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  1. #1
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Water filter for Pan-American trip?

    I am trying to figure out if I need a water filter for my upcoming Panam trip. It seems like one will be necessary for Alaska, and could be useful again once I leave the US.

    I don't have any experience with water filters. Would I be able to filter tap water in central/south america and use that as my main water source? It seems like I would save a lot of money and waste if I didn't have to buy bottled water. I was looking at the first need purifier.

    Thoughts?

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    on your left.
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    PUR makes a good hand-operated filter. I use one for backpacking, and trust it. I've had people use battery operated UV light fliters, and other battery operated things, and frankly I just don't trust them.

    I'd go to an outdoors store and look at a good hand operated non-battery one made by MSR or PUR. they'll hold up, and they're made for backpacking so they're compact/light
    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    I learned this the hard way. They say that experience is the best teacher, but I would have been preferred to just read about it on the internet.

  3. #3
    40 yrs bike touring
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    I have used the Katadyn Pocket Filter for decades on bike tours through Alaska, Canada, the US, Mexico and S. America. It removes all bacteria and cysts and can be cleaned easily for a long filter life. A anti-viral supplement is advisable like Viral Stop. Mechanical filtering in my experience is more reliable for extended periods of travel. No battery or recharge problems as with UV products like the Steripen. No need to carry multiple replacement filters for some other pump filters that are not field cleanable.

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    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    For a cycle trip you never need a water filter not even if you cross the Sahara from West to East. The only reason is to save some money.
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

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    there are quite a few reliable methods of water treatment. three which i rely on most are iodine treatment, water boiling and mechanical filtration. each has it's pros/cons, so do some research on what water contaminations you'll be encountering on your trip and choose accordingly. theoretically it wouldn't be difficult to purify tap water with a mechanical filter as long as you can find a way to pool the water - most filters come with a hose that you drop into your water source and pump from.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arctos View Post
    I have used the Katadyn Pocket Filter for decades on bike tours through Alaska, Canada, the US, Mexico and S. America. It removes all bacteria and cysts and can be cleaned easily for a long filter life. A anti-viral supplement is advisable like Viral Stop. Mechanical filtering in my experience is more reliable for extended periods of travel. No battery or recharge problems as with UV products like the Steripen. No need to carry multiple replacement filters for some other pump filters that are not field cleanable.
    Thanks, I was looking at that one as well. In what situations would I need an anti-viral supplement? Is there one that is commonly found in the Mexico/Central/South America? Obviously I can't carry 1 year's worth of Viral Stop.

  7. #7
    40 yrs bike touring
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    Quote Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
    Thanks, I was looking at that one as well. In what situations would I need an anti-viral supplement? Is there one that is commonly found in the Mexico/Central/South America? Obviously I can't carry 1 year's worth of Viral Stop.
    I use the Katadyn Micropur Tabs-- light weight and easily carried or mailed to you. [I carried enough for my trips of 3K miles easily.] I do not notice any after taste as with iodine. I did not look for viral treatments South of the border so can not answer your question about availability for purchase. Check with Katadyn.

    One tab per Liter after mechanical filtering. Water drinkable after 1/2 hour. If the tabs are used alone then wait four hours. You will figure out a system that works for your needs. I filter the next day's water after dinner or breakfast then treat it with the tabs and wait to use it during the next ride.

    As noted above you often can buy bottled water but availability and quality can vary greatly. Soft drinks are sometimes more available than water.

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    viruses are not too common as a water borne disease but they exist. some filters will filter out virus. pretty much all filter will filter out bacteria like giardia and e coli

  9. #9
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    bring a filter and also bring a chemical purifier like Aqua Mira, MSR Miox pen, or virus stop.

    the First Need purifier is the only mechanical EPA certified mechanical purifier on the market, any other filter that treats viruses is using an iodine treatment in addition to the mechanical filtration.

    regards filtering, there is nothing the 350 dollar kathydin does that the 70 dollar MSR does not- field scrubbable, etc....

    the First Need is best choice for single filtering device as it is an EPA certified purifier.

    Some people report it is prone to clogging, but it is field backwashable and that usually serves to unclog a slow First Need. I think they work admirably well.

