Thanks to a comment made by fellow blogger http://www.blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/ in response to a recent article I wrote about a lightweight water pump, I was introduced to the Super Delios Portable Water Purifier (http://www.delios.co.uk/). It quickly became one of my favorite outdoor products one which I encourage you to check out.
For those who aren't American, chances are you already know about this product and likely even use it. Sadly, despite holding an American patent, I haven't found a single American who uses this nifty little system and I'm unaware of any American vendors. So, fellow Americans, behold....
The Super Delios filter is essentially a 40g filter capable of filtering 1,000 litres of water (depending on quality) and provides an impressive 0.2 micron protection capability which means it will protect you from bacteria, e.coli, salmonella, giardia, cryptospordium, cholera, and dysentery, all the little organisms that hikers like you and I would like to avoid. Generally speaking, anything less than 0.3 microns is considered a good choice.
The beauty of this Japanese product is its simplicity. It's already lighter and smaller than the Aqua Mira Frontier Pro and a lot less hassle than pumps or gravity options. Simply, screw it on to any compatible bottle and you're good-to-go as all you need to do is squeeze the water into your mouth which is already filtered by the time it comes out of the top.
When purchasing, you have a couple options. You can buy the one I'm referencing to screw on a like-bottle (or a bottle provided by the manufacturer) or another option for a gravity system (and bag provided by the manufacturer). The Super Delios is about $44 to include shipping to the USA.
When viewing pictures online, it reminded me of the filters used for my refrigerator. I assumed it would be big and clunky. My mindset quickly changed when I received the product. It is 3" tall and 1.5" in diameter, very reasonable - and light. Instead of purchasing the manufacturers bottle which I thought was too small and a little heavier than I'd like, I'm using it with a 1 litre flexible Platypus bottle which works just fine. Part of this system requires that the bottle be flexible so it can be squeezed to force water through the filter. Because I've popped a couple bottles similar to the Platy (specifically Nalgene's which I won't use anymore because of these failures) I was worried that I'd burst a seam if it required a lot of pressure. Fortunately, especially once the filter is used for a few seconds, it doesn't take much pressure at all to get water out.
So when would I use this little gizmo? Well, I generally use Katadyn Micropur purification tables (search my blog for my reasoning). They are inexpensive, extremely lightweight, pack very small, and are quite effective. But...they don't do anything for any water floaties. For this reason I carry a little nylon bag to act as a pre-filter which I use to remove any floaties of significance and I'm otherwise pretty careful about my water sources. However, during certain times of the year like April, I find that the weather is so rainy that it stirs up so much sedimentation that my "pre-filter" could be better. So, when the weather is particularly fowl, I'll carry either the Frontier Pro, or now, the Super Delios. For my needs, it's great, although the price tag is a little more expensive than I'd like. But let's be realistic about price because the reality is that the Delios is far LESS expensive than many option. Take for instance my Micropur tablets. They are essentially $10 for 20 tablets. Considering each tablet is good for one litre of water, that essentially means it costs me 50 cents per litre. The Super Delios is good for roughly 1,000 litres. At $44, that's about 22 cents per litre. Regardless, the Super Delios is a wonderful option for backcountry use. What's not to like - effective, small, reusable, lightweight, and really, not that expensive in the grand scheme. To take it one step further, picture carrying 1,000 Micropur tablets versus one Super Delios. The Super Delios would win in size and you wouldn't need to fumble around with 1,000 little tablets and deal with their trash. The Super Delios clearly has merits, although granted, I don't see anyone carrying 1,000 tablets anyway. Another nice thing about the Super Delios vs. tablets or other non-filter options is that you can drink from it right away versus waiting for some chemical reaction (not to mention some people don't want to ingest chemicals regardless of how many studies that say they are harmless.)
I think my only gripe about the Super Delios, with exception to the overall price and lack of availability in the U.S., is the extremely cheaply manufactured lid. Basically, it requires care for long term use because if it breaks off it would allow water to come out unintentionally which would be very problematic if carried in a pack. The manufacturer is aware and I suspect it will be updated in the future. Overall though, I really like this product and highly recommend it. I also want to clarify that I'm not knocking the Frontier Pro. It too is excellent and the real bonus with it comes in the fact that the filter can be easily removed and replaced inexpensively...without needing to purchase a whole new unit.