Best water filter

10:29 a.m. on January 18, 2009 (EST)
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I have been researching water filters and I think I am going to get the msr sweetwater. I am curious to know what every one else uses, so I can narrow my decision. Also is the Kelty Noahs tarp worth getting for a rain/emergency shelter?

1:35 p.m. on January 18, 2009 (EST)
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Hey guy,

I have two systems:

MSR Sweetwater filter with Viral Stop chemical treatment

Katadyn Hiker Pro filter with Aqua Pur chemical treatment

Both of these have served me well, and as long as you follow the recommended procedures, be mindful of cross contamination, and use a pre-filter, either should serve you well.
Don't do like I did years ago and wait till your filter gets clogged to learn how to disassemble and clean it.

Bill S. has written a good article titled Back Country Water Treatment, that was posted in 4 parts that everyone should read, I copied it and put it in my desk with other articles & books I keep.

There are links on this sites home page.

9:36 p.m. on January 18, 2009 (EST)
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Define "best". The answer depends on the usage you have.

Also, easiest does not mean most effective biologically. See the following link, pages 16 and 18 and read between the lines (the two tables are in the same order, you can figure out who is who). Filters were tested to end of life per the manufacturer's instructions using river water (visibility about 1 foot), and then challenged with B. Diminuta (smaller than the EPA protocol bacteria Klebsiella Terrigena), 480 million/liter. Bear in mind the test is almost 12 years old, and designs may have changed since then, but it shows that the most popular for ease of use may not be the most effective.

But how good is good enough? A healthy immune system will hold up against some microbial load, although it depends on the exact microbe.

A good filter will also remove a very high percentage of viruses (they normally don't float free, they are attached to particulate), just not enough to qualify as a purifier under EPA standards.

7:25 p.m. on January 20, 2009 (EST)
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I have the Katadyn Hiker Pro filter and have used it for many a nights out in the woods. It's never failed, clogged or had any maintenance issues since I've had it. I like it because it's compact, light weight simple to use.

I'd agree with Trouthunter point of knowing how you do clean and maintain it before you take it or any of your gear in to woods. I been there with the sun going down trying with a manual trying to fix some piece of gear kicking myself for not knowing how to before going on a trip...

Link to Katadyn Hiker Pro on the manufacturer's site

10:38 a.m. on January 21, 2009 (EST)
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I have used an MSR mini works for years and it has been a workhorse with no issues but only take it kayak camping these days.
I've switched to a Steripen. It weighs 4 oz. with batteries, works on viruses (useful when out of the country mainly) and works quickly. In areas with extremely silty water it wouldn't be as effective but I have only rarely even needed to prefilter.

9:40 a.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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I've been more than pleased with my First Need XL. It weighs a pound, and needs a bit more space than a Hiker Pro or Sweetwater, but it filters out nearly everything, including major amounts of Fecal Coliform, from the water one might be drinking. I have taken a few hydrology courses involving local streams near urban areas, and there is a general correlation between distance to a major population center and Coliform areas, with levels even being affected just as greatly by farm run-off as well. The filters for the XL are expensive, at around $45 a pop, but it'll filter 500 gallons before needing replacement, and the prefilter can be cleaned w/a toothbrush by hand. The whole filter is very well built, and it is field-serviced with great ease. Filters fast, and will just barely begin to slow down in flow capabilities at the end of a filter's specific life. They even include a little adjustable float on the silicone pick-up tube, to allow one to get ahold of the deeper water in a given stream by placing the prefilter just off the bottom. It hooks directly to a nalgene with no adapter to buy. Upgrade to a collapsible Nalgene to offest the space and weight of this product if it really matters. This is the only filter I want to drink water from.

9:37 p.m. on January 25, 2009 (EST)
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I use a Steripen. It's fast, like a minute and a half or something. UV light sterilizes everything in the water. I wondered about effectiveness when I first looked into it and read everything I could find. I couldn't find anyone who had got sick using one. There's been concern over water on mouth of the bottle not getting sterilized, but I just wipe it off. There's not really any debate on whether UV light is effective. It breaks bonds in DNA making it impossible for organisms to reproduce. It has been used widely for fifty years or more. I've used a number of products over the years, and still like to have tablets on hand, but the Steripen is definitely my favorite way to reliably sterilize water.
That said, what are the chemical risks in water? I always wonder about agricultural runoff, or this big coal ash spill. It's probably irrational if you take into account dosage, but I still think about it. Anybody know more?

