Good luck to the rest of the Appalachian trail tru-hikers class of 2013!

I am going to be a good deal behind the rest of the hikers, as I will start my hike on May 7th. Most folk start in early March (now). And I’m still getting all of my gear in ship-shape. Le sigh. I knew that I would be getting a late start thanks to my work schedule, but I didn’t anticipate how reading about everyone else starting their adventures would make me feel. I have the wanderlust. Can’t wait to get out on the Trail again.

Anywho, let’s talk about how I’m gonna drink water.

After flirting (briefly) with the idea of using chlorine dioxide to treat my water, I decided to go with what I know. Pumping it. I have used MSR’s sweetwater pump before, but I’m going to go with the Miniworks EX this time around. It’s more durable, and more built for the kind of long-term abuse I’m going to be giving it than the sweetwater is. Although, I think the sweetwater is a much faster pump.

So, for the uninitiated, there are a couple of ways to make sure that your water is not going to make you sick. One is using a chemical treatment to kill all of the viruses and bacteria, like iodine or chlorine dioxide. This means waiting for the chemicals to work before drinking the water, which is terrible for people who are bad at waiting (me). The advantage of using chemicals to purify the water is that it’s lighter than carrying a pump. A pump pushes the water through a super fine filter before putting it into your hydration vessel of choice, and removes all of the bacteria that way. I think there is the occasional virus which pumping doesn’t catch because they are so small, but those are rarely what causes people to get sick.

I decided to go pump because 1) I’m more familiar with pumps 2)I like the idea of being able to drink water as fast as I can pump it 3) I don’t want a chemically taste, and 4) I am not limited to a set amount of water. As long as I have a working pump, I can drink as much as I want. With the Iodine or chlorine dioxide, I would have to ration my drinking more to make sure I had enough of the chemical to treat the amount of water I wanted to drink.

The pump will require some maintenance. You can buy replacement filters and they are entirely field-strippable, meaning you can take them apart and fix them and put them back together in the woods without any special tools. So keep it in good working order, and there should be no trouble getting water. I will bring a few treatments of a chemical to use as a backup, just in case for some reason the pump breaks and I need water.

Water-bottle wise, I went super duper light. I am going to bring a platypus. Not what you think. A platypus is plastic water bladder that weighs like 5 ounces. I like being able to drink as a I walk, and this allows me to do so via a drinking tube, so no stopping to get a water bottle out of the pack. Did I mention I’m going to hike this thing in 100 days? I’ve got to be quick. Every little thing helps, and not having to stop to drink will be a big help.

So there you have it, that’s how I’m going to drink.


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