The MicroFilter & the Travel Bug

Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Laura Bylund.

THE TRAVEL BUG

Many westerners travel the world in search of wondrous adventure and new cultural experiences, but quite often get more than what they bargained for… for no less than two or three days. Sure as scheiße, I’m talking about diarrhea.

Every world traveler I know has at least one story about that time they had a bad experience with some street tacos in Mexico, or was it that fruit stand in Thailand? It could’ve been the meat in Morocco, the veggies in Vietnam or even the coca tea in Peru. Perhaps the bacalhau in Brazil or from swimming downstream in the Dominican… The scary truth is you never really know for sure!

One thing is certain, however, and that is a lot of the common causes often boil down to good ol’ H2O. Our day to day lives are replete with the consumption of water and that doesn’t change when we’re abroad. We ingest it directly, make other drinks out of it, wash our fruits and vegetables with it, we do the dishes, we shower, we brush our teeth with it… The list goes on.

When you travel to far off places or even into local wilderness areas, you’re simply not immune as the natives are to the bugs that may be lurking. I’ve always been a little weary of tap water, so when I first started venturing away from home, the paranoia was slightly unsettling. I went down to Mexico and stocked up on bottled water, brushing my teeth with it and all. Even when I moved to England, I was looking at how much it rained and all the sheep roaming around, wondering where the tap water came from.

I then calculated what it would cost to keep hydrated on bottled water in Europe for a year. Ouch. Around that time, I also stayed in fairly large “Botel” in Amsterdam and refused to drink the water straight from the tap. How could they possibly provide that much clean water for that many people on a freaking boat? I filtered it through my old backpacking purifier, which was gigantic and time consuming. Well, that was 10 years ago and this is now… Vapur Blog_LB Travel Bug 1

VAPUR MICROFILTER TAKE OVER!

Just when I start thinking Vapur can’t possibly do anything further to fundamentally change outdoor sporting or travel, they bust out this MicroFilter.

In the quest to keep well-hydrated in the wilderness, I’d been resisting the urge to follow my colleagues in purchasing other brands touting a water bottle with a built-in filter. The main reason– the flow seemed so incredibly restricted and slow that I would actually get out of breath trying to suck the water through. This seemed counter productive. You were on a long hike, in a thirsty climate and fatigued from the simple task of trying to get a drink of water!

Or it SHOULD be a simple task, I should say. The process of filtering water has been complicating backpacking and travel for years, causing many people I know to go back to chemical treatments. I am not of that camp, as I think it’s a little gross to have to filter silty water through a sweaty bandanna and I just don’t like the idea of voluntarily ingesting more chemicals in life than I need to.

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THE MICROFILTER ABROAD AND OUTBOUND

Earlier this summer, my friend Michelle Jung and I went to Spain for a climbing trip/birthday bash. We had plans to go to the Balearic Islands and then spend some time up in the mountains near the French border, so I took the Vapur MicroFilter along. Mid-June is a time when the snow melt is still in full swing in the Spanish Pyrenees, which lends to some pretty radical cascading waterfall action and plenty of chilled, fresh water to drink.

Michelle is a well-traveled, 5.12 climber. She has spent countless hours both abroad and in backcountry environments, and has a lot of experience with different types of gear, so I was a little surprised by her unbiased excitement at the MicroFilter:

“This is simplicity at its best!”

She recently took that same MicroFilter with her on the John Muir Trail, where she broke the women’s unsupported, uncached speed record by 47 minutes. The entire hike from the top of the highest peak in the continental US, through the Sierra Nevadas up to Yosemite (215 miles) in 6 days, 6 hours and 5 minutes, all on her own for food and water (umm… I was busy that week). That’s covering almost 40 miles a day at high elevation, all necessary supplies on your back for a week, using the Vapur MicroFilter all the way. Notice how it didn’t slow her down one bit.

This MicroFilter packs a mega punch! Oh yeah, and Michelle’s pretty awesome too. 😛

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Flying with the MicroFilter

In preparing for Spain, I had this grandiose plan to pack super minimalist and light for once. This trip was going to be pretty gear and travel intensive. I had to pack climbing gear for one, and two, also had to keep in mind that I was  going to be on a boat for 9 days in the Virgin Islands on the way back, with a day in New York City in between. An overweight pack on my 110-lb, newly 30-year-old frame just wasn’t going to be an option.

I was simply going to pack the filter separate of the bottle and take an extra SuperCap to use when I didn’t need filtration. Let’s just say I found bringing one Anti-Bottle vs. two a negligible difference in weight and pack space, and so afforded myself the luxury of also having the .7 L size with me; my favorite for daily use, plane travel and harness jewelry. Ultimately, if the bottles weren’t so darn light and compressible, I might have been disciplined enough to stick with my plan. Thanks for encouraging my gluttonous packing habit, Vapur. Gosh.

