View Full Version : drinking water

01-12-2007, 01:39 AM
jack mentioned in another post about not taking enough water and nearly dying of thirst. this happens to me all the time. I drink about a gallon and a half of water everyday anyway. my question is what do you guys do for water in the park? sometimes I'll throw a bottle in the back of my vest, but the weight is rather cumbersome, and it's not enough. I've considered wearing my camelbak, but have never tried it. I also have a water bottle with a filter built in. this is nice because it provides unlimited water on a trip, and filters giardia but it tastes like straight charcoal. I wish I could just drink straight from the stream like god intended. what do you guys use?

01-12-2007, 01:59 AM
also, does anyone know, if you do drink park water, what's the chance of actually getting giardia? *I know everyone says don't drink it, and don't worry, I don't plan on it. *but it reminds me of this: *most people would have you believe that eating a raw egg will give you salmonella. *in commercial eggs, on average, 1 in 30,000 eggs is infected with salmonella. *in eggs from free range chickens it's estimated to be almost 0. *so you could eat raw eggs all your life and probably never be affected, but ask the average person and they'd tell you that you were taking your life in your hands. *I know my facts about eggs, but I don't about the water in gsmnp. *that's why I ask. *does anyone know? *

01-12-2007, 07:10 AM
Many a times have i found myself in the same boat, dying of thirst and wanting some water badly. Up until about 2 years ago, i would just drink water out of the stream that i was fishing as long as i was in a state park, national forest, national park, etc. and knew it was protected. I remember a trip to hazel creek about 6 years ago and i drank the water out of there for 4 days straight, it's not like i could get back out to get any water ;). Anyways, i think that the actual chance of you getting giardia is pretty slim if you drink stream water, but there is a chance, which is a big increase over the zero chance you would have if you didn't drink it. That being said, i try to bring water for long trips and i'm thinking of getting a backpack with a hydration pack in it to help with that, however i wouldn't think twice about drinking stream water if i was in dire need of it. Sorry, i know that this isn't a straight answer but i would try to steer away from it if possible. I drank stream water for years and never got it, meanwhile a family member of mine got it and they never drank anything but water from the faucet, so.......

Maybe someone on here with a scientific background could help answer this one, because i don't know a definitive answer. Great question, i'm really interested in finding more about it too.

Dancing Bear
01-12-2007, 07:51 AM
It only takes one bout with giardia to convince you to not take any chances with drinking unfiltered water. DON'T DO IT! I know from experience. When we go to Abrams we usually carry A Pur Hiker filter. It is reasonably small and light. This past year I got one of the filter bottles. I like it for convenience if I want to go really light. It doesn't taste the greatest and it's slow but it works.

01-12-2007, 09:08 AM
Regardless of how thirsty you are, don't risk giardia by drinking the stream water, not matter how clear it looks. Your chances are not slim you will get it but better odds that you would get giardia from drinking untreated water. The taste of charcoal from a filtered bottle is much more desirable that the results of giardia. Dancing Bear is correct, one bout of the "scours" and you will wish you had never drank the water.

David Knapp
01-12-2007, 10:12 AM
I generally carry a hydration pack of some sort, either a Camelbak or one made by Gregory. The only downside to going this route is that carrying that weight plus the vest can really make your neck and shoulders tired.

01-12-2007, 10:22 AM
How much are one of them lightweight filters??? I was looking at getting one a while back but all of the ones i came across were pretty expensive.

01-12-2007, 10:49 AM
This topic happens to be a favorite of mine as I like to backpack and Back country FF.

It is true that our water is not a clean as it once was. Having said that, their are many options available that one can employ when treating or drinking water. Some of the possible microorganisms; Giardia,Cryptosporidium, bacteria and and virusis.

If at lower elevations or around agricultural areas never drink the water without filtering or treating it. I usually carry a 2 liter bladder in these areas in my pack.

