Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Do I really need a water filter for bicycle touring in the USA???

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Do I really need a water filter for bicycle touring in the USA???

Old 08-29-15, 09:04 AM
  #1  
Biketouringhobo
Banned.
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 898

Bikes: Surly LHT 26in 52cm 2008

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Do I really need a water filter for bicycle touring in the USA???

Do I really need a water filter for bicycle touring in the USA when water is easy to get in the USA in stores, fast food places, campgrounds???

I have the MSR mini works water filter since 6/2013
Biketouringhobo is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 09:12 AM
  #2  
robow
Senior Member
 
robow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,199
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 246 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Only in certain rare remote areas of the country would it be invaluable to you, assuming you'll be mostly staying on roads. One generally can find enough water to fill enough bottles in order to get you to your next stop. If you're going off road, can be a different story.
robow is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 09:21 AM
  #3  
vik 
cyclopath
 
vik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 5,264

Bikes: Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Biketouringhobo View Post
Do I really need a water filter for bicycle touring in the USA when water is easy to get in the USA in stores, fast food places, campgrounds???

I have the MSR mini works water filter since 6/2013
For a paved road tour I wouldn't bother carrying a filter.
__________________
safe riding - Vik
VikApproved
vik is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 10:36 AM
  #4  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,244
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by robow View Post
Only in certain rare remote areas of the country would it be invaluable to you, assuming you'll be mostly staying on roads. One generally can find enough water to fill enough bottles in order to get you to your next stop.
One thing folks sometimes don't consider... In places with snow melt creeks and hot weather, ice cold water from the creek can be so much nicer than hot water from your bottles.

On the other hand in much of the southwest there are places where there will be no surface water to filter. On the ST there was almost no surface water for a very major portion of the trip, so a filter would have been useless.

So in large part it depends on the location. If I ill be somewhere with water available to filter I base the decision whether there is the advantage of having cold water and whether I can save weight by filtering. You also have to consider the extra effort of dealing with the filter. Since there are now filters that are 2 ounces I am more likely to carry one than I used to be, but I still leave it home more often than not on road tours.

For backpacking and off road tours I am more likely to take a filter.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 10:40 AM
  #5  
andrewclaus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Golden, CO
Posts: 1,520

Bikes: 2016 Fuji Tread

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 218 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 13 Posts
It depends on your travel style. In the US West, I enjoy "dispersed camping," easy to do on public land. You might find an otherwise perfect site with no water other than a suspect source of surface water, especially in cattle range country. If you have the option to treat water, you might have many more excellent camping options, even just off pavement. Many would not consider this kind of camping and for them water purification would be a silly thing to carry.

As an alternative to a filter, consider AquaMira drops--lighter and cheaper. You'll probably never need it, and it's easier to justify carrying less.
andrewclaus is online now  
Old 08-29-15, 12:13 PM
  #6  
Biketouringhobo
Banned.
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 898

Bikes: Surly LHT 26in 52cm 2008

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
It depends on your travel style. In the US West, I enjoy "dispersed camping," easy to do on public land. You might find an otherwise perfect site with no water other than a suspect source of surface water, especially in cattle range country. If you have the option to treat water, you might have many more excellent camping options, even just off pavement. Many would not consider this kind of camping and for them water purification would be a silly thing to carry.

As an alternative to a filter, consider AquaMira drops--lighter and cheaper. You'll probably never need it, and it's easier to justify carrying less.
I can't use AquaMira drops!
Biketouringhobo is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 01:14 PM
  #7  
Sharpshin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: San Antonio TX
Posts: 803
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 152 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have only one bike tour (Texas to New York) in my past, but here in Texas I definitely would carry a water filter (as I did to New York). Texas is a big state and very variable, but some of the arid Western counties are among the most sparsely populated real estate in the entire Lower 48 States. In these places you could pedal yourself out of reach of water , especially if, for whatever reason, the bike became inoperable.

OF COURSE the next people passing by would almost certainly stop to help if you needed it but if no one was passing by.....

Surface water is generally scarce to absent but cattle are not, and cattle must drink every day. I would bring a filter as emergency gear in case I ever found myself obliged get water from a stock tank.

