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One Bottle to Purify It All

“I don’t believe you,” my co-worker had a skeptical look on his face. “That little in-bottle filter probably just takes the chlorine out.” I pointed out that while the high tech Grayl water bottle I was holding did have a light-duty tap water filter, the current filter was made for traveling in the developing world.

“Grayl said it will take out viruses, so I bet it will remove something like food coloring,” I said as I poured a powder drink mix into the bottom of the Grayl’s outer cup. I poured tap water over it and mixed up the concoction. With a magician's flare, I presented the bottle to my audience.

“There’s no way it’s going to filter out molecules that small,” my co-worker continued to protest. I pressed the inner cup down slowly letting the water filter through the french-press device. Once the press had been pushed to the bottom of the outer cup, I poured the filtered liquid into a cup that my co-worker was holding. His eyes grew wide. The water was clear. I indeed possessed magical abilities.

Magic or no, the Grayl is an incredible little system. Infinitely less complicated than preparing and using a pump-style system, Grayl’s purification system is efficient and dependable. In my month long test of the product, I learned how versatile it could be: handling well in multiple situations including everyday use, traveling and hiking.

To start, I purchased a stainless steel Grayl Legend. I found the construction to be solid, but had an issue with the flip-top lid, which would stick when it was open or closed. Grayl quickly replaced the defective lid with one that performed much better. They also provided a simple loop-top lid that I found to be much better suited to my outdoor lifestyle. While the flip-top was a more esthetically pleasing design, I preferred the loop-top since it seemed to withstand any activity. I also found that outside of an urban environment, the flip-top lid tended to gather dust in the groove around the flip-lock.

The flip-top lid looks sleek and high tech, but if you are taking it on the trail, be sure to keep it clean. Dirt can quickly gum up the works.

The loop lid isn't as pretty but it does what's needed and is tough enough to handle travel and the trail.

Grayl offers three grades of filters. Tap: intended to remove heavy metals, chemicals and arsenic from the water and improve the taste and smell of tap water; Trail: designed to remove bacteria and protozoan cysts for relatively clean but untreated water; and Travel: the ultimate protection from viruses when drinking from questionable sources. I opted for the Tap and Travel filters as I didn’t see a need for anything in between. The order set me back roughly $100 (plus shipping). Given the fact that each filter cleans 40 gallons (300 uses) of water as well as the optimum quality of the construction and quick turn around on our defective lid, I thought it was still a pretty good deal. It has held up very well through the abuse of the last month. It has seen a mix of day-to-day use, treating tap water while I am at the office, and travel use, a trip to Catalina Island and backpacking in the San Gorgonio wilderness. Despite being banged up against rocks and being dropped a few times, the outer cup doesn’t have any dings or dents. After just over a 100 uses, the bottle’s gaskets and other parts seem to be just as good as they were when they were new.

The blue filter above the Grayl is the Tap filter. An orange Travel filter is resting comfortably inside the bottle, ready for anything that comes its way.

We tested the travel filter with the First Need maintenance test (the testing liquid for the tried and true First Need pump water filter), with stream water, tap water and tap water mixed with powder drink mix. The only time we noticed any flavor was when filtering drink mix. While food coloring was filtered out, I did notice a faint sweetness. Given that simple sugar molecules are smaller than the viruses I know of, I concluded (very unscientifically mind you), that it would probably save me from most predicaments. Luckily, Grayl has been tested by professional scientists and has passed muster.

Grayl bottles are currently manufactured in China and the filter media is produced in the U.S.A. Grayl did provide third-party audit reports that checked for child labor, environmental hazards and a dangerous work environment. The factory was found to be compliant with Business Social Compliance Initiative standards. Grayl reported they have plans to open a manufacturing plant in the USA for a new product in the 2017-18.

Overall, I had very few complaints with the Grayl Legend or the Tap filter and Travel filter. Grayl also handled the defective lid situation quickly and politely. The replacement lids worked fine and I found I actually preferred the loop-lid. Grayl informed us that the loop lid will be available sometime in June. The bottle held up well to the abuse of one month's use in my hands (no small feat). Keep in mind that because of the filter mechanism, the bottle doesn’t hold massive amounts of water. You may find yourself re-filling it often if you constantly drink water like I do. While traveling, I found it useful to take it and a second bottle (still smaller than my First Need Pump and bottles), and use the Grayl to filter the water and the second bottle to store the bulk of the water. Of course, the Grayl can hold water too, while my pump-style filter could not. I highly recommend the product and now use it as the primary bottle for the office, hiking and travel.

June 25, 2015

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