We all know that staying hydrated when enjoying the outdoors is very important, but we also know how heavy water is and how quickly you drink it when you’re out and about all day. So how about carrying much less, but with the ability to fill up and filter on the go?
On a day hike I tend to carry a minimum of two litres of water, either in a bladder stored in the specific pocket next to my back in my pack, or in two one-litre reusable metal bottles in the side pockets. This is normally enough to last me between breakfast and dinner; I’ve lost count of the number of day hikes I’ve done when I’ve sipped the last bit of water as I’ve arrived at my destination. Even knowing that two litres will do me a long day hike or hill walk, I still get very anxious about running out of water. If I was to go wild camping, for example, I would be very worried about not being able to drink enough before bed, to cook my evening meal, or for my morning cuppa – and let’s face it, that morning cuppa is vital to motivating me to get up and go.
It’s also one of my biggest concerns about heading off on an overland adventure – something I want to do more of in the future. I can carry more water in my car or on my motorcycle, but I still can’t carry enough for an entire trip – and a lack of good drinking water brings adventures to an end.
But water is super heavy, and I’ve seen lots of people who take just one smaller bottle of water with them when they go out, and just keep refilling it – not from campsites and cafes as I have done, but from rivers, streams, and other random water sources. I like this idea, but have always been very nervous about it. When I did the West Highland Way, I carried my two litres of water as normal, topping up at every opportunity, but I added a small sawyer style water filter by CarePlus to my kit list just in case. To be honest, it remained stuffed in the bottom-most pocket of my rucksack for the entire week – I just didn’t need it.
If I want to do a long distance hike that involves wild camping, or an overland adventure without a town or campsite every night, then I do need to get over the anxiety of not having enough water. And so over the last few months I’ve been testing out the LifeSaver Liberty, a portable water purifier which is a bottle with an inline pump combined. Instead of carrying two one litre bottles, I’ve carried a one litre reusable bottle on one side of my pack, and this black bottle on the other.
You’ll forgive me if I say I was initially very uneasy about trying the bottle out. I mean, the very real problem was that if the LifeSaver Liberty didn’t work as promised, then I would could end up seriously sick in the process of reviewing it. So I put a lot of faith into it for this one post on my blog!
Using the bottle is very simple; fill from the bottom and drink from the top. Leaving the top done up to prevent contamination, you unscrew the bottom and fill with water from whatever source you have available to you. It is recommended that you find some kind of running water rather than stagnant, and are away from livestock if possible, although the LifeSaver Liberty will still make the water safe to drink. If you can’t fill directly into the bottle you are also given a filling tube (which comes in a little carry pouch), which I am yet to need.
Once full (about 400ml of water), you screw the bottom back on and activate the flow through the filter by pumping the bottle two or three times – this starts the process of cleansing the water ready for you to drink. You then open the cap, release the flow valve (the little white valve on the side), and drink fresh clean water from the spout. It was a bit fiddly and felt complicated the first couple of times because I kept having to refer to the instructions to make sure I was doing it properly (not something I wanted to get wrong), but now I’m used to it I’m quite happy filling and drinking. And so far, so ill-effects!
Described on their website as being “small and light yet robust and easy to use”, I actually think the LifeSaver Liberty is quite a big and heavy bit of kit to be carrying around on a day hike. Comparing it to my Klean Kanteen 800ml stainless steel bottle, which weighs 215g empty, this one weighs 520g empty – more than double, without any water in it. With that in mind, I wouldn’t recommend carrying one of these unless you actually need the technology; it holds 400ml of water which is great because it means you can filter water and store it for drinking later, but I would need to fill it four times to get my usual two-litres of water for each day of hiking.
It is also quite pricey. I have no problem paying good money for good technology, but at £89.99 you’d have to be sure you needed this before you parted with the cash. What price should there be on clean water, though? One filter will produce 2,000 litres of clean drinking water, and so if you look after the bottle you will not need to repurchase for a good while.
With that being said, this does work. There has actually been something very liberating about being able to grab water from any source and I rather like it. I feel like a proper outdoorswoman; the act of bending down and scooping up water from a stream adds to the adventure in some way. I mean, it makes me feel like I look like I know what I’m doing (no comments, please). And while I have been using it a fair bit, I’m yet to take it on a trip where I’ve had no backup – that just isn’t the kind of hiking I’ve done this year. I did, however, actually drink the water from that bath in the photos (and several other sources)!
It is a bit heavy as I mentioned above, and the rubber edging at the top and bottom makes slipping this in and out of the pocket on the side of my pack is not terribly easy (it gets stuck), but it is a great bit of kit and I’ll continue to use it for the foreseeable future.
I would say a bottle like this comes into its own on really big adventures, the ones that take you off the beaten track and into the unknown – then it is worth carrying. If you are heading overseas, perhaps on an overland adventure by car or motorcycle, then this could be the ideal bit of kit to add to your arsenal. If I ever manage to organise my Cape to Cape trip then I will definitely be taking this with me.
What do you think? Something you’d add to your gear for your next trip? Have you used one on a big adventure? Feel free to comment below.
Thanks to LifeSaver for sending me their Liberty bottle to try out. I can confirm that I have not gotten ill whilst using it!