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Choosing a water treatment system

Choosing a water treatment system

When it comes to choosing your own water treatment system, once you have read the postings on potential water contaminants and what might be in the water in your areas of travel, the next step is a deciding on what products to buy based on your requirements.

There are basically five systems with variations to choose from:

1) Portable microfilter in the form of a pump or gravity fed device, with or without a granular activated carbon (GAC) element

2) Portable purifier in the form of a pump, drinking straw device or a water bottle with a purifier element

3) A UV purification device

4) Chemical treatment by iodine, chlorine (water purification tablets), or a chlorine dioxide based system

5) A two step process combining chemical treatment with a microfilter, with or without a  granular activated carbon element

My preferred water treatment system is basically number 1 above. I use an MSR WaterWorks II (no longer manufactured) ceramic depth filter of 0.5 microns which has an internal granular activated carbon element as well as an integrated secondary 0.2 micron paper filter. This gives me absolute filtration down to 0.2 microns, which physically strains out all worm eggs, protozoa and bacteria. If I suspect the presence of viruses (see the section on trip planning) then I use system number 5 above.

I treat the water first with Polar Pure iodine and then after 30-60 minutes I pump the treated water through the MSR microfilter. The iodine inactivates any viruses and bacteria and the microfilter strains out all worm eggs, protozoa and bacteria and the GAC element in the filter removes the iodine. It’s a complete, virtually fail-safe system that produces clean, pure, fresh tasting water and is suitable for virtually any microbiological conditions. As a handy additional feature, the MSR WaterWorks II screws onto a standard Nalgene bottle for easy pumping thus eliminating the need to hold the bottle, pump and not fall in the river!

Amongst my other filter choices, I also occassionally use a Katadyn Pocket Filter which has a 0.2 micron ceramic depth filter. It basically substitutes for the MSR WaterWorks II filter but doesn’t have the handly screw fitting. Sometimes I also use a MSR MiniWorks filter which is the same as an MSR WaterWorks II filter with its 0.5 micron ceramic depth filter and GAC element but without the secondary 0.2 micron filter. All three of these microfilters have thick ceramic depth filters in them that can be scrubbed in the field and they will last for many thousands of litres before needing replacement.

To purchase any of my recommended products, please visit my shop.