068: FLOW: The Water Episode

Show Notes: Episode 068

Today on The First 40 Miles, FLOW: The Water Episode. If you like H2O, we’ve got some great info for you today! We’ll highlight the most common forms of water treatment on the trail. For today’s top 5 list, if you’ve been on the fence about how to store your water, we’ll give you some good reasons why you might want to skip the bladder. Then on the SUMMIT Gear Review, you’ll learn how thousands of thru hikers have treated millions of liters to stay hydrated on the trail. On today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, we’ll sing a little ditty to help you remember a simple water treatment formula. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from the American Government.


Types of water treatment

Old methods, new methods

Which have you used?

Top 5 Reasons Not to Use a Hydration Bladder

Can’t see water level

  • Water is hidden in your pack
  • May cause you to consume more than you were planning

Not puncture proof

  • Soft-bodied pouches
  • Trails have “pokey things” that put your hydration bladder at risk for punctures


  • Orifices for adding water and drinking make hydration bladders more “leaky” than just a plain water bottle

Just drink—no pour

  • It’s mainly used for drinking
  • Not for pouring—no spout

Hard to clean

  • Tablets and bottle brush for cleaning
  • Prone to slimy insides
  • Option for those who want on demand water: JetFlow
  • JetFlow attaches onto a water bottle which then fits into your outside water bottle pocket.

Are there benefits to using a bladder? Are we overlooking something extremely obvious?

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Aquamira Water Treatment


  • Two part water treatment
  • Comes with 2-1 ounce bottles
  • First part 2% Chlorine Dioxide
  • Second part: 5% Phosphoric Acid Activator
  • Does not take the particulates or “tasty bits” out of the water


  • How to use: 7 of the A drops, 7 of the B drops in a tiny mixing cup, wait 5 minutes, pour it into your liter water bottle, in 15 minutes drink it up…unless it very cold or murky, then wait 30 minutes.
  • Bacteria, protozoa, viruses
  • Won’t discolor your water
  • Kills the stuff that makes water taste bad


  • Weighs 3 ounces total


  • Long shelf life (4 years)
  • Treats 30 gallons of water
  • If you have a smaller container, you can transfer the drops.


  • $15 for two one-ounce bottles


  • If slight “pool” odor bothers you, add some Tang or True Lemon powder before drinking
  • Easy to use
  • Aquamira also sells tablets which are easier to use, but much more expensive: $11 for 20 tablets that treat 20 liters and weigh 0.7 oz.
  • Many Thru hikers go with Aquamira drops because it’s reliable, easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and lasts a long time.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Aquamira Song

AQUAMIRA SONG by Heather Legler
(To the tune of “Darling Clementine”)

Seven A drops, seven B drops in a tiny mixing cup,
Wait five minutes, pour it in, in 15 minutes drink it up!

Aquamira kills the microbes but it doesn’t filter junk.
If there’s swamp green in your Nalgene, then you’ll need to use a pump.

Aquamira, aquamira makes your water legendary,
If you don’t use Aquamira, you’ll come home with dysentery.

Aquamira, Aquamira, doesn’t stink like iodine
If you still don’t want to use it, you can use a Katadyn…

Trail Wisdom

“Trails have multiple values and their benefits reach far beyond recreation. Trails can enrich the quality of life for individuals, make communities more livable, and protect, nurture, and showcase America’s grandeur by traversing areas of natural beauty, distinctive geography, historic significance, and ecological diversity. Trails are important for the nation’s health, economy, resource protection and education.” –Trails for All Americans Report