A quick introduction – my name is Rob Daniels, I am a GP in East Devon and also work as an Ear Nose and Throat physician. I have a long involvement in rural and remote medicine, and as well as being an expedition doctor for a specialist trekking company, am an academic tutor on the Exeter University MSc program in Extreme Medicine. I am passionate about supporting healthcare workers in resource-poor environments, and in November 2015 I spent 2 weeks in Rwanda doing a pilot study of a system to allow doctors and nurses in rural areas to get expert advice on ear disease, using a digital camera and mobile internet.
This was very successful and I returned to Rwanda on 27th October 2017 to install the equipment in a small clinic in the western province of Rwanda, close to Lake Kivu. It was important that we stayed healthy and well-hydrated in this under-developed area so we wanted to find a product that we could trust.
The second part of the trip involved a sponsored cycle ride on the Congo Nile bike trail to raise money for pulmonary fibrosis. This is a 240km trail through the bush, that was opened 5 years ago to try and bring sustainable ecotourism to the area. My daughter accompanied me on this trip, to carry out a research study into the impact of the trail on livelihoods and living conditions of women and children along the route.
We spent 5 days cycling and kayaking between remote villages on the shores of Lake Kivu. Cycling 40+ km a day, with around 1000m of climbing most days, with a starting altitude of 1400m above sea level just below the equator, we knew we would need to drink a lot of water every day. Equally important was weight, as we would be carrying everything with us.
Having used a variety of water purification options, from ceramic stirrup pump filters to tablets and even liquid iodine, I was keen to find a simpler but still effective solution. Having seen them at a meeting at the Royal Geographical Society, the Water-to-Go bottles looked too good to be true – they were cost-effective, portable, light and with easy suction.
My only concern was that the larger bottles might not fit in a standard mountain bike bottle cage, so bought an Alpkit stemcell to hold the bottles. The bottles worked better than I could have predicted, proving really easy to use one-handed while on the road, and easy to fill and clean. The water tasted fine, without any chemical odour and they also did fit the bottle cages after all. I also found them really good kayaking on a freshwater lake, where it was great to be able to scoop up some lake water mid-paddle.
I would definitely recommend this product for multi-day trekking, bike packing or kayaking trips, and with replacement filters available, they are really cost effective.