Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest Post: Blindsquirl - Clean Water

By Blindsquirl

The McNett Aquamira Frontier Pro water filter is available for about $20. It’s rated by the manufacturer to filter greater than 99.9% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia from up to 50 gallons of water. It attaches directly to a variety of hydration systems and standard water containers with 28mm threads. It comes with a few accessories including a draw tube and 4 replacement prefilters. The draw tube allows you to use the filter with common water or soda bottles. Simply attach the tube to the intake side of the filter, insert it into the bottle, screw it on and suck on the bite valve end.

If you figure a gallon of water per person, per day (that’s a minimum); one of these filters should provide clean drinking water for a month and a half of constant use. That’s pretty good for $20. Plus, with the 28mm threads mentioned earlier, the Frontier Pro can easily be turned into a gravity filter to provide water without pumping (or sucking).

Here’s the cheapest way I’ve found to do it.

You’ll need the following:

Two empty 2 liter beverage bottles (I used sparkling water; I didn’t need to wash them after emptying them.)

Something to punch holes with (I used a 1/8” paper punch.)

Two pieces of Duct Tape, each approximately 2” long (Gorilla Tape is a brand I highly recommend).

Approximately 18” of paracord, fish line or whatever you have that can be used as a handle.

Some #4 cone-type coffee filters.

A piece of Latex tubing (a.k.a. surgical tubing) for connecting to a hydration bladder or beverage bottle. (You might be able to get by without this but latex tubing is pretty handy to have anyway.)

Remove the labels and caps and cut the bottoms off of the 2 liter bottles and put these in your “I’ll find a use for that someday” pile.

Fold a piece duct tape over the edge created by cutting the bottom off of one of the 2 liter bottles. Fold the other piece of duct tape over the edge directly across from the first piece. This reinforces the plastic so the handle doesn’t tear out when you fill it with water.

Now punch 2 holes, approximately ¼” down from the edge and as close to directly across from each other as you can. This is where you’ll attach the cord for hanging the filter. Using a hole punch makes a clean hole, sharp edges give a tear somewhere to propagate from. In a pinch, you can heat the end of a nail in a fire or with a lighter and push it through the plastic.

Tie one end of the cord through each hole, creating a loop/handle that the bottle can hang from with the cap end pointing down.

At this point, I also punched corresponding holes in one of the bottoms removed earlier. I threaded the handle/loop through the bottom so it could be used as a loose fitting cover for the reservoir, helping to keep debris from falling into it when filtering water.

Insert one paper coffee filter into the now handled bottle and push it down into the neck of the bottle. This will become your disposable/replaceable prefilter and should buy you some more use from your Frontier Pro.

Slide the second bottle (without the loop) into the bottle containing the coffee filter and push it down as far as you can, without poking a hole in or tearing the coffee filter.

Screw the Frontier Pro water filter onto the exposed threads of the lower bottle.

You can remove the bite valve from the end of the Frontier Pro by simply pulling it off. Once that’s out of the way, attach the hose from your hydration bladder to the fitting on the Frontier Pro that was exposed by removing the bite valve. The hose from my 10 year old Platypus bag didn’t fit snugly enough to stay in place on the bite valve end but the draw tube that came with the Frontier Pro did. I simply inserted that into the bite valve fitting and used a short piece of surgical tubing to jump between that and the hose from my Platy Bag (I had to pull the bite valve off of the Platy Bag too).

Platypus Bags are an inexpensive alternative to other name brand Hydration packs. But, in the spirit of doing things on a budget, you can also use empty plastic beverage bottles to filter water into. Simply attach one end of the Latex tubing to the Bite Valve end of the Frontier Pro water filter and let the other end hang down into the beverage bottle. If you’re careful, you can hang the filter with only the draw tube inserted into your filtered water container.

For filling the reservoir, I took another 2 liter bottle and cut the bottom off of it. I use that to scoop water from whatever source I want to filter and dump it into the hanging system. If you hang it about shoulder high and there isn’t a lot of crud in the water you’re filtering, it’ll filter 2 liters pretty quickly (with no pumping or sucking). The coffee filter prevents a lot of crap from getting to the Frontier Pro, theoretically increasing its service life. When it’s time to replace the coffee filter, simply pull the two 2 liter bottles apart and replace the dirty one with a new one. Coffee filters are inexpensive enough that you can replace them every time if you like.

This allows you to filter water while still being able to do something else. Just pour the water into the two liter bottle and let it filter into whatever container you want to use.

