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Thread: Water treatment systems

  1. #1

    Default Water treatment systems

    So I'm looking into getting a water treatment system to take camping with me as my main water source for about a month in Alaska, and have a few questions.

    Water filter vs water purifier - for Alaska's backcountry wild waters, is a purifier really necessary? The only difference being the killing of small viruses, most people say a purifier is overkill and I know that a lot of people subsist on filters for long periods of time with no illness issues. Thoughts?

    Several models have popped up, the Katadyn pocket microfilter, MSR miniworks filter, First need XL purifier, Katadyn hiker filter among others.

    But really, what do you get paying $100 or more extra for something like the katadyn pocket against the katadyn hiker? Is one safer than the other?

    Just looking for a decent, relatively light, safe, pump water treatment system that will stand the test of time and doesn't cost a bomb... Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    I've used a Katadyn Hiker Pro for about 8 years now in Wyoming and Alaska and it's worked great. The only issue up here is if you have to get water from a glacial stream/river, the filter cartridge fouls pretty quickly. Not an issue if you can plan ahead enough to avoid relying on heavily silted glacial water.

    The last two years I've gone to just using AquaMira drops more and more and leaving the filter behind. I've had nothing but good experiences with AquaMira and know lots of other people in state have had only good things to say likewise.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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    Plus one for the Katadyn Hiker. I've carried mine since 2004, and I'm very happy with it. Yes, it's bulkier and heavier than a steri-pen, but it's bullet-proof reliable. When the filter clogs from silty, glacial water, I pull it apart, rinse it, reassemble, and keep on pumping.

    If you do even a cursory search on steri-pen, you will find a wealth of negative reports on it; owners complain most of prematurely dead batteries to outright failures-always at the moment it's needed.

    In my view, the only other legitimate option is iodine & citrus. Lightweight and effective, but it doesn't filter out the silt. Boiling water just means you have to carry more fuel, which equals the weight of the Hiker filter anyway.

    I've often wanted to make the move away from the Katadyn to something much lighter and smaller, but I just haven't found it yet.

  4. #4
    Member stevelyn's Avatar
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    If you are going to stay put in one place for any length of time, the Katadyn Base Camp is THE ****.

    I bought one for our moose camp last year and despite camp being located on the downstream end of beaver infested country we drank and cooked with water filtered through it for a little over two weeks. The prior practice had been to boil our drinking water which there never seemed to be enough of, tasted crappy and used propane supplies up faster.

    With the Katadyn base camp filter there was never a shortage of drinking water. We drank more water than we did coffee in prior years which kept everyone better hydrated and healthier. I also bought a 6L MSR Dromadary Bag with a spigot cap and was hung in the tree with the Katadyn Base Camp as a reserve.

    The best part is that it can filter up to 200 gals and uses the same filter as the Hiker Pro. At the end of the season I just trash the old filter and buy a new one for the next season since replacements are only $35. It filters out everything but viruses and I carry chlorine-dioxide tabs to hedge my bets if I suspect there might be something other than the line up of usual suspects in the water.

    http://www.backcountry.com/katadyn-b...p-water-filter

    http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/produ...stomer Reviews
    Now what ?

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    The last two years I've gone to just using AquaMira drops more and more and leaving the filter behind. I've had nothing but good experiences with AquaMira and know lots of other people in state have had only good things to say likewise.
    Can you taste this stuff at all...???

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the info guys.

    For me a pump system would be the most ideal system to allow me to filter into my bladder quickly and drink on the move.

    Anyone have any opinions on whether a purifier is necessary? The Katadyn Hiker is around $80 but for $89 you can get a "First Need XL" which is a pump purification system that gets rid of absolutely everything - overkill? Silt seems to be the main problem if anything so field maintainability I guess is the most important thing, which the First Need is not though. But camping out for a month I need to rid of all risks and if there is a small chance of water-borne viruses in Alaska(?) then I need something that consistently rids of them and the silt being so large could just be filtered through some cloth or a shirt...

    Thanks

  7. #7
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    All, or at least almost all, of waterborne illnesses in AK are either giardia or cryptosporidium. (I'm pretty sure I'm misspelling those.) I've never hear of anyone getting a bacterial or virus waterborne illness in AK, but perhaps others have. As long as you stay away from murky, stagnant water that's found in deep shade (UV from Sunlight will kill most any microbe in standing water) you should be fine with a simple filter without the purifier. It's all most filter users use.

