With the hiking season getting closer and so many people planning on including Vectos as part of their 2018 thru-hiking experience, I've been getting more and more questions about the Vecto: how to use it? best filters? for clean water or dirty? can be a hydration bladder? To make things simple, I thought I would write about how I use the Vecto, best practices from the design point of view and some accessories that go well with it.
A brief history
If you aren't one of the original Kickstarter Vecto fans, here is a quick overview of how the Vecto came to be: like many backpackers out there, I used the Sawyer filters for years. I started using the Sawyer Mini after hiking in the Andes and getting some nasty bugs on the trail. After a few years with the Mini, I found that the Sawyer Squeeze was a much better filter for extended use and since then, it is with me every time I go hiking.
Like all Sawyer users, I started out with the Sawyer bags that proved to be annoying (to handle), frustrating (to fill) and outright dangerous (when used with very cold hands). I quickly moved to using a Platypus 1L bag until that delaminated and when replacing it, found that the thread had changed and now the connection with my filter leaked. Next I picked an Evernew 2L bag which is nice to use but still frustrating to fill, especially in still (and cold!) Scottish lochs. When I moved to the US, I came across the SmartWater bottles and used those for a while, but I was still annoyed with dipping my hands in the water to fill them.
Long story short, I set out to design a bag I could easily fill, squeeze dirty water through my Sawyer Squeeze and be stored easily when empty, and that's how the Vecto was born.
How I use the Vecto today
From the beginning, I wanted the Vecto to be my dirty water container for filtering and that is still how I use it today. When hiking, the (empty) Vecto is in my right hand external pocket along with my Sawyer.
I get many people asking how I use it for clean water carry and the simple answer is that I don't. For clean water carry I like something that can stand upright when I use them. Also, I like to carry my water in the external side pockets so I can drink while walking, so my clean water bottles need to be narrow and long (ish). For those reasons, my clean water containers are: 1L SmartWater bottle (main) and a Platypus 1L Platy Plus bottle (old version, secondary container).
As you can see, my system is simple: Vecto (2L) for dirty and 2 1L clean bottles.
Filters and filtering with the Vecto
As I mentioned above, I have been a Sawyer filter user for many years (with chlorine dioxide tabs before that), so the Vecto is designed specifically to work best with the Sawyer filters. In recent years, many new companies have joined in the filtering innovation; companies like HydroBlu, LifeStraw and more all use the same 28mm neck screw and work with the Vecto.
I use the Vecto with the Sawyer Squeeze for a container-to-container filtering. I connect the filter to the Vecto and use a Coupling (made by Sawyer) to connect it directly to the SmartWater or Platy bottles. When using the Platy I just do a simple gravity feed (great for camp) and for the SmartWater I leave the coupling a bit loose to allow air to escape. This is a pretty light system and with the Coupling I can also backflash the Sawyer Squeeze using any of my water containers.
The Vecto as a hydration system
Despite the Vecto's similar shape to many hydration bladders in the market, it is not strictly designed to work as one. In order to make into a in-bag hydration system, you can choose one of two accessories:
1. Platypus Drink Tube Kit - this is an all in one solution that features a mouth piece on one hand, a tube and a screw top on the other side. The only issue is that it doesn't seal 100% with the Vecto's neck and requires a 28-3 mm O-ring to seal it (silicone is best).
2. Sawyer Fast-Fill Adapter - a simple adapter that changes a standard soda neck into a quick connect for hydration tubes. You can than use any hydration tube by any company that you want
Personally, I'm not much of a hydration bladder user, I like to gulp from bottles, so I can't give you much more than to say that the above systems work, but are not designated "hydration systems."
That's it for the Vecto. We are working on a new version that hopefully will make for a better container, but those things take time (and lots of money!) so we hope to get it out by the end of summer 2018 or fall 2018. If you have any ideas of things to include in our improvements, please let us know.
How do you use your Vecto?