Quenching Your Thirst

“A giant thirst is a great joy when quenched in time.”

– Edward Abbey, “Desert Solitaire” (1968).

We all know how important staying hydrated is and especially while exerting yourself at 7,083 ft and above! Here in Salida, we see new and experienced hikers alike come in with lots of questions on water filtration systems.

First things first, before digging you fresh soles in the dirt, come up with a hydration strategy by studying maps and guidebooks to locate possible water sources along the trail. You can also call Salida Mountain Sports for up-to-date trail conditions. Doing your due diligence before setting out represents the foundation of your overall strategy.

Adequate hydration should always be a priority. How do you go about making educated decisions before your time out on the trail? How do you know which system will be best for your situation? We can break this out into three different types of hydration systems:

  • Tablets/Drops
  • Microfilters
  • UV

1.   Tablets/Drops

If you are using drops/tablets alone, adding these to unfiltered water takes up to 4 hours for effectiveness. Your drops will kill viruses and bacteria but ineffective against the Crypto cysts (our Potable Aqua drops will kill giardia cysts), which are the most popular among all states. Our Katadyn tablets will kill all 3 (bacteria, viruses, and cysts).

If you’re shooting for the lightest weight option and taking up less room in your pack, our suggestion is to go for the tablets. If you are shooting for lowest cost per volume of water or going on a long trip, we suggest the drops. Be wise to screw on the cap tight though, you do not want it to leak and then be left with nothing at your next refill location!

Tablets and drops are good to use in the high mountains where you will not need to filter out crud or pollutants from upstream. To be extra safe, you can use these as an addition to a filter. When doing this, you will only need to wait 15 minutes for effectiveness of the drops or tablets.

2.   Microfilters

Pump Microfilters

A few of our pump options we offer are the Katadyn Hiker and Hiker Pro series. These will have a much higher output than most squeeze technologies at 1 liter per minute (48 pumps). These will be easier to use if you are looking at a week or longer trip where you will need to supply larger quantities of water, for example filling up a pot of water. Our pump’s filters have the capacity of 300 gallons of water before needing a replacement. Many hikers choose to stick with our hand pump options rather than the lightweight squeeze options because of their durability.

Squeeze Microfilters

Squeeze filters use the pressure or squeezing the body and forcing the water through the filter. These will take more effort in equaling the same amount of water output as the hand pumps, but they are much lighter and space saving. Each squeeze filter lasts close to that of a hand pump filter, but finding replacement filters can be a little more difficult when there are so many different systems available out there. We offer replacement filters for the squeeze Katadyn BeFree system.

Bottle Microfilters

All of our microfilters will remove the troublesome three (crypto, giardia, and bacteria).


3.   UV Purifier

We offer one UV hydration system. With this system, it removes 99.9% of all bacteria, viruses, and cysts without the use of a filter. Fill up the bottle, Put the cap back on and push the power button, agitate for 60 seconds and drink! It is that easy. These bottles come with a charging cable, so with a full charge to start, you can treat water in this bottle 80 times (up to 16 gallons). These bottles will best suit a hiker in the high mountain backcountry where water refills will be clear.

Remember, if you plan on refilling where there may be a lot of waste or crud in the water, our recommendation is a filtration system.

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