Water Filters

What to Look For In a Water Filter

Thinking about buying a water filter but not sure where to start?  Then let’s take a few minutes and discuss some of the considerations.

First and foremost, what will the water be used for, and where will it be used?  do you need enough water for a couple of people, maybe something for solo-hiking trips, or do you need something to filter water for a group of people.

A single water such as the Katadyn Hiker or MSR Miniworks can provide enough water for several people for several days, maybe even several weeks.

Do you want something for a base camp, such as a gravity bag, or do you want something portable such as a lightweight hand operated filter?

Filter of Purifier

The simplest way to look at filters and purifiers, filters typically do not remove or kill viruses.  The average virus is so small it will slip through the filter unobstructed.  If you are going somewhere that waterborne viruses are concern, then look for a purifier that specially says it will kill of remove a virus.  If virus contamination is a concern, there are chemical and UV light treat options that are added after the water is filtered.

On a personal note, sometimes I carry a Steripen to purify the water after it is filtered.

In this video we talk about when and if water purification is needed.  the filter in this video is a Katadyn Hiker.

 

Katadyn Group strives to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations by delivering safe, simple and sustainable Swiss hydration and nutrition solutions for the outdoor, marine, tactical, emergency preparedness, humanitarian and commercial sectors.

On a personal note, my first water filter was a PUR which was bought sometime around 1996.  PUR later sold its outdoor water filter line to Katadyn, and the filter became the Katadyn hiker.  Here we are over 25 years later and that water filter is still going strong.  The Katadyn Hiker is a time tested and proven water filter option.

★★★★★
$84.95
$77.99
Buy now
amazon.com

Description

  • Proven protection against bacteria and protozoan cysts down to 0.2 micron with pleated glass-fiber filter media
  • Activated carbon in the core of the filter improves the taste and reduces chemicals in your drinking water
  • The field cleanable filter protector screen extends the life of the cartridge in challenging conditions
  • Long-time trusted option for...

    User reviews

    This product was assembled correctly and used in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for one week. It was used to filter visually clean water well above the bottom of the lakes and by day 5 became so difficult to pump the housing itself shattered as seen in the photo. Luckily, our group had other options for water treatment. I would never recommend this filter to anyone and I cannot return it to amazon as the return window has passed.
    My second Hiker Pro - the last one lasted about 100 trail days of pumping for two people, so about 300-400 gallons. Then the valve that actually lifts water into the filter somehow decided there was too much weight on it (hose was hanging into a creek below a log at full hose extension). The fact that this happened without any prior indication of pending failure is the only reason I am dropping a star from the review. I had just replaced the filter element (for 75 % of the cost of the whole filter) so I figured I'll get another one, given I had enough filter to go another 100+ days.Weight is acceptable. Pre filtering appears to keep most of the crud out of the mountain water I usually filter, so these things last a long time for me. Packs well, drains before packing with a few strokes. Can get to water in hard to reach places, and it's quite fast. Just a few minutes for two 1 liter bottles and a gallon water canteen for camp. I move too fast to want to rely on any gravity system and in the end these things are just a matter of hair. If you pack them, use them, or they are just dead weight. This one is easy, and combined with bottles that don't tip over makes a great filter system for me. That's what matters. I don't count ounces on things that are essential for daily trail living. ItThe pump shaft and filter are pretty easy to service - I keep it lubed and the pump will go smoothly. none of that was related to my last unit's failure. I assume it was just a flapper valve that let go, something you cannot service deep inside the plumbing between pump and filter housing.This unit shows the filter through clear plastic - not sure what that adds over the last model, but it can't hurt to see what goes on around the filter (e.g. water still in it). To get a 5 star review, the ridiculous filter cartridge price needs to come down, though. There's some pleated fiber material between two plastic ends - how can that be so expensive to make compared to the rest of the filter? The pricing of these filters in general is far too high for what they are. Clearly aimed at the recreation market. I'd like to one day find a filter that works like this unit but doesn't come with the recreational equipment markup.
    Cost a fortune but after 1 trip, the second trip it became so difficult to pump that I'd almost rather go without water than try to find the energy to keep pumping. We had to switch it from person to person so that people could rest between pumps. waste of money and I will never get a pump like this again. I've contacted Katadyn in hopes to get a replacement pump. My friend bought the same pump and has had the exact same issues.