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SUP Yoga & Vapur

Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Anna Levesque.

Stand up paddleboard yoga, also known as SUP yoga, is a new trend sweeping across the US. It’s been around the coastal areas for a number of years and is now moving inland to lakes and rivers. It’s a fun and unique way to get outside, strengthen and stretch. As one of my students, a popular yoga instructor here in Asheville, NC described: “So fun to have river as the floor, and sky as the ceiling of the yoga room.” Many yoga teachers talk about connecting with nature in the classroom and that connection is so much more powerful when you’re actually practicing outside.

SUP yoga also requires a good deal of focus and mindfulness, much more so than yoga on a regular mat that isn’t moving! I had a student recently comment, “I had to move more slowly in and out of the poses. I couldn’t just pop into a pose.” I really like this aspect of paddleboard yoga – moving slowly, paying attention to our alignment and to how each movement affects our balance. In this way, SUP yoga strengthens our bodies and our minds.

I’m fortunate enough to live very close to the French Broad River here in Asheville and one of my favorite workouts is to paddle upstream against the current up to the Biltmore House and then practice yoga as I float back down to my start point. I especially love doing this on summer evenings when the light is beautiful and everything is starting to quiet down from the bustle of the day.

Staying hydrated while practicing SUP yoga can be challenging because regular round water bottles tend to roll around and can easily roll right off of the board. You need extra equipment like attachment points and carabiners to hold them on the board. Luckily, I am equipped with Vapur Anti-Bottles that easily rest on the front of the board while I practice making it easy to move around freely and hydrate when I need to!

If you’re interested in learning more about SUP yoga please checkout my websites: watergirlsatplay.com or mindbodypaddle.com.

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Packaging Digest

VISIONARY AWARDS 2013 – Packaging Development & Design Finalist
The Vapur INC. and Ampac team, consisting of Jason Carignan, Vapur co-founder and chief design officer, and Sal Pellingra, Ampac director of innovation.
The awards entry quoted Carignan on the team’s success: “Ampac not only partnered with Vapur to develop the original Vapur Anti-Bottle, but by partnering through their IDEA program, Vapur was able to develop a defined short- and long term product strategy that was perfectly aligned with our strategic growth goals. Many of the product concepts generated during the IDEA session were subsequently refined by Vapur and introduced to the market, providing significant company growth.”
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Women’s Adventure

BACKPACKING FAVES FOR THIS FALL
Vapur MicroFilter. This ultra lightweight military-grade filter and bottle system capably filters 99.9999% of bacteria out of even the nastiest of water sources, transforming muck into something super safe and tasty to drink. Chemical-free and only 2.7 ounces, the MicroFilter removes 99.9% of Giardia- and Cryptosporidium-causing microorganisms. $69.99; Vapur.us

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10th Annual Portillo Superstars Ski Camp

Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Chris Davenport.

I just finished my fourteenth year in a row visiting Portillo, Chile during the month of August.  The last ten of those years have been spent running my successful Portillo Superstars ski camp, a week of good, hard-skiing, geared-toward experts looking to up their game. My history with Portillo goes much further back however.

My Dad came here for a few years in the ‘60’s as a ski racer, so I grew up hearing all sorts of tales about this amazing ski resort hidden high in the Andes Mountains.  My Dad and his teammates would stop a few times on the flight down to refuel in places like Panama City or Lima or Quito, since the planes couldn’t make it all the way on one tank.  These were the days before the international highway that links Chile and Argentina through the high pass at Portillo, so after arriving in Santiago, they hopped on an overnight train, inevitably with several bottles of Pisco, and settled in for the long grind up the mountain.  Hearing these tales as a kid made Portillo sound larger than life – a place where ski dreams came true.

The bird's-eye view of Hotel Portillo - a virtual "cruise ship" in the mountains.

The bird’s-eye view of Hotel Portillo – a virtual “cruise ship” in the mountains.


I first came to Portillo back in 2000 to run a ski photography competition called the Andes Photo Challenge.  Partnering with Skiing Magazine, I brought six of the world’s top ski photographers and their athlete of choice to Portillo for a week of shooting a variety of subjects, including air, powder, and lifestyle. After the photo challenge concept was played out, I needed to find another way to come to Portillo, make some money, and ski every day with my friends.  Portillo, with its incredible snow, terrain, and hotel/party life, has a way of getting under your skin and becoming a bit of an addiction. The camp concept was born and that first year I invited Shane McConkey, Wendy Fisher, and Chris Anthony to coach along side me.  Somehow I convinced twelve bold souls to sign up and we were off.  Shane was with us for the first six years of the camp, and early on I added Mike Douglas and Ingrid Backstrom as well.  Now it’s grown so much that I’ve added a sixth coach, Daron Rahlves, to the roster.  We also have a videographer, Jesse Hoffman, who started as a camper ten years ago and has been with me ever since. My twelve-year-old son, Stian, is on his seventh visit to Portillo this season and has been my assistant coach for a couple years.

