MSR MiniWorks EX
Source: received it as a personal gift
Reliable, easy to use, works with Nalgene bottles and MSR dromedary bags, filter lasts a dang long time.
- Field maintainable
- Easy to clean
- Long lasting filter
- water tube pinches at top
- slower than other filtration methods
- potentially expensive filter replacement
Traveled to quite a few place with this thing and quite satisfied. We stole this filter used from my girlfriend's parents who had it for something like 10 years. We pumped water for probably a total of 40 days or so since we've had it for the last few years, and it's on its first filter. I've heard other people say the filters last forever, and so far this seems to be true for us.
Field reliability is a big factor in our outdoor gear choices and we trust this filter, so that says a lot for us. It's easy to maintain and clean in the field when it clogs, and since it uses the ceramic filter you don't have to carry an extra filter — you just scrub it with a little sponge they provide, run some fresh water on it, and pop it back in. This is pretty huge for us.
Some things we have experienced and have heard others have as well: it can be slow pumping water, and is generally slower than other pump filters (and a lot slower compared to other filtration/sterilization methods like steripen, which is battery operated or Miox). So sometimes the pumping gets really old, and I do feel like it's pretty slow.
Also the water tube pinches really easily at the top, and you essentially have to keep it unpinched while pumping, which is kind of a pain. I happened to buy some MSR dromedary bags, which screw onto the bottom of the pump. If i didn't have these bags, or a Nalgene to screw onto, I could imagine how pumping water could be a huge pain with this pump since you'd have to grip whatever you were pumping into between your legs or something...this could be an issue with any pump I suppose, I don't know how other companies handle that.
MSR has top notch customer service and has sent me free parts for stoves and this pump when I lost them (for example there is a very small ball that is held by a spring in the pump assembly — good luck not losing that if you take the pump apart). As with other products, I really like that MSR sells replacement parts separately — every part on the pump can be easily replaced if it breaks, and that's what stands out about MSR products generally for me (sure there are other companies you could say this of).
I also just picked up a used one for ten bucks in a used gear store, and bought several parts to make it whole, for a grand total of 15 dollars with a filter that still has life in it. Buying MSR products used is a pretty solid purchase.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $89.99
Great small water filter! Excellent choice for any outdoor enthusiast that spends anytime in the back country.
- Can filter some of the nastiest water
- Filters water relatively fast
- Ceramic filter clogs fast in dingy water
- Forearm fatigue after pumping a few bottles full
- Can freeze and crack the ceramic filter
I've been using the MSR MiniWorks EX for two years now. Over all I'm very happy with its construction and durability. To me it's a bullet proof water filter.
I've filtered some REALLY questionable water with it and it's yet to let me down. It's a key piece of gear in my pack. The MiniWorks is a great water filter for 1 to 2 people. Any more people using it during a trip you're better off going with a larger gravity filter.
It's very easy to use: just screw onto a Nalgene bottle, drop the hose with attached foam float into water source and pump away. I have to admit that after two or so liters my forearm starts to get sore. Other than that the MiniWorks is very user friendly.
Used this on a 7-day hike with our Scout troop. I wouldn't recomend this pump for a large group because it is very slow.
- good tasting water
The other leader had a Katadyn pump which is must faster. But by the end of the trip it was almost unusable because the filter was plugged. The MSR was still working, although slow as ever. I did have to clean it on a few occasions when the creeks were dirty, but not a lot.
I would recommend to someone with a small group because it did function well.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 80-90$
Lightweight, easy to use. If I had to do it again I would go with a different water filter — too much effort for how little water is actually produced.
- Easy to use
- Takes FOREVER to fill up containers... water just trickles out, even new
This water filter works just like it is supposed to — clear and fresh tasting water.
It is fairly easy to use, and seems to be durable. It is fairly lightweight, although it can be bulky if you are backpacking and trying to save space.
It takes far too long to treat the water. If you are filling up a few bottles, expect to be there for a while. It took me about 5 minutes to fill up a ~1L bottle out of a small creek in Waterton National Park. This can be frustrating (especially when the fishing is good!) as I want to spend my time fishing and hiking rather than sitting around for ten minutes trying to re-hydrate myself.
All-in-all, I would say it is OK... It does what it is supposed to, but not ideal for backpacking.
Price Paid: $79
I wish I could say it worked great but it didn't. First real test was Philmont. It worked good for the first liter or two but after that it slowed down to a trickle. I cleaned it but the performance did not improve.
The other leader had a Katadyn Hiker Pro and we used it the rest of the trip.
