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Walter Eyed Pike  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, June 1, 2016 8:48:40 AM(UTC)


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The first time I went to the BWCA, nearly 15 years ago ()  we took the water strait out of big lakes, as far down into the lake as we could reach-- we didn't purify or filter it.  The second time, we used iodine tablets (yummy :?)--- On a 10 day hiking trip, through the mountains of New Mexico, we boiled every ounce of water we drank.

 

My question to all of you veterans, amateurs, weekend warriors out there is-- what is your preference.   If I had to choose one option, I liked pulling the water from the middle of a clear, large lake and drinking it strait-- although, with the knowledge I have now, compared to then, I don't think I could actually do it any more without worrying about the "effects."

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Ben Strege  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, June 1, 2016 9:19:48 AM(UTC)


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I always filter my water. This is what I have, and I absolutely love it - Sawyer 4 Liter Water Filtration System. It only takes a couple of minutes to filter a gallon of water. Unlike most water filters, you don't have to replace the filter when it gets clogged - just reverse the flow to unclog it.

A couple of years ago I took my Boy Scout troop to the BWCA. We brought two filters (I didn't have the Sawyer yet). They both broke on the same day. We ended up having to boil our water the rest of the trip. Good thing I brought 4 times as much fuel as I thought we needed.

I don't think I would drink straight out of the lake, no matter how clear it looks. I'm a worrier, and that would just worry me. Am I going to get sick now?! 

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Walter Eyed Pike on 6/1/2016(UTC)
Walter Eyed Pike  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, June 1, 2016 10:25:45 AM(UTC)


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Thanks Ben-   Am I understanding you correctly then, and this is all you use, no adjustment/adaptations to it?  I'm seeing a couple reviews that say it doesn't prevent bacteria such as giardia, however Amazon description says it does.  Basically, simple question-- do you still use a tablet of some kind, or do you simply run it through the filter and call it a day?

Ben Strege  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, June 1, 2016 11:37:43 AM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: Walter Eyed Pike Go to Quoted Post
I'm seeing a couple reviews that say it doesn't prevent bacteria such as giardia, however Amazon description says it does.

I haven't heard that before. The technical specs say: "Removes: Bacteria, protozoa, E. Coli, giardia, vibrio cholerea, Salmonella typhi"

I just filter it and call it a day. We're not in an area of the world that we have to worry about removing viruses, too, otherwise I would want a water purifier, not a water filter.

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Walter Eyed Pike on 6/1/2016(UTC)
Will  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, June 1, 2016 9:23:05 PM(UTC)


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Most of the time we filter when in camp or collecting water from shore.  I cant remember the specific brand of filter (it stays with my brother),  but it is a double bladder gravity fed filter.  If we are traveling, we just refill our bottles in the middle of the lake.  Giardia takes about a week before it affects you, so we generally dont worry about it.  You can also get it by splashing infected water in your eyes or nose as well.  My feeling is if you get something from the water, its just bad luck.  I haven't had anyone in our group get anything yet (knock on wood).  If we stayed more than a week we would probably be more cautious.

eagle98mn  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, June 1, 2016 9:42:44 PM(UTC)


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I use the MSR SweetWater filter, and I just added the MSR version of Ben's filter to my gear for this year. On the website, MSR states that both "Meets NSF protocol P231 for removal of bacteria (99.9999%) and protozoa (99.9%) from beginning to end of filter life in “worst-case” water." I envision using the hand pump while paddling and the gravity filter at camp.

As Ben said, viruses would be another matter entirely but they aren't a risk in canoe country. If I was on the Mississippi River, I would definitely add the chemical treatment to my system.

Lastly, iodine tablets are always in my pack as a backup plan against broken filters.

Hammond  
#7 Posted : Thursday, June 2, 2016 10:52:15 AM(UTC)


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any gravity type filter would be my recommendation - I like the platypus gravityworks https://www.rei.com/prod...er-filter-system-4-liter
phturbo  
#8 Posted : Thursday, June 2, 2016 3:14:23 PM(UTC)


I was able to make a similar version of the Platypus Gravity System by just using 2 hydration bladders and a Sawyer Mini water filter. It cost me less than $35 total. I too am a worrier and would not risk the consequences of not filtering when you are hours/days from the nearest medical facility.

BillConner  
#9 Posted : Friday, June 3, 2016 6:59:56 AM(UTC)


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Went from hiker pro pump to platypus gravity system and its great. We do carry a collapsible bucket (Seattle sports and it's great) and let water from Lake "settle". Solved all our problems with pump filter life before and seems to help with gravity system.
jasp205  
#10 Posted : Friday, July 8, 2016 4:38:45 PM(UTC)


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We use a First Need XLE Portable Water Purifier https://generalecology.com/category/portable/product/first_need_xle_portable_water_purifier-new.  My dad used one 30 years ago so when I looked into options when I was getting my own equipment I checked it out.  I like that it purifies not just filters and the water tastes great. We do fasten a piece of silk fabric to the intake as a prefilter so we don't clog up it up as fast.  We have been on a couple of pretty questionable lakes in the BWCA when we needed water and I was really glad to have it.  