We’ve been so lucky to get to ski with so many amazing clients over the years.  Our campers range in age from 14 to 69, both men and women, with the common theme being that everyone is pretty much an expert.  These folks trust us to show them the best snow and terrain Portillo has to offer, and we spend quite a bit of time working on skill development.  Our campers ski in small groups and with a different coach each day, so they really get to pick up lots of individual tips from some of the best skiers in the world.  Imagine ripping steep powder lines with Ingrid Backstrom one day and then Daron Rahlves the next.  Or, allowing me to guide you on a hike up a steep and deep couloir.  You could be learning to do your first 360 with Mike Douglas, the “Godfather of the New School,” or even dancing on tables in the bar with Wendy Fisher as the band rocks the stage.  Regardless, Portillo is always a good time and my camp turns it up a notch for our guests with the guiding and teaching program.

Portillo Superstars Camp owner and Vapur athlete, Chris Davenport, demonstrating technique.

Portillo Superstars Camp owner and Vapur athlete, Chris Davenport, demonstrating technique.


Another element of the camp that make sit special for our campers is all of the coaches are on new gear – meaning next year’s gear, so our guests get to check out new skis, boots, clothing, and accessories before much of the industry has even seen it. For many years Mike Douglas and Shane, and me for that matter, would show up with white, graphic-less skis to test and evaluate.  We’ve got a pretty authentic and inspired consumer group with us so they enjoy getting first looks, and in some cases, first tests of lots of new gear.  One example is this year everyone was rocking their new Vapur Anti-Bottle on the hill, as they are so easy to roll up in your ski jackets or cargo pants. Another aspect of the camp that everyone really appreciates is the media side.  Every day our resident media expert, Jesse, films and shoots images of the guests as they coach and ski with the pros.  They take home plenty of epic shots and we edit up a nice highlight real for everyone.  And in the evenings each coach gives a presentation, a slideshow of a recent trip, expedition or perhaps even a ski film segment in the works to be released in the Fall. These little details go a long way with our guests and are really fun for the coaches.


The coaches of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp: Mike Douglas,  Ingrid Backstrom, Chris Davenport, Wendy Fisher, Chris Anthony, & Daron Rahlves.

The coaches of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp: Mike Douglas, Ingrid Backstrom, Chris Davenport, Wendy Fisher, Chris Anthony, & Daron Rahlves.


Fourteen years into my relationship with Portillo, I feel like we have gotten to know each other pretty well.  It’s truly a home away from home for me during the dog days of summer here in Colorado.  I know the other coaches of the Superstars Camp agree with me when I say it’s one of the trips I look forward to most every year.

A month in the Andes allows me to ski with all sorts of amazing people, both in the camp and private clients as well.  My family comes down now every year and my boys have been lucky enough to experience some incredible skiing and deep storms over the years.  I really enjoy the opportunity to work on my own skiing while I’m down there, figuring out new ways of doing things with my body position and balance, and developing skills that really take a lifetime to even get close to figuring out.  But more than anything Portillo gives all of us a chance to share our passion for skiing with each other.  My goal at the end of our camp, and at the end of every season in Portillo, is to send people home with the best ski vacation they have ever had.  I’m proud to say that our record in that department is pretty darn strong.  So thanks to Ingrid, Wendy, Chris, Daron, Mike, Jesse, Stian, Maureen, my Dad, and most of all the Purcell Family, the owners and gatekeepers of one of the world’s greatest ski destinations.

See you next season,
Chris
@Steepskiing


The campers of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp.

The campers of the 2013 Portillo Superstars Camp.

Using the Vapur MicroFilter In the Field

This post was written* by Dave Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports. When Dave is not working hard to find the best products to carry in his shop, he is out adventuring, traveling and putting all the awesome outdoor products that TMS carries to the test!

Being the gear buyer for an outdoor store might sound like a glory job, but in reality, sifting through and finding the best products to offer your loyal customers is a daunting task because of the millions of consumer-focused products that are available in a wide range of categories. Every year I go to countless trade shows, conferences and product demos to try and find the best gear on the market to ensure that Tahoe Mountain Sports has the highest quality products with all the right stuff and at the right times.

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When I first found Vapur at the Outdoor Retailer show a few years back, their products really stood out to me for their durability, cool looks and overall message to create the best reusable water bottle on the planet. We quickly brought in the 0.7L and 1.0L Element Anti-Bottles along with some of their kid’s products.

