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Sawyer Filter for Cow Water ?
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Larry Swearingen
(Larry_Swearingen) - M

Locale: NE Indiana
Sawyer Filter for Cow Water ? on 11/11/2013 09:48:14 MST Print View

I'm planning on doing a segment of the CDT later next summer from Rawlins to Old Faithful and have a question regarding using a Sawyer
Filter for some questionable water sources crossing the Great Divide Basin. ie. Cow Water.
I've only used my filter on pretty clean looking water so far and have
not had to back flush it yet.
So how do you who have used it for some cruddy water do it ?
Do you pre-filter somehow, and how , to remove most of the solids before it
actually reaches the filter cartridge ? Or just carry the big syringe
and back flush often. BTW I've got the larger filter that screws onto
the Sawyer bag.

Thank you,

Larry S

Michael Ray
(thaddeussmith) - F
Re: Sawyer Filter for Cow Water ? on 11/11/2013 10:16:41 MST Print View

A bandana over your bladder opening while you fill up should suffice.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Sawyer Filter for Cow Water ? on 11/11/2013 11:05:40 MST Print View

Carry a means to backflush?

Normally, for a week, with clean water, I just leave backflush at home.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
Sawyer and cow water on 11/11/2013 11:25:01 MST Print View

Unfortunately cow water is the only water for a lot of us while hiking....especially in New Mexico and Arizona. A bandanna will work fine, if you want to go hi tech a diesel fuel filter from amazon, 25 micron singed poly is good, you cut the material into circles and fold it to make like a coffee filter and pour the water through that, it works faster than the bandanna. Then filter through the Sawyer and add your Aquamira or Aquatabs and you are good to go.
This way you don't have to back flush so much.

Edited by Drusilla on 11/11/2013 11:25:58 MST.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Sawyer and cow water on 11/11/2013 11:48:32 MST Print View

Keep in mind that Sawyer does nothing to improve the taste. Based on the posts above, it sounds like those with cow water experience find it tolerable.

Would a filter with a charcoal element help the taste?

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
charcoal on 11/11/2013 12:38:34 MST Print View

Yes it does but its another thing to carry and slows the filtering down a bit. Katadyn carries a good one, you can get packets of charcoal to renew the filter.
Really, you do get used to weird tastes, its not a game changer for most. If it is for you, use a powdered drink like tang or crystal light or any other that you like.

Christopher Kuzak
Cattle Ponds/Cow Water on 11/11/2013 12:45:33 MST Print View

There are some places I simply won't use a Sawyer or a bug zapper. Those are places like Henry Coe State Park, where in certain areas, there's almost nothing to drink out of but old, murky cattle ponds certain times of year. Always use my trusty Katadyn Hiker in those cases. Definitely improves the taste of the water and never clogs (filter gets ugly though). That said, if you're dealing with reasonably clear running streams that cattle just cross, maybe hang out a bit in, go with the Sawyer.

Larry Swearingen
(Larry_Swearingen) - M

Locale: NE Indiana
more Cow Water on 11/11/2013 13:34:08 MST Print View

Well some of the descriptions that I've read about a few of the water
sources on the CDT say that the cows are standing in the "spring"
while drinking and crapping at the same time. ugh !
Think I'll look into the carbon filter thing too and figure out how to
run water through my bandana while filling the bag.



Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
water sources on 11/11/2013 14:58:10 MST Print View

Most true "springs" are boxed in or protected, then water is piped to a trough or dirt tank which we call "drinkers". Ranchers generally try to protect the source of water if possible cause they know that cows trample everything they can get near, and they want good clean water for future generations of livestock. Many "drinkers" are just filled from snowmelt, rain or windmills. Cow tanks that are above ground (metal or plastic) just tend to get slimy and if there is no branch or ladder small critters drown, those are the worst, especially if that's your only source for the day. Not only do you need to look out for cow poop but cricket poop is also not good and they gather in dark places like spring boxes.
The last cow tank I had to use this past summer was filled with new rain water, but the oak leaves from the trees surrounding the water had leached tannin into the water, making it rather like dark tea. Lots of underwater bugs having a great time in there too! So I wet my bandanna, put it over the Sawyer bag and poked the fabric into the neck of the bottle a bit and poured water slowly from a cup into the bag, then filtered through the Sawyer into my 2 liter platy, and the water was still a bit colored, clear but like a weak tea, then I used the Aquatabs. The taste was not a problem. I was on the AZ trail and there is like NO water here for days and many miles and I was thankful to get what I had found at that tank.
JMHO by the way, I'm a retired rancher....I will also add that in the west, since 1970's I have seen a huge decline of available water as ranchers are edged out of business and the government stops maintaining the older wells, and the Nature Conservancy takes over old ranching grants, they destroy all water sources by the way....and other "signs of man"....much to my dismay as I'm a member. So there is a lot less water available for us when hiking the CDT than even 30 years ago. I know cause I did that trail in the 1980's and 1990's. So if you meet a rancher on your journey thank them for providing water for you, the wildlife and of course the cows.:-)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: prefilters on 11/11/2013 15:25:25 MST Print View

