By Mike Willis
Last week we covered the various options for water treatment and filtration. With so many options, it can be very overwhelming to determine which ones will work best for you.
I have tried countless options and have arrived at a combination that I feel is the most effective based on all variables. I needed something lightweight that would work in cold weather, that wouldn’t break the bank, and was easy to use. After LOTS of trial and error, I arrived at the following combination and use it daily during hunting season.
Pictured below is my Sawyer water filter with the bladder hose adapter. The Sawyer water filter is considered a squeeze filter or an in-line filter. The filter comes with a small bag for water that you can fill and squeeze to pressurize water and make it flow.
I fill my Osprey hydration bladder before leaving camp with good water. During this time, I do not have the filter installed in the line. Once I need to stop at a stream, I fill the water bladder and install the in-line filter using the adapter that is sold as an accessory.
The filter is surprisingly easy to drink water through. As you notice more resistance, you will need to backflush the filter using the syringe plunger provided. During cold weather, I can keep the filter in my pocket or in my pack to help reduce issues with icing.
I use the Osprey hydration bladder because it opens completely at the top. This is a significant advantage in filling from a shallow water source.
I prefer bladders to bottles to eliminate sloshing sounds coming from my pack while hiking.
Osprey also provides a quick release hose attachment that allows you to remove the bladder from your pack without having to pull your entire hose that is usually fished around through your pack straps. This is a nice feature, and I have never had issues with it leaking. In addition to the quick connect, there is also a good shutoff valve at the mouthpiece to eliminate drippage.
There are several sizes available for hydration bladders. This will aid you greatly in your decision of how much water to pack around. Regions, seasons, and weather have a direct impact on this decision.
Another useful feature for those using this setup is that you can hang your hydration bladder in a tree and allow the water to gravity feed through the filter. This is especially handy when establishing a spike camp.
A helpful tip in remaining hydrated while in the field is to never pass a water source without stopping. I always drink as much water as I can and re-fill my hydration bladder before moving on. Not knowing where the hunt will take me, I ensure that I don’t allow water to hold me back.
Regardless of what system that you choose to utilize, never place yourself in a position where you have a single point of failure in an area as critical as hydration. Keep some tablets as a backup to whatever else you end up using. Running out of water is NOT an option.