Author Topic: Water?  (Read 2257 times)

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Offline froze

Re: Water?
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2022, 08:40:40 pm »
I agree, I think a bit of planning will keep you within comfortable riding distance to water, and all touring people I've ever spoken to have all acknowledged that, but even then, a few said they packed a filter.

Personally, I'm not sure what to think, I have a friend who backpacks, which I know is different than bike camping/touring, but he insists that I should take a filter.  The Sawyer is light weight and takes little space, so I'll just keep carrying for a while.

Offline jamawani

Re: Water?
« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2022, 09:59:43 pm »
I've been touring since the mid 1980s.
At least half of my touring has been in remote parts of the West - where water availability can be an issue.
In the East water quality may be a issue - Flint, rural West Virginia, petrochemical alley in Louisiana.

I've had a filter since my second X-USA trip, but I have rarely used it - only on extended hikes into the wilderness.
Also, filters don't eliminate certain pollutants and microparticles. I view them as extra baggage.
In case of the rare emergency, iodine tablets plus a packet of lemonade to hide the taste will do.

Until Covid, there was easy to come by water in the East where towns and services are close together.
In the West there has always been the issue of greater distances between services.
In remote parts of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana it can be 75-100 miles between water stops.
Also, because of EPA requirements more and more small, public campgrounds have eliminated the water pump.

Covid has changed all of that - at least temporarily - and possibly permanently.
Small stores, cafes, and campgrounds may not be open - even during the summer season.
Those that were barely hanging on may never reopen.
This is especially true of the Great Plains where there may be only one business left in a small town.
Still, you could always knock on a door and ask for water. Small town folks are usually quite generous.

Nevada is the classic case of a remote "stage stop" that cyclists depend on that closes.
Middlegate - on the Western Express - is one example. 50 miles to Fallon; 64 miles to Austin.
It's a bar / cafe / campground / historic site. But if it were to close, it would be tough on cyclists.
Major's Place, between Ely and Baker, is another watering hole strategically situated.
But it is only open sporadically - the last post on their Facebook page was 2011.

I've ridden from Tonopah to Ely on US 6 - 168 miles with no services.
The Warm Springs Bar/Cafe is long closed and derelict. The nearby houses are abandoned, too.
There was a little store/gas station at Balckrock that closed in the early 2000s.
The Currant Bar/Cafe is long closed, but there is an occupied house behind it - >IF< you catch someone home.
There is rarely any surface water - and if so there may be high in fecal matter or heavy metals. Filter? Nah.
So that leaves begging water from the few cars or truck that come by.
(On my 2019 trip we rode for 2-3 hours one morning without a single car in either direction.)
But when there is a car and you have a "Water?" sign, they almost always stop.

But regardless of how you procure water in the remote West - whether at stops or by supplication -
It's never a good idea to wait until you are almost completely out of water and then search.
Top off early and often - kinda like voting in Chicago.

Pic - Near Blue Jay NDOT Station on US 6
Lots of sky, lots of sagebrush, not much water




« Last Edit: January 01, 2022, 10:02:40 pm by jamawani »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Water?
« Reply #32 on: January 02, 2022, 06:07:05 am »
I agree, I think a bit of planning will keep you within comfortable riding distance to water, and all touring people I've ever spoken to have all acknowledged that, but even then, a few said they packed a filter.

Personally, I'm not sure what to think, I have a friend who backpacks, which I know is different than bike camping/touring, but he insists that I should take a filter.  The Sawyer is light weight and takes little space, so I'll just keep carrying for a while.
If you were contemplating taking a heavier filter I might try to talk you out of it for most road touring in the US.  I know that early in my touring career I wound up mailing my MSR Sweetwater filter home and never carried it again.  I have found reasons to take a sawyer now and then.  I still don't think it is generally something that is a good general practice, but it is only a few ounces and on some routes it can be handy.  Most likely it will sit in you bags unused.

Also I am unsure how covid has affected the choice.  The closure of some of the old usual resupply places just might make a filter handy in more places.  You can always mail it home after few weeks on the road if you decide it was a mistake.