 

Chris Hoepker  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, July 12, 2016 10:47:45 AM(UTC)


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We've been using a First Need XL since we got fed up with a Katydyn ceramic filter getting quickly clogged. I have no idea what the First Need removes in the way of little bad guys - actually I stopped worrying about that when to my great surprise I saw that tannin color was getting removed.

It's handy that the First Need screw threads are compatible with wide mouth Nalgene bottles, however, attaching the bottles is a little awkward and the pumping action somewhat asymmetrical. There is some room for improvement but not enough that I'd run out and buy another filter.

Figuring that boiling the water would make everything safe, we used to make coffee using unfiltered water. Then one time we just happened to use filtered water and found that the coffee tasted a whole lot better. Since then we've always filtered our coffee water.

When underway and a lake is big, we sometimes drink water direct from the lake.
TuscaroraBorealis  
#12 Posted : Thursday, July 14, 2016 7:09:05 PM(UTC)


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We also use (and recommend) the Sawyer gravity filter system. But, I also still occasionally fill my water bottles out from shore on lake trout lakes.
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Chris Hoepker on 7/15/2016(UTC)
Gavia  
#13 Posted : Thursday, July 14, 2016 11:35:59 PM(UTC)


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I also use the Platypus GravityWorks filter, and have since my first BW trip in 2008. The pore size is something like 0.2 microns. Giardia cysts are 6-7 microns so there's no way one of those critters can get through an intact Platypus filter.

This past May, on my 15th trip, I got giardia. Many people think it takes a week for symptoms to appear. Not so. It can take anywhere from one day to three weeks. In my case, it was no more than three days. Symptoms started mild and intermittent, and after about ten days they geared up to the point where I needed (and got) medication, which cleared them quickly.

I also use a Katadyn water bottle filter, whose pores are 0.3 microns. That makes it very convenient to dip from the lake when my other water bottle runs out. But I prefer to fill it with filtered water before leaving camp.


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Chris Hoepker on 7/15/2016(UTC), Will on 7/17/2016(UTC)
JoeWildlife  
#14 Posted : Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:15:17 PM(UTC)


I always filter my water, even for coffee because I don't boil it very long. I've made several trips with a MSR miniworks filter and it has served me well, but being plastic it is not the last filter you will ever buy. It takes some work to make a gallon of water. After using a friends Katadyn Vario, I was impressed with how quickly it works, but probably through user error it let us down the last trip. Being plastic and with a replaceable paper element, it won't last forever. Another friend had a vintage Katadyn Micro and I was so impressed, I bought one for myself. It is kind of heavy and a bit bulky, but it looks like it will last forever. I sure think it is the most dependable of the bunch.

My 2cents,
Joe
Sluggman42  
#15 Posted : Monday, September 19, 2016 10:41:06 AM(UTC)


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We used a Platypus GravityWorks filter this year. I bought one for my parents a few years back and this is the first time I've used it, simply outstanding. Used to have a MSR hand pump filter that took forever to get a gallon of water, with the Platypus its done in a couple min.

I personally don't worry about getting sick from the water so I will fill up anytime I'm out in the middle of a lake, but if it's around shore, especially in a calm area I make sure to filter/boil it first.
HoosierPaddler  
#16 Posted : Tuesday, October 11, 2016 8:59:57 PM(UTC)


We used a 4 L MSR AutoFlow Gravity Filter for our Sept. 2016 11-day trip to BWCA, but couldn't clean the reusable filter very well using a Nalgene bottles due to the vacuum created & limited pressure head; and the water flow slowed over time - we got our water from the middle of the lake. May have been user error...and maybe we just need to read the instructions closer. The unit packs up small and is light-weight.
Gavia  
#17 Posted : Saturday, November 12, 2016 11:22:21 PM(UTC)


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I'll second the recommendation for the Platypus CleanStream gravity filtration system. I've used it on all 15 of my BW trips, and until this past spring I never had any problems. I picked up giardia but I can't imagine how because I'm fastidious about water - heck, I don't even use unfiltered water to bathe or rinse. I'm confident it wasn't because of the filter, since my brother was along and he was just fine. I must have gotten it from splash while paddling. Anyway, the Platypus is easy to use, backflushes quickly, and lasts a long time.

Another nice option is a filtration water bottle. I've had a few and I like the one by Katadyn the best.  Never again will I have to pull up to shore, set up the gravity filter, and wait a few minutes to drink.  It's just dip and sip.

Joe_Schmeaux  
#18 Posted : Tuesday, November 22, 2016 2:11:24 PM(UTC)


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I always filter my water.