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Katadyn Pocket Water Filter, Black, 10 (2010000)

★★★★★
$369.95
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Description

  • Pocket water filter designed four outdoor enthusiasts and international travelers
  • Filter's silver-impregnated ceramic element is effective against bacteria and protozoa
  • Filters all microorganisms larger than 0. 2 microns to produce clear, drinkable water
  • Round pump handle for easy pumping; outlet hose attaches to containers with clip

User reviews

In bought it after reading numerous reviews on the product. I went ahead and bought the charcoal filter for better taste. Works just as described.What I didn't like was that it took about two weeks to be delivered. I tracked that package and noticed that it was left at several facilities for quite some time. Last time I checked it was at a facility about an hour away for a few days. I almost jumped in my car in order to pick it up as we were getting ready to leave camping. For the price that you pay (almost $400), the least they can do is ship it 2 or 3days mail.
This water filter is amazing. Easy to use, easy to clean, easy to store. It's so stinking' solidly built as well. It's worth the extra $$$ for all of the above. Unfortunately, the first go around at buying a filtration system, I went with the Katadyn Vario Water Filter trying to save a few bucks. I was also attracted to the speed at which the Vario pumped out clean water (1-2 quarts per minute depending on settings). However, the Vario has a major design flaw. The hose outlet connector breaks too easily I discovered, and it breaks just trying to get the hose disconnected form the outlet. That should never happen. The Vario, while lighter in weight, it also bulkier and takes up a little more width in my pack... so while the Pocket is heavier, it's thinner and much more solidly built. I love this filter. And the cleaning is so much easier than the Vario. The longevity is also amazing. And if speed is what you need, I've already used the Pocket twice and I never felt like it was a super long pump. I carry a 3 liter camelbak, and it seemed to put in 1.5 liters with ease and without much effort. So if you are considering getting the Vario because of the price point, I would suggest you consider spending the extra $$$ for something that will last you a lot longer and be much easier to use. You get what you pay for.
Everything is on time. All perfectly. The packaging was crumpled on the way, but this is not fatal. Thank you.


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Katadyn Hiker Microfilter

★★★★★
$74.95
$63.73
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amazon.com

Description

  • 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 water
  • Provides safe drinking water in any challenging conditions
  • Lowest maintenance...

    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 water filters offer state of the art water filtration in a time proven design.  Whether you want a lightweight water filter, or military grade purification, MSR has something for everyone.

MSR MiniWorks on a hiking trip
MSR MiniWorks on a hiking trip
★★★★★
$99.95
Buy now
amazon.com

Description

  • 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 of one liter per minute; compatible with a variety of wide mouth water bottles, and hydration...

    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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MSR Guardian Military-Grade Water Purifier Pump for Backcountry, Global Travel, and Emergency Preparedness

★★★★★
$347.04
Buy now
amazon.com

Description

  • Military-grade water purifier pump removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and particulate from contaminated water sources virtually anywhere on earth
  • Meets NSF protocol P248 testing standard of the U.S. military, using medical-grade fibers to provide protection from the tiniest waterborne threats
  • Pumps at a rapid 2.5 liters per minute, treats up to 10,000 liters of...