Price Paid: CND$79 about 12 years ago
The MiniWorks EX is lightweight, easily maintained in the field and pumps about a litre a minute if the water you are treating is reasonably clear. The clean water outlet has a large fitting that screws onto a standard Nalgene bottle allowing for easy two handed pumping.
The 0.5 micron ceramic depth filter is easily cleaned with a scrub pad that comes with it and the filter’s thickness can be checked with a gauge and the filter element replaced when it has been abraded beyond its recommended thickness. To prolong the intervals between cleaning, put a fine cloth or coffee filter over the intake hose and secure it with a rubber band if the water you are treating has a lot of silt in it.
The ceramic filter element can be boiled to disinfect it and then air-dried if you are going to store it for long periods such as over winter. The filter elements are quite fragile when removed from the housing so you need to be very careful when cleaning them.
I’ve used this sort of filter for over a decade and only replaced the ceramic element once because I broke it while cleaning. The filter itself is great value and because it is amongst the most widely used in the world, the replacement elements are easily available.
The filter pore size of 0.5 microns is small enough to filter out all parasitic worm eggs, protozoa [giardia, cryptosporidium, amoebas] and most pathogenic bacteria [some pathogenic bacteria are as small as 0.2 microns]. If I suspect that water is going to be contaminated with viruses I pre-treat the water with Polar Pure iodine and then pump it through the MiniWorks. The iodine inactivates viruses and kills bacteria and the ceramic element removes the larger bacteria, protozoa and any worm eggs. The granular activated carbon element inside the ceramic filter then removes the iodine so the water tastes great.
I highly recommend this filter - it's a modest investment and will last you for years.
Check out my site www.backcountrywater.com for comprehensive information on waterborne pathogens, contaminants and water treatment systems.
Price Paid: gift
I had read good things so bought one after my previous filter wore out after about 5 years. Day 3 in the backcountry my new Miniworks EX malfunctioned. A rubber valve tore and it was completely irreparable with zero function.
I'm going back to Katadyn Hiker — lighter, faster pumping, and I've never had a problem with one.
Price Paid: $69
MSR does it right every time. This water filter pump is very easy to use even for a first timer. It is easy to clean and continue using without leaving the water hole. The pump is bigger and heavier than a bottle of tablets, but it makes a superior product an a fraction of the time.
I have been to places like the bottom of Grand Canyon, Mt Whitney, Mt Rainier, Buckskin Gulch, Zion Narrows, several fifty milers, backcountry skiing, and always taken at least one MSR filter pump. Even under a snow field there is running water somewhere. It is so much faster to pump a little water than to stop and melt snow.
When packing for a hike/ trip, consider how much space this item will take, how heavy it is, and how many times will I use it?
I have tried other brands and styles of pumps that wore me out or clogged up before I filled one water bottle. I have used bad tasting tablets and added drink powder after the waiting period was over. What a pain in the neck to wait for the tablets when you're thirsty.
I buy a new filter every year at a local outfitter who has a half price sale on Thanksgiving weekend. I bought my pump in 2004.
Price Paid: $89
Have only used this 2 times outdoors since a couple of months ago for my day hikes. Couple of points of what I was looking out for in a portable filter.
1. Smallest possible filtration pore size, easy field maintenance
2. Didn't want a vertical pump handle, felt it is was a weak design
3. Speed is not an issue, option for pre-filter
4. Good filtration life, washable AND REUSABLE ceramic cartridge (no point in using non reusable filter cartridges which cause more rubbish for the environment)
Taken apart it is designed simple with nothing easy to lose if you are cleaning it out in the field, except for the one way valve in the inlet of the pump - if you had to look for something to loose. I usually filter clear waterfall water, but silt is still present - no problems since.
The Miniworks comes with a sponge pre-filter which doesn't work much more than to stop large stuff getting in like sand. I bought a MSR Siltstopper which I fitted to the intake hose to stop fine sand and silt from getting into the main filter. This setup has worked so far and I do not see any silt in the main filter but I am sure this effects the overall pump rate which would probably be faster without the Siltstopper. Other options include using a cloth as a prefilter at the intake or let the water sit in a pail until the silt settles to the bottom, but I think the Siltstopper makes the most sense in terms of convince and ease of use.
Couple of reviews says this filter gets clogged fast - but you must consider what kind of water are they filtering (heavy silt and tannin kills the filter) and also if they left the inlet hose on the surface of the water source or at the bottom to suck up gunk like a vacuum. More over I would be more worried if the filter NEVER clogged up because that could mean it has not been filtering much out of the water you are drinking or is cracked. ALso this is a portable filter not an industrial one do not expect it to flow like your house tap, faster filters either have bigger filter pores hence filter less, have bigger filters or use non replaceable cartridges.