11:32 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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My 4-part article is aimed primarily at the backcountry user. So chemical risks are pretty much minimal - EXCEPT - in areas like my local Santa Cruz Mountains, where there were mercury mines up to about 1986, or parts of West Virginia which look like backcountry, but the streams have runoff and seepage from old coal mines, or parts of the Sierra and Rockies foothills that have runoff from various heavy metal mines. Or if you should go canoeing on the lower Mississippi - cities from St Louis south, especially Baton Rouge and New Orleans, have much higher than average rates of certain cancers.

Filters which use activated carbon remove some of the chemical contaminants. However, when I have asked the question directly of the various filter manufacturers at trade shows, the response is that there is no standard, and no standard test procedure, unlike the standards for bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Therefore, they will not commit themselves to any definitive statement on chemical contamination. The Pur treatment kit I discuss in the last installment does remove most heavy metals and a lot of agricultural chemicals to the point of passing purity standards for municipal water. This uses a flocculation/coagulation approach, which is also used in many municipal systems.

There is a thorough discussion in Paul Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine book (the huge 11 pound version). It sells for $200, but you can probably find it in a university or med school library.

2:16 p.m. on February 4, 2009 (EST)
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I know I'm a bit late, but here is a pretty popular filter that is cheap and pretty lite

7:04 p.m. on February 4, 2009 (EST)
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Katadyn has their own version of the Amigo (which uses the Katadyn filter element). Gravity-fed filters like this are becoming pretty popular. Some are pretty slow, but a couple of the newest ones (see the reviews here on Trailspace) seem to be almost as fast as pumping.

4:08 p.m. on March 1, 2009 (EST)
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The best water filter is the best one you can afford. Go with a Katadyn. MSR makes everything from tents to hand towels. Katadyn only makes water filters.

5:30 p.m. on March 1, 2009 (EST)
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I have used a PUR Hiker for 12 years. The company is now Katadyn. The pump is easy to maintain, has worked FLAWLESSLY with regular use, and weighs about 12 ounces. Most importantly, I have never gotten sick from contaminated water from this filter.

If I were purchasing a new filter system, I would consider a gravity type such as the Platypus or the Sawyer. Pumping is quite a drag.

5:39 p.m. on March 1, 2009 (EST)
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I own the Kelty Noahs Tarp 9. Weighs 24 ounces with the guy lines and stuff sack. I paid 50.00 for it many years ago.

Some things to consider:

1- the cut and shape of the 9 is good shelter for 1 but not for two in foul weather.

2- The cut and shape is excellent for tying out, and the polyester material is tough, stays taught and water proof. Be certain to seal the seams, unless they are taped now.

3-Good value for the money if you want durability, strength and versatility;not so good if you are seeking ultralite tarp.

6:15 p.m. on March 1, 2009 (EST)
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I have a Katadyn Vario I have only used it a few times so I haven't used it enough to give a really review on it. But so far I have had no problems with it, it has worked very well for me. The only draw backs I see so far is the physical size and the weight it's a bit large on both category's. Other than that it works well.

10:52 a.m. on March 7, 2009 (EST)
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I have an MSR mini works and have used it for 5 years or so. It's a good filter, but a bit heavy if you're into lightweight.

Don't let it freeze with water in it, and don't unscrew the nut where the inlet hose attaches or you'll lose the check valve ball (trust me... I did this once in the woods... bad juju).

If your adventures are in the U.S., my advice would be not to worry too much about viruses or crypto, which seems to be the big selling point for some people. Hepatitis A and E are the biggest water-borne viruses to worry about, and you don't really have to worry about those unless you're in a known infected area like Mexico. Almost all adults in this country have already been exposed to crypto and don't even know it. Even if you haven't, in a person with a normal immune system (ie: you don't have HIV and you're not on steroids for a condition like lupus), crypto is usually something you fight off without even knowing you were exposed.

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on the wards (I'm a medical student).

8:31 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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119 forum posts

Bill S, I see you've put some time into this topic. What filter would you purchase if you were in the market now?

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