UV Water Purifiers for Hiking?

svenpup

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 18, 2009
835
Sacramento, CA
I used to do a lot of backcountry camping and was very familiar with the options (at the time) available for making safe drinking water. My girlfriend has been urging me to get me to get back into hiking, so I have been doing an inventory of my gear and starting to purchase the things I am lacking.

I went online to shop for water filters, and was surprised that the ultraviolet (UV) light based water purifiers seem to be the most popular option now. I know the TFP consensus on alternative “sanitizers”, including UV, for pools.

I am wondering if anyone has any experience with UV drinking water sanitizers. I guess the need for residual sanitizer is not the same for drinking water in a bottle as is for a pool full of water that is just sitting there all the time.

Any input?
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
I haven't done any research into the portable UV sanitizers you describe, but I sure wouldn't want to trust a UV only water filter in the backcountry. But UV in addition to a sub-micron mechanical filter might be nice.

I caught a very nasty bug that still bothers me to this day from drinking untreated water in the backcountry, so I will never go out again without an absolute bomb proof water filter. That used to be ceramic, but that probably dates me... :oops:

BTW, I'm jealous that you are getting out again. It has been far too long since I have walked the bare ridges of the high country. :(
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
Also, any idea where you are headed? (Just trying to stoke my envy) You have some of the most sublime places on earth in your backyard. Me, I have to get on a plane any time I want to get away...
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
If/when I ever get out again in the near future I'll be taking these two products along. I take my drinking water very seriously.
General Ecology Water Filter
SteriPen

I didn't really see much about the UV sanitizers other than the SteriPen, which I sure wouldn't trust as my sole means of water treatment.

Happy Trails!

EDIT: After reading Richard's post below about how long chlorine dioxide takes to kill crypto I agree that the SteriPen would make a superior supplemental device compared to the water drops.
 

svenpup

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 18, 2009
835
Sacramento, CA
Beez said:
Also, any idea where you are headed? (Just trying to stoke my envy) You have some of the most sublime places on earth in your backyard. Me, I have to get on a plane any time I want to get away...
No specifics yet. We got a couple Sierra Nevada hiking guides so we have lots of ideas. We have done several day hikes. Last weekend we did a short hike into Lake Margaret near Kirkwood. Definitely some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen(and I spent several months hiking in the Rockies).

To be honest, this is what brought us to Sac. My girlfriend and I decided to move "somewhere". Our requirements were it had to be near mountains and great skiing and I had to be able to get a job in my field. Fantastic weather would be a plus.

There really aren't too many options when you need a decent size city with tech/defense industry near the mountains: Denver, SLC, Seattle, Sac are about it. (anticipating rebuttal to this comment)
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
svenpup said:
There really aren't too many options when you need a decent size city with tech/defense industry near the mountains: Denver, SLC, Seattle, Sac are about it. (anticipating rebuttal to this comment)
I'd say you made the right decision based solely on outdoor activities. All of my backpacking experience has been in Colorado, but I always wanted to get out to the Sierras. Be sure and post up some choice pics!
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
Basically, killing most bacteria and inactivating most viruses in the water is rather easy to do with chlorine, but protozoan oocysts are the bigger issue as chlorine doesn't kill them quickly. So some chemical tablet systems use chlorine dioxide (e.g. Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets) generated from sodium chlorite with Dichlor since chlorine dioxide can kill even Cryptosporidium though that takes 4 hours. Other chemical tablet systems use iodine (e.g. Potable Aqua), but some people don't like the taste (which can be eliminated after disinfection with ascorbic acid or other reducing agent) and it does not kill Crypto quickly enough (i.e. it is similar to chlorine in that regard). Other alternatives include microfiltration, though it has to filter very fine to eliminate Cryptosporidium and even finer to filter out viruses. UV can kill or inactivate most anything so long as the exposure is strong and long enough, but it doesn't work well with murky water so doing some basic filtration first to reduce turbidity and then using UV is a combo that would work.
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
chem geek said:
Basically, killing most bacteria and inactivating most viruses in the water is rather easy to do with chlorine, but protozoan oocysts are the bigger issue as chlorine doesn't kill them quickly. So some chemical tablet systems use chlorine dioxide (e.g. Katadyn Micropur) generated from sodium chlorite with Dichlor since chlorine dioxide can kill even Cryptosporidium though that takes 4 hours. Other chemical tablet systems use iodine (e.g. Potable Aqua), but some people don't like the taste (which can be eliminated after disinfection with ascorbic acid or other reducing agent) and it does not kill Crypto quickly enough (i.e. it is similar to chlorine in that regard). Other alternatives include microfiltration, though it has to filter very fine to eliminate Cryptosporidium and even finer to filter out viruses. UV can kill or inactivate most anything so long as the exposure is strong and long enough, but it doesn't work well with murky water so doing some basic filtration first to reduce turbidity and then using UV is a combo that would work.
The water filter I referenced above claims to be able to filter crypto and if I'm not mistaken it is certified by NSF for that purpose. Their website specs .1 micron nominal/.4 micron absolute.
 