I like the fact that is has a carbon depth filter to filter chemicals, though how effective this is is questionable. I also wish that the ceramic was silver impregnated to stop bacterial growth. Overall the filter has done its job and did not get me sick.
I would highly recommend it.
Price Paid: $89
Overall, this is an excellent product. When used properly, it will do a great job of providing potable water (where viruses are not a large concern).
I've had mine for over four years now. I take it on about 10 backpacking trips each year ranging from 2-10 nights with no failures yet. I also take it with me on longer day hikes and mountain biking rides where I do not want to carry too much water due to the weight.
While the pump filters might require more effort than some of the gravity based filters, it does allow you to draw water from much shallower sources of water (and the occasional puddle) than a bag will do. The ability to screw it directly to a Nalgene bottle or an MSR hydration bag is also pretty convenient. Attaching directly to the bottle or bag lets you use both hands on the pump without worrying about your water container falling over and spilling in the process. If you do not have a Nalgene bottle or MSR bag, you can also put the exit tube in any other container that will hold water.
I've read where several users have expressed frustration at the pump being hard to pump or the filter needing to be cleaning frequently. This is caused by siphoning water that has a lot of particulate in it. Naturally, the more particle to be filtered, the more resistance the filter will have.
I avoid this problem buy putting a bandana or other small cloth over the intake "spring". This serves to prefilter the larger particles before they get to the ceramic filter. If less gunk makes it to the filter to begin with, less gunk will need to be handled by the filter. Users should be careful in choosing their water beforehand. Still green or brackish water is much more likely to have viruses and other contaminants than clearer fast moving water.
One note of caution. If you choose to use this during sub-freezing temperatures, you'll want to try to keep the filter warm. Sleep with it in your bag or carry it deep in your pack. If not, the filter will freeze and be rendered useless until it properly thaws. You'll also want to make sure the inner chamber is dry to prevent freezing as well. Freezing and thawing can crack the ceramic filter.
All in all, this is an excellent product. I'd give it 5 stars were it not for two shortcomings. Weighing in at a pound, it is not the lightest most compact solution, and its ineffectiveness against viruses.
Price Paid: £70 (UK pounds)
Overall this is a dependable, solid bit of kit - when cleaned it pumps fast, it is very easy to field-maintain, it packs easily and has lasted very well with only minor abrasions from clumsy use to show for it's age. I have used this now for over four years and have taken it on multi-day wilderness trips as well as trekking trips, so it has had a decent long-term test.
It is prone to slowing down after a few days pumping, as other reviewers have pointed out, but in my experience this is due to very fine pore size (which I positively want for getting the nasties out of my drinking water) and is easily rectified with a quick scrub of the ceramic element with the included scourer. I have not worn out the original filter yet, something which is easily gauged with the attached measuring device, but this is possibly more a comment on careful choice of water source than longevity of filters.
This is not a device for individual use, it weighs a pound and takes up a fair bit of pack space - my choice for solo hiking would be a filter bottle; however it is ideal for a group of two to four where you can send one off to fill the bottles at camp time.
I would probably buy this again if I lost it, there are other products on the market, but I think the easy maintenance and dependability are the key features for me. As testimony I would offer this: I have pumped water from streams, muddy puddles, cattle troughs and dodgy hostels and haven't had a single case of nasties yet.
Seems robust enough. My only real issue was speed. After just a few liters, it slowed waaaay down. Even after scrubbing, the speed just wasn't there.
The water was clear (John Muir Trail/Kearsrge Pass) and cool, but it felt like we were filtering water in Thailand (nukes filters in minutes). I will say that disassembly was a snap, and the lever arm was plenty stiff. It will work just fine, but it just takes some patience.
For the price, she is just fine. Don't pump it lickety-split either, just mellow pumping does the trick.
Price Paid: $89
I bought this product before going on an 8-day AT hiking trip. After using the filter for only 1 day (filtering about 9-10 liters of water), the pump got significantly slower, almost to the point of being not usable. Once we cleaned it (in the field, as per instructions), it picked up the pace again, but even at its top speed, this filter is not very quick.
The filter is also difficult to pump (not extremely, of course), but significantly more so than some of the others I saw on the trail.
I thought I just bought a crappy filter, but I think it just needs a lot of maintenance. It really needs to be cleaned after every use. Although the cleaning is not difficult, it does take some time and gets a little annoying.
The water itself tasted really good. Not even a hint of bad taste in all the water we pumped.