I made a prefilter using coffee filters and cloned another person's design by making a cone style holder using a seal-a-meal bag.


If you want to use a basket style filter, a Fage yogurt container or a Panda Express bowl with a hole punched in the bottom should do the trick. The bottom off a quart PET milk jug might work too.

I would happily double up in those conditions by using a filter and chemicals. Yuck! Maybe carry a little vial of bleach for cleaning pots and filter parts after.

My daughter was in the hospital for a week with E. coli. Believe me, you don't ever want to go there.

Edited by dwambaugh on 11/11/2013 15:35:42 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sawyer Filter for Cow Water ? on 11/11/2013 17:28:37 MST Print View


Cow water is much better than springs fouled by wild burros or horses. I don't use a filter, but I am willing to spend the time and fuel boiling.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Sawyer Filter for Cow Water ? on 11/11/2013 17:49:59 MST Print View

Bear Grylls would drink it straight!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: re: Sawyer Filter for Cow Water ? on 11/11/2013 18:06:38 MST Print View

"Bear Grylls would drink it straight!"

By the look of Wambaugh's avatar, methinks he's been drinking it straight too ;)

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
cow water on 11/11/2013 18:12:22 MST Print View

When Killington VT ski area started filtering its sewerage to provide water for its snowmaking machines, people said, "Killington - where the affluent meet the effluent."

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
PLUS sterilization on 11/11/2013 19:34:02 MST Print View

Remember,by EPA standards a filter alone does NOT produce purified water.

1. boiling
2. UV rays (like Steripen)
3. Chlorine dioxide tablets (my preferred) or liquid mixture
4. iodine tablets (but this doesn't kill all, like giardia or cryptosporidium)

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
water on 11/11/2013 19:54:25 MST Print View

EPA smepeeA......:-)....we are all at risk everywhere as far as I know.
When I came down the CDT in 1980 I got giardia less than a month into the journey in Idaho. Thought I'd die....lost a lot of weight and never did get any antibios and just gutted (ha!) it out and survived. Locals told me that it was in the water and that the wildlife spread it, beaver fever as they said. I had no scientific proof so I didn't dispute what they said. After that, I drank from mostly springs as I had no filter, non existed then. Drank from whatever I could find that was decent. Never got sick again. Was I just lucky, was there no more giardia on the route?
Scientifically we know that having it once certainly doesn't make one immune but why did I not get it again?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: PLUS sterilization on 11/11/2013 19:56:44 MST Print View

Sawyer makes a 0.02 micron filter that purifies.

"If viruses are an issue, we offer the Point ZeroTWO Purifier (0.02 micron absolute pores), the first and thus far only portable purification device to physically remove viruses, which it does at a >5.5 log (99.9997%) rate, exceeding EPA and NSF recommendations."

Edited by jshann on 11/11/2013 19:57:14 MST.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: PLUS sterilization on 11/12/2013 13:22:52 MST Print View

They make small, very cheap carbon filters with straws (sold for those reusable bottles with filters to make water taste better) and with the kind of questionable water folks are talking about personally I would first filter via sawyer squeeze, then light it up with UV (or boil), and then use the little carbon filter/straw.. might be more work and stuff/weight to carry but I don't like messing around with water, and getting sick is the worst thing in especially an arid, lack of water environ. Puking, crapping, etc will dehydrate you real fast.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: PLUS sterilization on 11/12/2013 13:34:44 MST Print View


is that like wearing a belt and suspenders?

any treatment method will work?

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: PLUS sterilization on 11/12/2013 13:47:33 MST Print View

I know its overkill but I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to drinking water. Taste is also bit of a factor for me as well (hence the carbon).