LifeStraw to treat water on the trail

Clean potable water is a must in the woods. On a dayhike, I just take two quarts of water from my tap at home. But on a backpack, I need a water treatment system.

Over the years, I’ve used various water pumps which got lighter and lighter as time went on. Then I moved to streripens but I never felt comfortable that I was using it right.

On short backpacks or long dayhikes, nothing is lighter or more idiot-proof than iodine tablets; I keep them in my first aid kit. But you can’t use iodine tablets indefinitely. They’re not recommended for the length of the A.T.

Along comes LifeStraw, a personal water filter which is supposed to provide a minimum of 1000 litres of clean drinking water. You put the heavy plastic straw device in your water bottle and drink. According to the information on the box and website, it contains no chemicals.

So how does it work? There’s a mesh at the bottom of the straw that does the work, I guess. I perused the website far more than I should have and found no technical explanation. Here’s what it says:

LifeStraw® Go is a lightweight, reusable water bottle that transforms microbiologically contaminated water into safe drinking water.

But the Swiss company, Vestergaard, has provided Lifestraws in various incarnations to many disaster areas.

It’s light, inexpensive -$19.99 – and idiot-proof. Just use it as a straw. To clean the filter, just blow out. If Lifestraws can be used in malaria-infested waters, it can be used in the Southern Appalachians. It probably will show up in every hiker’s Christmas stocking.

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