Water. Everyone has to have it. Everyone hates to carry it. A gallon weights nearly 8 ½ pounds. A liter weighs a little over two. Depending on how much water you carry it might just be the heaviest thing in your pack.
Here in the east, more often than not, we’re blessed with numerous water sources and plentiful flows along our trails. There’s plenty of water around but thanks to the presence of giardia and a few other waterborne parasites that come with nasty repercussions, drinking straight from the source or drinking water that hasn’t been treated in one way or another usually isn’t the best idea. So what to do? If you boil it all down, there are three basic things one can do: 1) Boil all of your water, 2) treat it chemically or 3) filter it.
Boiling water, while fine for a cup of coffee or rehydrating a dehydrated meal, usually just isn’t practical for all of your water needs on a pack trip. Even if you didn’t take the amount of fuel you would have to carry and burn to boil the water, the time it would take to boil it then cool it back down would be prohibitive.
Chemical treatments can be as simple as a few drops of bleach, to special tablets to products like AquaMira. They’re not terribly heavy, carry well and work well but chemicals often leave the water with a funky flavor or aftertaste.
Personally, my preference is a filter. Sure they can be clunky, some are heavy and some require a bit of a b it of effort to use but they’re effective, they can be used over and over, they don’t burn any fuel and they don’t make your water taste funky.
It’s about time to replace my old filter. OK, it’s way past time to replace my old filter. As I started doing my homework I looked at pumped filters first. There are plenty to choose from and most work well but crouching down at the edge of a stream and pumping water just isn’t appealing to me (been there, done that). Squeeze filters can work OK…at least you can stand up as you squeeze water from one bag through the filter and into another…but I hear the bags don’t hold up that well and are prone to springing leaks. Gravity filters caught my eye as a good option. Fill up a bag with water, hang it from a tree limb and let the water pass through into your water container while you wait, eat a snack or take care of some other camp chore. Only problem…the water bags that come with most gravity systems are heavy.
I started looking at DIY options but again, most of the water bags were heavy or were prone to leaking. I eventually decided to bite the bullet and picked up a 6L MSR Dromedary bag and drinking tube kit. I also picked a Sawyer Three-Way filter for the system. Now, normally I’m not one to waste any time before putting new toys together and trying them out, but for some reason I put the parts to my filter system on my desk and didn’t pick them back up for a while. In the mean time I I kept up my search for a better, lighter option.
Fast forward to last week…I was killing time during my lunch hour reading threads HammockForums.net when I noticed this thread about a member’s gravity filter set-up which used a Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Drysack for the water bag, some fittings from the plumbing section of the hardware store, some tubing and a Sawyer in-line filter. Just what the doctor ordered! I already had the Sawyer filter and I had a $20 gift card for REI so picking up a Drysack was no big deal. I also had several feet of silicone tubing in the truck from work so I didn’t have to purchase tubing. As it turns out, finding the right fittings wasn’t as easy as I hoped it would be. I remembered another HammockForums thread in which a member posted a parts list for components ordered from US Plastics (Scroll down to post #19). A few clicks and 12 bucks later my parts were on their way (a parts list with links is included at the end of this post).
Assembling everything couldn’t have been simpler. First, cut a hole that the male fitting *just* fits into in the bottom of the Drysack. I cut a template out of a piece of cardboard so I could use a hot cutter to cut the hole and did a test cut on a scrap piece of ripstop and then checked the fit of the male fitting into the hole…
Next, place a rubber washer on male fitting slip the male fitting through the bag, add another washer and then add the female fitting.
I discovered that my Sawyer filter came with the necessary pieces to be able to connect the filter to the water bag via a short piece of silicone tubing. Another piece of tubing was added to the other side of the filter and the setup was basically complete.
OK, I didn’t mention it but I added a hose clamp between the water bag and the filter…now its complete.
So how did it work out? Not bad at all if I do say so myself. I do still need to add a bead of seam sealer between the washers and the bag and where the fittings meet the washers. The filter works great and the Sea-to-Summit bag is much smaller and lighter than the MSR bag. I like it!
OK, I promised a parts list, didn’t I? Here goes (directly from AngrySparrow’s post on the HammockForums thread I mentioned earlier).
1x – Female Adapter Nylon Fitting 1/4″ x 1/4″ – Part # 62169
1x – Male Adapter Nylon Fitting 1/4″ x 1/4″ – Part # 62174
1x – Tubing Clamp accepts tubing up to 1/2 inch O.D. Acetal. – Part # 59200
5ft – Silicon Tubing 1/4″ ID x 3/8″ OD – Part # 54033
2x – Rubber Washers 7/16″ x 1″ x 1/16″ – obtained locally