Since this is my first filter, I can't compare it to others, but I would probably consider getting a pump that was lighter and faster next time.
Price Paid: $90
After some research and recommendations from people I met in the woods, I bought an MSR Miniworks, thinking that I was set for the rest of my life. I was wrong. The bloody filter cracked the first time I pumped water from a clear, running stream in northern Minnesota, and the filter was useless for the rest of the trip.
I got that filter replaced, and attempted to use the new one on a BWCAW trip a few weeks ago, with middling results. It worked, but very slowly, and it required frequent cleaning to maintain a flow anything beyond a trickle, even from water I probably could have drunk safely without filtering.
This filter is VERY slow- it takes several minutes and many strokes to fill a single Nalgene. It requires frequent cleaning to maintain even somewhat acceptable performance. What really galls me is that I wasn't even asking the filter to work that hard- pumping from the middle of large, breezy, very clear lakes should NOT take several minutes to fill a standard Nalgene bottle.
What's more is that the ceramic filter can fracture very easily, which adds more work to the filtering process- if you drop this thing, the filter will probably crack, and you'll be boiling water for the rest of the trip.
Still, the water it pumped tasted great, and I nor anyone else got sick. Even so, we probably could have done like the dog did and drank right out of the lake and still have been fine. Overall, I whole-heartedly do NOT recommend this filter.
Price Paid: $99
So far this works great. It is a little bigger than others but I just feel really confident in this product to do its job better than others. The filters are supposed to last a long time and not much seems like it could fail as far as components.
It is a little slow but the water tastes great and is nice and clear. If you are using it and the filter starts to go really slow, simply unscrew it and remove the filter and use the brillo pad to lightly scrub off grime. It may appear to be clean but it probably isn't.
On our first trip out we found a small trickling runoff and filtered 6 liters in a fairly short amount of time but ran into the cleaning off the filter problem that held us up trying to figure out the problem. Once we realized all we had to do was lightly clean it we were up and running smoothly.
I really do recommend this filter. MSR is good stuff.
Price Paid: $85
I've had this filter for about a year. It's been on 6 hikes that average 2 nights each. No big complaints so far.
It removes bacteria and protozoa it but not viruses, so I treat my water with chlorine bleach in a 2 liter bag before filtering to kill the viruses. I let the water stand for half an hour before filtering into a 2 liter hydration reservoir that screws onto the bottom of the filter.
The charcoal filter in the MiniWorks filter removes the chlorine so what I get is fresh tasting purified water.
Since I'm filtering from a bag, not directly from a stream, I am usually sitting around with a group making conversation as I pump, so the flow rate isn't all that important to me. That said, the flow is pretty good.
I think it was starting to slow down on the last trip, but I'm not complaining 'cause I've never cleaned the element. I guess the flow performance depends pretty much on what's in the water you filter. Clear appearing water can still be loaded with tiny things you can't see that can clog the filter.
My only complaint is the weight. A pound is a lot for a lightweight backpacker, but no filter gets rid of viruses so I have to use chlorine, and I gotta have that charcoal to get rid of the chlorine.
Price Paid: $85
I bought this filter after my First Need Purifier crapped out after 5+ years of use. Used the MSR on two overnight camping trips. Midway through the second trip the unit became very hard to pump, with most of the water going straight back down the tube from where it came. The water being filtered on both occasions was very clear.
MSR advertises that this filter is "field maintainable," but what they don't mention is that you need to "field maintain" it very frequently (by disassembling the unit and scrubbing the ceramic element) in order to keep it up to performance. I'm coming from just having used the First Need, which by comparison flows much faster than the MSR filter.
Long story short, I'm returning the MSR and picking up another First Need.
Worst filter ever.
We used this filter for a few canoe trips. On a long 17 day trip it quit working on day 12. Lucky for us there was another filter in the group so we used theirs for the rest of the trip. Got back and MSR said it told us it was a common problem and how to fix it but the fix was not in the instructions.
On another trip time we went on a three day trip. Filter quit working after one day you could not pump it. Sent it to MSR and it took 3 months for them to send us a new one.
This stuff is JUNK. We bought a Katadyn Pocket Water Filter because we need a reliable water filter.
Price Paid: 80 USD
It is a great little filter. It pumps a little on the slow side, but seriously how fast do you really expect a handheld filter to be? It is easily cleaned in the field and I would recommend it to others.
Update: December 31, 2009
Works great, it is easily field maintainable and does exactly what it is supposed to do. I would suggest others to buy this product!!
