Preparing to survive if the world turns to crap.
Cleaning and disinfecting drinking water while camping has, up until now, not really been high on my priority list. Funny, I know given my day job working in a water utility. I reasoned, however wrongly, that because I camped up north and drank from cold, clear glacial lakes, nothing would happen. I mean, it's not like there is industry discharging toxic chemicals that'll grow me a third nipple or worse, right?
Of course, I neglected to remember cryptosporidium and giardia, both protozoa that can cause massive intestinal issues and both that are common in lake water. When you're in the middle of nowhere, projectile diareah is the last thing you want. I did write an article a while back called the basics of water treatment discussing why you need to both filter and disinfect your water - advice I do take myself now.
Let's run through my camping water treatment history, shall we?
Ok, so last season I picked up the Katadyn hiker pro filter and Micropur tabs and well, I can't really say much bad about them. Here's the picture:
The filter itself is a pump. But let's start at the bottom first. The suction side of the filter pump has a weight, a strainer and a float. This allows you to strain out all the big chunks first making the filter last longer. More importantly, it allows you to adjust the suction to the depth you want it, so you can get the cleaner water deeper down rather than sucking off the top, scuzzy part of the lake/river/whatever.
The filter itself is a glass microfiber capable of filtering down below one micron. This will remove protozoan cysts (like the ones I mentioned above). Plus, it has activated carbon to take out any organics and make the water taste good and reduce reactions with any disinfectant you add later. This thing pumps at about one liter a minute, so expect to do a fair amount of pumping every day. It'll strengthen your wrists. Last trip we brought a lot of dehydrated food that required lots of water - the filter hasn't clogged yet and I'm using the same one this year.
Now the micropur tabs for disinfection. They are indivudually wrapped and treat about 1 liter of water. They react with air and water to form chlorine dioxide. Unlike iodine pills, chlorine doixide is very effective at killing bacteria AND virus AND protozoa and leaves very little if any aftertaste.
Plus, I can fit lots of the Micropur tabs in the carrying case that comes with the filter, so it makes a nice, neat little water treatment package.
I can't really find a downside to these products. Maybe it's my relative inexperience at camping/hiking filters. Please correct me if I'm wrong. In the meantime, here are the prices, click the links for more info:
*Prices on Amazon.com as per June 5th, 2012