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Bike packing volume myth?

Old 12-21-20, 07:05 AM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I used to carry a filter backpacking. Now I use a Steripen. There are several models. I use the Adventurer. It's light and small enough to even carry on brevets. Stick it in a water bottle and stir. So simple. 3.8 oz. with batteries.

An interesting side note: My wife and I do a lot of hiking on the Washington portion of the PCT in September. That means that we see many thru-hikers and not only that, but they're the successful ones. Many of them quit treating or filtering water soon after they started, never got sick. So I don't know . . . Is that whole filter your water thing just marketing? Seized upon and publicized by the marketing community? That said, I treat water from lakes or which originates in lakes or nearby snowfields. I just dip from small mountain streams. I've been doing that for 58 years, but that's here, in the Olympics and Cascades.
I bought a Steripen as a backup option for my Iceland trip. Since I planned to be in remote areas for a significant amount of time, I expected to be away from tap water. Never used it, but having it meant I did not have to worry about water sources that much. Before my trip, my research said that you can drink the water unfiltered where you can't see sheep, but you can almost always see sheep. Thus I decided to bring a water treatment device as a backup.

Backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, I have been filtering or boiling my water for many decades. National Park Service on Isle Royale bluntly say boil or filter, advise against UV (such as the Steripen) and chemical treatment because they have not been proven against a moose parasite that is prevalent in the water there. And since most of my kayaking and all of my canoeing are in areas with moose that carry that parasite, I stick to filter or boil for those areas. But I carry a one ounce bottle of Chlorine Bleach as a backup wherever I go.

Summer of 2019, backpacked for two weeks on the Northern Minnesota Superior Hiking Trail. I brought an MSR filter (the fourth filter I have bought over the years) and it did not work well at all. I asked the other hikers on the trail what they were using, they all (yes, 100 percent of them) were using a Sawyer filter. So, I bought a Sawyer and a couple Evernew bladders that will thread on to it.

Planned to use the Sawyer this year, but with Covid decided to stay home. I really thought that a backpacking trip this year would be perfect social distancing, but when I started hearing about how crowded campsites were everywhere, I decided to stay home. Thus, can't report on the Sawyer yet. But the dozens of backpackers I met that thought very highly of them suggests something quite possitive. One person on this forum had a terrible time with a Sawyer, but it sounded to me like he did not backflush it properly. Sawyer website has a couple short videos, one shows how to backflush.

Hopefully the Sawyer works as well as planned. And if I travel where there are no moose, I might try that Steripen that I have yet to use.
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Old 12-21-20, 07:13 AM
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To both cfboy and stae, my father got giardia canoeing about 35-40 years ago , before it waa more common, and went a long time with it undiagnosed properly, and it was a drag. A real drag and a shame it took a few years to figure out.

re steripen, I use the rechargable one and used it only with clear water (ish) from Latin American taps. I completely understand being wary of them in a more isolated environment. I worried about mine a bit, was very careful of it and kept it wrapped in soft clothes against vibrayions and knocks in panniers.BUT I knew that I could buy water in worse case scenario, which is why I took it, I didn't want to be adding more plastic bottles to the worlds mess.
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Old 12-21-20, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I used to carry a filter backpacking. Now I use a Steripen. There are several models. I use the Adventurer. It's light and small enough to even carry on brevets. Stick it in a water bottle and stir. So simple. 3.8 oz. with batteries.

An interesting side note: My wife and I do a lot of hiking on the Washington portion of the PCT in September. That means that we see many thru-hikers and not only that, but they're the successful ones. Many of them quit treating or filtering water soon after they started, never got sick. So I don't know . . . Is that whole filter your water thing just marketing? Seized upon and publicized by the marketing community? That said, I treat water from lakes or which originates in lakes or nearby snowfields. I just dip from small mountain streams. I've been doing that for 58 years, but that's here, in the Olympics and Cascades.
I use a Sawyer filter, fairly small. I have thought about the Steripen. I thought cloudy water was an issue with this device.

