Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Water, Water, Every Where! Nor any drop to drink... until treated!

Recently, I have been inundated with questions about my upcoming Appalachian Trail thru hike. Are you going to carry a gun? How will you have enough food? Will you really poop in the woods? How are you going to carry all of your stuff?! Are you doing this because of that Wild movie? For the record, a big NO to that last question!

Due to all of the interrogation from family and friends, I thought I would take the next few weeks to write posts about my gear - what I will be taking with me on the trail, and why I chose it. I will start with a fairly easy topic. Water.

Unfortunately, I can not carry enough water with me for the whole 2,200 miles. Sad, I know.  What I will do is extract my water from creeks and streams along the trail. I am carrying two platypus bladders, one hose, and Aquamira chlorine dioxide water treatment drops. I will use the bladder as a vessel to collect the water from a stream, puddle, well, or spring. Then I will add the chlorine dioxide treatment drops to ensure I kill any nasty bugs that my be lurking in the water.

Some hikers, including hiking goddess, Jennifer Pharr Davis, choose not to treat their water before drinking. This takes balls that I do not have, and knowledge of what water sources are safe. On the other side of the coin, there are hikers who pack filters, pumps, and purification systems galore! These can be relatively heavy, or complex, or take time to operate. Complex things tend to break, leaving you S.O.L

So to ensure I do not contract Giardia, etc. I will be opting to treat my water. But I wanted a simpler system.

Here is my set up:


Platypus Bladders
           Each bladder holds 34 ounces (One liter) of water. Each bladder weighs 1.2 ounces and measures 6 inches by 13 inches. These bladders have proven to be lightweight and very durable. They are BPA-free, packable, shape easily to my packs exterior pockets, and have a food grade bacteriostatic liner.

Hose
          The Platypus drink tube is an easy addition to any bladder. In the past, I would not drink enough water on the trail, especially if I did not have easy access to my supply. The hose helps me ensure I stay hydrated while hiking. The hose only weighs 57.5 grams, is 40 inches long, and can be cut to whatever length you want.

Aquamira Water Treatment Drops
          The Aquaria Water Treatment Drops has no bad aftertaste. The active ingredients are Chlorine Dioxide (part a) and Phosphate Acid Activator (part b). According to the directions, you mix 7 drops of Part A with 7 drops of Part B, wait 5 minutes to ensure full activation, add the mixture to one liter of water, then let stand for 15-30 minutes. I usually let the water stand for 30 minutes even though the directions say 15 minutes will be sufficient. This is easy with two bladders - I drink from one, while the other is treated. Chlorine dioxide reliably kills bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. If you want to learn about the technology behind the drops go to the Aquamira website.

Here are some pros and cons to my approach:

PRO:

  • Lightweight Gear
  • Packable and durable
  • Reliable
  • Drinking hose gives me quick and easy access to my water on the trail

CON:

  • In times of drought it may prove difficult to transfer the water from a stream to my platypus
  • Water temperature can increase the time required to purify water
  • pH can decrease the effectiveness of my water treatment drops
  • The drinking hose I have does not have an on/off valve, so I have to make sure I keep it safe from any added pressure that may cause leaking
  • The drinking hose can freeze up, or get uncomfortably hot in the summer heat, so you have to remember to blow the water out of the tube when things get extreme

That's it in a nutshell!