Go ahead, take a sip. Everybody's doing it.

I’ve heard enough horror stories to reject any water taken straight from the creek. I’ve had friends incapacitated for days on end by the giardia bug that rejects, projectile-style, any food or drink that dares enter the body. ‘Purify, purify, purify’ has been pounded into my head during so many backpacking trips and outdoor leadership training sessions that I can fix a broken water filter with my eyes closed. That’s why, when a friend assured me on a hike that Paine water is safe from it’s source, my first reaction was ‘Whaaa? No way! That goes against everything I stand for!’

But, as I stood in front of a mountain waterfall sipping a Nalgene of water taken from the bathroom sink at work, I grew tempted by the clear, cool H2O flowing by my feet.

Then, I did something unthinkable. I poured out my carefully chlorinated sink water, submersed my bottle in the creek until no more bubbles rose to the surface — and, without taking any precautions whatsoever, took several long, deep gulps.

After that, I waited. I waited through the afternoon and evening and into the next three weeks for some sign that what I had done was a really, really bad idea. But a sign never came.

My conclusion: Paine water really is safe to drink from its source. And, it’s damn delicious.