My “belt and suspenders” philosophy also has me treat the resulting filtered water with iodine, just in case.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health web site ( “Iodine can be used as an antimicrobial agent for the emergency purification of water. Tablets and solutions are commercially available. Effects generally occur within 15 minutes.”

One form of commercially available Iodine for water purification is Polar Pure (available from for about $10.00). “It will destroy water-borne pathogens including Giardia cysts and microorganisms that pass through filters when used as directed. One bottle will treat up to 2000 gallons.” The bottle has a dosage chart on it and the cap is used for measuring and decanting the solution. It is a self contained package that also has an indefinite shelf life.

While Iodine can leave an “objectionable” taste in the water, Vitamin C helps to neutralize the taste.

Electro Mix by Alacer is an electrolyte replacement powder that doesn’t contain the sugars that most sports drinks do. By combining one packet of Electro Mix with one packet of another Alacer product; Emergen-C, in 1 liter of water, you can replace important electrolytes and get 1000 mg of vitamin C all at once. Both products come in 36 packet boxes. I’ve found Electro Mix at health food stores and I’ve purchased Emergen-C at Walmart for as little as $9.00 a box.

I highly recommend using both of these mixes. They’re inexpensive and provide nutritional supplements that most people can probably benefit from anyway.

Check out my web site for more info on being self sufficient.

That is all...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Equipment Review: Thermos Travel Mug

By Flea - Be A Survivor

There have been many times that I was excited to read about or see a product and utterly disappointed when I pulled the trigger. This my friends was NOT one of those times.

I travel A LOT, to say that would be an understatement, and most of my travel is driving all over North and South Carolina. I was sick and tired of crappy travel mugs that do a shitty job of keeping coffee hot and an even shittier job of keeping coffee off my pants and shirt.

Enter the Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Leak-Proof Travel Mug,
so simple and elegant and so utterly NON-disappointing. The mug is built like a tank...I mean that literally, it weighs a decent amount empty but feels like pure quality. The top SCREWS on which is nice and there is a lever that activates the rubber membrane and allows liquid out through one of the slits in the top.

When you fill it with hot liquid you will hear an audible pop when you move the lever from closed to open the first time (by the way OPEN and CLOSED are clearly visible based on the position of the lever so there will be no mistakes or spills).

In the closed position you can turn the mug upside down and shake it and no liquid will spill out...NONE.

The mug is easy to disassemble and clean so no worries there. It is really a mini vacuum bottle I guess but it really is one of the coolest products I have bought in a long time. I have placed hot coffee in the mug and drank it 6 or 7 hours later and it was still hot.

Thermos did a REALLY nice job on this one and it will be the last travel mug I buy for a LONG TIME.

Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Leak-Proof Travel Mug, Midnight Blue

That is all...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Magellan 1470 , Magellan Stinks!

By Flea - Be A Survivor

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that most GPS's are garbage. I have owned three in my life and all three at one time or another had a major malfunction that could not be recovered from and required me calling the suits at the company to get a replacement.

Tale of two customer services: One of the first GPS systems I had for my car was a TOM TOM ONE. Almost immediately the system white screened meaning I would turn it one and be greeted with a white screen and nothing else. It could not be saved or was a brick as some would say.

I called TOM TOM and they were great. They over-nighted me a new GPS and included a return shipping label to send the old unit back in. I still have this unit in my wife's car and it has been solid since it was replaced a few years ago.

Admittedly the TOM TOM is nice but is a rather entry level GPS. I do a boatload of traveling and figured I would invest in a better one for myself. I selected a Magellan Roadmate 1470. I love the GPS. I have had it for about 45 days when surprise, surprise...white screen. I was in the middle of a trip (luckily I always print paper directions, just in case) and all of the sudden the lady stopped talking to me. The screen went white and stayed that way despite all my reset attempts.

I call Magellan today, they say no problem we will replace it for you, I say great! They say ship the defective one back (I have to pay for shipping and it needs to be UPS or FEDEX!!!) and when we get it we will ship a new one in 7-10 business days...SAY WHAT???? You lost me their my fine Canadian friend...I have to pay to ship this piece of shit back to you and THEN when you get around to it, you'll ship me a new one???? What kind of garbage is that!

Well needless to say I DO NOT RECOMMEND you buy a Magellan, even though I did like the product when it worked because they don't have a friggin clue what real customer service is...

That is all...