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Microfilters solve hydration issues

by Bryan Hendricks | February 13, 2020 at 2:12 a.m.
Outdoorsmen can choose from a wide range of microfilters, including (top, from left) the LifeStraw and Lifesaver bottles, the MSR Waterworks pump filter and (bottom) the Sawyer Micro Squeeze. Go+Filtr cartridges fortify filtered water with minerals and electrolytes. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Bryan Hendricks)

When camping, backpacking, fishing and multi-day hunting trips, keeping sufficient supplies of potable water is challenging but essential.

Bottled water is our most popular and most economical method. With that, you get a plastic flavor caused by tiny bits of ingested, free-floating plastic. According to one study, one liter of bottled water contains an average of 10.4 plastic particles. It is a health risk as well as an environmental pollutant. In addition, empty plastic bottles end up in landfills or worse, in our lakes and rivers or on roadsides.

There are better, more environmentally friendly ways to ensure healthy water for drinking.

For decades I have used portable filters and even purifiers for my outdoors adventures. They are especially useful for float fishing because they enable me to safely drink water filtered from the stream I am canoeing, including significantly degraded or polluted streams.

A good microfilter strains out particles as small as 0.1 microns. My longtime mainstay is a MSR Waterworks. It's a manual pump that forces water through a ceramic filter which prevents particles as small as .02 microns. It screws onto the lid of a Nalgene bottle or any other bottle with a similar size threaded lid.

You can add chlorine tablets or chlorine drops to kill viruses, a popular tactic among backpackers. I don't like ingesting chlorine. Instead, I use a Katadyn SteriPEN, which employs an ultraviolet lamp to kill or inactivate bacteria and viruses.

For emergencies, I keep a PUR Explorer, which filters out 0.1 micron particulates and kills microorganisms by forcing water through an iodine cartridge. A carbon cartridge removes the iodine flavor.

Newer filtration technology is a lot smaller, but it is just as effective. Sawyer's economical water filtration systems are available almost anywhere, including all area big box retailers. The most notable example is the Sawyer Micro Squeeze. It's about the size of a fuel line squeeze bulb for an outboard motor, so it fits in a backpack pocket or a tackle-box compartment. It will filter as many as 100,000 gallons while screening out 0.1 micron particulates.

The Sawyer Micro Squeeze is versatile. It will screw to the top of a regular plastic water bottle, or you can attach a straw to the bottom and suck water through the filter through a stray. It also comes with a 1-liter bladder with an attachment that screws to the bottom of the filter. If the filter is attached to the bladder or a bottle, simply elevate the water container above the filter and let the water feed through the filter by gravity.

The kit comes with the straw and also with a cleaning plunger.

Sawyer says that the Micro Squeeze removes 100% of microplastics, neutralizing the risk of using individual water bottles. Sawyer also claims the Micro Squeeze removes 99.99999% of bacteria and protozoa, which exceeds Environmental Protection Agency standards. That means you could actually drink filtered bilge water if necessary.

Does it work? I gave a Sawyer Micro Squeeze to a homeless person I know and he uses it every day.

Another option is the Lifestraw Go, a traditional water BPA-free bottle with a two-stage integrated interior filter. The hollow microfilter screens out 0.2 micron particles and 99.999% of microplastics. An integrated carbon filter reduces chlorine, malodor and taste and organic chemical matter.

The microfilter will treat 1,000 gallons. The carbon filter has a 25-gallon lifetime.

You can also fortify filtered water with a new product, the Go+Filtr Hydration System. Go+Filtr is a cartridge that you can drop into any bottle of at least 40 ounces with an opening of at least 27mm. Depending on which cartridge you choose, it infuses alkaline into a bottle of filtered water, up to 9.5pH. The Mg cartridge also infuses magnesium, calcium, potassium and other minerals. The C+ cartridge infuses Vitamin C as well as magnesium and the other minerals. The Electrolyte cartridge infuses all of those minerals as well as selenium and zinc.

A cartridge is about 1 inch taller than a Sawyer Micro Squeeze filter. It lasts three months or 750 refills. According to Go+Filtr, a cartridge reduces oxidative reduction potential by more than 300 points. Go+Filtr also says that the alkaline content triples the antioxidant value of Vitamin C.

Not only that, but a Go+Filter kit also comes with a 40-ounce bottle with a screw-top lid.

Sports on 02/13/2020

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