Aquamira Amount on PCT
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Giardia on 03/05/2010 00:03:45 MST Print View

People talk all the time about how low the risk is of getting Giardia setting up housekeeping in your intestines. Maybe. Maybe not.

Part of the problem is that I have been present when other hikers contracted this condition, and it got ugly in a hurry, like I cannot describe!

The symptoms vary, but normally it takes one to two weeks for the colony to lay eggs (in your gut), and that is when the symptoms show. In some individuals, it is a very slow onset over days, and in others it is most explosive! Some do not show the symptoms at all, and they might be silent carriers.

As a result of all of that variability, it becomes difficult to decide exactly when the little Giardia cysts were ingested. On one trip in Nepal, the first victim showed major symptoms one day, and the diagnosis was confirmed by a physician at a microscope. Over the course of the next week, almost everybody else on the trek showed different degrees of the same thing. Except me. Maybe I became the silent carrier. I don't know. Don't think so.
--B.G.--

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Treatment on 03/05/2010 00:05:11 MST Print View

Evan:

You're welcome. According to AM website, the compact and light Frontier Pro should be changed out every 50 gallons. Not the best for long thru hikes. For me anyway, as enticing as chemicals are, I would not use them alone. I just know that I won't wait hours for my water -- and then the chemicals (A.M.) become nothing but a false sense of security for me.

I don't know if viruses are a factor on the PCT, but if not, then I might just dispense with chemicals altogether (or just carry a small quantity as backup) and just rely on a quality pump filter (not the Frontier Pro though).

And if viruses are a factor, then I would:

(1) Pair the chlorine with a heavier but much longer-lasting filter -- like the Pur Hiker Pro or MSR Sweetwater (11 oz) -- or...

(2) Bite the bullet, add another 5 oz. and just get the 16oz. "do it all" First Need purifier. Works like a fast pump filter but will take care of everything.

Evan Chartier
(evanchartier) - M
filters on 03/05/2010 00:12:51 MST Print View

Really looking to stay away from those filters. Heavy and not cheap either! Anyone know how long the bacteria/viruses can live in the water?
Evan

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Frontier Pro on 03/05/2010 00:15:16 MST Print View

I don't know that the Frontier Pro filter fails. I suppose it could if it developed some terrible leak, but I've never seen it happen. It can become partly clogged, so if you have been less than diligent about collecting your raw water, you might have little pine needles and stuff clog the filter. So, if you sense that it is working too slow, you take it apart to check it. There is a simple one-stage prefilter pad, and it might have caught the pine needles, so brush it off and rinse it with pre-treated water, then put it all back together. I suspect that if you get it into some really nasty stuff, you might clog it more permanently. I've seen some water filters get seriously screwed up from different nastiness in Yosemite. So, the smart thing to do is to arm yourself with different tools (filter, chemicals, boiling, etc.) and use one or the other or a combination, just depending on what is running through the hose.

I was on a Kilimanjaro trek, and the stupid mountain guides left the big water filter out one night. This was a very expensive ceramic Katadyne that was foot-pumped. Well, it froze that night, and in the morning they had about 150 little ceramic pieces of junk. Unfortunately, the stupid mountain guides had not brought along enough fuel for the stoves, so they didn't want to boil any more water than was necessary. Now what?

Ol' Bob pulled out his bottle of iodine crystals.

--B.G.--

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: filters on 03/05/2010 00:15:25 MST Print View

Evan,
There are some MYOG options for some filters that aren't too expensive and weigh under 6 ounces.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
old filters on 03/05/2010 00:18:28 MST Print View

In the way old days, some people used to buy a Volkswagen bug fuel filter and hook it up in a gravity feed arrangement with a 15 foot head of water. Supposedly, that worked, but I never did see any lab tests on it.

Then one guy tried to use a _used_ VW bug fuel filter. Yuck!

--B.G.--

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: old filters on 03/05/2010 00:23:38 MST Print View

Yeah, there's certainly room for creativity here.

1. Relying on a filter to do everything -- even filtering out viruses -- will mean a bigger/bulkier filter.

2. Relying on chemicals to kill everything -- even the bigger hard shelled protozoa -- will mean very long wait time.

That's why I like to combine both methods -- I can reduce wait time by relying on chemicals to kill just the tiny stuff and then using on a simpler/lighter filter to block just the bigger stuff.

And yeah, I haven't had a Frontier Pro fail on me yet -- there're no moving parts -- and as long as I have clean water, I can unclog the filter by pushing some water through in reverse direction.

