Katadyn Hiker vs MSR Sweetwater Guardian

11:46 a.m. on June 16, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

Having recently discovered that my dog refuses to drink water treated with purification tablets - go figure since he'll drink from the most brackish beaver swamps - I'm considering adding a water filtration device to our kit.

Some considerations: we hike mainly in New England, our overnights are usually in the winter, we day hike all year round. In addition to keeping the dog hydrated, I'm looking at this as a way to begin non-winter day hikes carrying less water. This would be used probably every other weekend or so for 9 months of the year. I'm assuming I'll still melt and boil snow for winters, unless there's a reason a filter would change that? I don't do overnights much outside of winter, except for a two week trip planned for this summer in which this would be used presumably multiple times a day every day for two weeks.

Both of these seem similar in cost, weight, and output. Both have a pre filter available.
I've seen that the Katadyn can be hooked up directly to the hose of water bladder once the bite valve is removed. Nice feature, since the bladder remains packed while being filled. Can the MSR do the same?
Maintenance?
Dependability?
Durability?
East of use?
Concerns with use in the field?
Pros/Cons?
Any other considerations/suggestions?

12:27 p.m. on June 16, 2005 (EDT)
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I have both (actually, the Katadyn Hiker Pro, but it is almost the same). They are equivalent in my usage, so either is a reasonable choice. Both are carbon-based, so they will remove a lot of chemical contamination, as well as the organisms.

Your specific questions -

> Katadyn can be hooked up directly to the hose of water bladder once the bite valve is removed. Nice feature, since the bladder remains packed while being filled. Can the MSR do the same?

Both can be hooked directly to the hose of most bladders (I have Camelback, Platypus, BCS, all work). Both offer "special" inserts to make the hookup easier, but I have not found them to be of advantage.

> Maintenance?

no significant difference. Both are pretty readily field-cleanable. There are a few tricks to field cleaning, so read the manual thoroughly and try it at home.

> Dependability?

I have found little difference. The only differences are probably more attributable to the amount and kind of particulates and neglecting to pre-filter and settle.

> Durability?

Both are about the same, with maybe a slight edge to the Katadyn (by the way, this was the Pur before Katadyn acquired Pur)

> East of use?

I think you mean "ease", although you are on the East Coast. No different than the West Coast (aka Left Coast). Anyway, pretty much the same. There are slight differences, but these don't seem to make any difference in ease of use.

> Concerns with use in the field?

Same concerns with both - use care to avoid contamination of the outlet end of the filter. Pack carefully to avoid potential breakage from overstuffing your pack or stomping on it. Usual basic care. It is surprising how many people I see laying their filter down with the outlet hose in the dirt or in the water they are filtering from.

You are right that you will not be using it in winter, unless you can be sure you can completely drain ALL water out of the filter after use. Water in the filter element will freeze and crack the filter element, which means no filtering takes place.

> Pros/Cons?

Whose brand logo would you rather display? Naah, pretty much the same for both. In both cases, some viruses can get through, so in some areas (not NE) you might have to still use iodine or chlorine to kill those beasties. Both have add-ons, and you can use the pills or the Miox for your water, leaving your discriminating pooch to have his beaverpond beverage. Katadyn does have an extra add-on activated carbon post-filter (can be used for anyone's filter) to further reduce chemical contamination. Neither can desalinate salt water.

> Any other considerations/suggestions?

There is a slight difference in packed size and weight. Other than that, there are the usual considerations of filtered vs chemical treatment vs boiling vs Steripen.

I have had my Sweetwater for a number of years (since well before MSR acquired them). I got the Katadyn Hiker Pro last summer, so I haven't used it all that much. I did take it on my Alaska trip this past few weeks, so it got a small amount of use.

1:05 p.m. on June 16, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

Thanks for your quick and thorough response. Yes, I did mean "ease".

Would you recommend the approximately $10 prefilter device available with either? Would it be more effective, than, say, drawing water in through a coffee filter?

