Friday, March 25, 2011

Water Filtration

Some will shake their heads when I admit to carrying five gallons of fresh water. Most of the time it’s aboard as trimming weight when I’m paddling alone in the stripper canoe, but it also allows me to span several days without having to search for water. Also, if I’m in salt water, it gives me the luxury of a fresh water rinse after washing in salt water. This helps prevent saltwater sores and getting salt in my clothes. While the jug takes up room, it doesn’t always have to be full, depending on expected water availability ahead. When it isn’t full, it is called reserve buoyancy. Anyhow, there’s always the chance of the bottle being low and then getting wind-bound in some waterless campsite or on a spoil island and running out of water. To cover that what-if scenario, I include the Katadyn Hiker-Pro Water Micro-Filter in my kit.

One little tip for anyone that hasn’t already discovered this. Even when there is fresh water available, take a clear bottle or cup to taste the water and look at it before filling your hydrator or jug and pushing off with it. You may get someplace where low water levels, municipal filtration problems, broken pipes, or other contamination may have made the supply unusable. Also, it may be labeled “potable”, but you may find it is orange or just too rank to stomach. We sailed into Bermuda one time and encountered just such a problem. They had a problem keeping up with water demand, and occasionally had fresh water barged into St. George. We discovered that the previous load in the barge before the water delivery had been diesel fuel. It’s nice to have an independent filtration back-up for those little surprises.

The screw-in filter cartridge is advertised to be good for 750 liters. That can be varied one way or the other depending on the quality of the water being filtered. The best practice is to fill a bucket before turning in and let it sit inside the tent over night. Any sediment will precipitate out and allow you to filter the cleaner water off the top. The intake line also has a strainer to take out heavier sediment or debris. Included is a weight to hold the intake line in the water, an adjustable foam float to keep the intake off the bottom if you are pumping straight out of the stream, and a number of connectors to allow quick attachment to some water bottles and hydrator packs. There’s a small sponge for cleaning the strainer, a zip-lock bag for the outlet line so it doesn’t get cross-contaminated, and a carry bag to keep everything together in the pack.

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