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    P1AN Blog

    Water filtering and filters

    Water filtering and filters

    Water filtering and filter

    Water, water everywhere…

    Many of us have heard the survival rules of 3s.

    You can survive:

    3 minutes without oxygen
    3 hours without shelter (in harsh conditions)
    3 days without water
    3 weeks without food

     

    If you are like me, and think with your stomach then you might prioritise food, but this shouldn’t be the case. Shelter is already a big focus of the survival community and hopefully oxygen will be readily available, so I want to talk about water.

    When outdoors, it’s easy to become dehydrated without realising it. Dehydration can affect your concentration, mood, strength and stamina, so you should drink at least 2 litres of water a day and more if you’re being active. Weighing in at 1kg per litre it adds a lot to the load on your back, so if you don’t have access to clean water for extended periods you will need to find some from a natural water source. How do you know that there isn’t a dead animal, sewage or other bacteria contaminating your water? You don’t! If you get it wrong, your stomach will pretty much jettison everything in it. You could quickly end up more dehydrated or worse. You can end up in a dangerous position.

    Water purification

    Making water safe to drink typically requires 2 processes:

    • Debris need to be removed.
    • bacteria in the water need to be neutralised/removed.

    Most water purification processes do this in one of several ways.

    - Killing the bacteria via boiling
    - Killing the bacteria with chemicals
    - Removing the bacteria and other organic materials via filtration

    It’s worth mentioning that most standard water purification methods will not make chemical contamination or salt water safe to drink. Carbon filters will help in some situations but usually distillation[v] or reverse-osmosis[vi] should be used.

    Filtration – It’s all about size

    To remove bacteria and other contaminants using filtration you need a filter with holes smaller than the organic matter. Think of it like a very narrow road bridge, if your car is wider than the bridge it can get through! If you’re a geek like me and want to know exactly how big these particles are, there’s a list here:

    http://www.portablewaterfilters.org/water-filter-guide/particle-contaminant-size-chart-microns/

    If we were to compare how a 0.1 micron (100nm) and a 0.015 micron (15nm) filter would deal with a 0.08 micron (80nm) wide virus it would look something like this:

    Simply put, the smaller the filter hole, the more material it blocks.

    Common water purification systems

     

    Millbank Bag plus sterilisation tablets

    Dry weight: 50g

    Size: 40 x 18 cm

    UKSN price: £10.99 - BUY HERE at P1AN

    How?

    Millbank Bags are used to pre-filter general debris, however, the weave is not tight enough to filter bacteria, so you need to kill them chemically with sterilisation tablets or by boiling the water.

    Hang the bag from a branch and fill it to the brim. Once it has dropped to the level of the marked line you can start collecting the water that is dripping through the bag. Then either put in 1 sterilisation tablet per litre of water or boil for at least 3 minutes.

    Pros

    • Lightweight
    • Compact
    • Cheap (although there is an ongoing cost buying replacement tablets, unless you boil the water)
    • Doesn’t wear out
    • No complex maintenance or storage

    Cons

    • Time: It can’t be done on the move. You have to wait for the water to pass through the bag. Sterilisation tablets then require half an hour to work. Boiling water also takes time as a fire source needs to be set up.
    • Sterilisation can add an unpleasant taste.
    • Sterilisation tablets wont always kill all the bacteria 
    • Boiling water uses up fuel.

    Lifestraw

    Dry weight: 57g

    Size: 22.5 x 2.5 cm

    Price: £19.13 - Amazon

    How?

    The Lifestraw uses filtration to purify water. With 0.2 micron (200nm) filter holes if will stop bacteria but unfortunately wont stop most viruses or cysts. It will purify up to 1,000 litres of water, 500 days worth!

    As the name suggests you use it like a straw, so it’s very easy to use, just put it in water and suck. You can also fill up a bottle with dirty water and drink from it using the straw.

    Pros

    • Simple
    • Lightweight
    • Small
    • No other equipment needed
    • Filters most bacteria and parasites
    • Easy to use
    • Cheap

    Cons

    • Doesn’t filter viruses
    • At 0.2 micron (200nm) it wont remove as many contaminants as other filters
    • Doesn’t come with water storage
    • Compared to other systems 1,000 litres is fairly low.

