Katadyn Hiker vs MSR MiniWorks

MSR MiniWorks on a hiking trip
MSR MiniWorks on a hiking trip

The Katadyn Hiker and the MSR MiniWorks are two of the more popular hiking, camping and backpacking water filters on the market. Of the two, which is the better choice? If all you look at is price then the Katadyn Hiker is the easy winner at around $56, which is $20 less than the MSR MiniWorks which comes in a around $75. So can we justify the MSR Miniworks costing $20 more than the Katadyn Hiker? Let’s take a look and find out.

Both the Katadyn Hiker and the MSR MiniWorks have been on the market for years, if not decades. The Katadyn Hiker started off under the Pur water filter bandname in the mid to late 1990s. I know this because I bought one of the Pur water filters before Katadyn bought the outdoor line of Pur water filters. The Katadyn Hiker replacement filters will perfectly fit my Pur filter that is over 25 years old. From time to time those old Pur water filters will pop up on Ebay at a discounted rate. So if you wanted to save a few dollars keep and eye on Ebay, get one of those older filters, then put a new replacement filter in it. But after you do that the cost is around that of a new filter.

Let’s get down to details:


MSR MiniWorks: Item Weight – 1.3 Pounds
Katadyn Hiker: Item Weight – 0.69 Pounds

If you are the type of hiker or backpacker that weighs every little thing, then the Katadyn Hiker weighs in at almost half that of the MiniWorks.

Filter Capacity:

MSR MiniWorks: Item Weight – 2,000 liters
Katadyn Hiker: Item Weight – 750 Liters

Friendly reminder that filtering capacity is affected by source water quality.  It looks like that MSR MiniWorks is the clear winner at almost twice the capacity of the Katadyn Hiker.  However, what are the chances of the casual hiker, camper or backpacker needing 2,000 liters on a trip?

Filter Rating:

MSR MiniWorks: 0.2 microns
Katadyn Hiker: 0.2 microns

Katadyn Hiker and MSR MiniWorks User Impressions

Since I own both, the Katadyn Hiker and the MSR MiniWorks, I wanted to offer my personal opinion on both.   While the Katadyn Hiker is smaller than the MSR MiniWorks, I like how the MSR MiniWorks can thread on top of a large mouth water bottle.  The Hiker has a hose that is inserted into your water bottle or canteen.

Katadyn hiker water filter
Katadyn hiker water filter on a multiday camping trip on the Neches River

I feel the flow rate of the MSR MiniWorks is better than the Katadyn Hiker.  The flow rate is not listed on the Hiker Amazon page while the MSR MiniWorks says its flow rate is around 1 liter per minute.

I feel the choice between the MSR MiniWorks and the Katadyn Hiker comes down to a couple of things,   Do you want a smaller filter with a slower flow rate, or do you want a larger filter with a higher flow rate?  With that trade off comes weight with the Hiker weighing around half that of the MiniWorks.

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  • Easy-to-use design is great for the beginning camper to the serious backpacker
  • The 0.2 micron glassfiber filter media is designed for high output with little effort
  • Activated carbon in the core of the filter improves the taste and reduces chemicals in your drinking...