svenpup

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 18, 2009
835
Sacramento, CA
Well, I am going to be a guinea pig...I ordered the steripen. Well, not really much of a guinea pig I guess as there seem to be millions of the devices out there. Plenty of positive reviews. No offence to Beez; I appreciate your advice. I did some research and basically came up with the same conclusion as what Richard said; basically it is a reasonable scientifically based solution. I am getting one with a prefilter so that aspect is taken care of.
 

Beez

LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2009
785
Dallas, TX
svenpup said:
Well, I am going to be a guinea pig...I ordered the steripen. Well, not really much of a guinea pig I guess as there seem to be millions of the devices out there. Plenty of positive reviews. No offence to Beez; I appreciate your advice. I did some research and basically came up with the same conclusion as what Richard said; basically it is a reasonable scientifically based solution. I am getting one with a prefilter so that aspect is taken care of.
No offense taken, you just asked for opinions and I gave you mine! :goodjob:

FWIW, I don't doubt the science behind UV, I just couldn't trust an electronic gadget as my sole means of water treatment. I think it is a great idea for a supplemental means of purification though. I edited my post above to show that when I go out again I will be taking both a filter and the SteriPen. Overkill? Yes it is, but that is based on my own worst case experience in the backcountry. FYI, as rare as they might be, there are pathogens out there that cannot be eradicated once they take hold. Or perhaps as doctors have told me, that the damage they cause can not be undone. Or as other doctors have told me that it might be possible to get rid of the pathogen if they just knew what it was...

Happy Trails!
:cheers:
 

taekwondodo

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 26, 2009
419
The number one problem with UV is that the bulb can continue to work and it looks the same, long after the output of the UV rays themselves degrade and become ineffective. A good bulb will last several thousand hours though. (I use UV for my Pond - lasts for about 1 1/2 years and then all of the sudden algae comes back). As little as you will use your water thingy, you should be good as long as the bulb is replaced every few years... just remember though that because you see it on, doesn't mean its generating UV rays.
 

svenpup

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 18, 2009
835
Sacramento, CA
taekwondodo, thanks for the info. The one I ordered actually has a use counter and lets you know when the bulb is done (probably conservatively).
 

svenpup

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 18, 2009
835
Sacramento, CA
So Beez,

This weekend we will be trying the Steripen for the first time.

I will let you know if I wind up spewing out of both ends :mrgreen: :oops: :shock:

We are heading to Dardanelles Lake in the Eldorado National Forest:

 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,796
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
svenpup said:
So Beez,

This weekend we will be trying the Steripen for the first time.

I will let you know if I wind up spewing out of both ends :mrgreen: :oops: :shock:

We are heading to Dardanelles Lake in the Eldorado National Forest:
If you wanna preview some other great places, check out this website. Last time I did a long backpack, it was the Rae Lakes Loop, including the brutal climb over Glen Pass. This guy's got pictures of it. Looks pretty much like my pictures - except I'm not in any of them.
 

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