Fast forward to Spring of 2013, and Vapur sends me an email touting their new Vapur MicroFilter, weighing in at just 2.7 ounces with the capability of purifying more than 500 liters of water with one filter. In the past few years, with companies like Platypus, Evernew and even Under Armour jumping on the soft water bottle train, this was the first I had heard of a company trying to marry the weight and functionality of a soft water bottle, with a field-ready water filtration system. As any gear dork would, I had envisioned this marriage from the beginning, as it seemed the ideal way to shave the weight of a pump filtration system and combine it with an awesome soft water bottle. Keep in mind, I was already a soft water bottle convert and if you are not by now, then look out for a future TMS post about why soft water bottles are better than rigid!

I quickly hit reply to the email and made sure Tahoe Mountain Sports was on the list to receive this exciting new product the second it was ready to hit the shelves. We got our shipment in early June and it just so happened that my wife and I had a trip planned to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney to celebrate our 5th Anniversary. I will not sidetrack here, but celebrating any anniversary with a 22 mile hike ascending 6,000+ vertical feet in one direction might have been a silly idea, but as co-owners of a specialty outdoor shop in the heart of Lake Tahoe, what more could any wife ask for?


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I thought this would be one of the best places to test out the new Vapur MicroFilter because:

1) Such a long, high and exposed hike was going to demand 5-7 liters of water.
2) My Deuter Streamer reservoir could only hold 3 liters and I hate carrying more water than needed at any given time due to weight.
3) There would be ample water supply along the way.
4) I love testing gear out in the field, so what better situation to put the Vapur MicroFilter to the test.

First – Compactness of the entire system. The best feature of soft water bottles is that you can scrunch, roll, fold, and really do whatever you want to make them as small as possible when not in use or full of water. Although, one of the first things you will notice about the MicroFilter is your ability to roll, fold and flatten is limited unless you remove the filter first. Because 60 meters of hollow fiber membrane is packed into a compact, hard casing, the Vapur MicroFilter can be flattened and the bottom quarter can be folded up to a very compact size, just not as small as a soft bottle with no filter. Still smaller and lighter than any other filtration system I have ever used, this wasn’t a deal breaker.

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Second – filling the bottle. I was a bit concerned it would be difficult to fill up or top-off with the MicroFilter, especially in a shallow stream like the ones found during the summer in the High Sierra. But, because the cap and thread area are made of a harder plastic, the bottle retains a fairly wide opening and does not collapse on itself. If you have ever used a hydration reservoir, you probably understand that sometimes the inside plastic can stick to itself, making filling a total pain. Not so with the Vapur MicroFilter – it was easy to fill in a variety of environments from lakes and streams to rivers. Beware, you do have to get down on some rocks or banks to immerse the bottle in the water. If you get some sediment while filling the bottle from a natural source, not to worry, that is what the filter is for…

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Finally – filtration flow rate. I used the MicroFilter a few times throughout the day, mostly when I was trying to conserve my reservoir water for the 3 hours above any water sources (12,000 ft and above) and again when my reservoir ran dry late in the day. With first use, my snap judgment was that it was slow, hard to squeeze the water through and I couldn’t use all the water in the bottle if it was inverted…  Aside: I, as some can relate, usually demand clean drinking water to be fast, efficient, immediate and thirst quenching now. While this product provided exactly that, without the chemicals, pumping or batteries other brands require, it wasn’t the simple straw, easy flow solution your basic carbon filter provides.  I was frustrated and frankly disappointed given my love for Vapur’s other soft bottle lines.

But then, I had an “AHA!” moment. I was being hard on this product. I had hugely high hopes for a product that was not really designed to meet those specific expectations. So, I sat on a long for awhile, pondered the usefulness of this product and came up with a few conclusions:

  • For the size, weight and ease of use, this product really cannot be beat.
  • The flow rate of this product is necessary if you want safe drinking water.
  • The price of this product is exceptional for its level of filtration.
  • The Vapur MicroFilter is probably more suited for emergency settings, backup filtration options, long day hikes where additional water will be needed or just for piece of mind.
  • Currently, nobody else is producing a product quite like this on the market: a flexible bottle with a filter of this capacity. So, kudos to Vapur for taking chances and getting awesome new products into the hands of people everywhere.
  • Vapur has already made improvements to the MicroFilter since this test and there are talks of a next generation MicroFilter in the works. In these updates, it is said that flow rates will be improved, as well as the ability for the water to enter the filter at the top and the bottom; which will assist in the not being able to drink from the MicroFilter while the bottle is inverted.
  • Managing high expectations is quite hard, but this product did perform exactly as claimed and I was truly pleased with it once I adapted to the capabilities and limitations of this type of technology.

If you have any questions or comments about my experience with the Vapur MicroFilter, feel free to leave them in the comments of this post or visit the Tahoe Mountain Sports Blog for additional gear reviews, videos and pretty pics like the one below!

– Dave Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

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*Vapur edited and approved this blog post.