But then I tend to be a "worse-case scenario preparedness" kind of guy, especially at the low cost of only a few extra ounces of gear.

Mike
Sharpshin is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 01:14 PM
  #8  
robow
Senior Member
 
robow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,199
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 246 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post

As an alternative to a filter, consider AquaMira drops--lighter and cheaper.
I carry a few Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets in my emergency/first aid kit on EVERY tour I take since they weigh absolutely nothing and don't take up any space. Have only used them once.
robow is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 01:33 PM
  #9  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 212 Times in 177 Posts
hauled a Katadyn Pocket filter around Europe, never used it ..

did use it in Oregon at the top of the Oxbow climb to the Coast via International Paper's stumpage, to pull water out of the creek ..
Doubt it did anything to all in removing the Chemicals of Herbicides and 2-4D Dioxins ..

I went into Bars with my empty water bottles off my Bicycle ..

US? ... all else Just go buy a bottle of water in the store .

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-29-15 at 01:39 PM.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 04:09 PM
  #10  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,244
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
I have only one bike tour (Texas to New York) in my past, but here in Texas I definitely would carry a water filter (as I did to New York). Texas is a big state and very variable, but some of the arid Western counties are among the most sparsely populated real estate in the entire Lower 48 States. In these places you could pedal yourself out of reach of water , especially if, for whatever reason, the bike became inoperable.

OF COURSE the next people passing by would almost certainly stop to help if you needed it but if no one was passing by.....

Surface water is generally scarce to absent but cattle are not, and cattle must drink every day. I would bring a filter as emergency gear in case I ever found myself obliged get water from a stock tank.
Scarce indeed. When I rode across south Texas on roughly the ST route I figured that a filter was worthless and thought it made sense that I didn't carry one. Not sure if it was the season (Feb.-Mar.) or the route, but I saw pretty much no water to filter. There were precious few cattle or associated stock tanks and pretty much no other surface water much west of Del Rio. It was mostly brown, dry, parched earth.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 04:12 PM
  #11  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,244
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
US? ... all else Just go buy a bottle of water in the store .
Even in the lower 48 I have gone 80 miles or more with no place to get water a number of times and 40-50 miles without available water way more times than I can remember. That doesn't mean a filter is the answer, but you do need to plan ahead a good bit on the water ration a lot of places.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 06:31 PM
  #12  
grampa.sjb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: SoCal
Posts: 139

Bikes: Litespeed Classic, Surly Disc Trucker, Santa Cruz Blur

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Unless you will be totally away from towns, etc, you will seldom need one. If you want to take something along just to be safe drinking that ice cold stream water and can't use purification tablets, I'd suggest the Sawyer Mini filter: very light weight, no batteries or pumping, takes care of everything except viruses.
grampa.sjb is offline  
Old 08-29-15, 06:38 PM
  #13  
B. Carfree
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 7,051
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 494 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
If you're sticking to roads with towns, don't bother. If you're like me and tend to ride off the beaten path for days on end, then a water filter is probably a good idea. I've had tours where I had planned to be on the road, but I got tired of the traffic and headed off on the nearest unpaved road in search of peace. Oftentimes, that diversion was the best part of the ride, but would have been risky without a water filter.
B. Carfree is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 10:41 AM
  #14  
max5480
Rhythm is rhythm
 
max5480's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Salt Lake City
Posts: 1,185
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
One thing folks sometimes don't consider... In places with snow melt creeks and hot weather, ice cold water from the creek can be so much nicer than hot water from your bottles.
This! A hot mountain pass is so much more pleasant if you can drink from the river. That being said, I still will usually put a few drops of MSR Sweetwater drops in before I drink it.
max5480 is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 11:35 AM
  #15  
3speed
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 3,349
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 308 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
They're nice to have considering that they hardly weigh anything. I suppose I could get by without one, but I still use it somewhat regularly out of convenience.
3speed is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 11:54 AM
  #16  
imi
aka Timi
 
imi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Posts: 2,864

Bikes: Bob Jackson World Tour (touring) and a Miyata 100 (commuting)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by grampa.sjb View Post
Unless you will be totally away from towns, etc, you will seldom need one. If you want to take something along just to be safe drinking that ice cold stream water and can't use purification tablets, I'd suggest the Sawyer Mini filter: very light weight, no batteries or pumping, takes care of everything except viruses.
+1 for the Sawyer Mini. It takes very little room, and to pare it down even further you can get by without the drinking straw and the syringe cleaner (improvise something if and when need be). Only caveat is that you mustn't let it freeze.