     

    Sawyer mini 

    Dry weight: 57/65g (with/without accessories)

    Size: 13.5 x 3 cm

    Price: £23.95 - Amazon

    How?

    The Sawyer Mini has filter holes that are 0.1 microns (100nm) wide. These can stop the bacteria but as with the Lifestraw, very few of the viruses or cysts. It will filter up to 450,000 litres, providing an incredible 225,000 days of clean water!

    To use you can either put it in dirty water and suck, or attach it to either the included pouch or tubing. It’s not easy to fill the pouch by immersing it in water (I suggest inflating it first) but the filter will also screw on to the top of most standard soft drinks bottles. If you want to upgrade to the bottle version of the Sawyer, this is sold by P1AN and can be bought HERE.

    Pros

    • Filters most bacteria and parasites
    • Lightweight
    • Fairly small (when extras are carried)
    • Filters up to 450,000 litres!
    • Can screw on to most standard drinks bottles
    • Can be gravity fed
    • Can be used inline as part of a bladder hydration system
    • Relatively cheap

    Cons

    • Doesn’t filter viruses

     

    Lifesaver bottle

    Dry weight: 1.06kg

    Size: 13 x 19 x 21 cm

    Price: From £40 - P1AN

    How?

    With a filter size of 0.015 microns (15nm) this system filters bacteria AND almost all viruses, making it a market leader. Lifesaver have two versions of the Lifesaver bottle, the 4000UF and 6000UF. They claim that each can filter up to 4,000 and 6,000 litres respectively, that’s 2,000 or 3,000 days.

    To filter water just unscrew the bottom, fill the bottle with water, and pump the handle to force the water through the filter and out of the mouthpiece. As the filter is built in to the bottle it means you have a container for carrying water around in too.

    Once used for the first time the filter needs to be kept wet, so simply store with at least 3cm of water in it, and change the water every few months to stop it stagnating. UKSN Lifesaver bottles come primed and tested so water needs to be kept in them at all times.

    The bottle comes with a carry strap but fits nicely in many rucksack side pockets. All parts are replaceable and interchangeable.

    Pros

    • Filters most bacteria and parasites
    • The only filter here that removes viruses too
    • Stores water so you can filter on the move

    Cons

    • Large
    • Relatively heavy
    • Expensive at RRP

     

    Round up

    Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. Personally I carry at least 3 methods of obtaining clean water with me in my rucksack. Which ones will depend on where I am, whether I am on the move, and what water source is available in the area.

    Method

    Weight

    Size (cm)

    Filter size (microns/nm)

    Litres produced

    Eliminates bacteria

    Eliminates viruses

    Speed

    Cost

    Millbank bag plus tablets

    50g

    40 x 18

    Large

    Depending on amount of sterilisation tablets available 

    Yes*

    Yes*

    Slow

    £

    Lifestraw

    57g

    22.5x2.5

    0.2/200nm

    1,000

    Yes

    No

    Fast

    £

    Sawyer Mini

    57/65g

    13.5 x 3

    0.1/100nm

    450,000

    Yes

    No

    Fast

    £

    Lifesaver bottle

    1.06kg

    13x19x21

    0.015/15nm

    4,000/6,000

    Yes

    Yes

    Very fast

    £

     

    * When used with sterilisation tablets or boiling

     

    Sources:

    [i] http://www.backcountrychronicles.com/wilderness-survival-rules-of-3/

    [ii] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/20/mild-dehydration-causes-a_n_1288964.html

    [iii] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dehydration/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

    [iv] http://www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/hydration-facts/

    and

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/dehydration-myths_n_3498380.html

    [v] http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/2014/01/20/how-to-remove-chemicals-from-drinking-water/

    [vi] http://npic.orst.edu/envir/dwater.html

    [vii] https://www.iconlifesaver.com/product/lifesaver-bottle-4000uf

    [viii] https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/backcountry_water_treatment.html

     

     

     

    Hammock Basics

    Hammock Basics

    Hammock basics

     When choosing where to set up camp think of the 4 w’s:

    Weather
    Water
    Wood
    Widowmakers

     

    Weather – which direction is the prevailing and current wind blowing from? Shelter against this.

    Water – is there some close by?