When at high elevations or around pristine headwaters your chances of drinking it successfully without filtering or treating it are much improved. (But I'm not telling you to do it)

For many years I have hydrated straight from the stream(No filter and no treatment) at elevations 3000ft plus as long as their are no cattle or housing developments above me, just pristine wilderness.(Again, not telling you to do it). I have never been sick.

So how to treat? ( A few examples
- Wash your hands Rule#1 You are more likely to get bugs from dirty hands
- Filter is best,but can be expensive and cumbersome,but works well
- Aqua Mira-'Effective for some bugs but not all
- Iodine tabs, again, works for some bugs but not all, and make sure you don't have a thyroid disorder
- Bleach- That's right! Household bleach. (NON SCENTED!!!) Cheap,easy and tastes like city water.
1-2 drops per liter of water, wait 30 minutes and enjoy. Old tylenol dropper works well. Have used it many times in the past and never a problem. Some folks on their thru-hike on the AT have adopted this and love it.
- There are other treatment measures, research what works best for you.

I am not advocating that you do any of the above. Just some food/Water for thought!
Do some investigating of your own ,it will make you a happy camper/FF.
I am not a scientist, just an avid FF/HIKER. O, I read alot about this topic.

If there are any kids reading this. please ask your parents before you adopt any new form of water treatment, they will always point you in the right direction.

Enjoy the outdoors- DryFly1

Paula Begley
01-12-2007, 11:26 AM
For those of you who have said that the risk may be low for Giardia in the Park...that may be so, but we know someone personally who was affected by it. *This person was infected even after filtering water...by cross contamination of the intake and output hoses.

She was sick for months and months and months...that is just not *worth the risk for me.

The one time I considered drinking straight out of the stream (I had forgotten my water bottle), in my mind I was poopoo-ing the risk. *I was walking upstream trying to decide if I would drink or not...and spotted a dead and rotting carcass of a deer in the stream. *Had I taken a drink downstream from that ....my mind ewwws every time I think of it. *

Those two things have broken me of ever even considering drinking out of the stream without filtering the water.


01-13-2007, 06:14 PM
My son thru-hiked the AT and is a long distance hiker- He uses the bleach technique due to weight but prefers the filter. I almost aways carry a filter in my day pack. I carry a bottle of water in the back of my vest while fishing. If I am in a ways, I can filter for a refill or the way home.
1. I had a fellow teacher who almost died from liver damage due to Hepatitis(sp?) from drinking out of a "spring" while back packing!!!!! He thinks the source of infection was in the Park, He was an expert on backpacking and the Park.
2. Be careful about "stashing" or cooling bottles or cans in the stream.
3. I am careful"WHERE" I get my water from when I filter. Once fishing up a stream (about 6-8 miles off the road) in the Beartooth- Absaroka wilderness of Yellowstone, I came around a corner and out of nowhere there was a pack sting of horses IN THE RIVER :o. I try to find a spring if I can.
Randy Sale

Paula Begley
01-13-2007, 06:38 PM
I came around a corner and out of nowhere there was a pack sting of horses IN THE RIVER

Randy... ;D! That reminded me...Daniel and I were talking about this thread the other day at the shop and he reminded me of a Pur water filter poster we had at one time. It was a picture of a coyote...in the stream...peeing! :o

Yeah...filtered water is the only way to go!


01-14-2007, 12:39 AM
Last year I had some some reward money from REI and some birthday money left over so I splurged on a MSR Miox Purifer, $120. Some of the best money I have spent. you can stick it in a pocket takes seconds to use, It even kills the realy bad bugs in 30 min. I also Have a MSR waterworks pump, but it does not kill all the bugs and takes up a lot more spaceand take alot longer to use. Even though the ad says the MIOX does not leave an after taste, to me it has a little bit of an bleach taste. But it is nice to only carry in one bottle. as long as you have good batteries and salt you are good to go.

01-14-2007, 01:22 AM
One book I read spoke of one of the greatest sources of pollution in park waters as being from wild or feral pigs loose in the park.

