems - 11/23/20 11:16 AM

BZH, you're right that a lot of backcountry water is fairly safe, especially at higher elevations and far from agricultural and urban areas. But the Appalachian Trail hikers survey actually concluded that "For the most part, hikers treated their water. The less frequently they did so, the more likely they were to contract waterborne illnesses."

Posted by: Sponge

Re: Water Systems - 11/23/20 03:00 PM

Appreciate the feedback. I'm mostly hiking near mountain streams, so clarity and taste are good and a bandana should be sufficient for sediment. Steripen or gravity systems seem to be the most common. I will say, the ClO2 tablets seems the only downside is time and that, otherwise, they seem the most fail proof.
Posted by: Bill Kennedy

Re: Water Systems - 11/24/20 06:22 AM

The Sawyer Squeeze is only a little bigger than the Mini, so if the flow rate was your only issue with the Mini, the Squeeze might be a possibility, since its flow rate is better. And it's fairly cheap.
Posted by: BZH

Re: Water Systems - 11/24/20 10:27 AM

Thanks Tom! That looks like a more recent report than what I had read, though I can't read it on my work computer because it is hosted outside the US. I'll look for it somewhere else or read it on my phone.
Posted by: Rick_D

Re: Water Systems - 11/26/20 11:58 AM

I transitioned to MSR Autoflow from Sawyer, finding it a little more reliable with better flow rate. It's not dramatically different and I still think the Sawyer gravity system is viable.

NB Some source water conditions challenge gravity system (regardless of brand) making them a dubious choice without either effective prefilter or backflush ability. Visibly cloudy water and clear water with a lot of organics are the usual culprits. UV with prefilter can be a good alternative, although it's far more fussy.

Posted by: Arizona

Re: Water Systems - 11/26/20 02:58 PM

Depends on where we are traveling but in southern Utah canyon country it is difficult to use any filter in most of the available sources. The silt in the streams plugs up a good filter very fast, before I can pump one gallon. When I clean it it plugs up much faster. So we look for seeps coming out of a wall, don’t have to filter those or a pothole where the water has settled clear I’d one can be found.

Many times we just boil water but the water born pathogens like Cyanobacteria have a toxin that only gets worse when the water is boiled thus rupturing the bacteria and spreading the toxins. That is the problem with the Virgin River where that woman claimed to have been lost and hunkering down for a couple weeks. Without water she would be dead but the Rangers and Sheriff said drinking that water for every a couple days would have the same effect, death.

I have carried 12 liters of water into the desert many times. Lol
Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Water Systems - 11/28/20 06:01 AM

I like old school pump filters but appreciate modern filter technology so purchased this cheap water filter and replaced the filter with a Sawyer filter. The pump is similar to some larger condiment pumps so a cheap condiment pump and some tubing might work also.
Posted by: the-gr8t-waldo

Re: Water Systems - 11/29/20 04:41 PM

like Tom I really enjoyed the Sawyer filters. especially when I ran across a cold/cool stream, But the clogging has forced me to go to the aquamira drops. last long hike I tested the "still working" mini passed water so I packed it along for a 140miler.....15 minuets into my hike I pulled it out at a small stream- it had clogged up just 10hours after testing at home. just not willing to trust sawyers anymore.
Posted by: aimless

Re: Water Systems - 11/29/20 08:45 PM

I'm generally filtering clear water sources on my hikes, but I've never had my Sawyer mini clog up to where it was anything but a tad bit slow. I'm wondering if you're using it as a gravity filter or if you're using the method of squeezing the dirty water bag to force the water through, which is what I do.
Posted by: Sponge

Re: Water Systems - 11/30/20 11:08 PM

Originally Posted By aimless
I'm generally filtering clear water sources on my hikes, but I've never had my Sawyer mini clog up to where it was anything but a tad bit slow. I'm wondering if you're using it as a gravity filter or if you're using the method of squeezing the dirty water bag to force the water through, which is what I do.

I'm filtering water from trout streams and a filter tested before heading out can clog up on the first bottle to the point where it's dripping out even when squeezing hard enough to get hand cramps. I think it's large particulate doing it and might need to pre filter. Alternately, could just bring the plunger.
Posted by: the-gr8t-waldo

Re: Water Systems - 12/01/20 12:43 PM

aimless, I've only used 'em in "squeeze mode". for me the trouble seems , most often from storage (between outings_). brand new they seem to hold up great..but trying trying to use one after storage, it's either bad on first attempt or shortly thereafter-for the record, I'm a "fair weather" hiker-no overnight freezing temps...it's not like I'm totally bummed out, since this gives me the motivation to try chemical treatment and allows me to reduce pack size a wee bit.
Posted by: aimless

Re: Water Systems - 12/01/20 06:00 PM

I bring the syringe/plunger with me and use it. I generally filter about a gallon when I make camp, then backflush it right away. I backflush thoroughly before I store it, too. Sure seems to help.
Posted by: 4evrplan

Re: Water Systems - 12/02/20 03:21 PM

I use the Sawyer mini as well. I use a Smartwater flip top cap (on the top of the 1L bottle it came with) to backflush it. It's a lot smaller and lighter than the syringe the mini came with. I also backflush after every bottle filtered. It may not be the fastest system, but it works for me.