Need a sure-fire way to filter a lot of water for a group of people in camp? Woods Monkey just had the opportunity to test a new filtering system from Playpus named the CleanStream Gravity Filter System It’s an interesting approach to solving the problem and reducing your workoad at the same time!
Various methods abound for filtering water for drinking and hygeine purpose out in the wilderness. Previously, we’ve discussed a couple of them in a few of our reviews. The one that we are looking at today is a rather simple, yet effective way to filter a significant amount of water in very little time. The device that makes that process happen is the new Platypus CleanStream Filter. We recently had an opportunity to use one of the units that Cascade Designs sent to a week long event we attended, and we gave the new filtering system a workout to see how it compared to others we’ve tried in the past. Since we relocated the camp for our annual event, we were now fairly close to a fast running stream just about twenty paces away from the main area. That was pure serendipity for us since this is the ideal test bed for a product like the CleanStream Filter.
The CleanStream system is comprised of two 4 liter water bladders of sturdy construction–one for untreated/dirty water and the other is the receptacle once the water has been filtered. During the filtering process, both bladders are joined by a tube running from each to the filtration catridge that rests in the middle of the system.This set-up is not a permanent arrangement as the tubes can be separated from the bladders and from the filter cartride to pack everything up rather compactly. It takes less than thirty seconds to hook the tubes up to the catride and then the two bladders to begin the filtering process. The first step, however, is to gather water to treat. As mentioned, that was a fairly simple exercise since it was a quick walk over to the creek and a second or two to find a deep enough spot to fill the “dirty water” bladder.
The bladders have a “Zip-lock” type closure at the top which you can open to fill the container. Each sport nylon webbing handles which are attached to the bladders for easy transport of the water. The handles also make it easier to drag bladder in the water to fill it up more quickly. There was a good flow going in the creek, and I had the bladder filled with water in under thirty seconds. Rather than just having a narrow mouth for a lid or a tube to collect water, the entire top of the bladder opens and allows for a fast fill of water if enough is available at the source. Once I had collected my first full bladder of water, I headed back to a tree where I had left the other components of the system. The CleanStream Filter works via gravity. There is no pumping or other tedious work. You simply hang the bladder of dirty water in a position that’s higher than the clean water bladder. From there, gravity takes over and pulls the untreated water down the tube, through the filter catridge and into the clean water receptacle.
It really is that simple. In under 2.5 minutes, the Platypus system will filter four liters of water for you and the rest of your crew. Once the process is done, you can detach the tube for the clean water bladder from the filter catridge and let the clean water pour out into a container like a cup or a pot. There is a clamp on the tube you can use to stop the flow if you want to leave the clean water in the bladder. Platypus has a very good instruction guide that walks you through the process of using the filter and cleaning it, but the system is so easy, just about anyone could put it to work without even looking at the instructions.
One tip I would suggest, especially for when you would be in a wooded area, is to take along some type of S-hook or carabiner so you can just clip it to the handles of the dirty water bladder and then hang it from a tree limb. That way, you won’t have to stand there and hold the dirty water bladder yourself while the filtering process is happening. I would suggest the same for the clean water bladder as well, since you can also hang it in a convenient spot to access the clean water for your camp needs. While I was testing the system, I just tied both off to a tree using paracord. But, using a carabiner would be quicker than tying and untying knots if you have to fill the dirty water bladder multiple times.
The filter cartridge that does the work is specificied as a hollow fiber membrane unit that filters everything out down to .2 microns. That’s enough to take out bacteria and protozoa, which are going to be the most common threat you’ll find with regard to water that can make you ill. The filter does not take out viruses, however. You will usually encounter viruses in water that’s typically in third-world areas. Usually, it’s water that doesn’t flow, rather sits still and stagnates. You usually won’t find viruses in fast flowing waters, and filtration is usually enough treatment for people that recreate in the outdoors. Even so, I’ll have to admit that I eyed the filter and the full bladder of clean water suspiciously when we started pouring the water into our cups. It just seemed way too easy and fast of a process to filter four liters of water. But, those of us testing the CleanStream system just clinked cups and said, “Down the hatch.” Now, obviously, we would have no real way of knowing whether the system worked or not unless a water-borne illness sprung up on us in the next week or two. So, we had to hold off final judgement until we were sure enough time went past to give the system a full thumbs-up. We jokingly checked in with each other over the next few weeks, and all was good. After drinking copious amounts of treated water from the system, no ill effects were found amongst any of the testers. We didn’t expect any as it was.
Cascade Designs has a strong reputation in the outdoors industry for its line of companies that offer products for the outdoors enthusiasts including Therma-Rest, MSR, Platypus, and Seal Line. Even though we joked about it, we had complete confidence in the CleanStream Filter system, more because, in the past, we’ve been able to rely on other products offered by those various companies. It means a lot to know that the company from which you are buying a product has a strong reputation and a good amount of experience in the field for which it is producing goods–especially those kinds of goods that can impact people’s health. Cascade Designs is just one of those companies.
In the instruction guide, there is a warning that the hollow membrane filter cartridge can be damaged by dopping it or by freezing. So, it’s best to use another system if your in the outdoors during the winter. But, for the other three seasons, this is a great set-up for filtering a lot of water very quickly–especially if you are in a group of 2-4 people. While the set up is fairly compact when it is packed away, it still isn’t as small as some of the other filter/purifier alternatives on the market for the individual. But, the CleanStream Filter system really comes into its own when you’ve got more than one person and you can share gear in the group.
The filter cartridge is good for about 1500 liters of water. So, if you fill the dirty water bladder completely each time, you’ll get about 375 uses out of one cartridge. That number is also going to depend on the type of water that you filter through the cartridge. So, if all you have available is water that’s muddy or has a lot of sediment in it, it’s always a good idea to do a pre-filtering process first to make your cartridge last longer. Pre-filtering is as simple as pouring the water through pourous materials such as hankerchiefs, clothing items, etc to strain out the muck. If your’e really “Monk-ish” (see the TV show) you can also set up a tripod of sorts with three sticks that have 2-3 shelves of filtering media including pebbles, sand, charcoal, and so forth. That will help take a lot of sediment and gunk out of the water you’re trying to treat. It is also recommended in the instruction manual to backflush the filter before use to keep the water flow open and free. Backflushing with this system is very easy. Instead of holding the dirty water bladder at the highest point, just hold the clean water bladder up higher to reverse the flow of water through the catridge. Let the water flow through about four seconds, and you’re done. Open the dirty water bladder and pour out any remaining water and sediment.
I have to say that I was very impressed with the Platypus CleanStream Filter system. What impressed me the most was the amount of water that could be filtered in such a short period of time. When you’ve got a group working and playing together in the outdoors, that makes all the difference in the world. Four liters in under 2.5 minutes is just flat out impressive. For just about all situations (except where viruses are a concern) the indivual can make the CleanStream system work for them on the trail, but the system is really ideal for a small group of folks. And, for those times where you want to filter and have on store a good supply of water, you can use the CleanStream system in conjunction with their Platypus Water Tanks as well. Just pour the treated water into a couple of these bladders (various capacities available) and you can have a nice stockpile of water on hand.
If you’re in the market for a water filtering solution for your outdoors needs, I’d recommend you give the CleanStream Filter system a close look. It’s easy, fast, and you get a lot of filtered water at one time with little effort. It comes from a company that has a tremendous depth of experience in the outdoors industry, and it’s available at a price that’s within the reach of just about anyone who enjoys playing in the outdoors!