Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hydration Solutions for Ultralight Hikes

Trending Now: Hike with less water but carry a portable filtration system
The summer heat is no time to skimp on water.  I really like my hydration packs such as CamelBak's Antidote Reservoir but even with its lightweight Mule carrier, it's just overkill for most hikes.  You'll find this to be the case more so with front country backpacking where you store much of your food and water at base camp or in your car parked in the lot.

Hauling Too Much Water?
Traveling super-light has its place and carrying 100 ozs of water is definitely going to blow out your back especially if you have other essential gear packed in.  I've found the best solution to be this:

Aurora 2SA Carbide Firestarter by Solo Scientific
1.) Find out where you will be hiking and if that area has a clean water source.
2.) Take what you need but pack a water filtration system in case of an emergency.

3.) Bring Stainless Steel cups that allow you to boil your water for extra disinfection.

4.) Bring a water proof firestarter to boil water. I use this Aurora 2SA Carbide Firestarter by Solo Scientific.

All of these items are relatively light, compact and easy to carry and will save you several pounds in your pack weight.  Remember 1 gallon of water weighs a whopping 8.35 lbs!  Now if you're climbing in the heat, you will be drinking a lot of that but let's face it.  Most of that water is just going to be dead weight for most of the trip.

Stainless Steel Klean Kanteen Pints & Carabiner
Stainless Steel Pint Cups by Klean Kanteen

The beauty of bringing along these cups is that they are lightweight, weighing only 3.5 ozs and virtually indestructible.  Clip them on your backpack with colorful bands that attach to their own S carabiners.  Clip them off to retrieve water from a nearby stream or lake. 

You can also place these 16 oz, 18/8 gauge stainless steel cups right over a fire and sterilize the contents by boiling water in the cup.  Use them to make soup, ramen noodles, oatmeal or any other camp side gorp requiring hot, boiling water.

These are excellent, easy to pack solutions for sterilizing water that you know is relatively pure to begin with.  Boiling will not, however, remove heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and other such contaminates from your water. In fact boiling only concentrates them.  If you are uncertain about your water source it's best to go to Plan B, a comprehensive but portable water filtration system.

Purificup Portable Water Filtration System
Purificup is hailed as the world's first portable water filtration system that removes 99.9% of contaminants such as bacteria, parasites and pathogens via a high tech nano-silver filter.  The unit is self contained with no tubing or extra parts required. 
Purificup is quite different from the CamelBak All Clear which uses batteries for UV disinfection.  While I really like the idea, UV light water purification does not strain out parasites, organic/inorganic contaminants and undissolved solids from the water. To underscore this, the CamelBak website recommends that if you are using the All Clear when camping in Upstate New York, that you:

Travel Water Facts:

When filling from a stream or other natural water source, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve also strained out any particulates prior to purifying your water to avoid bacteria or protozoan cysts like cryptosporidium parvum.

Therefore you may want to have the Purificup as your primary water filtration system to work with "iffy" potable water supplies.
Purificup for Natural Water

Our water source, Koi Central
Purificup makes portable filtration systems for both tap and natural water.  The unit comes in a capsule that allows all of the parts to nest neatly inside but weighs only 13.25 ozs.  That's with the filter soaked and charged.

No Water Boiling Needed
The nano-silver medium is an effective sterilizing agent so there is no need to boil the water for additional disinfection after it has been filtered. It is even effective in removing parasites such as giardia, also called Giardia lamblia, a type of single celled, flagellated protozoa.  This parasite may be found in streams, ponds, rivers, and lakes that have been contaminated with feces or sewage, (Eww!). Giardia infection causes a disease called giardiasis and is marked by abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Silver naturally has both antibacterial AND anti-fungal properties so it takes care of fungi as well.  One filter will purify up to 11 gallons of water.  That's saving you close to 92 lbs of water weight you DON'T have to carry!

Purificup filtering water from our Koi Pond
Purificup Filter Features:
Exclusive 3 Stage Filter Technology
  1. Ion exchange resin: Turn hard water into soft water by removing heavy metals (lead, copper, cadmium, mercury, etc) and calcareous (meganesium, calcium icons). In addition, it stably produces wear basic water during its life span.
  2. Activated carbon: Remove chlorine and other organic odor including THM, organic solvent, and pesticides.
  3. Nano-silver membrane:  The membrane kills 99.99% of the pathogens in natural water sources such as streams, falls, creeks, and rivers.  It is located on the inlet and exit of the filter circulation channel, preventing the filter cartridge from contamination. + Absolute 1 micron filter for additional layer of protection against bacteria.
So How Does the Filtered Water Taste?
Unpacking and setting up the filter was quick and easy.  Simply immerse the water filter in pure water for about 60 secs. to prepare itIn the lead photo I'm filling the included cup at the waterfall of our Koi Pond which is stocked with numerous fish.  Yes, the water smells fishy. We also have waterfowl, turtles, frogs and other critters using the pond.  Can you say e. coli?

I placed the collection container on top of the filtering unit and you can see pure, sparkling water flowing into the cup below.  The resulting water was very clear with no turbidity, cloudiness or fishy smell.  The taste?  Delicious!!!  Now I'm not promoting drinking water out of a fish pond but it just shows how effective Purificup really is.  I didn't feel ill or have any digestive problems from drinking my filtered pond water.  If it works on THAT water, it will clean up anything.  No backpacking / survival kit is complete without a comprehensive water filtration/purification system.  This is one of the best I've seen to date and what I will be packing from now on.

The Wrap
The choice is yours.  Continue hauling water like a pack mule or lighten up. Most of the time I do not finish all of the water in my hydration pack, even for longer hikes.  I've started carrying less water and have been far.  Just to be safe, I plan to keep a water filtration system on board in case of an emergency.  That way I have the best of both worlds.  Traveling light but traveling RIGHT.

Traveling light with less water.  Mountainsmith's Dart TLS Lumbar Pack with Water Bottle

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