I had almost given up hope of ever finding an ultralight inline purifier for my hydration system. I knew they existed in military circles because I have a friend who works at the US Military Testing Center in Natick, Massachusetts, but I could never get my hands on one. That is, until I bought the Aquaguard Eliminator Inline Purifier from drinkSAFE-systems in the UK, makers of the Travel Tap, a bottle based purifier that my friends Baz and Robin have used in the UK and Spain.
I seriously thought about buying a Travel Tap myself, but I dislike bottle based solutions because I don’t stay hydrated enough unless I’m sipping all day on a hydration hose. So, when I saw drinkSAFE’s inline solution, I thought I’d give it a try.
I have tried other inline purification solutions in the past, like the Sawyer sp125, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t get it to work well in an inline or gravity-fed configuration. Others have had a different experiences, and Sawyer has come out with a slew of new products this year, so maybe you’ll have more luck with them than I had last year.
Weighing in a 3 oz (wet), the Aquaguard Eliminator is a dream come true for me, because it eliminates almost one pound of pack weight if I use it to replace my trusty First Need XL, while getting a comparable benefit. I say comparable, because the Eliminator has a less robust pre-filter when compared to the First Need XL, which in my opinion, still the best overall filter or purifier system available on the market. The pre-filter in the Eliminator is a a small piece of porous synthetic fabric, simply designed to trap sediment and one replacement pre-filter is included in the product package.
Since the Eliminator is a purifier, it will remove viruses, ecoli, giardia, cryptosporidium, and chemical run-off like fertilizers. Water filters don’t remove viruses, and most metals, salts or carbonates. See this article from NRS, for an excellent discussion regarding the purifier vs. filter issue.
The Aquaguard Eliminator comes with several sets of hose adapters in different sizes, including a pair that have quick release couplings so that you can take the filter out of the system entirely when it’s not needed or for maintenance and still have a functioning hydration hose. That’s a sweet feature. You just need to be careful to keep the sections of the hose and the bladder that’s handled your un-purified water from getting mixed up with the clean segments of hose. Cross-contamination is always a potential source of self-infection.
I avoid the cross-contamination issue by clearly labelling all of the hydration system components as either clean or dirty with a permanent marker. This includes the bladder caps and the bladders themselves.
One thing I learned when testing the Sawyer last year is that you will get better flow through an inline purifier if you locate it closer to the hydration mouthpiece, and this is how I set up the Eliminator. Although it worked fine at home, I experienced air in the hose when I took a 7 mile test hike near my house. “Drinking” a substantial amount of air mixed in with a dribbble of water is very annoying. This is one of the issues I also experienced with the Sawyer inline purifier.
But never fear, teflon tape is here!
I eliminated the air in my hydration line by taping all possible air leaks in the system. I started by wrapping the barbs on the hose connectors with tape. That helped a little. Then I wrapped the male sides of the hose-to-filter connectors, as shown here.
This completely solved the problem. There is a little air at the beginning of a draw to fill the hose with water, but from there on out the water flows through the hydration hose as normal, without any additional air bubbles.
In addition to an inline configuration, I also tested the Eliminator in a gravity filter configuration: the reason I carry a clean bladder, in addition to a dirty one, is to hold clean water that I will gravity filter at night in camp for cooking.The manufacturer claims a throughput rate of 500 ml per minute (a quart every two minutes.) I haven’t done my own formal timing tests yet, but that sounds reasonably accurate from what I’ve observed.
Finally, from a maintenance standpoint, it is possible to back flush the Eliminator in the field or using a faucet adapter supplied with the product and the estimated cartridge lifetime is 1600 liters, or about 400 gallons. This will of course vary on the amount of sediment suspended in the water you purify.
Cost including shipping and handling from the UK to the US is $70 when purchased directly from drinkSAFE-systems. Replacement purification cartridges are available for standalone purchase, as well.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
Most Popular Searches
- Sawyer inline purifier
- aquaguard eliminator
- aquaguard water purifier for tape