5:21 p.m. on June 16, 2005 (EDT)
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I almost always use the optional pre-filters, plus if the water is glacial meltwater (eg, Cascades, Canada, Alaska) or streams in a volcanic area (eg, the Sangre de Cristos in northern New Mexico) and will clog the filter quickly, I use a combination of settling overnight and decanting along with a coffee filter. So my answer, in short, is "both". However, since you are planning to use the filter in New England, summer, either the prefilter or the coffee filter will work adequately. Coffee filters are cheap, but it does not take many trips before you have paid for the prefilter. Only time I skip the pre-filter of some type is on weekend trips where I know I am going to be able to reverse-flush the prefilter before the next trip.
The thing that convinced me to use the prefilter/coffee filter combination on a regular basis was a trip to Philmont. Philmont is in the Sangres and has a lot of volcanic ash in the water. It is fine enough that you don't really notice it if you just dip a pot of water out of the stream. But it clogs filters rapidly. One of the crew members used his filter without any prefiltering. By the 4th day, he was having to field-clean the filter at least once a day. I had only the basic pre-filter and was able to get to the 8th or 9th day before I had to clean it. My son was a ranger at Philmont and said that without a combined prefilter and coffee filter, every model of filter was having to be cleaned at some point in the trip (except the ones where the only choice was replacing the filter element or whole filter).

7:26 a.m. on June 17, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

One more factor:
while researching I found this handy comparison chart
http://www.backcountry-equipment.com/hydration/filters.html

Between the chart and talking with someone re. the MSR MiniWorks I'm now leaning towards that one. I hadn't considered it, mainly due to price. However, if the chart data is realistic, the cost is ultimately less.

The person I talked to is an uncle who's hiking the AT this year. He got it to replace the Exstream bottle type filter that he'd been using. He's seen some others with the Katadyn Hiker and reports that people don't seem as happy with that as either the MSR Sweetwater or MiniWorks due to maintenance and breakage.

Any input on the MSR Miniworks?

11:56 a.m. on June 17, 2005 (EDT)
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Miniworks

I don't have extensive personal experience with the Miniworks, but in watching people who do have one, I don't think there is a lot of difference. Breakage seems to be more of an individual thing - some people break even bombproof stuff, some get along with delicate, fragile stuff that breaks for most people when they blink at it. I just know that the Sweetwater has worked for me for many years, and the Katadyn seems to be working well for me for the year I have had it. I guess my advice would be to pick the lightest one and best price I could find, then read the instructions thoroughly and follow them. With care any of the filters should last for years, and using prefilters and other techniques to get the filter-clogging junk out ahead of time, you should have about the same field maintenance with any of the three.

One thing I would advise for anyone looking for filters is make sure the filter is easily field-serviceable and doesn't require carrying a bunch of replacement elements. A couple of the best filters, from the standpoint of removing organisms and chemical contamination, require way too frequent element replacement, meaning you have to carry extra elements on anything more than a simple overnight.

7:49 p.m. on June 23, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Miniworks

After my research, the feedback from this and another board, and talking with an EMS person who has owned and used all three, this is my decision

1. MSR Miniworks: due to long filter life, easy maintenance. I'm leary of all the moving parts, seems like there's that much more to break. This is the heaviest of the three. This'll mainly get day hike use, since my overnights are in the winter, so weight wasn't as much of a factor for me. When I expressed concern regarding the fragility of a ceramic filter, the EMS guy removed the filter and threw it down on the floor. It survived with no damage. Since it can be fully disassembled, any/all of the parts can be sterilized, including the ceramic filter, if it becomes necessary to do so. I also liked that a nalgene bottle could be directly threaded on to the filter - no keeping track of how to hold the bottle and pump at the same time.
2. MSR Sweetwater: I preferred this to the Katadyn because of the pressure relief system, and the ability to clean the filter. It releases pressure before it builds to the point of forcing nasties through the filter, or breaking the handle. Though I've not used one, the EMS guy said he preferred the lever-type handle to that of the Katadyn. A mark against this one is that the output nozzle is 3/16", while the output hose on my Camelbak is 4/16". I imagine there's a way to rig a connection, but either of the others will connect directly.
3. Katadyn Hiker (or Pro): would've been my third choice. It doesn't filter some organic chemicals, while the other two do. I've been told that's not as much of a factor in New England.

I don't know whether the Katadyn or Sweetwater prefilter is better; however, they can all be attached to each other.

I'm hoping to give it its first field use Sunday.

7:33 a.m. on June 24, 2005 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Miniworks

Something I forgot in my reply - a Thank You to Bill S for his information. Although I ultimately did not get either of the filters we discussed, your information was accurate and helpful with making a decision.

July 10, 2014
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