Giardia, had it last year. I was backpacking with my daughter and we used the Sawyer. She was fine but I got the parasite. I think I got it from swimming in Red Creek (W.Va). It was a drought month so water levels were low and parasites were more concentrated. It is a nasty parasite, you don't want it.
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Old 12-21-20, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
That is another thing that I donít really like about bikepacking. With panniers, I organized my bags by function. One side of the front panniers are loaded with cooking gear, one side with food and toiletries. The back panniers are packed with clothes but one side has clothes I donít need during the day and the other has stuff I might need during the day. When I get to camp, I only have to mostly unload the cooking gear bag and the food bag. The clothes bags just need to be opened and get out the things I need.

With bikepacking, I find I have to basically empty every single bag (and repack it) because some things fit in one place but not others. My cup might end up at the bottom of the seat bag under all my clothes because it wonít fit elsewhere but the kettle is in the wedge bag. My utensils bag is may be in the bag on the leg or in the micropanniers if Iím not carrying the leg bags. My stove is in one place and the fuel canister is in another. Thereís no organization and the location of the items may be moved around even on the same trip because of the full unpacking needed to set up camp.
On my last tour I used panniers and enjoyed dumping my stuff into them, much less organizing and much quicker. I was able to pack much quicker than a bikepacker at the same camp. He started packing before me and I rode out of camp while he was still at it. He did pass me on the trail later that morning
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Old 12-21-20, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
On my last tour I used panniers and enjoyed dumping my stuff into them, much less organizing and much quicker. I was able to pack much quicker than a bikepacker at the same camp. He started packing before me and I rode out of camp while he was still at it. He did pass me on the trail later that morning
This is a good point. Being efficient off the bike makes a real difference. In the mornings, I can really pay off because of traffic and wind, which are both lighter the earlier you get. If you stealth camp, it's especially the case that you want to be quick. Over the course of the day, if you're smart about your downtime, you can save an hour or two. That's upwards of 25 miles. And while it's true, lighter tourers don't have to put in as much effort for the same distance, the don't get as good of a workout.
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Old 12-21-20, 08:11 AM
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I sleep in the wild a lot. I donít call it stealth camping as I donít pitch a tent, just a groundsheet, pad, and sleeping bag.

Great point about needing to pack quickly of an early morning, but even being able to ride until darkness falls. I love riding late into the evenings rather than getting to an organised campsite earlier. I just wish there were more natural hot showers in the wilderness 😂

One pannier has my sleeping gear. I leave everything else packed on my bike lying next to me, so if needs be, I can be moving within minutes of waking up.

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Old 12-21-20, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
... I have thought about the Steripen. I thought cloudy water was an issue with this device.
....
Yes, it is. The UV rays make the microbes non-reproduceable or kill the microbes, but the UV is light and light travels through clear water a lot easier than cloudy water. And water does not have to be very cloudy at all for a UV treatment device to fail.

An excellent example of an ideal usage for this device is like Djb suggested when he commented that he used one on untrustworthy tap water in developing countries.

A lot of lakes and streams in conifer forested areas can have a lot of dissolved tannins, I am assuming that the tannins can also absorb UV light and limit how well a UV treatment device works, but I have seen no research on that topic. I would simply avoid relying on a UV device if the water looks like weak tea. I have drank a lot of tannin laden water in Northern Minnesota, but that was filtered or boiled water.

I do not know much about blue green algae, but that is an occasional concern, including in some wilderness areas and nothing that campers carry can make that safe. But, it has been quite rare to date, so I would not worry about it unless you become aware that it is an issue where you might travel.
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Old 12-21-20, 10:49 AM
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I'm still a boil or sterilization tablet user but will probably get a filter at some point. I also take some coffee filters for large particulates on those occasions I need to get water from lakes. Put filter over wide mouth Nalgene bottle, pour water through, add tablets or boil.
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Old 12-21-20, 11:59 AM
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The correlation between volume of load and weight isn't as direct as most people assume. My 35 pound load looks like some people's 75 pound load. I just don't succumb to the tyranny of tight packing. I've seen people carry considerably more weight than I do simply because they tight pack everything -something I just don't see as important or enjoyable. I've learned over the years that you simply cannot estimate the weight of someone's load by looking at it.
Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
...you can't attach racks on a full suspension bike.
Sure you can. There are companies that make full suspension bike-specific touring racks. Like the Thule Pack 'n Pedal. I met a guy pedaling from Wisconsin to Boston and on to FLA on a full suspension Specialized he had from and rear Ortliebs.
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Old 12-21-20, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Yeah, I know guys who don't filter in much of the Sierras. It sounds like there are quite a few who do likewise in the Cascades and Olympics. I paddled tandem in a canoe down the St Johns river in Maine with a guy who just dipped a cup in the river to drink. In neither of those cases do I know of anyone getting sick. In the Sierras I only did it from springs where I could see the source. I do know a few folks who got giardia in the eastern US, at least one got it kayaking without intentionally drinking the water. Giardia can be really miserable and it can drag on for a long time. At least that is what my friends who have had it say.