    I would probably outfit with a scrubbable matrix filter like some of the MSRs or the Kathydin (if i had a sponsor) in addition to a MSR Miox pen to cook up a virus killing stew for third world water needs. A miox pen uses camera batteries and common table salt to brew up a EPA certified anti-viral purifying treatment for your water when you get to the third world and need more stringent water treatment. this would pack up significantly smaller than a years worth of Kathydin micropur.

    my 2 cents.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-26-09 at 07:23 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  10. #10
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    Its cheaper & smarter to buy and use some sort of filtering device than to end up in a hospital and being treated for a ailment. Look into teh comparisons that Backpackers magazine sometime does for filters

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    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
    Thanks, I was looking at that one as well. In what situations would I need an anti-viral supplement? Is there one that is commonly found in the Mexico/Central/South America? Obviously I can't carry 1 year's worth of Viral Stop.
    You know they do have clean municipal water supplies outside the United States. Modern cities the world over have water treatment systems now. I would be less suspect of a 20 year old system in South America, then a 120 year old system in the US, where it hasn't seen any real maintenance since the Second World War. Water treatment systems are not a sexy political issue, and it's easy to spend many millions of dollars on routine plant maintenance.

    Having said that, water everywhere is slightly different, if your from New York, your just as likely to get sick from water in Los Angeles as in La Pas. A bigger issue though is food preparation, food handlers are not as fussy about cleanliness in some places as others.

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    Out west in the USA and Canada filter the river water in camp, don't trust boiling, outside the USA in C. Americs/Mexico drink a Coke or buy bottled water. The Coke is made with cane sugar, not corn syrup and is very tasty and actually quenches your thirst.
    http://www.trailspace.com/gear/msr/s.../review/14980/

    This filter is small and light.
    I have used mine for 15 years.
    bill

  13. #13
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnyW View Post
    For a cycle trip you never need a water filter not even if you cross the Sahara from West to East. The only reason is to save some money.
    That's absurd. I spent 7 days camping in the forest on my cycle trip. Just one example.

    I like something like this http://www.bestglide.com/MP1_Info.html
    tablets because of the weight.

  14. #14
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Thanks, I think I'm starting to wrap my head around all this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    bring a filter and also bring a chemical purifier like Aqua Mira, MSR Miox pen, or virus stop.

    I would probably outfit with a scrubbable matrix filter like some of the MSRs or the Kathydin (if i had a sponsor) in addition to a MSR Miox pen to cook up a virus killing stew for third world water needs. A miox pen uses camera batteries and common table salt to brew up a EPA certified anti-viral purifying treatment for your water when you get to the third world and need more stringent water treatment. this would pack up significantly smaller than a years worth of Kathydin micropur.

    my 2 cents.

    What are the downsides to using the MSR miox pen? It uses batteries, which could be an issue. It seems like the best bet so far...

    The cartridge for the first need purifier needs to be replaced after 150 gallons, which would be a problem for me, since I would be using it for a year straight. For shorter trips it seems great though.

    If my main goal is to purify tap water, which I assume will be available for most of the trip, do I need a filter and a purifier? It seems like the filter would only be necessary if I was getting water from the outdoors. Or am I wrong on this?

  15. #15
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Well,

    I don't think you'll need to filter the tap water; I also think, on a third world trip, that you'll get more chance to filter uncontrolled water than you'd expect. it can be a long ways between taps even in the USA.

    An advantage to the MIOX pen is the fairly ready availabilty of that camera battery in tourist areas, airports, etc. and the only other ingredient is rock salt or even table salt. I think the pen is great ( I field tested it when it was a DARPA project) but it really only brews up a chlorine type ( forget the actual chemical compound) of water treatment that is identical to Aqua Mira, the Katydin Hydropur tablets and modern water treatment systems.

    I still think it would be most convenient to travel with a couple of extra batteries and some extra salt, and have a few batteries that can be overnight mailed to you by your support team with your other stored 'essentials and comforts'. The MIOX pen is tough enough to meet MIL SPEC and it is EPA certified as a water purifying treatment.

    In a pinch bleach will perform the same water treatment. 5 drops per gallon i seem to recall. And you can always purify water with iodine either loose or tablet but this is problematic long term.

    Have a great time! you'll be able to make it happen. but defienetly take precautions while travelling with foods and preperation, (wash fruits with purified water) etc in addition to your drinking water.

    B.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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