Tag Archives: giardia
Whether you are traveling abroad or backpacking in the wilderness drinking good water is a necessity. Bad water can carry parasites and bacteria like giardia, which can cause horrible flu like symptoms that can last several weeks or months. Over the years, new water filtering and cleaning products become available on the market. Although, filtering water is the best way to remove impurities there are also other and sometimes cheaper alternatives.
Filtering water through a carbon or similar filter is the best way to clean water. Numerous water filters have been available for some time but until recently many of them were too large or heavy to carry while traveling or backpacking. They were also slow. There are now many manufactures making fast, small and lightweight water filters.
This filter is relatively inexpensive, fast and works with most wide mouth water bottles. The entire pump assembly is light and a single filter cartridge can clean up to 1000 liters of water. The Hyperflow filter does not come without caveats. It can not be frozen and therefore is not recommended for cold weather adventures.
Authors Notes – I’ve used this filter for 2 years. The Hyperflow is the best pump I’ve used. It’s light, fast, easy to maintain and never clogs. Best of all, it’s easy to use because it doesn’t have complicated instructions or components.
The Vario filter combines 3 different filtering technologies into one small, 15oz filter assembly. This filter also works with standard large mouth water bottles. Although, it is larger and heavier than the MSR Hyperflow, the Vario filter can be used in cold weather climates.
Authors Notes – I used this filter on a 3 day backpack trip. Although, we used it to filter water from crystal clear mountain streams the filter clogged numerous times during our trek. The Vario does have an adjustable pre-filter that we could not seem to master which could account for our troubles.
UV light can kill most water borne pathogens and is an effective water treatment method. SteriPEN has a line of products that use ultra-violet light to clean water. To use the device you will need to fill a water container with unclean water and place the UV device into the water. Then, press the UV activating button on the device and wait until the LED on the device appears, indicating you can remove the device from the water.
The SteriPEN is a great way to make water drinkable but it does have drawbacks. First the device doesn’t filter out “floaties”. UV light may not be as affective in unclear water; therefore you need to pre-filter the unclean water before using the SteriPEN.
Authors Notes – I used a SteriPEN Adventurer and pre-filter on a 3 day trek in the Olympic National Park. The SteriPEN performed great on the first 2 days but water seeped into the battery cage of the device and caused a short. I was left with no way to filter water on the last day. I replaced the device with an MSR Hyperflow filter.
This is by far the cheapest and probably the oldest solution in modern history to treat unfiltered water. A small bottle of the liquid can treat about 100 quarts of water and it only costs about $3.00. Simply fill your water bottle up with clear, unfiltered water and add 5-10 drops of iodine. Wait 30 minutes and enjoy your clean water.
There are a few drawbacks to Iodine, though. First, Iodine tastes awful. Some people put vitamin C tablets in their water bottles after treatment to counteract the taste but others may find it too displeasing. The second problem with Iodine Tincture is that it does not completely remove all parasites. Cryptosporidium, a diarrhea causing parasite, is resistant to iodine treatment. Finally, iodine can be poisonous in large doses. It is not recommended for people who have hypersensitivity to iodine, thyroid problems or women who are pregnant.
Authors Notes – I used this treatment method on multiple trips into the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park. While the method is certainly cheap and easy, it doesn’t come without problems. Iodine has a terrible taste and caused yellow spots to appear on my clothing where it seeped through my pours. I would not recommend this method unless no other method was available.