Price Paid: $80
I picked one of these up to replace an aging and broken sweet water filter. For single person or small group, this filter is great. I wouldn't want to rely on it for large groups on multi day treks. In the half dozen or so trips I have been on with this filter, it has worked perfectly. I don't think the bigger brother version is worth the money, weight or space. Just carry some some chlorine dioxide tabs for virus protection if you think you need it.
The biggest reason I love MSR as a company is the great customer service. My dog chewed up my intake hose and I wrote to the company asking where I could PURCHASE a new hose. I didn't expect them to cover my negligence. But, they did and they sent me a brand new hose for free! That's service. Go MSR, go Miniworks, you can't go wrong.
Price Paid: $79
Overall, this is an acceptable filtering system to take into the backcountry.
Pros include its ability to thread directly to Nalgene-style threading on bottles and hydration bags, rugged and simple design, adjustable float position for proper intake depth, included filter end-of-life gauge, included threaded outlet cover, and ease of field cleaning.
This is not the kind of filter you want to clean water with high concentration of particulate matter! The pumping action becomes extremely hard, and a huge amount of work goes into each tiny increment of clean water out. The outside design of mine was a bit unrefined (sharp edges on plastic from the forming process, etc.).
Price Paid: $89.95
one of the best filters i have ever used. i wont ever leave home without it.
the only time i had problems is when the only water i could find was nasty pond water with a lot of slim in it. then it required me to clean it every few liters.
no problems since, actually i just boiled it to sterilize it and it looks brand new.
Price Paid: $66
I just finished a hiking trip at Pike's Peak with my Boy Scout Troop. We used the MiniWorks for 10 Scouts and four adults for a three-day backpacking trip. I was impressed with the filtration rate and the ease of use. We just pumped water directly out of a mountain stream right into various bottles and canteens.
Of course, as a Boy Scout Leader I took the added precaution of using iodine tablets. Some scouts didn’t like the taste of “iodinated” water so we then filtered the water again. To my surprise it took out the iodine taste! If a young Scout can use it without any problems (it was dropped a few times) you know it must be a good product!
This filter is okay. The bad little ex-soldier in me was attracted to it because you can easily field strip it for maintenance. Unfortunately, I find it needs a lot of this. It clogs often and pumps VERY SLOWLY, even in very clear water conditions. I eventually replaced the filter element to see if it would improve with no such luck.
My other filter is a Katadyn Hiker. It's the filter I actually use. It's lighter, more compact, and pumps faster. The MiniWorks is not that bad, but it's not that good either. It's become my loaner for friends who don't have a filter.
Price Paid: 125$ US
After using the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter for a few months here and there around the world, the ceramic cylinder cracked and some holes appears on it. Had to tape the holes and the cracks with some duck tape...It worked, but greatly reduced the filtering rate.
It would cost me about $80 to replace the broken cylinder. Considering the quality and the weight 500 gr. of the filter, I don't think it was a good deal.
Price Paid: $85
This filter needs lots of cleaning when you are in the field. Water tastes good and is very clean. I am going to try another brand when I go on my next outing.
I took a brand new MiniWorks out on a 4 day, 4 person trip this weekend. The morning of day two, the filtration rate dropped precipitously. By the evening of day two, one of the valves had torn and the pump had stopped working entirely. I'm not sure if I just got a bad pump, but I was glad I'd brought backup filtration.
Price Paid: $85
Great little filter and water tasted great from this unit. I've used other brands, but this one takes the cake.
Price Paid: $79
This little guy has no problems pullin' the nasties out of the nastiest of water. I've pulled water straight from a beaver pond...and I didn't get the "squirts" or the "hot-trots." I wouldn't think about not taking this with me. It is super durable, I've dropped it a couple of times. It's easy to clean and field repair is a breeze.
I am not happy with the MiniWorks EX water filter. The ceramic filter itself developed cracks within a year and is very expensive to replace. It should come with a one year warranty, which I believe does not!!!
Price Paid: $76
Good filter, it does the job. I used to have a SweetWater filter and I remember having occasional problems with it but it was lighter. My only beef with this filter is its weight. Works like a charm though...
Used my buddy's in the Beartooth Mts. in Montana.
Contains many small complex pieces and malfunctions often. Pumps slowly. My Katydan Hiker worked pretty well though.
Price Paid: $75
Great purifier. Good, clean water. Super easy to clean and comes with everything for maintenance and a nice sack for it. Good buy, I heard it's what they issue in the army too.
Price Paid: $79.95
Never had a problem. Four words that mean an awful lot to me. I highly recommend this product!
Not as quality built as I thought it would be.
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