April 13, 2012
I rarely recommend products. I should because I spend months in the field every year. I destroy backpacks, boots and long johns like a hobo. I guess part of it is that I don't feel like I can stand on the floor of a trade show, handle some gear and say, "Gee what innovation, y'all should use this thingamajiggy." I feel obligated to use a piece of equipment extensively in the field before I'll say boo about it.
I'm going to tell you about a water purification system. I received it months ago, but I didn't want the bad juju of a fellow hunter hating me as he messes his pants repeatedly while trying to get off a mountain after using a purification system I suggested but didn't test thoroughly.
Last summer, Rocky Mountain Survival Gear sent me a box of their purification products, including the Aquapure Traveller. At the time, my fall schedule included hunting with my kid in Montana, then taping shows in Sweden, Kansas, Hungary, California, New Mexico, Colorado and Scotland. I told them they'd have to just wait on their review. Who the heck cares if this product saves me from the water in Sweden, Colorado or Scotland? That's not really impressive. I know it's sketchy, but I wanted next-level, third-world sketchy.
Finally, the time came. I took my family to the jungles of Costa Rica for two weeks. I knew I would find abundant filthy water. But before I began my testing, I first checked my prescription of ciprofloxacin (cipro). Cipro is a must have if you travel like me.
You can see from the first photo in the gallery below, I eased into the testing. In our jungle home near Punta Uva, large cisterns captured rainwater that served as tap water. The water came off the roof, through a bunch of dirty pipes, then a screen covered with debris and into the faucet. Monkeys above my head each day led me to believe monkey excrement could make its way into this system easily.
After four trouble free days of drinking this water through the Aquapure Traveller, I chose to take it up a notch. We went for a walk in Cahuita National Park. It's a fantastic place teeming with white-faced Capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys and sloths. Monkeys and me are pretty close digestively, so when they poop and it goes in the water -- guess what.
Additionally, the place crawled with filthy and aggressive raccoons, and there are tamandua, paca, coati, armadillos caimans and iguanas. Of the birds, there are green ibis, yellow-crowned night herons, northern boat-billed herons, Swainson toucans, keel-billed toucans, rufous kingfishers and the Central American curassow. All of these animals poop, and all of this poop gets moved into the water by rain. All this filth and excrement in the neighborhood of standing open water seemed the perfect place to try out the Armoured Reservoir.
I found a small brackish lagoon, doublechecked the inline filter's direction and installation, then added well over a liter and a half to my reservoir and started drinking. My wife, in-laws and daughter all cringed and gagged as I guzzled. They were all sure my entire GI tract would be prolapsed by evening. HA! I love it when the doubters are wrong. I experienced nary a gurgle in my gut over the next week. I had absolutely no problem drinking warm, brackish water that was a petri dish of monkey, raccoon, bird, fish and reptile feces.
I'm never happy until I break something. So, we took another jungle hike about a week later. I filled and refilled the Aquapure Traveller in every mud puddle I could find on the hike. My wife cringed each time. That of course motivated me to make it more and more disgusting. It reminded me of when I was at camp in seventh grade and a survival instructor told us we could eat earthworms. I ate 32 one day to outdo the kid who ate 31. By the way, always eat them headfirst. Otherwise they crawl up your esophagus. Who knew? One other thing, seventh grade girls won't kiss boys who eat dozens of earthworms.
Finally, I found a deep depression from a horse's hoof that was full of muddy water. The water was easily 80 degrees, and since a horse made the depression, the water held all the filth horses bring to the table. Filthy, muddy, jungle water that horses had stepped in before being exposed to sunlight and heated to 80 degrees. Perfect. Check the photos and believe me when I say, not even a gurgle. I did break the filter though by introducing too much sediment.
I didn't touch the cipro -- ever.
I talked to the distributor and she suggested in the future when I'm filling my Aquapure Traveller from the filthiest mud holes I can find that I use my bandana over the top of the bottle to eliminate some of the sediment. The sediment will pack the filter unnecessarily and shorten its life. This is a great idea.
In addition to the inline filter on the Armoured Reservoir, the reservoir itself is perfectly designed. The entire top end opens for easy cleaning and drying. You really shouldn't buy one that doesn't open completely. The system to reclose the top is the best I've ever seen. It has no moving parts to get lost. Additionally, the hose is removable. If you're trecking long dry distances you can take a number of resevoirs and only one hose. Finally, the material appears to be the toughest I've ever seen on a hydration resevoir.
The Aquapure Traveller can filter around 100 gallons of water at about 23 cents a liter. It makes the nastiest water taste great whether it's from a rusty old tap, a puddle in an alley or a creek downstream from a cow pasture. It's perfect for traveling, fishing, kayaking and anywhere else there's plenty of contaminated water. The inline filter that I used with the Armoured Reservoir can be fitted to a majority of hydration systems and also filters around 100 gallons of water. Both of the filters eliminate viruses and bacteria pathogens including cryptosporidium and giardia. Additionally, they remove bad tastes, odors, sediment, fecal matter, heavy metals and chemicals including VOCs, SOCs and chorine. All of the filters have a fail safe -- when the filter is done, water no longer will pass through it.