Smart. Light. Cheap.

Going lighter is not just about lightening up the bigger items in my pack (or the pack itself), but also the small things. Of course the weight savings from the small items will not be as sexy, or as much fun to brag about, but in the end, it all adds up the same. So, now that I have lightened up (and down-sized) most of my bigger items, it was time to start looking at those little things…

And it was a good thing that I did! The little things have a tendency to be somewhat deceiving… And by this, what do I mean? Well, when I look at items that are listed as ounces (not by pounds because they don’t equal up to be a full pound), then it just seems so light already, why not add it? And to be honest, I found that the lighter they are the more deceiving they are…

This is a-ok for items that are necessities, but there are some (and possibly many) items in which there are still ways to lighten them up even more, but still have exactly what I need…

Case in point:

When I started carrying Aqua Mira drops rather than my Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter I was ecstatic that I just dropped 11 ounces (almost 3/4 of a pound!) in weight from my pack. In fact, I was so overwhelmed and proud that I didn’t realize that I didn’t even need to carry all 3 ounces of Aqua Mira since none of my hikes were long enough to require that much water purification. So, for nearly a year I carried the stock bottles of Aqua Mira around in my pack.

Don’t get me wrong, 3 ounces is not bad at all and is acceptable, not to mention that I thought to myself that with each use the overall weight was only getting lighter! But that still did not change the fact that I still did not need that much Aqua Mira on any given hike. During this time I had come across other hikers that repackaged the Aqua Mira in smaller dropper bottles, but at the time I was happy with the stock bottles.

Then I started counting ounces…

This is when I finally started to mod my gear rather than leave it stock. I began by cutting out cords and changing cord locks out for lighter more effective ones, and even simply leaving some items like stuff sacks behind. In the midst of all of this, I remembered those other hikers that repackaged items such as Aqua Mira…and this is about the time that Lawson Kline from Lawson Outdoor Equipment sent me 2 sets of his mini dropper bottles which he sells on his site! This was perfect timing for me to reduce the weight of my water purification method even more… ( like those “other hikers”…  🙂 ) The dropper bottle kits come with 4 different bottles: 3 ml, 6 ml, 10 ml and 15 ml. Here are the specs that Lawson list’s on his site:

Specifications:
-Capacity: 3mL, 6mL, 10mL and 15mL.
-Material: LDPE
-Colors: Clear
-Weight: 3mL 1.9grams, 6mL 3.6grams, 10mL 3.7grams, 15mL 6.7grams
-Drop Size: 3mL 42uL , 6mL 40uL, 10mL 40uL, 15mL 40uL
-BPA Free
-Dishwasher Safe
-Made In The USA

I was glad to have 2 sets of these bottles since each set consists of different sizes and like I said, I was looking forward to repackaging my Aqua Mira (preferably in 2 bottles the same size). And repackage them I did!

Before my next trip I decided to repackage the Aqua Mira in the smaller 3 ml bottles since it was only a day hike. To be honest I was a little weary of fitting too much inside the tiny 3 ml bottle, but I ended up getting 35 drops (enough for 5 liters of water at 7 drops per liter) in a single bottle before I decided that was more than enough for even this trip. And this was only half filled! Based on this, I estimate that I can get enough to purify 10 liters of water using the 3 ml bottles.

But the sweetest part of it all, the total weight of both bottles of repackaged Aqua Mira is a whopping 0.3 oz! And that is including the mixing cap from the stock bottles (I still need this to mix the 2 solutions in before adding the solution to the water). So, in the end, I went from a 14 oz water filter, to a 3 oz Aqua Mira solution to 0.3 oz repackaged AM. Of course this weight will fluctuate depending on the length of trip that I will be on, but I still know that I won’t go over 3 oz regardless!

So, in the end:

  • this has been a SMART decision.
  • this is obviously a LIGHT option.
  • and these bottles can be had for CHEAP.

Disclaimer: I received these complementary Mini Dropper Bottles from Lawson Equipment Outdoors, but was under no obligation to review it.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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18 Responses to Smart. Light. Cheap.