    User reviews

    We took two Guardians on a canoeing trip down the R Nahanni in NW Territories as we were assured by all MSR's information and various retailers' advice that it would be the best purifier bar none. We checked carefully that the Guardian would be able to deal with glacial silt in the river and were unhesitatingly reassured that it would be no problem, as MSR advertise. Considering the high cost of these devices compared to the alternatives this constituted a significant investment for us. For the first ten days the purifiers worked as expected though the throughput did decline from 25s/litre to about 40s. However, on day 10 one Guardian sheared it's pin-piston attachment (as has been reported by other purchasers on MSR's site) rendering it unusable and unrepairable. The next morning exactly the same failure occurred to the other purifier leaving us in a difficult position with significant distance yet to travel. The pin-piston attachment point is subject to very heavy loading due to resistance as the water is drawn into the purifier. MSR recognise this as they provide a long lever to counteract this resistance. We had an engineer on our trip examine the Guardians, he is convinced the plastic pin-piston attachment is not strong enough to withstand repeated loading and will fail due to stress and fatigue. Both our Guardian cartridges became clogged much quicker than we had been led to believe and our engineer believes this only added to the resistance, speeded fatigue and hastened failure. Considering the high price and significant claims made for this purifier we are extremely disappointed. Other trip members had been so impressed with it that they were going to purchase one - not now! Cascade Designs have sent a replacement piston and attachment pin for one of the devices, though this does not resolve the underlying problem of a weak attachment point which completely undermines our confidence in the Guardian. We are yet to hear from MSR on the failures or clogged cartridges.
    Your browser does not support HTML5 video.  I did a lot of research and I reviewed a lot of marketing videos and was convinced that this product was what I wanted. I found only one negative review that stated the product was leaking from the base o-ring,..no big deal,... so I ordered it and when I received the filter I immediately loved it.... (the concept that is). Why??,.... after testing it several times I unscrewing the nalgene water bottle from the filter and I inadvertently loosened the filter base. No big deal, right? After all, if you have to replace the filter you have to unscrew the base and then reinstall it. As a result the filter base "o-ring" would not seal properly resulting in a significant leak. (Just like the one negative review I previously read) I tried tightening and it appeared to only exasperate the problem even more. (Note the attached video) I then called Cascade Designs (aka MSRGEAR), explained the problem and submitted my video to them. They immediately responded and were very helpful. The CSR even called me back to assist me further (which is virtually unheard of nowadays). They mentioned that they have had numerous calls on this problem and that this o-ring can be quite finicky if you don't tighten it correctly (not sure what that means) or if you tighten it too tight it could leak.....hummmmm,..interesting. My experience is that once the seal is compromised it won't work,.. ever. So to remedied the problem I applying petroleum jelly to the o-ring and it sealed it tight,... and it worked great! So, if you're in an emergency situation and the product fails, then what? Bring Vaseline? At any rate they admitted that this is a weak link with this product and quickly offered to send me extra o-rings and a maintenance kit to see if that helps. They also gave me the option of trying it out on our upcoming backpacking trip and if I was still dissatisfied they would refund my money. Now that is hugh and much appreciated!All in all I think this will eventually be a superb product once they correct the o-ring leakage problem. (Maybe give them 6 months or so to correct). MSR is a standup company and I really appreciate how they are working with me to correct this problem while allowing me to beta test it myself on my upcoming trip. So would I recommend purchasing this product in the near future? YES!! But only after they correct the o-ring issue.
    This filter is a beast. Certainly not going to solve every problem, but filtering most water 100% of the time is what I wanted it for. The odd but solvable issue, I relate to the average dudes concept that tight is best. I used a Camelback bottle to test, since the treads matched. I don't really use bottles so I don't really care about that, but if you over-tighten the filter assembly it will cause the unit to leak, like bad. When removing the Camelback container (Similar to Niagen Bottle) I accidentally unscrewed the filter. So I cranked on it by hand and then it began leaking when using after that. Began to regret giving away my Sweetwater (Like Pissed Off) and regretted my purchase. Upon receiving a response from MSR support, I realized there is a cut out that must be aligned and over-tightening the base clocks the channel our of placement and is probably causing an over pressurization within, which forces water past the o-ring on the filter base. Problem solved. 5 gallons and no leaks. Solved, Awesome filter once again. My bonehead mistake. Once notice the cut out, or channel you will see where to align it, its pretty obvious. Don't be a bonehead like I was.


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MSR 10-Liter AutoFlow XL Gravity Water Filter for Camping and Backpacking, 10 L

★★★★★
$99.95
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amazon.com

Description

  • 10-Liter gravity water filter for larger backpacking and camping groups and basecamps
  • Filter delivers clean water at 1.75-Liter per minute without pumping, and removes* bacteria (99.9999%), protozoa (99.9%), and dirt and debris
  • Separate hang strap and bag clip allow for easy hanging for maximum convenience
  • Durable 3-dimmensional film reservoir with flat base...

