Thursday, April 7, 2016
As we all know, water is key to our survival. When out on a trail such as the A.T., you'll have to gather this valuable resource from small creeks or even piped sources along the way. The water may look clear and clean but please...don't drink it straight from the source. I know there are those out there that do/have, but it's always best to either boil or filter your water before drinking it. In the long run, this can save you from some really horrible stomach issues down the line.
There are many filter system choices available these days, but the one I'm partial to (and that has never let me down yet) is the Katadyn Hiker series. Yes, these add about 11 ounces to your total pack weight (and probably about a pound when the filter is wet inside) but it's weight I'm not willing to sacrifice. I thought it might be useful if I listed a few tips here for those first-time users to (hopefully) make the process easier. Some of these tips might seem like common sense, but I'll mention them anyway.
1. Before the first use, the filter must be primed. This is done by unscrewing the body compartment of the filter, removing the filter cartridge, putting some water inside, putting it back together, and then pumping it through the unit. I always do this the night before at the hotel. It doesn't take much water to get the system working properly. (Note: It can be difficult sometimes to remove the outside compartment so don't give up!)
2. Before using your unit, secure the weight on the tubing to help keep the tube from floating to the top of the water.
3. Always (and I learned this the hard way because I didn't read the directions before using my filter the first time) secure the filter basket in the end of the tubing. This is essential to keep fine debris from clogging up your filter cartridge.
4. After use, try your best to keep the piece of tubing that was directly in the water source away from the tubing that you put down in your water bladder, ect. I don't go out of my way to do this, but I do remove the inflow tubing from the filter and try to keep it separated from the rest of the unit just to try to minimize cross contamination. Again, don't stress over this too much.
5. In the even that your filter clogs and you're unable to clear it, you can always boil your water before drinking. This is a bit time consuming but better than the alternative of big belly issues.
Hopefully those tips will be helpful to anyone using the system for the first time. Also...just know that your arm might get a bit tired while pumping but you'll be super strong when you get home! Overall, I've been very pleased with the effectiveness and quickness of this filter system and plan to continue to carry it with me on future hikes!