I have always been intrigued by the steripen, but for some illogical reason can't bring myself to trust it. I should probably get over that. Also I like the idea of filter because it gets rid of particulates and in some cases improves the taste of the water. I've filtered water that looked pretty nasty (and I am guessing probably tasted nasty) and it wasn't bad after filtering. If you filter where the water is crystal clear that wouldn't be an issue, but for me that hasn't been the case

So, given that, I have to wonder,,, How do you steripen users manage with nasty water, the cloudy dirty stuff with tiny bit floating in it? Do you never need to filter nasty water. Do you keep it for a while in a container to let the sediment settle out? I have done the settling out in a bucket thing (before chemical treating or filtering) when canoe camping and it worked pretty well, but it rules out filling a bottle to use immediately. I'd expect that it kind of needs to be done in camp or during a pretty long break, because riding would likely keep it stirred up. Or does it still settle well enough while riding? On a canoe trip filtering a day's worth of water ahead of time is fine, but on a bike a full day of water is a lot to carry.
We're lucky enough to live in paradise, I guess. Or maybe lots of experience. We plan our hikes, rides, and our water loads so that we never have to use water like that. We even try not to camp by lakes, though that's frequently unavoidable.

Steripen has a water anecdote: a hiker was counting on water from a stock trough, probably somewhere south of the Sierra. When he got there, out of water, he found that an animal had drowned in it, or died in it anyway, some time in the past. He Steripened it twice and drank it, even though it still smelled and looked awful. Didn't get sick. If there is particulate matter in the water, Steripen advises filtering it through cheese cloth before sterilizing it. We carry a little cheese cloth for that purpose, but have never used it. Worse is the ground rock in glacial rivers. Can't filter that with cheese cloth and it immediately clogs water filters, and you can't drink it straight either without risking intestinal damage. It helps to know ahead of time where the water issues are.
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Old 12-21-20, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
I have thought about the Steripen. I thought cloudy water was an issue with this device.
I've been using a SteriPen for about five years now. It's been great, but I'm always able to find clear, moving water in streams and rivers. You still should strain the water into the bottle with a couple layers of cotton bandana or the mesh Nalgene bottle strainer cap that came with the unit.
If there wasn't so much clear running water where I ride, I would go for a filter like the Sawyer for sure.
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Old 12-21-20, 01:04 PM
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Iím into an ultra-compact niche of the UL backpackers and now use a 24L daypack for comfortable ~3nighters backpacking. For Ďbike-packingí I intend on using this frame bag + dry bag (~27L total) set-up for gravel bike tours (eg, GAP/C&O), when I get around to it. I too prefer limiting the number of smaller bags for easy of packing and I also found I didnít like the handling/stability of traditional bike-packing seat or handlebar bag set-ups. The dry bag backpack will max out ~10lbs of pricier UL camping gear/clothing, while the frame bag would store the heavier, inexpensive, easily replaced stuff (lock, water, food, spare tubes).