    User reviews

    Wow, this is probably the stupidest most useless thing I have ever bought.Can't even hang it from a tree after you fill it because the clip won't hold it up when it is full. Just falls and goodbye all that water.Absolute garbage.Stay far away from this junk.Look at the pictures I took. It doesn't even filter the water. Almost just as brown as when i collected it. Next to it is a gallon of filtered artesian well water.I would never drink the water that came out of this.Returning.
    I previously had another brand of 10l water filter which has the filter in the bottom of the bag which cannot be cleaned out via back flow. Not to mention any brands but those who have tried it know which one I am talking about.The MSR 10l filter is superior in so many ways. I have used it twice now on backpacking trips. Both trips were places where we had clean running mountain streams so haven't really put it to the test on water with lots of silt in it. But have loved it so far.Pros1. The filter is lightweight to carry when empty and does not take up too much space in your backpack (maybe the size of a soda can).2. The bag is strong enough to hold 10l of water hanging in a tree which I am pleased with.3. The filter, being, an inline filter is easy to back flow with clean water.4. I never once saw any floating debris in my water bottle while drinking.5. Water flow is great and for a group of 6 people it was great to have.Cons1. The only con I have been able to find is that the bag material is pretty thin which makes me very careful while carrying and hanging it. I haven't punctured it yet nor known anybody that has so might not be an issue.
    Took this to BWCA June 2020, never had to use a pump. Filtered about 150 liters with no issues. Did back flush it a couple times but it wasn’t a big deal. Great product and fount the best price here on Amazon.


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MSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness

★★★★★
$39.95
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amazon.com

Description

  • Pocket-sized lightweight water filter cleans water on-the-go for hiking, camping, traveling, and emergency preparedness
  • Drink directly from the source or fill a water bottle or hydration pack; easy one-handed operation filters one liter in 60 seconds
  • Ultralight (5 ounces) and compact (6x2.4 inches), it fits in a stash pocket for trail runners, hikers, and mountain...

    User reviews

    I took this filter with me on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride, 2700 Miles. It worked ok the first time, as advertised (1 liter per minute) BUT after that first pumping things got worse. and after three days it took way too long and arduous a task. Tried back flushing several times even with tap water. I ended up using my backup Sawyer Mini the rest of trip and mailed home the MSR TrailShot. One of my Riding mates had the same problems with his.
    This filter was one of the most intriguing items from MSR's new releases for 2017. And amazingly enough, they actually overstated its weight. Its real weight is 4.90oz (139g), as seen in the picture.Its fast flow rate makes it a much better option than the Sawyer Mini in my opinion (I hate the Sawyer Mini, first time in the field it took me 10 min to fill a water bottle, no thanks!). I have not tried the Sawyer Squeeze, but I would imagine that the Squeeze is the most comparable in weight and function. The MSR eliminates the need for a "dirty bag" since it has a prefilter, and can be backflushed without a syringe (more on that later). I haven't personally used the squeeze but ive seen videos and its flow rate seems great, in my opinion this joins the Squeeze as the top tier of backpacking filters. The Squeeze has more adaptability, as you can turn it into a gravity filter, use on a water bottle, etc. The MSR is a more compact package if you plan to simply and put filtered water in a container quickly (and the weight of MSR is less than the total weight of Squeeze/dirty bag/syringe). Both seem to be excellent products. If you do get a Squeeze instead, there are ways to backflush using a specific sport bottle cap (Smart Water Bottle), find the thread from the good people over at backpackinglight.The cord is 15inch long, and can be detached from both the hand pump and the end-prefilter. The filter comes with a manual/diagram with instructions, using a nice water resistant durable paper that is easy to bring with you if you choose. As a comment below requested, I will upload a pic of this manual. The ripped edge is because I removed the other languages (hey every gram counts). To backflush, use the hand pump until the pump area is half full, cap the top, shake vigorously, remove bottom cord, squeeze water out the back. Then re-attach cord. Very easy and works like a charm.Not much more to say. It is effortless to use, easy to clean, and has a very fast flow. Very pleased.
    Me and a buddy both purchased one of these filters about two years ago right when they started getting a lot of advertising especially on YouTube. It’s a great concept but the delivery is not quite there yet. It’s simple to use and easy to clean in the field and super lightweight and compact buuuuuut...the flow rate quickly goes downhill after a couple uses. If it was just me I would have though it was operator error or just one faulty filter but my friend and I purchased our filters from different sources. Mine was here on Amazon and his was from Bass Pro Shop. We both found that we were having to pump till our hands cramped just to get half a liter while someone else with a Sawyer Squeeze would be done and started on their 2nd liter bottle. We would then clean the filter per the instructions and check the pre filter but the flow rate did not improve. I usually don’t rate my camping gear but this one was an expensive disappointment. Save your money. There are better alternatives for about half the cost.


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