Water Filters portable system

Portable Water Filter Systems


camping water filter I've used the Katadyn Hiker portable water filter for 4 years now (it's actually a PUR Hiker but Katadyn is now the label). It has been used for weekend trips and longer backpacking treks. It has gone through the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, and other less exciting places in between. I've been happy with it and it has held up well. These aren't highly polluted areas, but are typically hiking and camping locations.
I also have an MSR MiniWorks that has done well - see below for details.

When you choose your camping water filter keep these things in mind:

Katadyn Hiker

camping water filter$60 - replacement cartridge: $35
Katadyn's highest rated portable water microfilter. The Hiker is super for backpacking and eliminates Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and bacteria. It's easy to use and guaranteed not to clog for 1 year. It includes attachments to directly fill Nalgene bottles and hydration packs. It has a high stroke output and is lightweight.
The Hiker PRO ($70) is the same filter but the element has been wrapped with a protective membrane that helps prevent clogs. This element fits the Hiker too. The PRO also includes a maintenance kit with o-rings, lubricant, and cleanable filter protector. The extra $10 is worth it.

Katadyn Pocket Filter

katadyn pocket filter$200 - replacement cartridge: $140
An extremely durable water filter in a sturdy aluminum shell. The ceramic element will treat up to 13,000 gallons. That is way more than most other filters you'll find and one reason why the price is so steep. It has a 0.2 micron pore size and a flow rate of 1 liter/minute so it will give you ample water clear of all harmful bacteria and protozoa (giardia, cryptosporidium, and friends). It weighs 20 ounces which is heavy for backpacking, but Red Cross field workers have been issued it for extended stays. It includes a long input hose, lubricant, hydration pack adaptor, and clip to attach output hose to your bottle lip - a small thing, but nice.
I'd love to have one of these because, with proper care, I could pump 10 gallons a day every day for 3.5 years before needing a new element. But, for the camping and backpacking I do, I can buy 3 Hikers for less cost.

Katadyn Guide

katadyn guide filter$80 - replacement element: $35
Uses a 130 micron pre-filter on the hose inlet and then a 50 micron pre-filter membrane to trap larger particles and keep the filter from clogging. Uses anti-clog pleated filter cartridges with a carbon core and a 200 gallon life. Weighs 14 oz. and delivers 1 liter/minute in 36 strokes. There is no servicing this filter, just replace the fiber cartridge. The base can be unscrewed and attached directly to a Nalgene for no-spill filling.

Katadyn Combi

katadyn combi filter$140 - replacement filter: $75, carbon element: $9
Uses a field-cleanable ceramic filter cartridge with a replacable carbon element. The cartridge has a 13000 gallon life and the carbon element 60 gallon life. You can use it without the carbon if ther is no taste or odor problem with the water. Weighs 21 oz. and delivers 1 liter/minute. Fits directly onto Nalgene and other water bottles.

Katadyn Micro Water Bottle

katadyn water bottle$30
A new type of personal portable water filter system is very popular now. A sports water bottle with a built-in filter - pretty cool! Easy to carry and simple to use, just take of the lid, dip it in the water, put on the lid, suck or squeeze out the water.
For an individual hiking or exercising, its great. For use as a camp filter to get cooking water, it's not efficient to open and close the lid over and over to get a pot of water.

MSR Miniworks EX

msr drinking water filter$80 - maintenance kit: $10, element: $38
Uses a ceramic element with a carbon core. Weighs 16 oz. and its 1 liter/minute throughput and 2000 liter cartridge life make it an excellent option for camping and backpacking crews. It is field servicable and the maintenance kit is a good investment.
I've used a MiniWorks on lots of camping trips. I really like the pump action and the clear plastic that lets you see the pistons moving water. It has done an excellent job for me.

MSR Waterworks EX

msr waterworks filter$140 - maintenance kit: $10, element: $38
Uses a ceramic element with a carbon core and has 2nd stage membrane for extra filtering. Weighs 19 oz. so its a bit heavy but its 1 liter/minute throughput and 2000 liter cartridge life make it a good choice for backpacking in small groups. It is field servicable like the MiniWorks.  

MSR Sweetwater

msr sweetwater guardian$60 - element: $35
Uses a 0.2 micron labyrinth depth cartridge with a carbon coating. Very light weight at 11 oz. and delivers 1.25 liters/minute by pumping on both up and down strokes.
I've not used one of these so I shouldn't say I get the impression that its cheap, so I won't.  

This table shows filters and purifiers. Go to the Water Purifiers for more purifier information.

Manufacturer Model Weight
Flow Rate
Price Extra
Filter life

Water filters

: eliminate protozoa and bacteria
Katadyn Mini ceramic 6.7 0.6 qpm $79 $44 $0.02 2,000 g
Katadyn Pocket Filter 16.6 1.0 qpm $179 $155 $0.01 13,000 g

Water filters + activated carbon

: eliminate protozoa, bacteria, bad taste
Katadyn Hiker 8.3 1.0 qpm $56 $30 $0.15 200 g
Katadyn Guide 10 1.0 qpm $80 $39 $0.20 200 g

Water filters + activated carbon

: eliminate protozoa, bacteria, bad taste, organic chemicals
General Ecology Microlite 7.0 0.5 qpm $38 $17.50 $1.40 12.5 g
MSR SweetWater 7.2 1.3 qpm $60 $34.95 $0.18 200 g
MSR MiniWorks EX 12.6 1.0 qpm $80 $38 $0.08 500 g
MSR WaterWorks EX 15 1.0 qpm $140 $38 (filter)
$50 (PES)
500 g
Katadyn Combi Filter 21.5 1.2 qpm $145 $69 (filter)
$9 (carbon)
13,000 g
120 g

Water filters + purifiers + "structured matrix"

: eliminate protozoa/bacteria, bad taste, organic chemials, viruses
General Ecology First Need Deluxe 13.3 1.8 qpm $93 $36 $0.29 125 g
General Ecology Base Camp 64.8 high $557 $75 $0.15 500 g

Water filters + activated carbon + purifiers

: eliminate protozoa, bacteria, bad taste, viruses
Katadyn Exstream 7.4 1.0 qpm $42 $30 $1.15 26 g
Katadyn Exstream XR 7.4 1.0 qpm $45 $30 $1.15 26 g
MSR Sweetwater 9.9 1.3 qpm $75 $35 (filter)
$8 (ViralStop)
200 g
80 g

Pumpless purifiers

: inactivates protozoa, bacteria, viruses
MSR MIOX 3.5 n/a $130 $17 (50 test strips) battery costs n/a
Hydro Photon SteriPEN 8 n/a $150 n/a $0.15 1250
*Cost per gallon = replacement filter cost divided by gallons per filter

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