Drinking water

Posted by: vfrracer

Drinking water - 15/03/10 06:57 PM


Can I get a bit of advice about making the water from streams palatable and safe?
I have heard a few different options and just wanted to know what other walkers normally use?
Posted by: Slogger

Re: Drinking water - 15/03/10 07:04 PM

I drink from streams where I can when on a long walk. I dont use any device or preparation to make the water safe. However I only use mountain streams, never low down in the valleys, and if the water is not 'Peaty' as many on the PW are.
I guess it all depends on your own tolerance levels, thankfully I have a strong constitution in that department.
Posted by: MarkF

Re: Drinking water - 16/03/10 06:33 AM

There are 4 basic technologies for making water safe to drink.
1. Boil it for 3 minutes - this requires a bit of time and fuel. It also takes time for the water cool for drinking but is cheap.

2. Put chemicals in it. Iodine, chlorine, silver salts etc. I carry Puritabs for this purpose. Advantage that it is light weight but some take up to an hour to do their thing.

3. Filter it with a rather expensive pump system and specialist filter. Check out Katadyne amongst many. Advantages quick, but the units are not exactly light and you need to make sure the filter is sufficiently fine to filter out viruses etc (some are not).

4. Use a UV sterilizer - Steripen is the brand. It is quick (1 minute) and not too heavy (approx 100 grams - 4 oz) but does chew through batteries and some people seem to have problems with them. I have just purchased one but have not tested it out sufficiently.

As you can see you can only really have 2 of cheap - quick - light. Pick your 2.
Posted by: MarkF

Re: Drinking water - 16/03/10 06:41 AM

I forgot to mention palatability. methods 1, 3 and 4 will not change the taste. Depending on the chemicals used in method 2 you are likely to change the taste of the water. You will find some suggestions on how to overcome this - some people recommend adding vitamin C but whiskey or tea/coffee are more to my taste.

The scientific trials suggest that UV sterilisation is most effective but there are some technical and reliability issues you need to consider which is why I will continue to carry some puritabs as well as my Steripen.
Posted by: Geo

Re: Drinking water - 16/03/10 09:16 PM

Hi vfrracer,
I'm assuming your query relates to the Pennine Way in particular, so with that in mind, I'd add to the advice already given that you can easily complete the walk by just sourcing your water from reticulated supplies. The distances between possible supply points are not that far that you will be unable to carry what you require.
If for some reason you got 'stuck' somewhere and needed to treat water and also conserve fuel, then iodine tablets or suchlike are a good light hassle free backup to carry. You can compliment these with neutralising tablets to remove the taste from the treated water if you find it unpleasant. I wouldn't like to use chemical purifying methods long term, but for the number of times you may need them that shouldn't be a problem.
Posted by: threespoons

Re: Drinking water - 21/03/10 09:53 AM

Normally when backpacking I used to tend to just boil the water if if the water looked a bit iffy or I didn't trust the source it came from, but that was all OK if it was for a making a brew or a meal but I found it was time consuming as then the water has to be left to cool if it was then used fill up a playpus. Finally there was then the issue of the amount fuel used to boil the water which sometimes is not so easy to replace when doing an LDP such as the pennine way. And so in the end I bought one of these,
Travel Tap.
The flow can be a bit slow and time consuming if you want to say fill a platypus etc, But after buying the travel tap I have done away with the platty and now I prefer to just drink straight from the bottle and have option filling up as I go,from any water source and also find it much more convenient rather than running out of water in the middle of nowhere and then not having a good water source for miles to top up the platty.
At 160 grams its not that much more weight than say carrying a sigg bottle aswell.
Posted by: threespoons

Re: Drinking water - 21/03/10 10:21 AM

Or there is this link to official Drinksafe systems website.