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RE: Purifying Water

Keep in mind this is free advice, and worth every penny :-)

I prefer crystalline iodine.  If nothing else, it's lighter than a filter.
There's an entire panel in the rec.backcountry faq devoted to
filters and water purification.

Tablets (Portable Aqua comes to mind, but there are others) begin
to lose effectiveness as soon as the bottle is opened.  Check the
label, the notice is in VERY fine print.

The precautions about iodine are overdone, IMHO.  Iodine is a
constituent of virtually all table salt sold in the US.  While iodine
is potentially harmful if taken in large quantities over a long period
of time, you'll get neither on a through hike.