I figure the ability to quickly release and backpack the dry bag will also help negotiating tough single track, and prevent theft by taking the dry bag with me (eg, in restaurants or while sightseeing).
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Old 12-22-20, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
We're lucky enough to live in paradise, I guess. Or maybe lots of experience. We plan our hikes, rides, and our water loads so that we never have to use water like that. We even try not to camp by lakes, though that's frequently unavoidable.
My tours tend to be longer than I care to plan daily stops ahead of time. I don't typically know where I will stay until I am there. I do the minimum amount of planning to know how much water I need to have and where the next resupply will be, same for food. Since I prefer to not need to use stealth I do also tend to also try to know where likely camp spots are over they next few days just so I don't stop in a place that leaves me with a choice between a too short and too long day a day or two later. But, basically I don't plan beyond a pretty loose plan for tour stops. I am even inclined to alter the planned route on the fly sometimes.

As far as using nasty water... On a road tour, I think of a filter or other treatment as either a way to drink from a snow melt creek to have a cold drink on hot days or a way to get water in a pinch. I'd say 99% of the time there is tap water available frequently enough (or else there is nothing to filter or treat). When in a pinch I figure I can't be choosy about getting water from a nasty source.

To be honest, my preference for the filter over the steripen is probably illogical, at least for most of the usage I have done on tour. Drinking from clear cold mountain streams would seem like a use where the steripen would be more convenient and generally a better fit than a filter. I probably ought to get over my resistance to the pen.

Backpacking I am more likely to plan in detail. It tends to be more of a necessity than it is with touring IME.
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Old 12-22-20, 07:49 AM
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stae, before I decided to buy the steripen, I thought long and hard about the various options. If I were to do it again I would probably do the same, although the Sawyer filter looks like a really good option that is light, obviously doesnt have any power requirements, but can have some caveats going from Cycco's accounts of his being blocked and not working after only using it a few times and storing it properly (blocked passageways inside, kind of a weird thing). It would appear to an non user that his experience (and awareness of not to allow it to freeze, which damages the passageways inside) is probably similar to the hiccups or failures you can read about the steripen.
Mine generally worked well on the two trips that I used it often, a two month trip and a six week trip. Once in a blue moon it did a little hiccup and I just had to repress the button to start the UV lighting process.
Its been in my cupboard for the last two years I guess now, so we'll see how it is the next time I even consider a trip where it would be of use, although I am generally very skeptical of all things that use batteries, as we all know they end up going wonky after X years. Fairly certain that Steripen has a "replace the battery" program , but you'd have to check that.

my usb charging model cost I think under $100. There is, or was , a AA model, which I considered, but decided to go with the built in internal battery usb model as I knew that I would be in hotels often. As it was, it really did go a long time per charge, Its rated at 50 litres per charge, which kind of I averaged out, I tended to filter out between 2 and 3 litres per day at most, and it easily went two weeks per charge. I tended to be conservative and charge it long before getting to the end of charge, as I didnt want to be caught out.

looks like a Sawyer package can be had for 50-75 bucks Canuck. ish.

Like I said, I could have easily bought 2 litre bottles of water anytime, but really tried to keep my contribution of empty plastic bottles down (but did buy cold drinks at stores so can't claim nothing).

like a camera, or whatever, you wouldnt want to test it by dropping it on a hard ceramic floor or the pavement, so there's that compared to a Sawyer, but like all in life, you just have to balance the pluses and minuses.
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Old 12-22-20, 09:46 AM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
...
To be honest, my preference for the filter over the steripen is probably illogical, at least for most of the usage I have done on tour. Drinking from clear cold mountain streams would seem like a use where the steripen would be more convenient and generally a better fit than a filter. I probably ought to get over my resistance to the pen.

Backpacking I am more likely to plan in detail. It tends to be more of a necessity than it is with touring IME.
Originally Posted by djb View Post
stae, before I decided to buy the steripen, I thought long and hard about the various options. If I were to do it again I would probably do the same, although the Sawyer filter looks like a really good option that is light, obviously doesnt have any power requirements, but can have some caveats going from Cycco's accounts of his being blocked and not working after only using it a few times and storing it properly (blocked passageways inside, kind of a weird thing). It would appear to an non user that his experience (and awareness of not to allow it to freeze, which damages the passageways inside) is probably similar to the hiccups or failures you can read about the steripen.
Mine generally worked well on the two trips that I used it often, a two month trip and a six week trip. Once in a blue moon it did a little hiccup and I just had to repress the button to start the UV lighting process.
Its been in my cupboard for the last two years I guess now, so we'll see how it is the next time I even consider a trip where it would be of use, although I am generally very skeptical of all things that use batteries, as we all know they end up going wonky after X years. Fairly certain that Steripen has a "replace the battery" program , but you'd have to check that.

