Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Smallest and lightest method, effective on viruses, trustworthy, simple.
Cons: Long incubation time, adding chemicals to water.
Best Uses: As an emergency back-up method, purifying large quantities of water, thru-hiking long trails.
Chlorine dioxide treatments like the Katadyn Micropur Purification tablets and Aquamira Water Treatment Drops are the lightest and smallest water treatment methods, making this system perfect for an emergency water treatment method or for weight-conscious thru-hikers. Unlike Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets, chlorine dioxide is effective against Cryptosporidium cysts if you are willing to wait fur hours before drinking. And unlike most pump style filters, it eliminate viruses. Besides the long incubation time, the primary downside to this method is that it involves adding chemicals to your drinking water, which puts off some users. If you want to protect yourself against viruses but don't like the idea of chemicals in your water, check out the First Need XL, which is the only filter effective against those types of diseases. Katadyn Micropur tablets are inexpensive for a single package, which is nice for the wallet at the outset, but over the long term the price adds up. If you travel in the backcountry often, a long lasting filter such as the MSR Miniworks EX would be a better value.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A chemical water treatment method, Katadyn's Micropur tablets are the pill form of chlorine dioxide, such as Aquamira, which comes in drop form. This chemical treatment does eliminate Cryptosporidium (after a long wait period), which iodine does not do, and it leaves the water tasting a little fresher than iodine.
The active ingredient in these tablets is chlorine dioxide (think bleach, but with less harmful effects) and it kills bacteria, cysts, and viruses, which is more than most filters. They also have the added benefit of killing Cryptosporidium if you wait for four hours, which iodine tablets do not do. It is trustworthy and is an excellent method for particularly contaminated water sources since it works on more types of diseases, and can also treat the water on the threads of your bottle. The downside? You are adding a tiny bit of chemical to your water. Is that better than diarrhea ruining your carefully planned vacation? We think so.
These tablets come individually wrapped, so unlike the Potable Aqua Iodine tablets, you can bring just a few with you instead of a whole bottle. They are by far the lightest, smallest method of water purification that you can bring with you, and is ideal to have in case of an emergency.
Time Before Drinking
These tablets require either 15 minutes for most pathogens or a four-hour incubation time to eliminate Cryptosporidium. Four hours is so ridiculously long that it makes this method useless to hikers. Hikers need to refill their water on the go throughout the day; waiting for hours is not an option. Many hikers who choose this method, which is lightweight and convenient, only wait 15 minutes before drinking and risk the Cryptosporidium. These tablets also make an excellent backup source to carry in case your primary purification method fails.
Ease of Use
These tablets could not be simpler to use: the instructions say to drop one tablet in for every liter of water, wait, and drink.
Of the experienced outdoor enthusiasts we polled for this review, we checked in with some Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. Chlorine Dioxide is the most popular form of water treatment among this weight-conscious crowd, who feel that filters are too bulky and heavy. However, Aquamira Water Treatment Drops are usually the preferred method.
Durability/Uses Before Maintenance
No maintenance required, this method is simple and effective.
The taste of the chlorine dioxide is not bad. It adds a faint pool-like flavor to the water, but it tastes sterile. In the case of really gross water, this is an improvement. If you are sensitive to chemicals, you may not like the taste at all.
The tablets do not filter out particulate like all of the pumps, so if there are floaters in the water they will remain there for you to swallow.
If you are settled in at a campsite for a few days, Katadyn Micropur would be perfect. You could fill up a seven-gallon water jug, drop in a few tablets, and let it clean itself while you spend the day fishing. Who wants to pump seven gallons of water? Also, these tablets are great for throwing in your pack in case of emergencies. The individually wrapped packages are so light that the weight is completely inconsequential, and it would protect you in a pinch if you have to drink from a questionable source. Or, if you are thru-hiking a long trail, this would be an ideal solution since the tablets are so light and take up such little space.
If you are on a seriously small budget, and the initial price of a filtration system is setting you back, a chlorine dioxide treatment such as the Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets would be an inexpensive option. $9.95 gets you 20 tablets, which will treat 30 liters.
There are many other types of Chlorine Dioxide treatments on the market, all of which eliminate the same pathogens and require a similar treatment time. One of the most popular is Aquamira Water Treatment Drops, which cost around $15 for 3 oz and are small and light to carry.
If you're looking for a water filter, check out the Katadyn Hiker Pro, $85. One of the best-selling and most popular water filters, the Hiker Pro is easy to use, reliable, and effective against bacteria and protozoa, but not viruses.
The Katadyn MyBottle, $50, is a personal water bottle filtration system.
The Katadyn Base Camp, $82, is ideal for camping, backpacking, or paddling. Just fill and hang.
The Katadyn Mini Ceramic Filter, $110, is the lightest and most compact filter.
— McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: August 16, 2014
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