SOL Water is a curious new product by Tortoise Gear, a California-based designer of survival gear. It’s a hydration bag that the company claims doubles as a water-purifying device, harnessing the power of the sun to kill microbes in your water. Tortoise Gear, run by a husband-and-wife team, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to produce three sizes of the bags. So, would you trust the sun to clean your drinking water?
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As an experienced backpacker with more than a few backcountry miles under her belt, I’m pretty familiar with the need to harvest and treat drinking water. In some areas, boiling water is all it takes to make it safer to consume, or some people use a chemical approach like iodine tablets. However, in most places where hikers and wildlife venture, more aggressive treatment is needed to rid your water of nasty pathogens like giardia, salmonella, and cryptosporidia, so lots of hikers turn to a method that includes a filter of around 0.2 microns in size. The SOL Water bags don’t have a filter of any kind, though; the bags are collection devices without filters. So if you should happen to get any organic material – leaves or silt, etc – in your water, they’re going to stay there. Tortoise Gear did, peculiarly, make the SOL Water bags compatible with most portable hiking-style water filters, though, so you can filter water as you fill your bag. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just use a standard hydration bladder in that case.
Related: 6 Water-purifying devices for clean drinking water in the developing world