In the past, I've used various MSR pump filters, with varying success re longevity. The ones with the paper membrane are useless, the ones with the ceramic filter medium are better, but a bit of a pain to clean.

Last year I got a Sawyer mini (US$20 at Wal-mart). It's lighter than a pump, and conceptually backflushing makes a lot more sense than rubbing with MSR's little scrubbie thing. We'll see how long the Sawyer lasts.

I always pack a few dozen tablets, just in case my filter fails in the field (again).
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Wayne Moureau on 2/19/2017(UTC)
Gavia  
#19 Posted : Tuesday, November 22, 2016 3:08:05 PM(UTC)


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I keep a small bottle of household bleach in my kitchen pack in case of filter failure. I recently read that giardia cysts can survive exposure to bleach, but it isn't quite that simple. Use enough of it, and at the proper temperature, and it supposedly works. Here's a link that explains it: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/34217/
 

Edited by user Monday, December 12, 2016 11:22:34 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Joe_Schmeaux  
#20 Posted : Tuesday, November 22, 2016 3:42:10 PM(UTC)


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Bleach is a very powerful bactericide, but has limited effectiveness in killing giardia or cryptosporidium:

http://www.cdc.gov/healt...try_water_treatment.html

If you do take bleach as a backup, keep it out of direct sunlight, that will significantly accelerate decomposition (which is why bleach jugs in the supermarket are white, not clear).
BillConner  
#21 Posted : Wednesday, November 23, 2016 3:47:07 AM(UTC)


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Useful table. Thanks!
MnJohn  
#22 Posted : Wednesday, January 25, 2017 4:11:38 PM(UTC)


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Just came across this thread.  I've been using the Katadyn Vario and really like it.  Fast, easy to use, and use from the canoe.  This fall I was in 2 lakes that were pea green with algae bloom.  The Vario took care of that over 4 days and the water tasted great!  BTW, I only drink water, I don't bring anything else, so I use the Vario alot.

 

wgp  
#23 Posted : Friday, February 17, 2017 10:47:17 AM(UTC)


I used to backpack in Colorado and we used a First Need purifier. A bit bulky but worked well. First trip to the BWCA I discovered someone still selling this unit and bought a new one. Last time out it outperformed a MSR unit. Not cheap but less expensive than Katadyn units and it is a purifier, not just a filter.

My brother-in-law had a bout of Giardia after drinking from a supposedly OK well in a Colorado campsite. He was off work for nearly two months and spent part of that in the hospital. Between that, and once watching a mule deer answering nature's call right in the middle of a mountain stream, I don't drink the water without purifying.
GoldenBear  
#24 Posted : Tuesday, July 4, 2017 11:41:34 PM(UTC)


I've been traveling in the BWCA/Quetico for almost 30 years and I have never filtered my water. Knock on wood, I have never had an issue with getting water directly from the lakes. I am very particular about the lakes I camp on an how I collect the water. I would never try to talk anyone out of filtering. I am 62 and I have done solo trips the last 4 years traveling out of Sawbill and Kawishi Lake on those trips. I have paddled Wabakimi (fly-in) twice and my leader insisted that we filter. Hope you all have great trips this summer!!!
Gavia  
#25 Posted : Wednesday, July 5, 2017 12:00:25 AM(UTC)


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GoldenBear, I sincerely hope you never get giardia.  I've been BWCA tripping since 2008 and have used a Platypus CleanStream filter on all 15 trips.  I'm meticulous about using only filtered water - even for bathing.  On my last trip, in May of 2016, despite my fastidiousness, I got giardia on the first or second day.  Luckily, I had Pepto-Dismal and Imodium to moderate the symptoms, but I was still pretty uncomfortable much of the time.

Best of luck, and please let us know how your next trip goes.

Chichi  
#26 Posted : Monday, July 10, 2017 3:58:18 PM(UTC)


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Have used various pump filters in the past but always seem to be frustrated by how slow they were and how often you had to clean to keep the flow rate up. Then tried the Aquamira drops for a while - found them to be ok for a few days, but by day 4, the smell and taste turned us off them. Have been using the MSR gravity filter for the last few years and really like it. It's mainly fill it up and forget it until you have a bag full of clean water. Sometimes you have to work at "priming" it when the water just won't seem to flow - often a quick backwash fixes that. The only downside I see is that I'm not really sure when I should change the filter on it... Like Gavia though, we always treat the water.
Gavia  
#27 Posted : Monday, July 10, 2017 4:42:28 PM(UTC)


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I tried the MSR prefilter and was very frustrated with it.  The thing clogged constantly.  So I just quit using it, which meant a bit more particulate matter in the Platypus filter.  No big deal - back flushing just cleared it right out.

