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katadyn-hiker-pro-w-bag-300x332Recently I raved about the benefits of the Berkey Water Purifier which can sit conveniently on your kitchen counter and completely purifies your tap water.  But what should you do if the time comes when you can’t get water from your kitchen tap and you’ve used up your supply of stored water?  How do you get clean water from a natural source, or even (ugh) if you’re forced to scoop it from the gutter?

eFoodsDirect has begun carrying the Katadyn Hiker Pro for just those occasions. This lightweight little goody will come in very handy when you find yourself in emergency situations.  It’s also perfect for camping, and even taking on trips, so you can get clean tasting water from any hotel bathroom sink.

In the past, whenever Connie and I traveled, we would stock our hotel room with a flat of bottled water, but since learning of the very real health risks those bottles hold, the Katadyn (pronounced KAT uh dine) fits the bill perfectly.

I actually own the precursor to the current model, the Katadyn Vario, which is a bit bulkier and less portable than the more streamlined Sport Pro, but the basic principle is the same. Both pump water from the source directly into your bottle or other container, filtering it as it goes.  The Katadyn has two 1/4 inch hoses attached to it: one for intake and the other for the outflow. The main casing of the Sport Pro is about as long as a man’s hand (a real man’s hand, not my femmy appendage), and it isn’t much bigger or heavier than a roll of toilet paper, so you can take it virtually anywhere.

Here’s how to use it:  First, find the cleanest water source you can.  A fast moving river is preferable to a lake if you have a choice, as water that is continually moving is often (but not always) going to be cleaner than standing water.

If you’re at a river, get to the highest point convenient to you (the higher the source, the cleaner the water is likely to be), and look for a place where the water has been flowing over rocks.  If it’s a lake, or even a rainwater barrel, the cleanest water will usually be found a few inches from the top.  Don’t go all the way to the bottom, because then you’re close to where the silt accumulates.  The Katadyn has a little bob a few inches from the base to help control the nozzle of the hose, so that depth is about right.

Set the intake hose into the water.  This end has a little foam-like filter surrounding a cage made of material much like a screen door but with much tinier netting.  So, right there you have a two-tier process that will keep out any debris or particles big enough to see.  Stick the other hose into whatever bottle or container you brought with you and just pump.  It works exactly like one of those portable, hand-held bicycle pumps, and they’ve thought of everything right down to a comfortable handle.

What’s happening is that the water is being pumped through the treated, glass- fiber pleated filter and then through the center of that filter which is filled with granulated charcoal.  It’s this charcoal that removes any odors in the water and gives purified water that great taste you find in most home-delivered bottled water.

If you have the time and inclination, it’s always best to scoop up lake and river water first into a large bucket or kettle, especially if the water looks cloudy.  Let the water sit for awhile so that cloudy sediment settles on the bottom, then pump your water from the top, stopping short an inch or so from the bottom.  This will extend the life of your filter, as it won’t be collecting that visible sediment as it works.

The inner filter has an outer lining that can be cleaned off with a sponge (included).  This is important because this outer lining catches most of the brown and the muck before it goes any further, and because you can unwrap this lining from the filter and wipe it clean, your filter will last a long time without needing replacement. There is goo that clogs up and accumulates in the filter. This is what requires most filters to be replaced before they otherwise would need to be.  Having the ability to catch most of this stuff on an outer lining, and giving the user the ability to remove, is a big advantage the Katadyn has over other makes of filters.  Even though you’ll want to rinse and clean off your filter at the kitchen sink any time after you’ve taken it camping, this outer cover can be peeled off in the field and wiped clean immediately if needed.  (Also, between uses, Katadyn recommends pumping a bottle full of water and then discarding it, so that any old water that has been sitting in the filter gets removed before you pump some for drinking.)

The Katadyn Pro is the most popular brand of filter with a majority of backpackers, not only for its superior ability to filter dirty water and do it fast, but also because the Katadyn folks created it with all details in mind.  First, the outflow hose has a quick-attach nozzle that attaches perfectly to camelback water bags, so you can pump your water directly into a camelback and you’re ready to go.

If you don’t know what a camelback is, it’s a kind of expandable plastic bladder that fits into a backpack (and is often built right into some backpacks). It has come to replace the canteen as the container of choice for many backpackers. It’s also known as a hydration pack. That flat blue thing in the picture at the beginning of this article is an example of one kind of camelback.

In addition to the quick release nozzle, the Sport Pro comes with a cap that can attach easily to most any intake bottle.  You can place it snugly onto the top of a standard one gallon water bottle (the kind you would buy distilled water in at the store), or it screws right onto the top of most standard sports bottles.  By “sports bottle,” I don’t, of course, mean the disposable BPA bottle.  I’m referring here to those reusable, hard plastic BPA-free bottles you can buy wherever sporting gear is sold.

If you are out camping with an RV, or if you’re one of those people who camps out of their automobile, as opposed to someone who hikes into the wild with only what they can carry on their backs, you could still bring your Berkey water purifier with you as it is portable, though bulky.  If you are as obsessive as I am about drinking the purest water possible, what I would do is pull my water from the stream using the Katadyn, then pour that filtered water through the Berkey for extra measure. That’s what I plan to do in any emergency where I’m forced to pump my water first from a dubious source.  I’ll collect it using the Katadyn, then lug it home and run it again through the Berkey.  I want my drinking water to be really clean.

If you can easily haul your Berkey down to the water source during an emergency, all the better, because nothing purifies water like a Berkey.  But if I had to get my water from a natural source, I’d run it through the Katadyn first, then pour it into the Berkey.

But that’s just me.  I’m really obsessive about these things.  I don’t even like thinking about what (or who!) might have been swimming around in my drinking water before it got to me.

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