I need more advice from those with recent wilderness experience. What's your opinion on water-purification systems?
When I did my long wilderness canoe trips in high school (and when I hiked in Vermont on my own), we simply drank straight from the bodies of water at hand. No one got sick. My more recent hiking trips were in Arizona, and we necessarily brought all our water with us. So I have literally no experience with the water-purification systems below, only their pros and cons as described by guidebooks and the internet. My options are, from most-favorite to least:
Water Treatment Tablets: These seem to have the most pros; small, easy to carry, unbreakable, inexpensive per unit (whether it's cheaper in the long run to keep paying for tablets rather than get a filter, I don't know). But opinions seem to differ--do they make the water taste bad? And do you really have to wait 4 hours for full disinfection, or the 15 or so minutes the tablets advertise?
Water Filter: I like the idea of drinking as soon as the water comes out of the other end of the filter. I also like that I won't have to pre-filter if the water is less than clear. But filters are expensive, there's always the risk of breaking, and you hear more grumbling and pain-in-the-ass type complaints in filter product reviews than you do in tablet reviews.
SteriPen UV Purification: This sounds appealing at first, what with the instant disinfection, low weight, and no work. But I'm loath to risk my health on anything that requires batteries and electronics that I don't understand.
Anybody used any of these? What was your experience?