I had one experience with water from Peru. I didn't drink anything but bottled or filtered water, but forgot when brushing my teeth and used tap water. It was well several month after this before Iwas able to eat or drink anything without rish of it passing immediately through me system. The point being ti doesn't take much to infect a person and if ever a ounce or prevention is worth a pound of cure, this is the truth concerning park water.


01-14-2007, 01:40 AM

The MSR Miox is a sweet little purifier. *The chlorine taste comes from the salt used. *Salt, water and the little electrical zap it gets from the batteries creates "a sodium choride brine solution" hence the chlorine taste. *I suppose thats way better than a case of the squirts or worse.

* Worth mentioning- The whole "Clorox "craze thing- Research states that it disenfects the water but does not kill all the bad stuff... So it looks like filters are the way to go(some are better than others). But for emergences, it could mean the difference between life or death.


01-14-2007, 01:59 AM

Sounds like you had a good case of Dysentery probably. Nasty stuff..

01-14-2007, 02:44 AM
mmmmm deer carcas water! :D *there is an interesting new product called lifestraw. *its a big straw that you drink through that will filter out all kinds of nasty diseases,cholera, dysentery, whatever. *it only costs $3. *that's it, and will last a full year of daily water consumption. *the company that made these designed them to be shipped out in mass to third world nations and impoverished areas where people often die from drinking the water. *when I was reading about this I thought I'd found the perfect solution, only catch, one of the very few things it will not filter is giardia. *look at the picture of this thing, it pretty neat. *www.lifestraw.com

01-14-2007, 08:55 AM
Great link, when debating which water purification system to employ


* If link isn't clickable- highlight,copy and paste into google or other.

01-14-2007, 09:00 AM
Did you know that Dysentery was the number one cause of death of soldiers on both sides in the Civil War?

Always filter/treat your water.

01-14-2007, 05:40 PM
I did not know that. I would have assumed it was gunshot wounds.

01-17-2007, 01:31 AM
I carry a small bottle of 78 % calcium hypochlorite "chlorine" when I go on long hikes. It does the same thing that the bleach, sodium hypochlorite, does but without having to worry about spilling the bottle, plus its free from work. It only takes one or two granules per litre of water and after 30-45 minutes later, just like coming out of the faucet. I am pretty sure that it will kill anything that is in the water because cal-hypo is the same thing used in municipal water systems. The cal-hypo and sodium hypchlorite are both oxidizers which is like the MSR Miox system which produces its own chlorine, brine, solution to remove contaminents. I've got some good charts that I can show you that shows the kill rate for chlorine at different ppm of chlorine but I dont know how to post them on here.

01-17-2007, 09:37 PM
I am not saying it is right, but I have been drinking water out of Park streams for over 50 years and have never got sick. I am a lot more careful now since there are so many more people using the Park, I will usually drink out of feeder streams where there is no human activety above.

01-18-2007, 12:52 AM
Hi Dryfly1,

You mentioned that it sounded like I had a case of dysentary (sp?). I am not sure waht it was, never went to Dr. but probably should have. It hung on for months. I did receive a brochure upon my return to the US that mentioned a cholera epidemic and read that about that time there was indeed an absolute epidemic of it, about 1991.

From that experience I would certainly suggest that the risk far outweighs any reward when it comes to drinking unfiltered and untreated water.


01-18-2007, 12:54 AM
Has anyone heard of some kind of "ultraviolet" water treatment? I saw this mentioned on another site ans the fellows said it worked well as best they could tell, but I have not heard it explained, how it works, or how to do it???


01-18-2007, 01:32 AM

This link should shed some "light" on it- all puns intended



01-25-2007, 10:38 PM
I decided to Delete the last post. I should have looked at what was else was on the link before I posted it! Whoops...


01-26-2007, 01:18 AM
One of the guides in the park told me about when he got Giardia, not by drinking the water. He got it from doing something I used to do all the time, holding his wet tippet in his mouth while changing flies. I was a hiker before I started into FF, I like the PUR Hiker as well, but I think the MSR Waterworks works faster, and is easier to maintain. Not to mention that a ceramic filter lasts a lot longer than the paper/carbon filter. That being said, I have one of the water bottle filters, that I just stick in my vest. Not very safe when I fall in though.


