I’m often asked my opinion with regards to “drinking water” when out on the hills wild camping.
Some folk drink straight out of streams, others boil and the rest treat their water.
I’m of the latter group. Mainly because I suffer from a mild form of IBS.
Plus, on past experiences, despite boiling water and the like I’ve suffered from an upset stomach!
It’s a given you should check your source for contamination – be it dead animals and even human waste.
But free flowing water that’s been oxygenated is best. It is likely to be safe for consumption and free of sediment.
Of course, cleanliness plays a major part. Dirty hands from scrambling, pitching a tent and so on can contribute to an upset tummy. You can end up with perfectly safe drinking water straight out of a gushing spring but the filth on your hands gets in your food or cutlery and the rest is history.
I remember one time taking a gulp out of a waterfall only to discover further upstream there was a nice fresh rotting sheep laying in the water. Yuck! And didn’t I know it some time later.
Then there’s stagnant water. Something to avoid given bacteria and more can have chance to breed in large numbers.
The fact of the matter is, we ingest germs and the like everyday. It’s just they’re at such a number that they pass through you to no ill-effect. However, there are some bugs you just don’t want to have in you no matter how small in number they are. Others if given chance to grow in sufficient quantities will again make you unwell.
Some are of course lethal. But on the whole most folk will get by fine here in the UK out on the hills. The only real concern ishuman waste (if near a popular place) and livestock.
Boiling water will suffice for most but even then there are many arguments to be found online on this method. I find boiling peaty water, for example is not enough and can make me feel a little unwell. But that’s perhaps something other than bugs.
All said and done more and more people are discovering Drinksafe-Systems.
Not only do their products remove bugs and nasties, but chemicals and sediments, too!
I had a chat recently with Giles Butler who manages the company and it’s products in the UK- asking how and why their products work.
“Alright there’s – results and proven test results and to some degree guess work on what is happening. I can honestly tell you that our filters have been tested around the globe with the same fantastic results.”
“We know that some bacteria will in part get through any filter- but if the cell structure is stripped then it’s non- invasive (cause no illness)”
“Larger Crypto, a hard shell cyst that is notoriously VERY difficult to kill with chemical purification (hence 15 minute recommended chemical treatment) and Anthrax (Spores) – simply won’t get through our filters and to a certain extent E-coli, too.
So, our filters have a tortuous path. Water is forced to not go in a straight line even under pressure.
Viruses need a living host and in most cases to cause harm it creates mutations in bacteria. Our filters takes out bacteria (Pathogens).”
“The filter DOES have a special media in it – but NOT a chemical per se. The filter technology is patented.”
Giles goes on to explain the filter is natural carbon which has the best absorption capability and there’s a chemical chelate media (natural) Silver and some other stuff that acts like a pincushion within the media.
“No other manufacturer makes the same filter media i.e. it is NOT found on other filter systems which sets these apart especially the more recent development of pin cushion technology – within and applied to these filters along with other media and the method of filter manufacture.”
There are downsides to using the filters, though. Sediments quite simply block the media. You could get up to 100 litres to survive but it’s best to source clear water to make the most of the filter.
So, that’s no seawater or piss to you and me. And the latter has been tried by the Royal Marines and they survived with no complaints!
Giles had commissioned his products to be tested by over 100 scientists of various organisations for specifically pathogen removal including viruses E-Coli Anthrax and E-aecalis. The source water was untreated, the pathogens were live (some testers use other methods).
“Most people test for 1 litre. Imagine a scientist squeezing bottles – so we used an inline system to MoD specification. The results were outstanding! We also tested for reductions of over 100 chemicals metals and compounds including pesticides Voc’s Pcbs etc.”
So, no chemical taste when drinking then?
“If folks are particularly worried about disease infested water there is no harm in popping in a part steritab – We actually threw a few hundred in a reservoir tank at specific dosing ( totally unpalatable water taste) at the Environment Agency as a separate test from all others and passed the liquid through an inline filter. It took out 99% on a successive basis i.e 1 litre 10 litres 100 litres and more etc . Another separate test with iodine reduction 91% on a successive basis.”
“We want the best effective proven capability that we can muster and similar lab tests in Australia, South Africa and the USA verify the UK extensive tests.”
It’s perhaps surprising that Giles does not publish the results of these tests. This he insists is down to the competition (a long story) but anyone can call the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for verification of how good the Drinksafe-System products are.
“I didn’t invent the products but 3 million have now been made and supplied across the world in various guises to peacekeeping forces and Aid Agencies . 45,000 were recently sent to Haiti Disaster Relief.”
The filters to a degree need some care. Using muddy water all the time will only shorten it’s shelf-life.
But as part of a bottle or as I prefer an inline filter for my hydration bladder they are fantastic pieces of kit for piece of mind when drinking out and about.
I used the inline filter on my Coast to Coast Walk and it proved to be a Godsend. I prefer the ease of use and practicalities of the inline filter to the drinking bottle.
And of course compared to other devices like the SteriPEN it’s much better to use one of Drinksafe-System’s products. The SteriPEN is limited to clear water in the main (though a token filter shall we say comes with the device in most cases and is not really practical) and a reliance on batteries.
Both have their merits, of course.
But for me the Travel Tap and inline filter win hands down.
The flow rate from the Travel Tap is good enough for water on the go but you need a little patience if you require a shedload for cooking.
The inline filter is much better in that it can be gravity fed.
Hold your bladder or prop it up somewhere and watch H2O filter through into your cooking pot or mug.
Using the inline filter I noted how there was no effort required when sucking through the tube to drink. Which is handy if you get a real thirst on.
The Travel Tap needs a good few squeezes of the bottle and so more effort is required. Fair enough – for water on the go now and then but for those of us who sweat alot – the inline filter is much more practical.
“The inventor has spent their life devoted to water technology applications including reverse osmosis and ion exchange generators Ozone manufacture and others.” Giles explained.
“What are we trying to do when we buy a water filter? Enjoy ourselves in the knowledge that the filter water system is removing potential threat from causes of disease and sickness in untreated water. That the filter will improve taste by removing/reducing chemicals in water either from surface run off or pre treated in commercial or disaster application.”
“We require a lightweight, simple to use system that will offer good, clean, safe drinking water for years”
Like I’ve already mentioned at the beginning of this post, I get asked about how I treat or source my water out on the hills.
It can be a subject one can talk about all day and opinions on devices will vary.
And this is just my opinion of which I’m sharing with you.
It’s an interesting subject – the science behind it all – and what we take for granted when it comes to drinking water thats safe with the turn of a tap.
Feel free to contact Giles at Drinksafe-Systems for any further questions and answers. He’s a thoroughly decent guy and the firms customer service is top notch – including a warranty period 275 days longer than competitors!
And this is perhaps why I recommend them and many others, too.
Many thanks to Giles Butler for taking the time out to answer some questions with regards to Drinksafe-Systems.
Drinksafe-Systems product images are their own copyright and not produced by myself.
Headline picture is of the inline filter from a recent trip and produced by myself.