Monday, March 10, 2014

Tweakin' My Hydration System


(Sigh ...) I was pretty happy with my transition from Aquamira to Sawyer's Squeeze system last year. I rationalized that the weight was practically, almost nearly the same. And besides, I would be not be adding chemicals to pure mountain spring water, but would be filtering out that nasty tasting leaf mulch. Besides, the filter was simple, with no moving parts. Their 0.10 micron Hollow Fiber Membrane filters out most every bad guy, and is capable of processing more water than I'd likely need in all the days I have left on this rock. Most importantly, it was a rock solid system for me.

Great! The last filter I'll ever buy. Right?

Well ... Late last year, Sawyer came out with their new SP128 Mini Water Filtration System. Same technology, same basic design, but in a smaller, slimmer, lighter configuration.

Yes, Sawyer is a cruel temptress.

Their claimed weights are all for dry out of the box. But, after your first few hours on the trail, that filter is rarely going to be dry. The original Squeeze weighed 95g wet. The new one is 48g wet. Almost half the weight! is the sensational stat. 47g translates to 1.66 ozs [shrug ...] It works with all my Sawyer squeeze bags, the backflush syringe is the same, so 1.66 is my weight savings.

In last year's posts about upgrades I made a big deal out of how an oz here, and an oz there added up to significant savings. But I'm looking at 4 lbs of clothes, so forgive me if I can't get excited about 1.66 ozs ...

Otoh, a theme of my gear posts last season was the price per oz of weight savings for any upgrade, where I found $24/oz to be about average. At $21.90 on Amazon, this worked out to be $19.26/oz, so I can feel good about that.

Last year, Sawyer's pouches had a bad rep for seam failure. Looking for other options, I found the threads on the Sawyer, while compatible with most every soda-type bottle, were not compatible with my inventory of Platypus soft bottles. Folks on various forums found Evernew's Water Carry bags were compatible, but vendors tend to sell out within days of getting any in stock.

I hit the trail last year with a mix of old and new Sawyer squeeze pouches. I was gentle with them, rolled them rather than squeezing them, and had no catastrophic failures. The old, thin-walled style developed pinholes quickly, making them less than optimal for carrying extra water to a dry camp. I had no such problem with the new style.

Still, I wanted to score an Evernew, both for robust backup, and for carrying water safely. But every vendor with which I was familiar was still out of stock. A Japanese vendor on Amazon has 'em for $33.75 plus $7.70 shipping ... I didn't want one that bad. I finally found Great Outdoors Depot in Tumwater, WA. As of this writing, they still have a couple of sizes in stock at reasonable prices.

I got my 1.5L bag today. First thing I did was compare the threads to those on the Sawyer Squeeze bags. In the picture at right, the Squeeze is in the middle, the Evernew on the right, and the Platy on the left.

The thread pitch on the Platy and the Squeeze is obviously different, with the Platy's being significantly more coarse. The Squeeze and the Evernew are a match, and should not cause any long-term damage to the threads in the filter.

Second thing I did was put it on a scale. I found it to be 36g or 1.27 ozs. So, my total system for this year's section looks like this:
Item Ozs
Sawyer Mini Filter 1.69
16 oz Sawyer Squeeze Bag .75
1.5L Evernew Water Carry Bag 1.27
600ml Gatorade Bottles (2) 2.88
Sawyer Backflush Syringe 1.13
Total 7.72
Where water sources are plentiful, the two full Gatorade bottles will hang on the front of my shoulder straps, and the Squeeze and Evernew bags will be empty in my pack. I'll use the Squeeze for regular filtering, and the Evernew when fetching water for camp. If I plan to dry camp, or if water sources are far apart, I can carry up to 3.2 liters.

I'd likely leave the syringe at home if I was doing a short trip. Maybe even one of the bags, depending on water availability, But I'm pretty happy with this for my upcoming long-ass section hike. What do you think?