We drink a lot while cycling and at every opportunity we have, we refill our bottles. Pubs, farms and some cemeteries you can quite often find a tap or a friendly person who will fill your bottles.
Though when you are in a place like Tierra del Feugo, there is a wee bit of a distance between taps. Just popping into a Estansia (farm) can be a mission in itself, since they don’t lay by the road side. They are often a few miles away from the “main” road, down a track that is worse than what you are already on. Plus you never know if it is closed, nobody there or they don’t want to give you any water. So you have just wasted a ten mile round trip and more than an hours riding. Even New Zealand and the USA you can be a few miles away from a clean source of water.
There is a limit on how much you can carry too. We have two normal cycle bottles, 750ml, each. With two 2 litres plastic water bottles and an ortlib 10 litre water carrier. Which is enough for a day cycling and three meals with the washing up after too. Though, since we drink a lot and if it is a hot or hard day riding, we are quickly running low.
So that leaves rivers and lakes and even the odd puddles to get a drink from. Depending on where you are you can often drink that water just as it is. Glazier water is fantastic!
The filters cleans the water by filtering out the nasties down to a certain size in microns. Which get away pretty much anything but viruses. Purifiers kills anything, including viruses, but leaves the “lumpy” bits to drink or filter out after.
Then there is chlorine and iodine pills that cleans the water which does leave a funny after taste and the lumpy bits. You can filter the water through a coal filter to take some of the taste away.
Some purifiers also run on power like the SteriPEN, which sounds like great bit of kit, but runs on not so easy to find batteries, they are not in all shops, even in a country like the UK.
With a lot of clicking about and reading reviews I settled for the Katadyn Pocket Filter. Since we were not going to be in areas where there will be viruses in the water, and if in doubt we will drop a iodine pill in it. And I like the idea that there would be no lumpy bits to drink.
The Katadyn Pocket Microfilter meets industry standards for reduction of bacteria (99.9999% Klebsiella
terrigena) and protozoan cysts (99.9% Giardia and Cryptosporidium).
From what I read, the Katadyn filters are used by the US military and NGOs, like the Red Cross the world over, which is a quality stamp for me. The 20 years warranty and about 50000 litres per filter, plus everyone we know, who have forked out for it, still have it years later and never had a diggy tummy.
Yes, for a cycle tourer it is a heavy object and pricey object, we got ours with a massive discount, so look around. But if you think of it as a medical object and something that will safe your life one day. It isn’t a heavy load to pay and carry around in your pannier.
The Katadyn Pocket Filter did save us a few times, especially in Tierra del Feugo, where we did run out of water and food. We have gotten water out of puddles, rivers and lakes that not always looked appetising to drink. Not once did we get a spell of “Delhi Belly”. It was great to know that no matter where we were we had clean water and plenty off it. We used it a few times in the states and New Zealand, when in a remote place and the water looked a bit iffy.
Only once after filtering the there was a green tint and a algae smell to the water. We tried to boil it after but the green colour was still there so we went looking for a cleaner sauce of water.
Upon reading Katadyn website the pocket filter should filter out the algae. I wonder if we hooked up a Katadyn charcoal filter after the pocket filter if the green colour and smell would disappear. It says on their website would remove the nasty taste.
It is a fine bit of kit, for a period we used it every day – pumped easy 10+ litres a day – and never had an issue with it. Easy to use, yes harder to pump when the ceramic get clocked up, but very easy to clean. It feels bombproof too, no way are you going break something.
The best part is that we knew that we had clean water at hand all the time.
Since we got the Katadyn Pocket Filter there has been a big development in the purifying, cleaning and filtering of water both for deprived areas and people who like to hike or cycle tour. So there is plenty out there to choose from, but my pick will still be the Katadyn, because it did help us, its proven durability and who are using it.