Drink pure water
(This story originally featured in Wild #179)
I’ve been waiting for the day some boffin finds a way to create dehydrated water. It’d make life on the trail so much easier. But that day hasn’t come yet, so anyone heading outdoors has two options: Load up before heading out, or find water on the way. Since carrying a heavy pack is not fun, I’m usually forced into the latter. The problem is, this isn’t ideal either. I’ve tried tablets, filters, UV pens, boiling water, but—because of the hassles associated—I still sometimes take my chances. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I’ve had giardia, dysentery, and other water-borne diseases. But perhaps I needn’t worry anymore.
I recently took out a RapidPure Scout on a four-day walk in Kosciuszko NP. Although it’s technically not a straw filter—you attach it midline into the tube of your hydration pack of choice—given you suck through it, it essentially feels like one. Now, I’ve used straw filters before, but I’ve had to suck so hard, the pressure built in my temples so much I felt I’d nearly explode. But the RapidPure Scout, it turned out, was radically different. It doesn’t even filter the way pretty much every other filter on the market does.
For starters, it’s not even a filter. It’s a purifier. While filters rely on physical barriers only to remove bacteria and cysts, RapidPure uses an electropositive, silver-infused fibrous media they call UltraCeram to purify water, and while that may sound like a collection of buzzwords, it’s actually not. And you’ll notice the difference immediately. Water moves through it far more easily than traditional filters, leading to far higher flow rates; you don’t feel at all like you have to suck on the tube so hard that you may have an aneurysm. The second key difference is that you won’t—an hour or a day or a week later—get sick. One key problem with filters is that they can’t remove viruses. If you use a filter, the only way to remove viruses is to perform a secondary treatment, usually involving chemicals. But UltraCeram gets rid of viruses, and can reduce pathogens 100 times smaller than those caught by regular filters. It even removes heavy metals. And there’s a third key difference; the Scout doesn’t need cleaning. It’s already infused with silver, an efficient biocide, meaning bacterial growth won’t occur in storage.
RapidPure actually has a range of purifiers using UltraCeram. I chose the Scout because of its lightweight minimalism, but you can go lighter still with the Pioneer Straw. Or you can go for the Intrepid or Trail Blazer Purifiers if you need more output or don’t want to have to do any sucking. All in all, it’s perhaps the best way yet I’ve found of never again experiencing that old saying when it comes to giardia: It feels the bottom falls out of your world. And vice versa.