01-26-2007, 02:12 PM
All I know is I would not wish the end results on my worst enemy. I caught a case of something fishing in Brazil and again two years later in the Patagonia. Both times the doctors said it was from the water but I did not drink it in either case. I concluded that I too had been contaminated from putting the line in my mouth while changing flies. Unfortunately, I didn't learn my lesson and continue to do it.

Flat Fly n
01-26-2007, 11:34 PM

I use a bottle called "safe water anywhere". *It has been great. *I have drank from the wonderful tasting Smoky Mt streams to out west and in between. *It is a great idea. *

Enjoy the steams like you never have before and never go thirsty again!

Flat Fly'n

PS. *Giardia is real and not only out west

The add says.......
New, high-efficiency, disposable Pre-Filter removes 98% of sediment, sand, mud and algae above 10 microns. The Pre-Filter fits over the Primary Filter and substantially extends the life and efficiency of the Primary Filter. Depending on water turbidity, it will filter up to 25 gallons (over 100 refills).

Bacteriostatic Primary Filter prevents bacteria, mold and fungus from growing or blooming within the filter core itself.

The Primary Filter removes microorganisms including 99.9999% of E. coli and other bacteria and 99.98% of protozoa including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. It also removes 95%+ of VOCs, pesticides, herbicides and petroleum by-products leaving you with safe, odor free, great tasting water. The Primary Filter will filter over 100 days (50 to 60 gallons) of drinking water for an individual.

02-18-2007, 10:10 PM
I had a bad experience with some water once from a river in GA.

Flash forward 15 years to last spring. My good fishing buddy and I got turned around and ended up stuck in the woods overnight. Not really a big deal, since we knew where we were( just not the quickest way out), but I ran out of bottled water about 2pm, and we were in no-trail land....it was probably 79 degrees and we were sweating all day from rockhopping these big boulders, etc on our way downstream. At any rate I was reluctant to drink the water from his purifier thingy - he's got one of those ultraviolet canister things. About midnight, and with cramps starting to set in, I knew if I didn't drink something I was going to be in real trouble, so I gathered up my courage and drank two big bottles of treated water. I did make him go through the purification process twice for me though - just so I could feel better about it. Neither of us got sick, and we made it home ok...but I was probably as close to dehydration as you could get without needing medical attention. I don't know the name brand of the bottle he had, but if anyone wants it, I can find out. Supposedly, it's a high-tech, throughly tested purifier that the military or NASA or someone like that uses.

You can be sure next time I'm going on a day-hike and bushwhacking into unknown territory, I'll have one of those bottles with me. ANd more food....we got mighty hungry too, but I reckon I could live off my fat for about 6 months. ;) haha But good , clean water is a must. Don't risk it. It ain't worth it.

02-19-2007, 12:28 AM
I know the person that Paula mentioned in her post several weeks ago and can tell you that there are few things worse than a case of Giardia. A filter is a good idea, and over the long haul are not that expensive (much cheaper than bottled water). The other good option would be a "Camel Back" type system. The weight of the water is close to the body so it really isn't that noticeable. I figure they work just fine for people on lengthy bike rides. Luckily, I rarely worry about drinking water while fishing - my cooler full of water and ice is only a few of feet away at all times.

Rog 1
02-21-2007, 05:18 PM
I still have the collapsible plastic cup that my grandfather used to dip water from midstream in just about every stream in the Park that we fished together....but that was too many years ago than I will admit to....The two biggest factors since then has been the number of backpackers and pigs ...at time interchangeable...in the park. I now carry one of those collapsible filter bottles for emergencies....have yet to be sick but getting enough water to really satisfy a thrist is wome work....if overniting then I usually boil up enough water for a bottle in camp and one to take fishing.....to help with the "bleach" taste carry a couple of those single serving crystal light mixes...masks the taste pretty well.....and on those occasions where I am tempted it has been a small feeder rivlet off the side of the mountain.