The Katadyn Pocket is the Rolls Royce of water filters, but I wouldn't bother unless there was a need to filter water regularly.

edit: oh and if you ever come across a glacier after a stinking hot climb - say in S.Island New Zealand - then drinking directly off the glacier face is pure magic!

Last edited by imi; 08-31-15 at 11:58 AM.
imi is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 12:14 PM
  #17  
TheLibrarian
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Hudson Valley, New York
Posts: 483

Bikes: 2014 Giant Roam

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 84 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You dont need a scrap of food, a water bottle, sleeping bag or a tent. Just a credit card.
TheLibrarian is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 01:00 PM
  #18  
bmike
Bye Bye
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Gone gone gone
Posts: 3,677
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I generally run the Sawyer Mini inline with my hydration bag, in a frame pack, with a hose to the bars. Fill and go...

IMG_4637 by Mike, on Flickr
(spare bottle in that pic for getting juice or electrolyte drink at a convenience store...)

Good pic of my Fargo setup with the Sawyer and hydro bag...
yard sale by Mike, on Flickr

I use one of these to keep the hose tidy on the bars:
https://www.showerspass.com/products/veleau-front-reel


I carry drops if needed for overnight purification (at a campground, etc. etc.) - so I have water in the morning, ready to cook with.

Before I started using the Mini I 'cameled' up at gas stations or convenience stores. Maybe not a big deal on a traditional touring setup, but I like to travel with a bikepacking or lightweight setup.
__________________
So long. Been nice knowing you BF.... to all the friends I've made here and in real life... its been great. But this place needs an enema.
bmike is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 01:58 PM
  #19  
Biketouringhobo
Banned.
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 898

Bikes: Surly LHT 26in 52cm 2008

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by TheLibrarian View Post
You dont need a scrap of food, a water bottle, sleeping bag or a tent. Just a credit card.

LOL no Credit card and the name Biketouringhobo should give a hint. and I am homeless by choice in
San Diego County in Southern California is my Bicycle Touring and can mail me your Credit cards
Biketouringhobo is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 02:02 PM
  #20  
bikemig 
Senior Member
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 15,121

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 107 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3608 Post(s)
Liked 63 Times in 56 Posts
Originally Posted by robow View Post
I carry a few Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets in my emergency/first aid kit on EVERY tour I take since they weigh absolutely nothing and don't take up any space. Have only used them once.
Yeah, I'm kinda the belt and suspender approach to touring as well. The weight is negligible and it's great carrying a bunch of little knick knacks you'll probably never use.
bikemig is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 02:04 PM
  #21  
Biketouringhobo
Banned.
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Riverside, CA
Posts: 898

Bikes: Surly LHT 26in 52cm 2008

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
[QUOTE=bmike;







I carry drops if needed for overnight purification (at a campground, etc. etc.) - so I have water in the morning, ready to cook with.

Before I started using the Mini I 'cameled' up at gas stations or convenience stores. Maybe not a big deal on a traditional touring setup, but I like to travel with a bikepacking or lightweight setup.[/QUOTE]

I have 70oz Military camelbak and 2 25oz camelbak waterbottles
Biketouringhobo is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 03:29 PM
  #22  
Bicycle365
Senior Member
 
Bicycle365's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Central Massachusetts
Posts: 221