Offline froze

Re: Water?
« Reply #33 on: January 02, 2022, 03:23:28 pm »
No I don't use a large heavy filter, it's the smaller Sawyer Mini model so it hardly weighs anything and it takes up very little space.  I'm still out on a limb if I will continue to carry it or not, I've read all the post here and most are against it, but others that I know are for it, that's why I'm out on a limb about carrying it or not.

Some of you have noted that in parts of the US water can be loaded with heavy metals, I Googled filters for this and ran into a water bottle filter that is rated for anywhere in the world, and will remove heavy metals, plus a host of other stuff you can go to the website and check it out.  It also supposedly from reviews had the best tasting water of any other filter they tested.  But the short coming to that filter is that it will do 40 gallons then you have to replace the filter, but in an emergency you're not going to need 40 gallons, just enough water to get you to place where you can get water, but once you use it for the first time you have 3 years before you have to get a new filter at a cost of $25.  This thing is shaped like a water bottle so it would fit a water bottle cage IF that cage is like my Arundel adjustable cages I use, I'm not sure if it would fit standard non adjustable cages.  Being that it only holds 16 ounces it could fit in handlebar bags that have the bottle holder pocket on the outside of the bag.  The unit is expensive at $90 though; it's called the Grayl 16.9 oz UltraPress Purifier Nature Edition.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Water?
« Reply #34 on: January 02, 2022, 04:03:07 pm »
The unit is expensive at $90 though; it's called the Grayl 16.9 oz UltraPress Purifier Nature Edition.
Very interesting as most filters do not get down to the virus level.

When you consider that it is $90 for 40 gallons that is about $2.25 per gallon which is not that much more than buying a gallon at a time in a grocery store.  And if you compare it to a 1/2 liter bottle, it is a lot cheaper.  Then it gets even cheaper the more you use it, i.e. for 80 gallons the total cost would be about $115 or $1.44 per gallon. 

You can go even cheaper by getting the GeoPress filter which costs $10 more but holds ~8 more ounces and does about 65 gallons per cartridge ($5 more).  Plus the Q&A on the website indicates they usually have 20% off sales around "the holiday" (don't know if that is all holidays or just December).  Of course, from a free source like a restaurant, it is expensive.

EDIT:  I see REI sells both the UltraPressa and GEOPress for $90 each.  Plus REI frequently has 20% off sales.

Thanks for the info!
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 04:12:28 pm by John Nettles »

Offline froze

Re: Water?
« Reply #35 on: January 02, 2022, 10:41:24 pm »
I saw the larger one too, it is a unique system that's for sure.  Not sure if backpackers would want something like that due to the weight, but they have to carry the weight of water in bottles anyways, so not sure what they would think of that system, but when I see my backpacking friend again, I'll ask him if he's heard of it and if so, what his thoughts are concerning it vs the Sawyer Mini he uses.  He researches camping stuff really thoroughly, so I think he's heard of it, just not sure why he chose the Sawyer over the Grayl.

Breaking down the price like you did doesn't make it sound so expensive, the problem is do I need something like that if all I ever do is use it once in 5 or 10 years, and if I use it so infrequently than I don't think I can justify the price, especially considering let's say I use it once, then it gets unused for over 3 years which means I have to spend $25 for a filter, so that really mean it cost me $90 for a single bottle of water and $25 per bottle after that, whereas the filter I use now doesn't have time limit.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Water?
« Reply #36 on: January 03, 2022, 06:55:39 am »
All of the filter talk is very interesting.  The Grayl is something I hadn't heard of.  It sounds interesting for travel to places where you need to filter chemicals or viruses.  For bike touring on the road in the continental US or other "first world" countries in general it all seems like a solution in search of a problem to solve.

A filter is something you probably won't use if you plan ahead a bit.  Your fall back plan can easily be holding up and tilting an empty bottle with the cap popped at passing vehicles.  In a real emergency there likely won't be water to filter, but if there is some then aquamira tabs, iodine, a steripen, or a few drops of bleach would do the trick.

