As I finalize all my gear and prepare for my Mt Whitney trip, there are a few new items that I will be bringing along to test out. The first brand new item I will be testing out on the trail in the Grayl Ultralight Purification bottle. This product filters and purifies drinking water. This will purify, 99.999% of disease causing bacteria, protozoan cysts and viruses!
If you ask anyone in the camping world about their favorite filter, you are going to hear a whole lot of heated debate and discussion. In one such discussion, someone stated:
Grayl looks a gimmicky POS that is not intended for serious outdoor use – source
With a one week 80+ mile trip through the High Sierra and up Mt Whitey, I plan to put the Grayl to the test and see if it can handle some serious outdoor use.
My previous experience with water filters out in the back country is with the MSR MiniWorks. You can read about in in my 1 week trip through the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and learn about my interesting experience with the MiniWorks. As a result of that trip, I needed a new filter for the MSR MiniWorks or a new system. I decided to switch it up and put the Grayl through the test.
First, impression when compared to the MSR MiniWorks, is its roughly the same width and a little bit taller.
The MSR MiniWorks screws on top of a typical Nalgene water bottle, you then unravel the tube, toss it in the water source and begin pumping. As you pump the water falls directly into the Nalgene.
The Grayl Water purifier bottle has two pieces and works similar to a coffee press. To purify water, you pull out the inner bottle fill the outside orange bottle to the fill mark then press. The bottle then fills its self with purified and filtered water.
My first impression when holding the Grayl in my hand was that this thing was solid and built to handle a rugged trip on the trail. Not only does it feel solid, but its design is simple.
Simplicity is often over looked in design of outdoor, gear and I will always pay a little more, and carry a few more ounces if a product is simple in design. When your out on the trail miles from civilization, you want simple products that work well immediately. Simplicity also usually equates with less things to break.
On my my MSR MiniWorks, you have the soft tube, a pump, and a delicate ceramic water filter. I do give the MSR MiniWorks credit for pushing through the thick cloudy Colorado river for as long as it could, but the ceramic filter as you can see was pretty delicate:
Right away, looking at the filter and purifier on the Grayl, I love that it is enclosed in hard plastic, which adds a bit of sturdiness to it. But, without putting it through a hard test, I am not sure how the Grayl will handle the thick silk of the Colorado river either. Although the plastic adds sturdiness, it does not look like it would allow you access to wipe silt away as the MSR MiniWorks does.
Until I hit the trail and conduct some real world tests on the Grayl, I can not comment to much on its use. I did of course give a try in my house just using sink tap water. To use the Grayl, just fill the outer bottle to a clearly marked fill line. You then take off the top of the inner bottle, place inside the outer bottle and press.
One thing that I noticed right away when I first used the Grayl was my hand placement. Out on the trail your hands are going to get dirty, and with the Grayl you are placing your hands around the rim as you press down. To try and counter contaminating my water due to dirty hands on he trail, I will bring Purell hand sanitizer and clean my hands before each use. As you push down you can watch the water bobble up from the bottom, its actually kind of fun to watch.
I first tried pushing with one hand, but this is definitely a two hand push. With the bottle on the floor this went very smoothly. I realize the floor of my apartment is pretty flat, so out on the trail it will be interesting to see how the press goes when I can not always find a flat spot to press. Also I want to test how different levels of gritty water effect the amount of pressure to push down.
With one press, I wanted to see how much clean water I received. I took the water I just purified and immediately poured the clean water into my REI bottle to measure:
In my full review after my trip, I will dive deeper into the numbers and statistics and compare the Grayl to the big filters and purifiers on the market today. So far the Grayl has passed my first impressions and made it into my pack for my upcoming trip, I am excited to put it through some tough tests on the trail.
If you want to see the Grayl Ultralight in action check out their promo video below:
Disclaimer: I received this product for free from Grayl to test out on my upcoming trip. I purchased the extra filter myself.