  1. Pingback: Quick Hits – Weekly links

  2. Jay Butera says:

    Two comments: 1) Gossamer gear sells son mini dropper bottles to UL hikers and they noted on their sit that the drops are smaller and the advised using ten drops of Aqua Mira instead of the normal seven to compensate for the smaller drops.
    From Gossamer Site: “The mini dropper bottles generate smaller drops than the 1 oz. bottles that Aquamira™ is packaged in, so when using them for treating water either up the standard dosage from 7 drops to 10 drops per liter or allow a 50% longer time for treatment.”

    2) I have been using the Katadyn Hiker but I just ordered a Sawyer Squeeze filter which will weigh just 3 ounces and will (so it says) filter even smaller particles than the Hiker. Have you tried this one? Here’s a link to a youtube from the company http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKWQjlq-uYA

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    • Stick says:

      Jay,

      I do like the kit that GG sells with the AM & the 2 bottles. I came across them a couple of weeks ago but I don’t need any more of the AM right now. I like that one of the bottles is opaque and that the tops are also colored differently. And I don’t find the $16 unreasonable. I will probably order this set once I run out of the AM I have now.

      On dropper size though, this is really determined by the opening in the tip of the dropper. I am not sure what size drop the AM bottle is, but Lawson does list the size for each of his dropper bottles on his site. However, when he first sent them to me I simply transferred drops from one bottle to another and came up with the 7 drops using the smaller 3 ml bottles. However, this is what I choose to do and I am not recommending it to anyone else. So, it really varies from dropper bottle to dropper bottle as far as the actual dosage is concerned. IMO, regardless of what is listed, I think it would always be a good idea to compare drops in bottles for using with items that really do require an “exact” dosage.

      I have read about the Sawyer Squeeze but had not seen one in action. Thanks for the link. That look interesting. I wouldn’t mind seeing a video or a review from a real user though rather than a video from the company. I would like to see what the actual weight is and could I leave those little reservoir bags behind and continue to use my Platys, or does it connect to soda bottles…also, I wonder if the 3 oz is the unit only, or does that include the reservoir bag too. I figure it is just the filter since it says different size reservoir bags are available. I also wonder if there is a way to mod it to make it even lighter… and how long does it take to filter 1L of water. (Although, that is not a big issue to me, but it is fun to know.) It does look promising though. Once my FP is done for I may have to look into one of these to use, although, as with any filter, this does not remove everything. The obvious biggie baddies it will take care of and then any other smaller bacteria down to 0.2 microns, but it won’t touch any viruses or the smaller bacterias. Although many people do use a filter with these same specs all the time without anything else…

      You will have to let me know all the specs once you get it! 🙂

      ~Stick~

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  3. Constance says:

    what i like about the clear bottles is that you can see how much you have left…
    I tend to keep stuff like that in another bag/sack that keeps light away from it…
    thanks for the post!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Constance,

      Another good point. I figure that since the bottles spend pretty much all of the day inside my hip belt pocket, not much light is actually getting to the solution which is inside it. nd yes, it does make it easy to see how much is left…

      ~Stick~

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  4. Gizmo Joe says:

    Sticks,

    Good post. I have been on the fence about starting to use AM. I actually bought it and then decided against if for the time being. AM drops are really light, especially repackaging it as you have described (I am actually surprised just how ridiculously light you got it haha). I guess I am just real leery of it because it (the drops) don’t actually purify the water which kinda makes me paranoid, but then again it seems like the only thing a lot of through hikers use and a lot of posts I have read praise the stuff highly. So, if you don’t mind me picking your brain a little I would really like to know your thoughts on it, and your logic behind you using it, lets see if you can make a convert out of me yet haha.

    All jokes aside your gear selection seems well thought out, and I would appreciate your input.

    After all my AM drop confusion I decided to try the MSR Hyperflow out, I have not yet used it, but will in just a few weeks on my next section hike (super pumped). My good old stand by is the MSR Sweetwater and has treated me very well. I had the thing for almost 10 years before having a problem with it, fortunately it was the last day of the trip and last few miles of the trip. Once, home I called MSR shipped it back and got a new one (highly recommend Cascade Designs to anyone by the way) they said the main O-ring probable just wore out (and I bet all the silt for the GA Mnt’s didn’t help matters out any).

    On a lighter note and I do mean that in the OZ meaning I was able to cut some of the hose off of the Hyperflow and get it down to 6.9 oz, but 0.3 oz does sound a lot better haha.

