For the World Rickshaw Taxi, I have been sponsored a Water-To-Go filter bottle. Their product aims to provide a convenient water bottle system using new nano-technology based filter system that can be easily replaced.
My past experiences getting ‘water on the go’
In the past, I have only cycled in countries predominantly Europe where I have had access to water it has been potabile. On desperate occasions, I have even used water from public toilets, road side water fountains in Turkey and on an odd occasions risked it with a stream in the mountains. On all occasions I have been lucky, but I have witnessed that pollution in poorer countries is often noticeable – and some times a disgusting legacy of what remains of some beautiful landscapes.
I take risks on my oncoming trip and I am now fortunate to be in the position to filter my own water.
When I needed water I would carry a 2 Litre pop bottle and a 1 litre bottle and fill it up as needed – this worked most of the time. However, on my last experience to Morocco, I was at one point without no water for two hours – it made me appreciate our water secure society.
Luckily I found some salvation; I was invited into a Mosque in a small village and was relieved of dehydration. Having water is vital!
Water Filtration Systems:
Have being fortunate to not needed hence tried filtration systems, I can only provide my opinion based on my experience with the water bottle itself so far. I would recommend also reading a comprehensive comparison of water treatment methods can be found in this article – written by a cycle touring couple. Despite being sponsored the bottle, I’ll be giving an honest critique of the bottle.
Do not buy bottled water!
In summary, buying bottled water is just plain wrong, unless you consider yourself a water connoisseur and pref sampling Fuji’s finest waters. Notable problems are
- Ecological impact of affecting the local water supply
- Cost and energy required to transport water huge distances
- The expense of paying for water which in some case is more expensive than petrol.
- Discarded bottles polluting the environment – a small proportion are recycled
- Not necessarily guaranteed to be safe – In poor countries, it has been know that bottles are resealed with unsafe tapwater using glue for the seal
- Leaching of toxins from plastic bottle can occur when exposed to direct sunlight
The only reason I would contempalte buying bottle water for me would be to get the re-usable large capacity plastic bottle. I have used the same bottle (a 30 pence 2 Litre Bottle from a Supermarket) for three weeks, until it finally leaked and had to be thrown away (sadly). Personally, I would argue that filtration system is not necessary in developed countries unless you want your water purified. Under most circumstances water is very accessible here. You’re usually only a short step away from a restraunt, bar or even someone’s house, which I’ve had to knock at on a few occasions.
The Water-to-Go Bottle
The Water-to-Go Water Filter Bottle provides a convenient, simple and cost effective water filtration system. It is intended for use by everyone, but seems to be focusing on backpackers and travellers who will be more reluctant to pay the expense for bottled water. The bottle and filter has a very reasonable price (£24.95) considering it intends to offer years of use from the small investment.
A bottle including one filter costs £24.95
The bottle is made from LDPE, BPA free plastic which is FDA approved – reduced chance of chemicals leaching into water from plastic. It has been moulded to provide good grip and there is a silicone sleeve featuring their emblem helping providing additional grip when holding at the top.
Attention has been paid to the screwable top having large grooves to make it far easier to open.
The folding drink spout has a plastic appendage to provide easy leverage to unfold it from the top.
One of the problems I did find with the bottle is the size. It’s slightly too large to fit into a standard bike cage and even for my large hands feels slightly too large to grip. Not really a problem, it may be more noticeable for users with smaller hands.
Using the bottle:
Water-to-Go aims to offer convenience and simplicity and I can say it offers that. There is no need to wait for a chemical to destroy contaminants, pumping action required, or leaving the filter to work for 15 minutes. Simply fill up the bottle and start drinking.
To drink the water, you have to actively ‘suck’ the water through the filter, which can be aided by squeezing the bottle. It requires a bit more effort compared to a sports bottle but it’s easily manageable. However, the bottle is designed with a valve to equalise pressure so you can keep on drinking without the suction effect you get from a normal bottle – very helpful. As you would expect the water tastes very pure – nothing more needs said.
The only difficult I found was getting the last bit of water from the bottom – I reckon around a 1cm of water line because of the position of the filter. The other issue I still haven’t worked out is the safest way to collect water that requires a scooping action. If the surface is exposed to contaminated water and you’re touching it with your hands, these could easily spread if you’re not careful and cause illness. The youtube videos recommend wiping with a towel which prevents dripsonto the mouth piece. Overall this issue boils down to good hygiene practice.