Edited by ben2world on 03/05/2010 00:25:40 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
iodine on 03/05/2010 00:28:39 MST Print View

I remember the time we treated a whole bucket of water with iodine, and then we started cooking. The meal included dehydrated potatoes.

You can see where this is going.

What did we get?

Purple potatoes, due to the starch-iodine reaction. It doesn't bother the nutrition, but it sure ruined the appetites.
--B.G.--

Evan Chartier
(evanchartier) - M
Filters on 03/05/2010 00:30:06 MST Print View

Using those car filters just sounds crazy! I guess some people will try anything. Must have been ultra-heavy though.
Good tips on here. Will have to look more at the MYOG and everything when its not 1:30 am :) Hikers never sleep eh! Too much energy once there is no weight on our backs. Or little weight that is.
Evan

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Bug Filter on 03/05/2010 00:31:14 MST Print View

>>In the way old days, some people used to buy a Volkswagen bug fuel filter and hook it up in a gravity feed arrangement with a 15 foot head of water. <<

Multi-use. I like it.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: iodine on 03/05/2010 00:31:30 MST Print View

Bob,
There are actually real purple potatoes!

potatoes

I made purple french fries out of these once. Odd, but tasty!

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
aquamira on 03/05/2010 00:40:19 MST Print View

Hi Evan,

Although I use the tablets now for my hikes, if I did the PCT again, I don't see any problem with using the liquid Aquamira type. I used it for all water I drank for 5 months on the PCT in 2004, and for other multi-week hikes in CA and CO, and I was happy with the system. I can't think of a single time where I was like "Gee, I wish this was faster, it's really getting in the way of my hiking time." The reality is that you might be doing 10 or more miles (or 30) between water stops, and when you get to one, you'll wanna take a break anyway. The water treatment REALLY doesn't get in the way of your hiking flow, at least for me.

You get some funky water here and there, but in general the risk from water-borne illnesses is VERY low, from the literature I've seen. In the case of Giardia in the Sierra, there isn't really much there, and if you are exposed to it, you likely won't get symptoms. If you do, they will likely be mild. Not to say that a few folks didn't get serious Giardiasis on the PCT that I saw, but they also weren't typically treating any of their water.

Some info:
http://www.ridgenet.net/~rockwell/Giardia.pdf

I'd say buy the cheaper liquid form, use it on all water (or at least all remotely questionable water), and hike. You'll have no problems.

Cool.

p.s. Ben has a LONG history of promoting tablets over liquid. It's sort of become a BPL meme. I think he also does a lot of around the world travelling where I'd be thinking about viruses more too!

Edited by DaveT on 03/05/2010 01:13:33 MST.

Evan Chartier
(evanchartier) - M
Dave on 03/05/2010 01:01:56 MST Print View

Dave,
I really appreciate your post. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate all the information that comes from one of these threads. Sounds like the tablets are more potent however the risk of getting sick is very low. Most things in life tend to be more hype than reality. This is not to say that Ben's point is not valid. I just dont think the money is worth it for ME at the moment. I just placed an order with Joe at Zpacks for the aquamira. Maybe once I have some experience with the stuff myself I will be able to make a more informed decision. After reading the chapter in Ryan Jordan's book on water treatment he makes a good case for using the liquid form. Thanks to everyone for such great discussion.
Evan

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: IMPORTANT Clarifications on 03/05/2010 01:37:08 MST Print View

Ben,

What about drop size (for your bleach)? Is a drop a drop? If not, how do I know I have a big enough drop?

-- MV

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: old filters on 03/05/2010 03:13:21 MST Print View

Ben,

As I understand it, kill times for viruses and bacteria are the same for both liquid and tablet ClO2. Why is that? I thought kill time was concentration x time, and you say tablets have 3x-4x the concentration.

I know this next question has been asked before, but I have not seen the answer, nor has Googling found it. Is there a chart or graph of protozoa kill time vs water temperature for the tablets? How do I know whether to wait 30 minutes or 4 hours? The extremes are obvious, but in between is not. We cannot even draw a straight line through the two known data points, because the long data point was for very dirty water.

-- MV

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: aquamira on 03/05/2010 05:39:34 MST Print View

Thanks for your post, Dave T. I agree that, while Ben is right that the tablets are more potent, my experience has never been that they are absolutely necessary. I've used Polar Pure, bleach, AM drops, and AM tablets at one time or another, and I've never had any intestinal bugs on long backpacking trips. Except once when I didn't treat my water, but that went away by itself in a couple weeks :)

At least five people that I hiked the Appalachian Trail with never once treated their water, and never had any issues, either. I've met one hiker who did have giardia, and one hiker who told stories of getting it several years ago, but the vast majority of hikers, whether they treat water or not, never get it.