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    • Stick says:

      Joe,

      I have found that water purification is a huge personal choice. I have found that many people use many different variations including mechanical filters, chemicals and prefilters. It really seams that it depends on what the user is comfortable using as well as the conditions they will be using them in…in my opinion, I would suggest to chose which method you are comfortable with and then when using that method take time to do it correctly. And on top of that, (and maybe more importantly so), practice good hygiene (especially after going potty). Also, think about those times that you may rinse your hands in a stream, which is contaminated. Or the times you may wash off in the stream…

      Saying that, I was happy with the end results of my Hiker Pro filter, but wasn’t fond of fooling with all of the hoses. To be fair too, I also ditched the water bladder that I was using in conjunction with the filter. I hated having to fill that thing in the middle of the day, having to try to either pull it out of my pack and then struggling to get it back in once it was full or guessing if it was filled when I chose to hook the filter straight to the drinking hose. Then of course once I started weighing my gear and comparing the filter weight to other options weight, well I figured it was time to try something else out…

      So, I bought the Aqua Mira drops and began carrying them around. Now I will also add that there is a lot of talk concerning AM. As far as I am concerned though, if the drops are used according to the directions provided, it is just as effective (or maybe more so) as a filter (only lighter 🙂 ) However, to effectively kill crypto or giardia with chlorine dioxide a wait time of 4 hours is expected. This is because these organisms are larger and harder to kill than the smaller bacterias or viruses. Saying this most people typically wait between 15 and 30 minutes after treating before consuming, including me. And as far as I am concerned, if it is not below freezing and clear, then I wait 15 minutes. If colder or cloudy I wait 30 minutes. So far no problem for me. Not saying I won’t ever, but I also see this entire matter as a gambling bet no matter which method is used.

      Also worth noting, a majority of the filters are only 0.2 – 0.3 microns which will not catch any virsues where as at least the AM drops do easily kill/neutralize them. Also, I have read that the filters ratings are based on a brand new filter, meaning that with use, these can begin to wear out and actual filtration may vary over time. I have read of people getting giardia after using mechanical filters (probably from cross contaminating the hoses) as well as with chemicals (also again, probably from incorrect use). I guess the biggest advantage in a mechanical filter I can see is that as long as the hoses do not cross contaminate then it is easier for the user to not mess it up and have clean water. If using drops, there are a few things that must be done correctly to get clean water. The correct amount of drops must be mixed for a specific amount of time and then added to the water and then wait a specific amount of time. But in my experience, preparing the solution and adding it to the water is quite easy (and in my opinion easier than fooling with those hoses while balancing on the side of a stream while also balancing a bottle to put the clean water in or my pack while the hoses are attached…)

      Also, I think it is worth mentioning that many people tend to agree that people usually get giardia from poor hygiene while on the trail rather than from the actual water. So there’s that…

      Now, I recently picked up a AM Frontier Pro water filter to carry along to use in conjunction with my AM drops. It weighs 1.8 oz so I do have to count that in with my total oz count. The FP filter is not a filter like the MSR or the Hiker pro though. It has a 3 micron (not 0.3) pore size so its real use is to catch those larger baddies, meaning the giardia and the crypto. So, in “theory” by treating my water with the AM drops for 15 minutes it will kill all of the smaller viruses and bacterias. Then I simply pour my treated water through the FP filter and the crypto and giardia is gone which results in absolutely safe drinking water. Plus between the coconut shell carbon filter in the FP filter and the chlorine dioxide, the water also tastes pretty good.

      Although, there are limitations with the FP filter as well. First, I have heard it clogs easily. And secondly the filter cannot be replaced so once clogged it is time for a new one. Because of this, prefiltration is recommended to get the maximum life out of the FR filter which I believe is 50 gallons. Although, I got my FP filter for less than $20 so IMO, this is not a bad price, as long as it works, and so far it has. Although, I think that to extend the lifetime of my FP filter, I will only start using it with iffy looking water rather than all water. In the beginning I was perfectly fine using just the drops, so I have no problem going back to this and using the filter as extra precaution when the need appears to arise.

