Stay hydrated (and healthy) without carrying much

On November 14, 2013
Comments (23)

Water Filtration and tenkara fishing

A few years ago I went fishing with a friend. After a few hours my water bottle was empty. Yet, in a twist of irony 350 cubic feet of water passed by me every second. He smiled, pulled out his bottle and gave me a sip of his precious water. I noticed the bottle was full, and it also had something inside. “It’s a water filter. Never run out of water!”, he said. GENIUS!

For someone who spent so much time in the water, it baffled me that I hadn’t come to that solution sooner by myself. For years I’d either run out of water and tough it out for a bit ; or I’d simply drink water directly from the stream I was fishing. If I was fishing high elevation water I never thought twice before taking a sip from the stream. Not the smartest idea in the world, I know. I know it because after years of drinking from streams, yet never having any symptoms, I finally asked my doctor to get tested for Giardia. I told him I often drank directly from streams which could have giardia and never used hand sanitizers. He gave me a dirty look but prescribed the tests. Sure enough, I had giardia. Never a symptom, I was just a carrier.

To a minimalist who doesn’t like carrying a backpack, but who is usually out long enough to require more than a “mere” 8 cups of water,  the small water filter was like discovering fire for the first time. Immediately after fishing I went and bought myself a water bottle with a nifty filter built in. More often than not I am also surrounded by water, so it isn’t a matter of supply. It is a matter of clean supply.

I wasn’t crazy about the bottle solution. It was bulky and difficult to carry. Luckily the filter didn’t last me very long, so I did some more research and came across the minimalist’s water filtration dream. Straw-type water filters that I could put in my pocket when not hiking far, or couple to a water bottle if I was going to be away from the water for any period of time. The straw filters allow me to drink directly from the stream whenever I needed, and are very compact.

So, in case you’re looking for a solution not to run out of water again, carry a small water filter with you.

My preferred filter at the moment is the Aquamira Frontier Pro. They run only about $20, are only as thick as the handle of your tenkara rod, but 7 inches long. If  will be hiking for any period of time I couple it with a flat bladder. My preferred one at the moment is the Platypus Softbottle, 0.5L for most of the time, 1L for slightly longer hikes. Often I just leave the bladder folded in case I need it, but drink directly from the stream otherwise.

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23 Responses to Stay hydrated (and healthy) without carrying much

  1. Tom Davis says:

    I prefer the LifeStraw. Same principle. Very lightweight.


  2. Always envious of you when I see you drinking with one of these. Bottles are nice to drink from but I really need to pop for one of those filters. Have you used them much below freezing? Wondering if they freeze up easily.

  3. mike says:

    ya’ll just changed my life. thanks. =]

  4. David says:

    One note of caution about drinking too much water.

    For several years I attended the Canoe and Kayak Festival on James Island in SC. Every year people from the Wilderness Medical Associates would be there doing various presentations. More often than not their focus was treatment of hypothermia. But hydration was also a frequent topic because a lot kayaking takes place on saltwater. No option to risk just drinking the abundant available water

    One year one of the WMA described the unsuccessful to rescue he personally participated in to rescue a guy in one of the desert area out west. Az or Utah I think. The guy needing help had plenty of water and drank it. To much in fact.

    If you drink to much water with out adding something to replenish electrolytes you can suffer Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning or dilutional hyponatremia. Most often this occurs to people in hospital or as a side effect from some drug. But it also happens during exercise, hikers, bikers, etc.

    You may recall the news story a few years ago of the woman who died from drinking to much water following participation in some radio show sponsored contest. She died from water intoxication.

    The WMA people emphasized that they see this condition more often than people are aware of. Seems the message to hydrate drowns out ( sorry for the bad pun) the need to also keep up the electrolytes.

    Anyway, thanks for the review of the Aquamira filter. I see them from time to time. I have the Sawyer system which I think can also be used in the same way with some adapters.

  5. David says:

    Opps. Sorry, I really messed up some editing of my post.

  6. Craig says:

    Thanks Daniel
    How hard do you have to suck to get a drink through the pens? When I tried these a few years ago I found that the flow through the filter made it very hard to drink. Maybe I just got a bad batch of pens? What is your experience?

    • Craig, my experience with the Frontier Pro has been great, have gone through 3 of them so far and all good. I have tried the Sawyer filters but had to suck way harder on those and it didn’t work well for me. Also, using it with a bottle/bladder seems to make it a bit easier.

  7. Bruce says:

    Mini filters are great!

    Check out the Sawyer MINI. Same concept, but it removes bacteria like e. coli, not just giardia. I bought the slightly larger Sawyer Squeeze filter, as the Mini wasn’t out yet. So far, I’ve only used it with a collapsible pouch. I haven’t been drinking directly from the stream.

    • Bruce, I have to try the Sawyer mini! I tried the Sawyer Squeeze and found it way too big and hard to suck the water with. Plus, my first collapsible pouch/squeeze pouch that came with it blew up very quickly on one of the first few times I used it to so I stopped using it then. Now the mini looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Chiseler says:

    Katadyn Pocket has been my water filter for a time,uses a ceramic filter.
    And fills my camelback very quickly and comes with a twenty year warranty.

  9. Great post Daniel. I’ve been using this filter since 2008 and it has never let me down.

  10. […] But Daniel Galhardo points to an easy and lightweight solution to carry with you on the stream: a filter no bigger than a rod handle. Via Tenkara […]

  11. […] But Daniel Galhardo points to an easy and lightweight solution to carry with you on the stream: a filter no bigger than a rod handle. Via Tenkara […]

  12. itsjaywhatsup says:

    You might want to be careful using that Frontier Pro without further treatment of water (aqua mira, etc). The filter size is somewhere around 2 microns I think, which will not get everything out of the water.

    Sawyer filters go down to .02 or .01 microns depending on the filter. They also last up to a million gallons (you will never ever hit that mark). Newer models should have better squeeze bladders, but I still have all my old ones. Maybe I’m lucky or just read the directions properly (don’t roll the bag or squeeze too hard). I just put a little pressure and mostly use it like a gravity filter. Sawyer squeeze also works really well with Smartwater bottles.

    In my mind, I would never trust a Frontier Pro. I would much rather go with Sawyer filters or even the Lifestraw which I think has a .02 micron filter.

  13. ERiK says:

    The Sawyer Mini is my preferred method of cleaning river water. The flow is much better than the original Squeeze. Super lightweight, and good for the previously mentioned benefits of filter size and longevity.

    • Erik, I have tried it and always go back to this one. Didn’t like the design of the mini that much and thought the flow of the Frontier Pro was better…thanks for your pitching in with your preference here though…

  14. Steve says:

    I’m confused. Do you filter clean water into the bladder? Or do you put unfiltered water into the bladder, then suck it out as-needed through the filter?

    • Steve, with our kit you typically use the filter by itself to suck water straight out of a stream OR put “dirty” water in the bladder and attach the filter to it to drink out of it. Another option is to get one extra bladder for dirty water, screw the filter on to it and squeeze water into the clean bladder.

  15. […] Tenkara USA now offers a water filtration system. Perfect for lightening your load and also easy on the wallet, being offered at $30.00. Check out more about this product via Hatch Magazine and Tenkara USA.  […]

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