The Platypus filter slows down but never clogs.  A fresh filter will produce a gallon in under 6 minutes.  If filtration time approaches 8 minutes, I know it needs to be backflushed.  So I just hold the clean water bag above the dirty water bag for a few seconds and that does it.  I can't think of an easier way to filter more than a pint at a time.

Wayne Moureau  
#28 Posted : Tuesday, July 11, 2017 6:18:33 PM(UTC)


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Have you taken a look the Sawyer filtration system. I purchased the 4L size. That is what my crew will using this year. It's a little pricey but if it performs as advertised i'll be happy. it is supposed to filter 4L in about 3 minutes.
Ben Strege  
#29 Posted : Tuesday, July 11, 2017 6:57:30 PM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: Canoer97 Go to Quoted Post
Have you taken a look the Sawyer filtration system. I purchased the 4L size. That is what my crew will using this year. It's a little pricey but if it performs as advertised i'll be happy. it is supposed to filter 4L in about 3 minutes.

I have the Sawyer system, and I love it. I'm never going back.

Gavia  
#30 Posted : Tuesday, July 11, 2017 7:39:09 PM(UTC)


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It looks like the Platypus and Sawyer systerms are equivalent.  I'd like to know if anyone gets a full gallon in the advertised time of 2.5 minutes (Platypus) or 3 minutes (Sawyer).  I think the best I ever got with my Platypus was just under 6 minutes.

In any case, they're well-designed, easy to use, reliable, and effective.

Ben Strege  
#31 Posted : Tuesday, July 11, 2017 8:15:01 PM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: Gavia Go to Quoted Post
I'd like to know if anyone gets a full gallon in the advertised time of 2.5 minutes (Platypus) or 3 minutes (Sawyer).

I don't think I've ever timed it; I just know it is much, much faster than I can pump. If the filter has just been backflushed, I can actually see the "clean water" bag filling up.

Gavia  
#32 Posted : Tuesday, July 11, 2017 8:41:39 PM(UTC)


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That's right.  And if you're really watching it, you'll have a gallon before you know it.  You might even think it took only a few seconds.  If that happens, you know you've shifted to wilderness mode.

Walter Eyed Pike  
#33 Posted : Wednesday, July 12, 2017 11:27:59 AM(UTC)


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I also purchased the Sawyer and have nothing but positive remarks-- back filters well and keeps up with 6 people just fine.  We have one guy designated to filling up Nalgene's and water devices during meal prep time and by the time the meals are ready (We use BackPacker Pantry meals so 10-15 min) he has completely filled all Water devices with fresh, clean, fish pee 

a.lehinger  
#34 Posted : Thursday, July 27, 2017 11:15:45 PM(UTC)


I've always used iodine tablets. Mostly because that's what I started out using. They are wonderfully light, easy to use, and, somehow, I've come to actually enjoy the taste. Probably a nostalgia thing. Anywho, I actually have a question for anyone who has extensive experience using iodine tablets also: How many do you use to purify 32 oz (1qt) of water? I ask because I've had somewhat of a dilemma lately. I've ALWAYS used only 1 tablet. That's how I've always been tought and everyone I've ever known has done this and no one has ever gotten sick. (And I know there's more to it than luck, because I've been on trips where one person who forgets to use it HAS gotten sick) This in mind, I recently read the instructions on a bottle for the first time, and noticed it says to use 2 tablets. Has this always been the case and does it say to do this just for insurance purposes? Please help me out with this one!

Joe_Schmeaux  
#35 Posted : Thursday, August 10, 2017 12:17:35 PM(UTC)


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Re Sawyer Mini

So far the only problem I have had in the first year (couple of months of actual use) is that the plastic washer connecting the bag and the filter shrunk (or maybe the washer's wedge cross-section forced it to squash into a smaller diameter). So the unit started to leak a lot when the bag was squeezed. 

Replacing the old washer with a trimmed rubber hardware-store washer seems to work so far.

 

2018 update:

On this year's trip, first the filter barrel sprung a few leaks. I field-repaired it with pine tar, but then the bag sprung multiple leaks too. This filter is now in the trash. But it was cheap! (Just a reminder to always keep a supply of water purification tablets in your pack in case your filter fails)

Edited by user Saturday, July 7, 2018 11:29:07 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Joe_Schmeaux  
#36 Posted : Saturday, July 7, 2018 11:32:50 PM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: a.lehinger Go to Quoted Post

How many do you use to purify 32 oz (1qt) of water?

I'm sure it depends on the supplier. The ones I use specify 1 tablet per 2 litres (~quarts) of water.

BillConner  
#37 Posted : Sunday, July 8, 2018 6:51:23 AM(UTC)


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I got Micropur tabs from REI as a backup for a backpacking trip. They were 1 tab per litre but surprised me - 4 hours. I was sure that last time I used Micropur - Philmont - it was 15 or 30 minutes.
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