We just got back from hiking up to the Necklace Valley. During the steep stretch of the hike, we gained 2600 feet of elevation in two miles. It makes me tired just writing that. When hauling my carcass and the backpack strapped to my carcass up such an incline, I am always glad that I packed less, rather than more, stuff. I only pack what I absolutely need. Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, you get the picture. For example, you will never find me hauling a GSI Outdoors JavaGRIND Coffee Grinder (3/4 of a lb) 5000 feet up some mountain.
Freeze-dried coffee pouches are more my style. Nice and light.
I always pack freeze-dried food, since it is lighter than real food. Not everyone subscribes to this approach. At the lunch break on the first day of a five-day hike to the Olympics two years ago, my brother-in-law Mark pulled out a full loaf of bread, a big package of cold cuts and what looked like a half-gallon of mustard and proceeded to make a Dagwood sandwich. The mustard alone probably weighed a pound a half.
Unfortunately, they have not come up with freeze-dried water yet. And water is heavy; a liter of water weighs 2.2lbs, but there is nothing worse than running out of water when hiking. Given the danger of giardia, every backpacker I know filters their water. I have been using the MSR MiniWorks Filter for a number of years. It works very well, but all water pumps have two flaws; (a) you have to pump all the water, which (b) makes you a sitting duck for assaults by mosquitos and biting flies while pumping. But during our trip to the Necklace Valley, a fellow hiker turned me on to a better way to filter water. And it, like my MSR filter, is made by members of our extended American family working in Seattle.
I have already told you about Cascade Designs, a great company making camping gear in Seattle. MSR is a Cascade Design subsidiary. Another Cascade Design subsidiary is Platypus and the next hiking implement I am buying is the Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter.
The drill with the GravityWorks system is very simple. First, you fill the “dirty” bag with four liters of stream or lake water in about ten seconds. Second, you hang the “dirty” bag above the “clean” bag. Third, you let gravity and the Platypus filter to the rest. In 2 and 1/2 minutes you have four liters of clean water to cook with, drink, fill hydration sacks etc. The Platypus GravityWorks system weighs less than 11 oz. Since the Gravity Works system, rather than I, filter the water, I can watch the whole filtering operation from the safety of my tent. Which doesn’t make the mosquitos very happy. Oh well.
So if you are looking for safe water and fewer mosquito bites on your next backpacking trip, pick up a Platypus FilterWorks system at REI or online. You will be a happy camper and so will the members of our extended American family working at Platypus. Here are a few more pictures from our Necklace Valley Trip. Cheers.