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    Does anyone have a good method of filtering silty water..think tanana river or equal.
    I used several layers of paper towel but that filtered awfully slow..

  9. #9

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    Budman talk to your local water plant in fairbanks, they should give you a small amount if you ask nice. Use a coagulant such as Ferric Sulfate or what they are using. 10 plus drops of solution per gallon will settle the fine particles in the water then filter after setlling. Best way to treat water is filtration then chemical treatment. Most water up here has the potential of harm if untreated . And is nothing to fool with on back country outing.

    http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drin...treatment.html

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    Thanks KK
    I'll talk to them next week..

  11. #11
    Member AKHunterNP's Avatar
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    I use the Ketadyn Hiker Pro and it's been pretty good. Two things I also like about it is I got a cap to directly fill a nalgene bottle and an attachment that will hook straight into my camelbak.
    "...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe...Horrid mischief would ensue were the good deprived of the use of them." -Thomas Paine

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKHunterNP View Post
    I use the Ketadyn Hiker Pro and it's been pretty good. Two things I also like about it is I got a cap to directly fill a nalgene bottle and an attachment that will hook straight into my camelbak.
    I forgot to mention that feature. That's pretty nice; it fits both wide mouth and narrow mouth bottles, and that means you can have both hands to pump (a requirement) and don't need to hold the hose in place in the bottle.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    All, or at least almost all, of waterborne illnesses in AK are either giardia or cryptosporidium. (I'm pretty sure I'm misspelling those.) I've never hear of anyone getting a bacterial or virus waterborne illness in AK, but perhaps others have. As long as you stay away from murky, stagnant water that's found in deep shade (UV from Sunlight will kill most any microbe in standing water) you should be fine with a simple filter without the purifier. It's all most filter users use.
    Thanks this is useful.

    Still, viruses account for something like 4-5% of disease occurrences and can be transmitted through feces.

    Maybe I'm just being paranoid!

  14. #14
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I've had a first need xl for years, er decades. It has mostly served us well for various camping and backpacking trips.

    Then we hiked Crow Pass as a day hike, obviously no way are you going to carry enough water for a 26 mile day hike, so I figured I'd filter water along the way for myself, wife and 3 kids. Our group took a rest for lunch before crossing eagle river, which is heavily silted with the crossing within sight of the glacier. Before I'd gotten one bottle filled I'd clogged the filter up solid.

    I can't recomend drinking untreated water, but all of us drank out of Eagle River, and several clean flowing mountain tributaries on the remainder of the hike. Nobody got sick. I've also drank untreated water from other mountain streams around the state.

    Again, I don't recomend drinking untreated water, but to say the majority of the water is unsafe is simply not true. I would never drink out of any of the larger rivers, lakes or streams in the flatlands. Plenty of beavers and other sources or bugs.

    I'd definately go with a water filter for a prolonged backpacking trip, and would take some form of backup purification. Also be careful how you carry your filter as if you're not careful it's possible to get untreated water dripping into your clean water container of getting some drops near the discharge of the unit.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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  15. #15
    Member CtP's Avatar
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    I'm going to use a Sawyer inline water filter ( under 2 oz ) this year for my camelbak setup. I like using a bladder system, keeps me from having to pull a bottle out, plus I like to drink plenty of water. With this system I can fill and go or use it as a gravity filter if I want to establish some clean camp water. One good point to metion is that the bladder will be " dirty ", so only drink from the filtered end...
    http://www.sawyer.com/default.html

    That being said, I've never had a problem drinking straight from mountain water sources on Baranof Island.

  16. #16

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    I decided with the First Need XL. Mostly because I want to be able to use it anywhere and also in emergencies. Not just for the relatively clean water I'll encounter on my trip.

    I've also got a replacement canister, and a MSR siltstopper (+ replacement papers) to ensure that this thing doesn't clog, and if it does clog I'll be ready just in-case.

    Looking forward to field testing this set-up...

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    Anyone use coffee filters to cut down on glacial flour entering the filter?
    Somewhere along the way I have lost the ability to act politically correct. If you should find it, please feel free to keep it.

  18. #18
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    I use a coffee filter, they rip easily - so take extra. They help some. They always get dirty at least.

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