The Latest Science on Purifying Backcountry Water

Discussion in 'Media Links' started by Lempo, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. Lempo

    Lempo Section Hiker

  2. dovidola

    dovidola Thru Hiker

    I'm not sure there's anything ground-breaking in this (although it contains a useful summary of water treatment methods).

    They drank untreated water high in the hills for a week. They didn't get sick.
    I drank untreated water in the hills for more than 30 years. I never got sick.
    Now I carry a filter and use it to treat water I wouldn't otherwise have used. I still haven't got sick.
    Luck or science? Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Impossible to be certain.
  3. Foxster

    Foxster Ultralighter

    If the only options were boiling or faffing around with complicated filters or digesting harsh chemicals then I might be tempted to drink clear fast-flowing water in some circumstances. However BeFree filters are so nearly effort-free that I struggle to think why anyone would not use one - except cost and if it was broken/lost of course.

    I can't think of anywhere in England where there's no chance of a dead animal or animal/human urine/faeces from upstream. You've only got to get a gutful of contaminated water like that once to know how horribly miserable your trip can become.
  4. Nigelp

    Nigelp Trail Blazer

    Interesting article. I have a filter and he stalky use it on all water in the UK and often it’s for hot drinks and food so gets a boil as well.

    Not sure what the risk from viruses are in the UK but I’d suspect very low.
  5. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Section Hiker

    Pretty much non-existent unless down stream from someone who has pooped near the water and has norovirus already. Viruses don't live in cold water climates...the northern (and some southern) US and UK, northern Europe are all safe in regards to viruses which is why most light-weight filters for these places only filter out bacteria and protozoa.

    As far as filtering...pretty much anywhere in the UK I would filter but in the high alpine regions of US mountains or similar geography in Europe that see few people and where the risk of contamination is basically non-existent, I don't bother to filter.
  6. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    I'm sure conditioning and previous exposure makes difference to our tolerance to water borne pathogens.

    Whilst in no way do I believe I have immunity, my guts are certainly tougher than they used to be after a few bouts of mild upsets and a couple of bad ones. I spend a lot of my time out and drink a lot of upland water.

    I used to do a lot of night fishing in very dirty water. LED headlights did a great job of illuminating the droplets of water flung off the line when reeling in/spray off white horses. There is far more than most folk imagine, and you could see this mist that must have been laden with all sorts of nasties being breathed in and misting over coffee cups/food etc etc. Rats, Wildfowl, Cattle, sewage; it all went in the water and it's impossible to have not been infected by the lot.

    The older I get, the more 'horrific' the water I'll happily use (albeit boiled/filtered). Froggy Doggy Chernobyly Bog water is all fair game (although I wouldn't dream of touching anything with agricultural run off).
    cathyjc likes this.
  7. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    Boil water for brews/food and resupply with tinned beer at frequent intervals. I have a two oz military pilot's 2um iodine emergency pump filter I take abroad.
  8. Nigelp

    Nigelp Trail Blazer

    The lower down stream I go the less inclined I am to drink the water what ever it’s been filtered or purified with!
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    OwenM and cathyjc like this.
  9. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    Camp high. Cheaper, cleaner, better views.
    Jamess and dovidola like this.
  10. dovidola

    dovidola Thru Hiker

    And fewer, but nicer, people
    Jamess and Heltrekker like this.
  11. PhilHo

    PhilHo Thru Hiker

    Isn't that a perceived problem in the Lakes. We need more less nice people to be more inclusive.
    Lempo likes this.
  12. Chiseller

    Chiseller Thru Hiker

    Filter & steripen... I've yet to feel the need to use both and usually use one or totha
  13. Heltrekker

    Heltrekker Summit Camper

    I just take straight from the stream high up and above the "animal line". If the water is clear, I bung in a Katadyn tablet if there are signs of animals about. For grubby water, I've been carrying an MSR Trailshot - I know a lot of people have problems with them, but I've been lucky, mine has always worked fine. For very bad water, I boil. So far, no upsets.

    I've been considering changing the Trailshot for a BeFree on weight grounds, but I'm having second thoughts as on a very hot day this summer on the GR10 between Col de Sasc and Balladreyt in the Ariege section, I ran out of water. It's very similar there to Pennine moorland, thick peat bogs etc., but the dry summer had cooked the bogs to black concrete and the streams had dried up. I did find a very shallow stream, but since there was no other water for miles, every animal in the district had come along and sh*t in it. I worked my way upstream to the source, a curtain of totally saturated long moss. I would have been there for ever trying to fill a BeFree, but sticking the tail of the Trailshot into the moss gave me 2 litres with 10 minutes of pumping. It's also great in very shallow streams with sandy/silty beds as pumping the water doesn't stir the bottom up. I'll probably still get the BeFree, but I'm keeping the Trailshot for dry conditions.
    gixer, Michael_x and Teepee like this.

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