How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

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michaelzim
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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by michaelzim » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:34 am

A sort of P.S. here as I did get the larger Sawyer Squeeze setup c/o REI and fiddled with it yesterday...Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!???

I'm going to save my "!!!???" for a later date as it is really a new topic and I need to search and see if the answers are already posted (plus need a break from backpacking gear puzzles after extensive bearcans and packs mysteries).
In short though, after the fiddling and trying to figure out a complete system for both on-trail water and more bulk base camp water, it was not as weight saving as I thought. What with potential need to have back-flush setup, impossibility (as expected) of filling a flat bag bottle in a still water source, need for a dedicated firm "dirty water bottle", need for backup chlorine tabs, and squeeze bag limitations re inverting without a shut-off (gravity option), etc. The items and ounces kept adding up.
It's not just one simple 3 ounce filter to make it work with any semblance of convenience (important to me) - unless I'm being a real dip-brain.

Later then...and thanks again for all feedback and tips on this.

Michaelzim








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rlown
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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by rlown » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:38 am

I've never tried to overthink things. I like my Katadyn pump. When cold out, it sleeps with me, along with all the electronic stuff.
I don't carry a backup, but I don't solo and my friends have one as well. Field serviceable and has never let me down. Did have a friend pump water and he comes back from the lake and says "I think I broke your pump." Yes, he stepped on it and broke off the outlet. But we still had his.

I trust what I know.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:46 am

Very few of us here hike far & fast enough that all this gram counting matters. Don't get caught up in the ounce counting game, there's more rewarding ways to spend your time. They're just tools to get you out.
Last edited by c9h13no3 on Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:47 am

I think some of the weight you mentioned, such as a dedicated untreated water bag, and backflush syringe are overkill. I put untreated water in a 2L platypus, drop in chlorine tablet(s). I do not understand why you need a dedicated container for treated water. I am not trying to eliminate bacteria or viruses, just reduce them to a load that does not make me sick. Healthy people can stand a few of these critters in their gut.

In the High Sierra, away from heavily used trails, I would guess that most of us could eliminate treatment for water on the trail without harm. I treat water I drink at camp with chlorine tablets. That reduces the risk enough for me. Although it takes 4 hours to kill viruses and get the chlorine taste out of the water Giardia is killed with about 1 hour treatment. If the only water source on the trail is really bad, I can pop in a tablet and wait an hour while hiking.

If you do "no-cook" eating, then I agree, you may want to treat all water. But then the added weight of the filter is offset by not taking stove and gas can.

It is difficult to know if water treatment really works. You treat water; you do not get sick. Perhaps you could also not treat water and still not get sick. It is good to have some kind of treatment (tablets) in case you are forced to use water that is likely bad. I am just not sold on 100% need to treat all water.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by rlown » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:55 am

Not a fan of chlorine tablets, btw..

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by bobby49 » Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:21 am

It seems like this same problem is asked over and over.

I use two 2L Platypus containers, a Sawyer filter, and some hose sections to make a gravity-fed filter system. There is always some slight risk of failure, like if a Platypus springs a leak, or if the filter element gets plugged. So, I carry some chlorine dioxide tablets, even though I have not had to use any of those in years now.

Some people ask how to fill an empty Platypus, since it tends to collapse underwater. I have one old Platypus that had failed years ago, right around the screw cap, so I cut the top off that at an angle. When dipped underwater, it fills quickly, and then using the cut angle it can pour the raw water into the raw water Platypus. That one drains its water through the filter element into the clean Platypus by gravity. Afterward, the old cut Platypus serves as a transport container. All of the various hoses and things fold up and go there for transport.

Years ago, a close friend of mine went swimming in a nice-looking Sierra lake, but she was not careful and let some water into her mouth. As you might expect, about ten days later she started developing giardia symptoms, and a physician diagnosed it a couple of days later. Fortunately, she was taking pills for two weeks and then the problem cleared completely. Since then, I have tried to be extra careful about my water.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by TurboHike » Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:35 am

I cut the bottom off of a 1L plastic water bottle and I use it as a water scoop to fill my 2L Evernew bag. The cut off piece weighs less than 1 ounce. It nests on the bottom of a 700 mL Smart water bottle so takes up no space in my pack. My whole system (Sawyer mini, backwash plunger, Evernew bag, Smart water bottle, and cut off bottle) is 6.5 ounces on my scale.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:41 am

If you blow on the Platypus opening, it expands and fills better. I just use my cooking pot to fill it- works much better. Plus I can skim the top layer of water from a lake, which actually has a better chance of being naturally treated by sunlight.

Everyone has an example of someone who got sick with just a mouth full of water, or someone never getting sick and always drinking untreated water. The issue is how many people actually get sick out of a large population. This is risk assessment. To each his own to judge what risks they want to take balanced against extra weight carried, convenience or peace of mind. There are a lot of good options out there now to match many different styles of backpacking.

I have never seen a double blind scientific study of the effectiveness of the various water treatment gadgets. So "effectiveness" is still not proven.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:00 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:41 am
I have never seen a double blind scientific study of the effectiveness of the various water treatment gadgets. So "effectiveness" is still not proven.
I can say with some scientific expertise that any 0.2 micron filter will be effective at removing pathogens. When I worked at a vaccine plant, we'd sterilize water with 0.2 micron filtration. I'd expect that if you get sick from water that's been filtered, the contamination came from an execution problem. For example, your container was contaminated, you had a leak somewhere, or you selected a water source with a large amount of small molecule impurities that a filter won't catch like lead or uric acid.

Whether such filtration is necessary or not is a whole 'nother argument. The risk of getting sick from untreated water is pretty darn low, but the cost of a filter and the weight of carrying it is also pretty small in my opinion. The filter also takes silt & mud out of the water, which is a bit unappetizing. It's a personal risk assessment, so the idea of telling someone else what they should or shouldn't do is dumb. But I don't think it matters much one way or the other.
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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by bobby49 » Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:51 pm

Whenever I get into a discussion about treating water, I am reminded of my first trek in Nepal in 1983, which was for 25 days. There were nine of us trekkers, plus Sherpa staff to be leaders, cooks, and others. The Sherpa cook had cook boys to clean cook pots and that sort of thing. However, maybe somebody rinsed out a pot with some impure water. Over some number of days, eight of the nine trekkers got sick with the same symptoms. I was the ninth, so I never figured out whether I just got lucky, or if my system was stronger in some respect, or whether the gods were smiling on me.

Just to avoid relying on luck, I filter all of my water in the Sierra.

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