      Also, I have recently tried the micropur tabs and they are super easy to use. No mixing, just drop the tab in and follow the same lines as using the drops. However, the tablets leave an awful taste to the water! So, if I use these any more I will definitely use the filter to remove the taste. Not to mention, the tabs are the most expensive treatment method, but also the lightest…

      So, I don’t know if this will sway you any, and to be honest I still suggest that you go with what you are comfy with. I believe that this is really a personal choice. Heck some prefer to simply dip and drink. Obviously that is not for me, but many say that they have never been sick from doing so. And based on everyones comments about all methods, I have decided to go with the lightest method available.

      ~Stick~

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    • Gizmo Joe says:

      Sticks,
      As always thanks for your input I appreciate it, and am looking forward to reading your new post!
      That cuben wallet sure does look sexy.

      Like

    • I use the Hyperflow myself, it’s great b/c you don’t have to wait. That being said it’s a wee bit tempermental, although I personally have never had a problem, you do have to backflush it often.

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    • Stick says:

      Laural Hill,

      At this point, the only “filter” I have any experience with is the Hiker Pro. And don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad filter, but for the hiking I do, the weight and the ease of use with the AM won me over. I figure there are some places that a filter may be more appropriate, but at this point, I am not there… I do plan on getting another filter one day and not sure what I will go with, but I like the fact that some can be backflushed in the field.

      Thanks for chiming in about the Hyperflow though!

      ~Stick~

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  5. rotaryadmin says:

    Stick, it looks like these little dropper bottles are becoming quite popular and for good reason. With all due respect to your sponsor, I would suggest your readers think a step further and consider ordering from the wholesalers or manufacturers that supply the UL resellers. I did just that last night at a considerable savings. Yes, you can order pieces in single quantities and the shipping is extremely fair.

    On the other hand, if I was ordering a pack or tarp or some other things anyway, it’d be a no brainer to add the droppers to the cart.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      That is a good point about other vendors. Considering that these are the only 4 that Lawson sells on his site if anyone wanted something different they would have to look elsewhere anyway. I will say though that Lawson’s shipping is great! $3 for orders under $10 and free over $10 (within the US). I also agree with you that these are great filler items in carts when purchasing larger items.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Patrick,

      That is a great site for all sorts of different bottles. Benjamin Tang turned me on to those a while back. I haven’t gotten around to placing an order with them but when I decide to go with colored bottles that will be where I go! However, I will wait until I want to buy a significant amount. While the bottles are quite inexpensive, the shipping from what I can tell is $5.

      ~Stick~

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  6. JERMM says:

    Stick on repackaging AquaMira—I think part A is light sensitive and needs to be in an opaque bottle and the size of drops dispensed from bottles other may have a smaller drop size, I haven’t figured out a way to accurately measure that. I did a few tests at one time placing 14 drops from different mini dropper bottles and measuring with a syringe, it varied with each dropper bottle.

    back to opaque bottles, I wonder if lightly sanding the outside of the bottle then a light coat of spray paint would work and there’s always tape. just my thoughts

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jermm,

      It seems like I had come across that bit of info about the AM being light sensitive too, but cannot remember where. I have thought about painting these bottles, but honestly, if I realize that I absolutely have to have some dark bottles I may just try to find some that are already black. However, at this point, I am only repackaging what I need for that trip (and for this these 3 ml bottles are perfect so far). Long term storage is in the stock bottles. But I will have to look into that some more…

      As for the drop size, it looks like Lawson has put drop size’s for each bottle on the page, but to be honest, I am not sure what the dropper size is on the stock AM bottles to begin with. I am sure that little Google-Fu would remedy this though… What I did is drop 7 drops out of the stock AM bottles into one of Laswon’s 3 ml bottles. Then I put the dropper insert in the bottle and added drops to the second 3 ml bottle. Surprisingly enough, I got 6 drops out of Laswon’s 3 ml bottle but by the time I knocked the fluid into the top of the dropper, there was one more. So, in my conclusion, I am still using 7 drops out of Lawson’s dropper bottles for 1 liter of water. (Although by no means am I saying that this is right. However, in my experience this is what I feel safe using for my own use.)

      Anyway, thanks for chiming in!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  7. Pale Spruce says:

    It’s amazing how quickly a few of these small changes can add up to a substantial savings. For me, this also satisfies my desire to constantly tinker with my gear trying to find the best configuration.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Pale Spruce,

      So true. Lots of weight savings can be had with items that already seem so light. And in my experience, tinkering is fun…and usually pays off well!

      ~Stick~

      Like

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