Of course, water sources on the AT and PCT are pretty different from what I hear, so here's my plan. I'm taking AM drops, but I've also got a pile of tablets that I have left over from last fall. I'll carry 5 to 10 tablets with me, at very little weight cost, and keep the rest in my bounce box. Use drops on water sources that look fine, tablets on those that look less fine. And in general, not worry about what's in the water once I treat it.

Ryan Longmire
(longmire) - MLife

Locale: Tejas
Frontier Pro - suck mode on 03/05/2010 08:00:59 MST Print View

Great discussion, all.

Ben,
I have been using the Frontier Pro in gravity mode, in combination with chem treatment. I am happy with the bulk/weight of the system, but the filter seems to slow to a drip while out in the field.

I think I would like to try your current method of chem treatment, then using the Frontier Pro in "suck" mode. How do you have your bladder/hose/filter setup?

bladder -> hose -> frontier pro -> hose -> bite valve?

OR

bladder -> hose -> frontier pro w/ mouthpiece?

Also, does the filter reside in your pack? Attached to the shoulder strap? Just hanging loose at your chest?

Thanks!!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: aquamira on 03/05/2010 08:03:54 MST Print View

Evan,

I used iodine from the 60's until last year, when Ben convinced me to switch to the Aquamira. I use the tablets because they are more convenient, and being older I can afford them.

You are going to need treatment until the high Sierras. Not all water is safe in the Sierras, so do your research. Water in the San Jacinto and San Bernadino needs to be treated.

Filters cost you weight, require maintenance, and "break" in the field.

So for you, I would go with chemicals. But crucial is your Water Management System, that is, how you are going to time and manage water acquisition and treatment strategies.

Regarding wait times... you are going to find a lot of cold water in the San Jacintos and San Bernadinos, since you will be hiking in the spring time. You need a strategy. When you get to your water source, you need to have about a liter of water left. Just in time strategies are potentially dangerous should you miscalculate or there is a problem with your water source. Here is what I do:

Try to hit water sources in late afternoon. I cook my meal near the source, so I don't have to carry cooking water. My cooking water does not have to be treated, because I am going to boil it. It does not make sense to boil treated water. So after I cook my dinner, I then fill up all my water bottles and treat that. Keep in mind I still have my one liter bottle that has been treated earlier. Now I hike to my campsite. My one liter reserve bottle will support me until my 4 hour window arrives and all the water has been competely treated. Just repeat this every day as best you can. Same strategy if your camp is near water, and you can use the method for breakfast too. Ofen you may need to hike a couple hours to water, and then prepare breakfast near the source (if you cook breakfast).

Hope this makes sense.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: IMPORTANT Clarifications on 03/05/2010 09:23:27 MST Print View

Bob:

Droplets come in different sizes, but there is no need to be scientific about it. My understanding is that most instructions given regarding the number of drops (4-6) and the treatment time (15-30 minutes) are both higher than really necessary -- to allow for that margin of error. I am sure this applies to the liquid Aquamira as well.

As for whether treatment time for the more potent AM tablet vs. liquid -- one would think that the tablet should work faster -- but AM instructions state the same 20 minutes. Why? Don't know. I didn't ask as I was focused more on protozoa.

Finally, I have yet to see any chart that plots treatment times vs. water temperature. All I know is that 30 minutes is good for water at room temperature -- and treatment time goes up from there as water temp decreases -- all the way to 4 hours for water just above freezing.

Truth be told, I am not a big fan of either due to both high expense and long treatment time.

Edited by ben2world on 03/05/2010 09:37:14 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: IMPORTANT Clarifications on 03/05/2010 09:27:23 MST Print View

Evan and Dave:

We all have our own risk tolerance -- and water treatment is unfortunately one of those things where "no bad news" doesn't necessarily equate to "treatment efficacy". We can't see the baddies, most all of us don't have our own labs, and there are too many other variables besides.

But if protozoa are a factor along PCT water sources, then know that your AM liquids are completely silent about them -- whereas the same company that makes the tablets advertises their efficacy against protozoa pretty loud and clear. If liquids work well, why do you think AM keeps silent about that?

We are all enticed by cheap, light and compact methodologies, but regarding the liquids, methinks there's an element of "wishful thinking" on your part. Not saying you will get sick or anything (Dave clearly didn't), but...

Edited by ben2world on 03/05/2010 09:32:58 MST.