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Backpacker Magazine – March 2011

8 Ways to Treat Water

Stay hydrated–and healthy–with a filter or purifier that's right for you.

by: Dan A. Nelson

Katadyn MyBottle (Courtesy Photo)
Katadyn MyBottle (Courtesy Photo)

Ultralight Treatments
Purify water through modern chemistry. Here are three of our faves.
Aquamira Water Treatment Drops $15; 3 oz.;
(treats 120 liters)
Chlorine dioxide (drops)
Viruses, bacteria, protozoa (including hard-shelled crypto)
Virtually no taste
Fussy two-part treatment; needs four hours to kill crypto (30 minutes kills everything else)
Katadyn Micropur MP1 $10; 1 oz.;
(treats 20 liters)
Chlorine dioxide
Viruses, bacteria, protozoa (including crypto)
Lightest weight
Needs four hours to kill crypto (30 minutes kills everything else); slight chlorine aftertaste
Potable Aqua Plus $10; 4 oz.; potable-
(treats 25 liters)
Viruses, bacteria, all protozoa except crypto
Takes 30 minutes; includes flavor-neutralizers (vitamin C) to eliminate iodine taste
Does not kill crypto

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Reader Rating: -


Sep 14, 2011

My only problem with Polar Pure iodine crystals was that the bottle couldn't keep the iodine smell contained.
When hiking the clothes I wrapped around the bottle would reek of iodine, and when I was storing it, it was even worse. It got to the point where I could smell the iodine 5 feet away from the closed drawer I stored it in.
I tried many different things; leaving water in the bottle at all times, double bagging the bottle, putting the bottle inside another bottle, I even tried putting some charcoal with it hoping it would absorb the odor, but nothing worked for me.
Even now, 2 years after I threw the bottle away, everything that I had stored with it (mainly maps) and the drawer itself still have a heavy iodine smell.
I was sorry to get rid of it, but it was just to much of a bother.
I now either use a filter, boil, or just take my chances.

Mar 30, 2011

MSR Waterworks and Miniworks filter cartridges may be scrubbed when they clog, meaning one cartridge could be good for thousands of liters. I have owned one for the past twelve years, and use it about ten days each year to supply ten backpackers with water, so that's a twelve-hundred person-days on one cartridge, and still running strong. The filter weighs about 1.5 lbs.

Mar 20, 2011

Polar pur is really good. Never had a problem with them and I'm 45. Aquamira is great for over nite. still never had a problem with any of them

Mar 19, 2011

The 2 chemicals in Aquamira is also known MMS (Miracle Mineral Supplement) It used to be available at health food stores till it was banned by the FDA. It is available over the internet. It is taken by mouth in small amounts to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites in the body. The website that discuses this is

Mar 17, 2011

I just don't get how chemical treatment is ultralight. In practice, you end up carrying an extra 4 hours worth of water (basically what you'll have available to drink while your chemicals are purifying your secondary supply). I typically drink about a liter every 2 hours, so that's 4.4 pounds of undrinkable water that I'd be lugging. Since I typically backpack in areas with water sources every few hours, a filter makes more sense and is far lighter.

Mar 16, 2011

I have always loved Polar Pure Iodine crystals. Unlike Iodine tablets (which are useless within a month or so of opening the p bottle, so a waste if you don't use them up within that time) They last virtually forever. They're convenient, no taste that I can discern. Only con is the glass bottle, you just have to take a bit of care. Lighter and smaller than any filter.

Mar 16, 2011

Thanks for the review, and for including chemical options as well. As for "fussy" Aquamira, I'd have to disagree, as I don't clean it, unclog it, backflush it, fix it, swear at it; I mix the 2 parts, tend to whatever I normally would on a trail break, and in 5 min add it to my water. Simple


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