Bikes: Surly LHT Custom Build

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
One thing folks sometimes don't consider... In places with snow melt creeks and hot weather, ice cold water from the creek can be so much nicer than hot water from your bottles.
Originally Posted by max5480 View Post
This! A hot mountain pass is so much more pleasant if you can drink from the river. That being said, I still will usually put a few drops of MSR Sweetwater drops in before I drink it.
ALWAYS, always, ALWAYS... assume this is upstream, just out of sight.
Bicycle365 is offline  
Old 08-31-15, 05:17 PM
  #23  
staehpj1 
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 9,244
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 154 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by max5480 View Post
This! A hot mountain pass is so much more pleasant if you can drink from the river. That being said, I still will usually put a few drops of MSR Sweetwater drops in before I drink it.
I take a filter when I want to be able to drink from streams and do not use any drops. I use the filter in part so I can have ice cold water from a snow melt stream. Drops take time to work and take even longer in ice cold water. In hot weather the water may not be cold by the time it is safe when using drops. In water that isn't cold most drops or tablets take 15 minutes, for ice cold water it takes more like 30 minutes. More questionable water should be given longer. When the air is 90-110F the water won't be very cold by the time you can safely drink it.

Because of all that. I much prefer a filter rather than drops. I used to carry a Sawyer Squeeze, but now use the Sawyer Mini. It is about two ounces, so the weight penalty is quite small. I leave the syringe home since I find that I can use one of my water bottles to back flush it if it needs cleaning.

The filters like the Squeeze and the Mini reportedly can sometimes be difficult to get going again after having been stored for a long period. So always see that it flow before a trip where you may need to depend on it. Also their effectiveness may be compromised if they are allowed to freeze when still wet, so guard against freezing.

I have used my Mini and my Squeeze pretty extensively for backpacking and before that my Sweetwater filter. They all have been good in situations where I have used them. I use them a lot for backpacking. It is only on certain bike tours where I find they have enough advantage that I bother to carry them.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 09-01-15, 11:08 AM
  #24  
max5480
Rhythm is rhythm
 
max5480's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Salt Lake City
Posts: 1,185
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I take a filter when I want to be able to drink from streams and do not use any drops. I use the filter in part so I can have ice cold water from a snow melt stream. Drops take time to work and take even longer in ice cold water. In hot weather the water may not be cold by the time it is safe when using drops. In water that isn't cold most drops or tablets take 15 minutes, for ice cold water it takes more like 30 minutes. More questionable water should be given longer. When the air is 90-110F the water won't be very cold by the time you can safely drink it.

Because of all that. I much prefer a filter rather than drops. I used to carry a Sawyer Squeeze, but now use the Sawyer Mini. It is about two ounces, so the weight penalty is quite small. I leave the syringe home since I find that I can use one of my water bottles to back flush it if it needs cleaning.

The filters like the Squeeze and the Mini reportedly can sometimes be difficult to get going again after having been stored for a long period. So always see that it flow before a trip where you may need to depend on it. Also their effectiveness may be compromised if they are allowed to freeze when still wet, so guard against freezing.

I have used my Mini and my Squeeze pretty extensively for backpacking and before that my Sweetwater filter. They all have been good in situations where I have used them. I use them a lot for backpacking. It is only on certain bike tours where I find they have enough advantage that I bother to carry them.
Sawyer squeeze looks like a good filter - most are heavy and take a long time, which is why I don't use them. 20 minutes is not that long - fill your bottles up, lay in the ice cold mountain water, eat something, and then drink your delicious chlorine water.

Originally Posted by Bicycle365 View Post
ALWAYS, always, ALWAYS... assume this is upstream, just out of sight.
I don't think drinking water from a lake with rotting deer is that bad... It's cow piss you have to look out for.
max5480 is offline  
Old 09-01-15, 03:40 PM
  #25  
psy
Senior Member
 
psy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: east bay area,CA
Posts: 335

Bikes: Salsa Fargo commuter,Litespeed Ocoee titanium mountain bike cannondale caad9 105 road bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A sawyer or steripen weigh next to nothing. I carry one, because I like the ability to be spontaneous and also because you never know.
psy is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
DoctorBuzz
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
16
04-30-15 01:16 PM
ravenmore
Road Cycling
28
11-09-11 08:42 PM
ZachS
Foo
5
04-30-06 05:41 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.