When it comes to lead and other toxins.  I personally don't worry too much about that when touring since I don't plan on drinking the surface water other than in an emergency and just to get to where I can resupply.  In the unlikely event that I wind up in a situation where I need to drink to survive, I'll ingest a little questionable water rather than die of thirst, but really I am way more likely to be able to flag down a car or RV and get some water.  In the desert, where I am most likely run out of water pretty much everyone will stop to help someone who is out of water. and there is no water to filter any way

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Water?
« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2022, 07:27:05 am »
I have carried all kinds of water filters over the years while backpacking, and sometimes bike touring, and they all seem to have one thing in common - they get heavier (and harder to use) with each use. A dry filter, that has never been used, seems like a borderline piece of emergency equipment, especially if there is more than one person in the group that could benefit from it. However, once you pass water through that pump expect the weight to increase. I bought an MSR TrailShot on sale at ACA https://www.adventurecycling.org/cyclosource-store/equipment/sp/msr-trailshot-water-filter/ and it was on my "maybe" list for my upcoming TransAM but is currently in the "No" column.

I liked the filter when backpacking the AT in the south, where there is lots of cloudy, questionable water, but as I progressed north I switched to Aquarmira drops https://www.aquamira.com/product/aquamira-water-treatment-drops-1-oz/ which kills bacteria and cryptosporidium like Giardia. I always carry them now. Heavy metal is not something I personally would worry about if we are talking about a quart of water out of the gallons per week that I drink. One thing about long distance hiking or biking is, that even though you tend to eat crap food, you are typically flushing far more water through you system than normal, and flushing out a lot of crap.
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Offline froze

Re: Water?
« Reply #38 on: January 03, 2022, 11:01:10 am »
From what I've read N America supposedly doesn't have major issues with heavily metal polluted water like you will run into in Europe, so you could be right about the heavy metal thing for N America, however Mississipi river is known for it's high concentration of heavy metal in the water.

Keep in mind, heavy metal is not primarily from pollution, it was in water going back to before the industrial age, but we've added to it with pesticides, and industrial dumping.

The iodine solution is a good one, but some people are allergic to it and won't know it till they purify some water with it, then they get the diarrhea, but I haven't found any instances of problems with Chlorine Dioxide found in Aquamira as long as you follow the directions to the letter and not try to over dose the water thinking more is better.  Boiling water will kill all the stuff that the iodine and chlorine dioxide will kill; also, a cheaper alternative to Aquamira is simply using household unscented bleach, 3 or 4 of drops and wait a half hour, make sure the bleach you use is brand new stuff, if bleach sits around too long it can become useless.

So how do we get heavy metals out of the water?  A little digging, I found out you can distill the water, but distilling isn't as simple as boiling a pot of water than drinking it, it's the steam from the boiling that needs to be captured and recycled into a bottle, and if you boil it at too high of temp those contaminates will simply go into steam and be in the water you thought was clean.  So that can be a complicated process, not alone the equipment needed to carry with you to make it work, at that point it would be better to have the Grayl filtering system. 

I can't find anything on the internet saying that since a person is backpacking and they drink water with heavy metals in it you can flush it out by drinking clean water.  I ran out of time to check that out more thoroughly, maybe someone can do that and provide websites for us to read.  Overall, in N America the risks of drinking water with heavy metals in it to a poisonous degree should be quite limited.  The Mississippi river area could be bad, but there is plenty of civilization around that river you can find good water from without resorting to taking it out of that river.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Water?
« Reply #39 on: January 03, 2022, 02:41:12 pm »
There is a valley in Wallace Idaho on RT 4 that turns to a forest road in Burke that had years of extensive mining and is one big super site. I was considering biking through that valley as a shortcut from Thompson Falls until I realized it is very remote (no services) and all of the ground water has heavy metals. I believe anywhere there is or was mining (like areas on the GAP) you need to be carful from metals leaching from the tailings.
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Offline jinx

Re: Water?
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2022, 08:58:23 pm »
Lots of great ideas and advice much of it for a greater traveler than I. What should I do?

With my limited daily mileage capability I'm leaning towards using my trailer. The trailer impacts the handling of my bike less than my bike laden with water and gear. I'm vaccinated and supposedly immune from hospitalization and death. But catching COVID on the trip would bring me 2 weeks of hell and would effectively end the trip. So I still plan to minimize contact with people.

The maximum water I could carry would be about 3 gallons or about 3 days worth. I would have the option to carry that much water if necessary or not. I'll bring a small filter and use it if necessary but will prefer to buy water when possible.

I'm trying to allow for the unexpected which will occur. I'm working on it.