my usb charging model cost I think under $100. There is, or was , a AA model, which I considered, but decided to go with the built in internal battery usb model as I knew that I would be in hotels often. As it was, it really did go a long time per charge, Its rated at 50 litres per charge, which kind of I averaged out, I tended to filter out between 2 and 3 litres per day at most, and it easily went two weeks per charge. I tended to be conservative and charge it long before getting to the end of charge, as I didnt want to be caught out.
...
Steripen, being a geological engineer, I have a strong preference for seeing things work. Water that was not clear going into a filter and coming out clear, that gives me a level of comfort that it works because I saw a change in how the water looked.

So, Steripen is something that I naturally am skeptical of, as I can't see that the microbes were killed off or became non-reproduceable. But, for over two decades, I worked with ground water as my occupation. Some of that was dealing with contaminant cleanups and some of that with water supplies for potable use. And from that I am aware that UV treatment has been proven to be a reliable means of treatment for both public and private potable water supplies.

If you do an internet search for uv water treatment for potable water supply you will get lots of hits for larger systems. So, if you are nervous about reliability, etc., it has proven to be reliable.

That said, all the water has to be treated when you do the Steripen stir, drops of water clinging to the rim of the container or the container lid that do not get treated by the UV could have the microbes that make you sick. If you have a container that may have microbes in it, and you treat water and pour into that potentially contaminated container, you might have just re-contaminated your water. So, care in doing it right is necessary for it to work.

In a post above, I mentioned that I bought one for a trip but did not use it. The one I got has an internal Li Ion battery. I am more of an AA battery kind of guy, but the one I got was on a deep clearance sale price, and I am attracted to sale prices, especially for things that I do not expect to use very much.

My Steripen is stored where I store my other Li Ion batteries that I am not using, in the fridge. If I need it, I hope the battery is still good. I have checked the battery a few times, probably about once a year.

If I planned to use it regularly, I probably would have gone for AA version. But I have also read that a Steripen does not get very many treatments from a set of AA batteries. I do not know if NiMH rechargeables would be better or worse, so that is something I would have researched before I bought. NiMH can deliver more milliamps than disposables, but they have lower voltage, not sure what the limiting factor for the AA Steripen is, voltage or current flow.


Originally Posted by djb View Post
...
looks like a Sawyer package can be had for 50-75 bucks Canuck. ish.
....
I bought my Sawyer on Amazon. I also bought a couple Evernew water bladders on Amazon. That said, these days with supply chain problems, it is impossible to say what will be available for what price. I just checked Amazon, the Sawyer filter and Evernew bladders that I got cost about 20 percent more than when I bought mine a year ago.
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Old 12-22-20, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Like I said, I could have easily bought 2 litre bottles of water anytime, but really tried to keep my contribution of empty plastic bottles down (but did buy cold drinks at stores so can't claim nothing).
FWIW, I don't recall any time where I might have considered buying bottled water that they didn't let me use their tap water. In most (nearly all) cases they let me use ice from the soda fountain. I always bought something, asked politely, and thanked them.
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Old 12-22-20, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Steripen, being a geological engineer, I have a strong preference for seeing things work. Water that was not clear going into a filter and coming out clear, that gives me a level of comfort that it works because I saw a change in how the water looked.
It never really occurred to me, but I think subconsciously that was a big part of why I have resisted them.
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Old 12-22-20, 11:39 AM
  #68  
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stae, ya my circumstances was being in Latin America, and I was very careful and aware of trying to reduce the risk of a crappy riding experience. Food was something I couldnt control (to a certain extent yes I could) but water I could definitely control by filtering my own water every morning before heading out. Did my bike bottles and spare bottles in my pannier, how much depending on the area and heat. Often rode with about 4 litres , then supplemented with corner store or gas station cold drinks.

and yes, I too read up on the whole uv thing, of how municipal services have been using it for a long time, and if done properly, has a pretty good track record.

oh, and tourist touched on an important thing, of not contaminating your uv'd water with non treated stuff. I tried to be very careful of this. Steripened water in a large mug, then carefully poured it into my bike bottles or spare 2 L bottles.
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Old 12-22-20, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
It never really occurred to me, but I think subconsciously that was a big part of why I have resisted them.
I assumed you had the same concern as me.


