Those in survival circles tend to hang out around the smaller end of the water purification spectrum. Tools like the Lifestraw and Sawyer filter are must-haves in your kit whether to get home or bug out. But what is on the other end of the drinkable water rainbow? Turns out there is a 10-liter water purification system in the form of an easy-to fill-bag with backpack straps, hanging loop, inline filter and simple instructions.
So why have you not heard of this unique and functional water solution? Most likely it’s because you have never been in a bad enough situation to need one. The DayOne Waterbag has been deployed all over the globe following natural disasters and those humanitarian affairs caused by selfishness and greed. And especially when the bad things team up to inflict maximum distress on people in need of safe drinking water.
The DayOne Waterbag does it’s magic by attacking dirty water in three sequenced steps. First, the premixed chlorine packet disinfects the water in the DayOne as well as generates a residual precipitate of undrinkable things to settle out into the engineered reservoir on the south end of the bag. By using a combination of coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation the chlorine binds to larger molecules, bacteria, viruses, and other undesirables pulling them down and out of the drinkable portion of the waterbag.
The steps of coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation are like a solar system forming from the dust of a supernova explosion. The particles must combine until reaching a minimum density before being pulled to their deaths by a giant black hole. In our case, before the earth’s gravity can capture the microscopic debris and imprison them in conical jail at the base of the bladder, the bad stuff must combine with more tiny undesirables until the mass of the flocs is large enough to overcome the viscosity and polarity of water molecules and sink like the Titanic (except the Titanic took 160 minutes to sink while the DayOne Waterbag needs 30 minutes).
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The result of this dance of the molecules a stinky slimy mess falling to the bottom of the DayOne Waterbag in what can be quite a visible sludge. And for those pesky critters that resisted the chemical obstacles in the waterbag including Giardia and Cryptosporidium and other nastys, a final and deadly filter lays directly between the bag and your mouth.
Some Settling May Occur
In order for the chemistry to work it’s magic, about five minutes of agitation is needed before the bag is to be left alone. After the chemical packet is dumped into the full waterbag and the top is sealed, the bag needs to be shaken like a cramping hamstring. To included handles are attached to the bag just for this purpose. But be careful not to puncture the bag in something behind it if hanging on a tree. The necessary five minutes of effort goes by quickly (at least the first few times), and when compared to how long and how much sweat it would take you to squish two and a half gallons of dirty water through your hand-pump water filter, the initial 300 seconds of effort are not worth complaining about.
After five minutes of physical intimacy with the bag, it needs to be left alone but upright for 25 minutes. And then you have safe drinking water. I wondered why 25 instead of 30 minutes which is half an hour and also easier to remember. I guess the 5+25 equaling half an hour is also pretty simple.
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The flow rate is about 1.5 liters per minute, or plenty fast to choke yourself, or to fill a dozen quart-sized water bottles about one every 45 seconds. Well, not quite. I found the flow rate is based upon the water level in the bag as well as the height difference between the bag and the flow tube. One and a half liters per minute is on the generous side, and drops from there. A good solution is simply to hang the bag high and let the tube drop straight down into your container. If you really need the DayOne I doubt you will be counting seconds like I did in this review. And don’t squeeze the bladder to speed the process like I often do with my CamelBak bladders. You might disturb the dangerous sediments.
The DayOne Waterbag was not designed with the casual backpacker in mind. Instead it was created to provide safe drinking water to those who need it most and the children who are most vulnerable to waterborne diseases and toxins. Which is exactly why you should have one. Things are all rosy right now, but we have proven to ourselves time and time again that as first-world as we are, in less than a week we can become third-world like the best of them.
Bone-dry the DayOne Waterbag weighs one pound. Soaking wet a little more. Full of water it drags you down to the sum of 23 pounds. So it’s hardly a concern when off duty especially since it rolls up or folds flat, or pretty much squishes into whatever shape makes you happy. When full, the DayOne Waterbag is like a giant CamelBak bladder with shoulder straps. I carried it around full and found it much less uncomfortable than I expected. The shoulder straps are just that, one-inch wide straps. However, the bladder is 100% free of hard spots, poky areas, and pressure points. I guess it’s like a tiny waterbed strapped to your back. But unlike other bladders, and even dry bags that have similar closures, I did not find the DayOne Waterbag to be waterproof. Some seepage did occur out the top lighty soaking my back. For the best seal, don’t fill the bag to the max line. Also, don’t bet your life or valuable electronics on the hose clamp preventing every drop of water from sneaking out the discharge tube.
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The DayOne works best in warmer climates, but did pass water quality standards down to 40 degrees F, or 4 degrees C. I’m told the disinfectant properties of the packets increase with temperature which makes sense. The little packet of magic powder that is added to the water contains the single active ingredient of 0.546% Calcium Hypochlorite (also known as bleach powder). Given the warnings that “Dry product causes substantial but temporary eye injury” it would be wise to avoid getting your face anywhere near the powder and stay upwind of the pour. There is also a detailed method for cleaning the bag and and backflushing the filter. Here are the gory details on using and servicing the DayOne Waterbag system: (click here)
The DayOne Waterbag was designed for humanitarian battlefields where polluted water is the enemy. Trying to suck your way to survival through a filter straw, or zap a path through the pathogens with your UV pen might sound like high-tech low-drag solutions to the number one concern when bugged in or out, but those are only short-term personal solutions. Are you really going to play mommy bird and spit a mouthful into a crying child’s beak? Or regurgitate a pot full of water to rehydrate your freeze dried fritters? No matter how you slice it, you will need a more substantial water filter solution when hours turn to days turn to weeks making the price of 30 minutes for 10 liters of clean water the best deal on the the planet.