    Wood – collect more than you need. Fire is vital for cooking and warmth

    Widowmakers – check for trees above and around your site to make sure they won’t come down on you. If in doubt about how sturdy a tree is, do not hang the hammock from it.

    Everyone has their own way to hang a hammock. This guide offers one, basic way, but it’s worth experimenting to find out what works best for you. Below is a diagram showing a basic hammock setup:

     

     Knots

    The diagram above shows the points you need to tie knots. You can get by with just something like a Reef/Square knot but I like to use a Tautline hitch at the peg end of the guy ropes, so they can be adjusted.

    Hammock set up

    • Find 2 trees with at least 4 big footsteps between them.
    • Tie one end to a tree. A good starting point is chest height.
    • Tie the second end to the other tree, aiming to have the hammock central, with a 30 degree hang angle. Some people prefer the feet end higher than the head end.
    • Test that the hammock is about chair height, low enough that you can easily sit in it.
    • Thread your ridge line cord through the central loops of your tarp.
    • Tie the ridge line above the hammock to both trees, ensuring it’s tight.
    • Use at least 4 guy lines to pull the tarp taut and away from the hammock. You can tie them to pegs or other trees.

    You may wish to do steps 5-7 before 1-4 if it’s raining.

    Getting in

    It’s much harder to fall out of a hammock than you’d think (I’ve never managed it and if anyone would, I would!). The main thing is to make sure you get in to the hammock properly:

    • Check the hammock is secure.
    • Use your hands to spread the center of the hammock across the width.
    • Sit back, as if in a chair.
    • Lift your legs and swivel in to the hammock.

    Sleeping

    You will find that at the leg end of the hammock a central ridge is created, which can be uncomfortable to position between your feet. To make this more comfortable, to give yourself the most space, avoid the hammock cocooning you and to get the flattest sleeping position, most people like to lie diagonally across the hammock, feet one side, head the other:

     

     Many problems people encounter are due to having the hammock too tight, but it’s worth taking a little time to experiment and work out how to hang a hammock in the way that is most comfortable for you.

     

    Other hammock accessories:

    Bug net                               

    - Vital to keep creepy crawlies and buzzing beasts away from you while you sleep. Some hammocks have one built in but you can buy stand-alone ones too.
     

    Tarp                                      

    - This should be longer than the hammock. Many hammocks are around 2.8-3m long so I’d recommend at least 3x3. If your tarp is not long enough you may find that putting it up in a diamond configuration creates enough length.

    Under blanket                  

    - When in a hammock your sleeping bag is compressed between it and your body, which stops the warm air from being trapped inside the insulation. With your backside flapping around with cold air all around it, you will need another form of insulation when the temperature starts to drop. The warmest and most comfortable option is an under blanket. This hangs from the underside of the hammock and traps a cushion of warm air to keep you cozy. If the hammock has a double layer you can use this to house a bed roll. This insulates you but it is usually less comfortable and can still move during the night.

    Blanket                                

    - As the underside of sleeping bags provide almost no warmth in a hammock many people prefer to use a blanket. It also avoids the shuffling around that is needed to enter a sleeping bag.

    Tree huggers                    

    - These wrap around the trees and, along with a pair of carabiners, allow the hammock to be hung without having to tie knots each time. Some have multiple loops to allow quick adjustment of the hang.

    Whoopie slings                

    - Another way to improve the ease of hammock hanging, Whoopie slings allow instant adjustment of the hammock hang. They are usually made of Amsteel, so are much lighter than standard webbing and don’t get waterlogged. These should be used with tree huggers as they cut in to bark.

    Hammock sleeve            

    - These are tubes of fabric that cover a hammock when not in use. As they are waterproof you can hang your hammock without it getting wet. Once hung and protected from the elements you can then roll it back to release the hammock. They also makes packing your hammock up much easier. Simply roll the sleeve back over the hammock and pack away. No fiddly folding. Highly recommended.

    Drip lines                            

    - One problem with having webbing tied to a tree is that it’s not protected from the elements. To stop water running down the webbing and onto the hammock, cordage can be tied to the webbing, just before the hammock, to make drip lines. The water will run down the webbing, hit the drop line, run down it and drop to the floor, keeping your hammock dry.

     

    This guide should help get you started as a tree-dweller, but for more advice please see the UKSN Advanced Hammock Techniques guide.

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