Originally Posted by djb View Post
... trying to reduce the risk of a crappy riding experience.. ...
Thanks for the good chuckle at the pun.


Originally Posted by djb View Post
... Food was something I couldnt control (to a certain extent yes I could) but ...
Several years ago the NYTimes had an article:
Staying Healthy While Traveling the Globe By Jane E. Brody February 22, 2016
And I pasted this one sentance from that article:
Before every meal, we each chewed one pink tablet of bismuth subsalicylate (sold as Pepto-Bismol and various store brands).

And the author cited that as a major part of staying healthy when eating questionable foods in the tropics.

Pepto-Bismol:
https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-2...l-oral/details

A few other references:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC180455/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6985681/
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Old 12-22-20, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
FWIW, I don't recall any time where I might have considered buying bottled water that they didn't let me use their tap water. In most (nearly all) cases they let me use ice from the soda fountain. I always bought something, asked politely, and thanked them.
I agree but this year was different. Much, much, different. It was preposterously hard, in some areas, to do this. Plus, water fountains at parks were shut off. I had to buy water a couple of times, which don't ever do on moral grounds. Makes me want to get a filter too.
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Old 12-22-20, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
oh, and tourist touched on an important thing, of not contaminating your uv'd water with non treated stuff. I tried to be very careful of this. Steripened water in a large mug, then carefully poured it into my bike bottles or spare 2 L bottles.
I'd think that untreated water on bottle threads and so on could be a problem for filters or chemical treatment too.
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Old 12-22-20, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Comfort is King View Post
I agree but this year was different. Much, much, different. It was preposterously hard, in some areas, to do this. Plus, water fountains at parks were shut off. I had to buy water a couple of times, which don't ever do on moral grounds. Makes me want to get a filter too.
Wow I hadn't considered that. Did they shut down the self service soda stations? Or just not let you use them for water? I feel like I have been living in a cave for the past year.
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Old 12-22-20, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Wow I hadn't considered that. Did they shut down the self service soda stations? Or just not let you use them for water? I feel like I have been living in a cave for the past year.
They were shut off, very often were taped off to make it very clear. Bathrooms also closed everywhere. The people that work at those places weren't allowed to fill my bottles because it was something somebody else touched. Varied by state quite a bit, however, soda machines were always off. Always.

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Old 12-22-20, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Comfort is King View Post
They were shut off, very often were taped off to make it very clear. Bathrooms also closed everywhere. The people that work at those places, weren't allowed to fill my bottles because it was something somebody else touched. Varied by state quite a bit, however, soda machines were always off. Always.
I guess that shouldn't be a surprise in these pandemic times. I wonder if things will go back to the way they were after the vaccine gets widely distributed and things settle down a bit. Touring must be a very different experience now.

The way things currently are I really have no desire to tour. If I go out for any thing like that right now it will likely be backpacking or a canoe trip.
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Old 12-22-20, 09:45 PM
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Tourist and stae, yes contaminated water on threads and such is certainly something to watch put for. I'd run water from tap into my large mug carefully, uv it not splashing around, then pouring it into my bike bottles.

as for eating, I ate nearly always at road side and family eateries where locals eat. I was taught by my very experienced, smart traveling partner to ideally go to the places that seemed popular. Better chances of food not hanging around due to turnover, plus if locals were there, chances were that it was good. One also gets a feel for dodgy looking joints, but sometimes your choices are limited. Takes a little while too for your gut to get accustomed, and that's where immodium is damn important to have with you.

also stae, re water availability in covid times, yes it was strange at times biking this summer. We luckily had things under control fairly well so it wasn't that bad.
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