    User reviews

    As configured, my Sawyer system weighed 5.2 oz. My Katadyn Hiker weighs 14.3 oz. Let me tell you which one stayed in my pack.The Katadyn Hiker adapts directly onto a Nalgene, Hydrapak collapsible bottle, and the MSR Dromedary/Dromlite bags. If it's got a wide mouth top, this can fit. It can also plug into CamelBaks. It has a pre-filter for all the gunk, a floater so you don't have your in like stuck in the sediment of the water, and it pumps up a 4 liter bag pretty quick. 3.5-4 minutes of pumping.The Sawyer is light. It filters slowly, requires a dirty container and clean container, and is more hassle than the weight savings are worth.
    This filter is light, cheap, durable, and pumps water quickly. However, the cost and refquency that of replacement filters makes the pump useless. The filters only lasts about 4 days of regular use. The replacement filters cost about $50 which is what I paid for it in the first place. Once the filer is clogged it is impossible to clean and back flushing does not really help. Furthermore, once clogged it does not allow you to pump water through the filter by way of a pressure release valve or something.I was very disappointing by this because with a new filter this pump is amazing.
    Admittedly, I am comparing this filter to my alternative and backup which is the Sawyer Mini water filter. My ratings in size, weight, functionality, etc are based in this bias. The Katadyn filter does a great job filtering water, it takes care of anything bad I will ever encounter on my trips in North America, and I am sure it would be fine anywhere in the world, trusting the manufacturer. The size and weight are acceptable. Any bigger and it wouldn't work for my preference. It is fairly easier to use, however I did have some problems with the filter getting clogged. I had to filter some pretty murky water on a mountain, and clogged it pretty bad. I cleaned it per manufacturers instructions, and rinsed it in a light bleach dilute for long term storage. Took care of it, but I have been slightly dissapoined to have to have field cleaned it twice on separate trips since then, which is easy enough to do as the filter screws out of the pump, but still, as I have been careful to use the cleanest water possible and prefilter with a bandana, that it seems to have been pumping more difficultly. Water tastes pretty good after filtering however, so four stars for that. Overall, probably works pretty good comparatively. Haven't had the clog problem with my Sawyer (yet) however. Finally, and the main disappointment the prompted my review, is that the handle broke on my recent two week backpacking trip. I was still able to use the filter, using my multitool needle nose pliers, but it was difficult. I was pretty bumbed to have this happen, so I would appreciate it if the manufacturer could perhaps engineer the handles better so that this problem wouldn't happen again, where the palm grip of the handle cracks off clean at the top of the pump shaft. Overall, three stars for a decent filter, but not thrilled about the durability with extended use.

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MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter

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  • Microfilter water filter pump for hiking, backpacking, camping, travel, survival, and emergency preparedness
  • Replaceable carbon and ceramic filter removes bacteria, protozoa, organic compounds, and particulate, delivering clean, taste and odor-free water
  • Pumps at a rate...

    User reviews

    I bought this for a 6 week hike in the mountains. The water was quite clean to begin with --however, the unit clogs often and you have to scrub the ceramic unit with the supplied green pad. It will start working again, but slows down again after a few liters of water. It is physically demanding to use. Not hard, but if you're supplying water to two people on a backpacking trip your arms are going to get a workout along with your legs.I shipped the filter back to myself after two weeks of hiking and used chemical tablets (also MSR) for the rest of the backpacking trip. I think if I had this for a 2-3 day backpacking trip it would be fine, but for long distance it will get old really quickly. Note that people who have broken their filters here are doing it wrong. If it's too hard to pump the water then you MUST clean it or your will break it. I never once thought I was going to break it accidentally.
    I recently purchased this filter for a backpacking trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Having worked with this model before on previous trips, I knew this was a fairly good quality item. The cleanable ceramic filter offers a massive advantage over your classic one-and-done Katadyn cartridge. While every time I've used this filter it's dished out clean, drinkable water, it does have a couple of drawbacks. The largest among them is that this filter has a tendency to build up pressure inside the filter chamber, slowing the water per pump down to a crawl. Using this alongside a Katadyn Hiker, the Katadyn was averaging four nalgenes for every two the MSR squeezed out, in a mountain river virtually free of sediment. For upwards of eighty dollars, I wish the pressure weren't such an issue. This being said, with a little patience my MSR performed its duty just fine, and I don't really mind spending a couple of extra minutes by the water. If you're more focused on filtering as fast as possible rather than stopping and smelling the roses, this isn't the filter for you. However, the insurance of being able to clean my filter cartridge, rather than just hope it doesn't clog up in the backcountry, is this filter's saving grace.
    I bought it to complement my backpacking gear. In the past I carry the water in my weekend adventures but, as I am growing older the weight factor is becoming a priority. I conducted an test simulating the water conditions you may found in the Southern states (Florida is my home) following the manufacturer’s recommendation to reduce sediment getting into the filtration system. Pumping the water into the system was no difficult when using a coffee paper filter covering the intake part. The first filtration left a colored water without particles that was a little smelly. I filtered that water and the second process produced a more clear result without the smelly. When I drink from the second glass the water did not have any particular flavor and was ready for consumption. My conclusions are that the system fulfilled the purpose but, I will use a second filtration/purification, such tablets or a sawyer personal use small purification system for my peace of mind.

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