Water filters

1:02 a.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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I am looking for a water filter. I have half decided on a sawyer .1 micron (not the .02 micron which does filter viruses but is slower than Christmas and not really needed in the US) 2 liter gravity type filter.

Is there any reason I should get a pump over a gravity feed.  I can get the sawyer 2-liter for ~$60 and it appears to be a good value.

1:20 p.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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A couple of years ago I bought a Katadyn base camp filter and I do not think I will ever use a pump again.  When I bought mine I didn't have the Sawyer to compare it to, but from a quick glance at REI's site they seem similar.

In my case I scoop up a bag of water, hang the filter from a tree and in less than a half an hour 2 gallons of water are filtered.  That really beats pumping, especially if you have larger groups.

1:33 p.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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It really is dependant upon the person. Sometimes I hike places where I am on ridge tops, so I have to get water when I come to it. For me, I prefer to pump so I dont have to wait for it to gravity feed. It very well may be the same amount of time to gravity feed as to pump in that case, but pumping gives an inpatient guy like me something to do. As far as filtering at camp, gravity feed makes total sense.

3:52 p.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Often the only way to get water out of a mud-seep pit is to place the pump nozzle atop a dead leaf and let the nozzle sink an inch and start pumping---this way you won't clog up your filter with silt.  Without a pump, it's very difficult to get some water sources out.  Even a dipped Sierra Cup doesn't work.  Problem is, most people aren't very careful at mud pits and end up clogging their filters at one sitting---but I like having the pump option anyway to pull up the trickles and insignificant pools---often hand made and dug to wait for relatively clear water.

6:28 p.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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guess it depends on your preference.  i like having the ability to filter water in the middle of a hike.  i have an old MSR sweetwater filter that works fine but have been using a steripen recently. 

if you tend to base-camp a lot, the gravity filter seems like a great idea.  seems cumbersome if you're on a trail, moving, and out of water, but i suppose you could rig it so one bag is below the other in your backpack.   

if i had to replace the MSR filter today, i would probably get an MSR miniworks.  having a non-paper filter that can be cleaned in the field is an advantage. 



8:40 p.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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+1 everything Tipi Walter said. I have an MSR Miniworks and really like it. That being said, if I had to buy a new filter today I would probally buy a gravity filter, but not the sawyer one.. just personal preference with brands there.

The main con with gravity filters is that if your water source is too low to scoop up your water then it can be a real hassle. But if water sources in your area dont normally have that issue then i would say go gravity.

But for a good all purpose filter I highly recommend the msr miniworks, a great very durable filter, and the charcoal core really helps improve the taste of skanky water.

And on another note any .1 or .2 micron filter will indirectly filter out viruses if they were indeed in the water. A little known fact for whatever reason is that viruses are typically bound to bacteria and or other particulates in the water. So indirectly most filters will take them out, though obviously not guranteed.

8:52 p.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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I personally use the MSR Miniworks. Its a good filter as far as I am concerned.

There are a few good points mentioned above. I also use a coffee filter over the end of the inlet hose as a "pre-filter" to keep debris out of the filter. It seems to extend the times between breakdown and cleaning of the filter.

Another nice option is the fact that it is completely field servicable without tools. The gravity feed is nice for base camp applications or when one is supplying water for a few people.

I typically solo so it just doesn't seem to fit my needs, not to mention I am not much into the whole base/car camp type thing. I can always buy a case of bottled water for under $4. I have not had problems with this filter to date.

I had about a 17 mile stretch on my last trip that water was pretty much non-existant. There was one stream that had a very small trickle in it. I ended up taking a garbage bag, positioning it with a few rocks to hold it down, waited for it to fill a bit, and ended up filtering enough water for my 3L bladder, and a .75L waterbox bottle(which I use for my cooking water.) I do not think I would have been able to do this with a gravity filter for the reasons mentioned above.


Assembled for use

Disassembled for service

Tear down is easy and takes about 5min max. You can take out the butterfly/check valves, etc. You can also teardown the handle and remove the actuator. I was lazy and didn't in the pic. Being field servicable can be a big thing  because if ya can't tear it apart in the field ya can't fix it.

If ya notice the storage cap has a small length piece of hose in it. I found this to be a perfect place to keep it so I can filter water into the smallish water bottles(Aquafina, blah blah blah.)


12:11 a.m. on July 12, 2011 (EDT)
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...also on a side note, to cut down on the wear and tear of the element I use a cut down toothbrush to clean it in the field. They give you a green scrub pad with the filter. I do use this when the filter is heavily jammed up with sediment etc, but most of the time I use the toothbrush. Its alot easier on the ceramic element and doesn't tear it up as bad as the scrub pad.

9:50 a.m. on July 12, 2011 (EDT)
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It's worth noting I'm in Minnesota and finding a lake to fill up the bag on the gravity filter is rarely a problem.  It's been a long time since I've had to get creative on scooping water out of a mud hole.

10:41 a.m. on July 12, 2011 (EDT)
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The only thing needed to cause problem getting water for a gravity filter is a draught. The lack of rainfall here as well as where I was(top of the ridge) was enough to cause the wells to dry up at the shelter sites as well as make most of the streams on my map non-existant.

Lakes are awesome, I wish they were everywhere. :)

11:35 a.m. on July 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I went from the Miniworks to a Katadyn Hiker Pro.  I found the ceramic filter of the MSR fragile in below freezing conditions.  I also did not like the weight.  When dry it is 5.3oz heavier than the Katadyn (on my digital scale).  But after you pump a litre or two, the ceramic filter fills with water that cannot be released.  So after pumping 2L, the MSR weighs almost 2lbs.  The Katadyn allows almost all of the water to be removed from its filter, gaining only an once in similar conditions (12oz).  The Katadyn pumps more easily and faster for me.



11:46 a.m. on July 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I totally agree the ceramic has its cons, if ya drop it or use it in freezing temps it can wreek havok on it which will usually result in the need for a replacement. I typically keep the filter in the toebox of my sleeping bag in a dry sack in cold temps. I also heat the water a bit before I filter just to bring the temp up. Just to be safe.

1:03 p.m. on July 12, 2011 (EDT)
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If you have a bunch of free time (this analysis is long), here is an Army study on purification.  Note that the Sweetwater places high because it comes with additional chlorine purification.  This would be like using Aqua Mira with a filter.



2:32 p.m. on July 16, 2011 (EDT)
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I currently have the katyayn Hiker Pro as well, and am quite pleased with it. I share it with one of my brothers, so I will probably be getting another one some time. I think I will be get the MSR sweetwater. I like that the handle is metal and that it pumps on botht the up and down stroke.

The hiker filter has a prescreen filter that keeps the fabric filter from clogging, which is nice. I find a coffee filter or bandanna wrapped around the intake works well in murky water also works great. I haven't tried it, but i bet you could cut a peice of coffee filter to wrap around the cartridge as a prescreen as well.

8:53 p.m. on August 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I am now running a Katadyn Pocket, very heavy, but it pumps with so little effort and is incredibly fast. I can jam 3 liters before the Sweetwater just wets the inside of a canteen (not really, but this is only a slight exaggeration).

If I don't want the weight, I chemical, but my manual filter is now 100% Pocket.

As packing articles go, it is extremely "heavy" so be warned. When you pull it from your pack, you will think "I carried this thing all the way up here?", but when you start pumping, and it flows like a household tap.......................


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