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Water, water everywhere...

Image for article Water, water everywhere...

Water filtration is often a bit of a thorny subject. On the one hand we would all like to be drinking from the proverbial crystal-clear mountain streams. On the other, the Lake District is the most popular National Park in the UK (16.4m visitors per year). You’re therefore likely to never be more than perhaps a mile away from another person, and to have several dozen sheep in the near vicinity. So should we really be taking the risk of drinking water with such a possibly of contamination?

The basic advice for selecting water on the fell is still very sound. Choose courses of fast-flowing, clear water. The bigger the better. Check upstream at least 100m for signs of contamination (I have nearly drunk from a stream only to find a sheep carcass only a few metres upstream). Consider where the water is flowing from, and avoid sources that are near major paths or camping spots, where people may contaminate the water. Water after wetter spells is more likely to be fresh, so if it has been dry for several days, be more suspicious of any water source.

This is where it gets inconvenient. Ideally, you should boil water for at least one minute before use. If you are making a cup of tea, or rehydrating a meal, this is quite straightforward but if you just need a drink you don’t want to be stopping to brew up. Neither do you want to be carrying large amounts of tap water, particularly if you are backpacking, or boiling water every night for use the following day.

At George Fisher we have a number of solutions that should cover anyone from the day walker, to an expedition anywhere in the world.

LifeSystems Chlorine Dioxide Tablets

These are the simplest and cheapest option; a pack of 30 tablets, with each treating a litre of water. This will kill bacteria or viruses you might come across in the UK, and therefore a good idea to carry in your pack as a ‘just in case’ answer to running out of water. It will not, however, filter out sediment or chemicals.

  • Great for: All-round UK use.
  • Not good for: Removing chemicals, or mildly muddy water sources.
  • Weight: 40g Cost: £11

Katadyn MyBottle Purifier

This bottle contains a filter which you suck the water through. It’s great for dipping in a stream, enabling you to drink most water straight away. It will get rid of the same things as the Chlorine Dioxide tablets, but also filters out chemicals as well. The disadvantage is that it will only easily produce water for drinking, and so isn’t practical for treating water for cooking, washing or storing due to the need to suck water through.

  • Great for: Quickly obtaining drinking water for personal use.
  • Not good for: Filtering for multi day trips, more than one person, or muddy water sources.
  • Weight: 260g Cost: £57

MSR Trailshot Micro Filter

A new filter which is a step forward in versatility at a very reasonable price. A small, squishable hand pump containing a filter is connected to a long hose. This enables you to dip the hose in your water source and then pump the water into a container. You can also drink straight from the water source, by sucking on the pump mouthpiece.

  • Great for: Quickly obtaining water for drinking or other uses for one or two people.
  • Not good for: Removing chemicals, large groups, or extremely muddy water sources.
  • Weight: 142g Cost: £40

MSR Guardian Purifier

This filter was designed by MSR for the US Army. As such it is very much the ‘4x4’ of water purifiers, a go-anywhere, deal-with-anything piece of kit. Robust construction, easy to use, high pump volume and guaranteed safe water, making this ideal for harsh environments and long term use.

  • Great for: Peace of mind that this will make any water drinkable (used in conjunction with chlorine dioxide where needed). Larger groups needing bigger quantities of water for extended use.
  • Not good for: People wanting to go ‘fast and light’ in areas with reasonable quality water.
  • Weight: 490g Cost: £310

28 March 2017 by Jon Wickham

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