Water-to-Go Filter System:
The Water-to-Go system filter system consists of combination of carbon and nano alumina that offers to reduce contaminatants by 99.99%. They are bringing space technology to the masses – I always appreciate a spinoff from Nasa
Each filter has a lifespan of approx 200L or around three months of use (~260 refills). This is less than other competitors with some offering 300L and upto 750L but at the expense of a more expensive filter. Water-to-Go offer two filters at a price of £14.95 (+10% discount off for life if you register)
Having looked at every other manufacture of similar systems, they offer the same capacity to purify water, but are less specific about what they’ve tested against. Water-to-Go infact do provide a detailed list and were conducted independantly by BCS, Florida – this wasn’t immediately obvious on their website. In their youtube video, they have also got accreditation with London Hygiene and Tropical Medicine School.
Filtering water from contaminents
Contaminated water may consist of
- Heavy metals
Or biological contaminents:
- Protozoa, Cysts, Micro-organisms
The principle of their nano-technology filter system work by a positive charge instantly being created when the filter is exposed to water. This attracts negativly charged particles, in particular the smallest of micro-organisms. It seems a rational explanation of their technology, where other products don’t clearly explain their filtration system.
Nothing is 100% effective, otherwise it would be a perfect world. UV filter systems assure that they guarantee to destroy biological contaminents, however like anything 100% effective I’m skeptical as there is always a human error and the more simple a design is – the less chance it will go wrong. UV systems require battery and especially in the wilderness that is simply not the option. I’d be reluctant to use chemical tablets or drops because of the impracticalities and the chance that I incorrectly apply the chemical.
That said, I would place my trust in the filter system, however, I would use common sense to avoid water sources that are just not meant for drinking – e.g. avoiding sewer outlets or any industrial areas. Nevertheless, a filtration system like this provides a valuable backup when safe water is simply out of the question.
Lifetime on Filters and their replacement:
Something that wasn’t clear with any filtration technologies is knowing when the filters need replacing. I don’t think anyone could keep track how many litres of water they’ve filtered.
A response from Water-to-Go on this matter:
Along side Nano technology we also include active carbon in our filters. This gets rid of the bad smells and taste. This is the first thing to go after 200 litres, so first indication that you need to replace the filter is that the taste and smell will noticeably deteriorate. The filter will still be filtering over 99.9% for about a week after that. Also when you register with is online you can opt for email/text reminders every 3 months. (if you’re using the bottle 2-3 times a day the filter will last for around 3 months). Having said that the filters are not time bound. Once the filters are dried out they deactivate. All you need to do is get them good and wet again to reactivate and your good to go again. It gives customers the chance to make full use of their filter.
From their response it seems safe and noticeable when to change the filter.
Actually replacing the filter is very simple, it only requires removing the paper wrapped around the new filter, removing the old one and then simply screwing the replacement in.
The bad bit:
Every review has a bad section – in this case it’s not actually not about the bottle itself but the website. At the time of writing, I think the website’s homepage should really showcase the product, explain what it does and keep it simple just like the bottle does. I think they could make it easier for people to learn how well it filters by combining some of the pages together and having a very clear video demonstration that lasts 30 seconds.
What would be nice is if they had demonstrations in stores, just so people knew about it.
For the skeptical travellers, I would definitely bet that you’re more likely to get ill from incorrectly prepared food – raw meat contamination, preparation of food using tap water or perhaps at worse getting a bolt in your kebab – as it did for someone at my University. In addition, good hygience practice is just as vital.
The Water-to-Go Water Filter Bottle is a very useful item to have for any traveller who is heading out into areas with predictably unsafe or unsatisfactory water. I can forsee it being very useful on my trip where even my hardy stomach will not able to tolerate the local tap water. Having a filter system like this is reassuring to prevent becoming moderatly or severely ill abroad – the the worst thing anyone wants.
If you’re especially prone to buying bottled water abroad or even in the UK, then I’d suggest it is a more than worthwhile investment to buy one of these. If you are on a major expedition with a group of people it would probably be advisable to have one of these each in addition to a mechanical filter pump or filter bag to help with cooking as a group.
For more information please check out Water-to-Go’s website:
Note: At a later date I will update this review based on my experiences using the bottle whilst on my journey.