There have been a number of discussion on water purification products for the PCT. I’ve chosen to use the best of class Sawyer Squeeze. When it first arrived, I took it to my back yards, scooped some Milwaukee River water and tested it. It worked great.
During my first shakedown, a six-day hike of the Ice Age Trail in northern Wisconsin, I learned a valuable lesson. On my very first stop, the water source had a ton of algae. I did not bring anything to screen the water before filtering it. My Squeeze was clogged. To save weight, I didn’t take the means of properly flushing it. For the rest of the hike my Squeeze would take 15 minutes to filter a liter. My attempts to flush it were unsuccessful.
On my second hike, I had the means of properly flushing it and it worked great. I’ve seen some videos on using the sport cap from a Smart Water Bottle to flush the filter, but for now, I’ll bring the syringe. I also designed a simple contraption to filter the bigger chunks before I start filtering. I cut the top off a water bottle and using a bandana, I can significantly reduce the larger solid deposits in the water. The bandana ties to my backpack. The water bottle is slightly larger than a smart water bottle, to it takes no room in my pack and the extra weight is essentially nothing.
The big decision I have been mulling over is whether to take a backup method of purifying water. The most likely way my Squeeze would fail is if it freezes. I’ve slept with it in my pocket on freezing nights. I have Aqua Mira drops as a backup. However, they weigh three ounces. As of now, I’ve decided to not take a backup. Three ounces is three ounces. In a worst case scenario, I would just drink the water.