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MSR SweetWater Purifier System

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
photo: MSR SweetWater Purifier System water purifier

I have used the SweetWater for three years now. It has always done a great job. When an internal mechanism broke from years of use, MSR promptly replaced it—no questions asked.
I got it used. When handed to me, I asked the guy how much life was left in it. He said he thought it was at the end of the line. I used it for two more years. It's finally starting to "pop the hose back" from the filter being at the end of the line.


  • Pumps well
  • Easy assembly
  • Durable parts


  • Expensive replacement cartridges ($50)

Effectiveness: Treats water well. Be mindful that it takes out particulate matter and filters out harmful pathogens, but if you filter brown water, it will still be brown. Note: I have never used it in sub-zero weather.

Speed and efficiency: I fill up a 32oz Nalgene bottle in 2 minutes.

Capacity: I've used it solo and in groups. It performs well in both. We just take turns holding bottles and pumping.

Ease of use: Easy assembly and disassembly. Folds down small.

Features: Pre-filter to help your cartridge work longer. If you buy a baby bottle brush and scrub out the inside of the cartridge after trips, you'll prolong the life of that expensive cartridge by a good amount. Also, be sure to disassemble the unit after trips to let it dry out.

Construction and durability: Made of long lasting plastics. I've dropped it several times on rock without problems. One internal mechanism broke  but no problems replacing it.

Condition: Bought it used. The newer filters are lighter and last a long time but the SweetWater is still a great reliable filter. 


Source: bought it used
Price Paid: A great guy gave it to me for free when I bought a tent from him!

Let me start by saying that this is the easiest filter to pump. The lever action pump is great. And it filters water on the up and down stroke but.....

I have had this for several years. The first few trips the filter worked fine. After that the filter started to require numerous cleanings while on the trail.

I followed the manufacturer's suggestions on cleaning the cartridge with a water and bleach solution. This helped for a few liters then it was back to cleaning on every water stop.

My brother brought along the same model on our last trip and his began needing the same frequent cleaning as my old one.

I might need a new cartridge but I'm afraid this isn't the problem and then I'll be stuck with a bad filter and out the cost of a new cartridge.

I will be buying a new filter before my next trip, just haven't figured out which one.

Price Paid: Gift

Ok, I have used this pump on prolly around 15 full week long trips. The action of pumping is great you could no ask for anything better, and it pumps at a fast rate.

Personally I have never had a real problem with it. However I have been told (from reliable sources) that when this filter is used in water with a high amounts of silts and clays it tends to clog the filter up.

There is a couple of easy solutions. If you wrap the intake peace that sucks the water up in a coffee filter it will help to stain the particles out. Also, if you put the cartridge into boiling watter and boil it, it will help unclog the filter.

I really think this is a great filter for most people. It's a great price and works well.

Have been using this water filter/purifier for 6 years while elk hunting. Had to use filter brush only at the beginning of each trip at home. I generally filtered 6 total liters of water at one time to avoid this duty daily. I really like the unit and always use the suction hose pre-filter.


  • Simple and not too heavy
  • Make water pretty quickly


  • I have had problems with the suction hose pre-filter plugging or "scaling" up
  • Last hunt had to not use the prefilter, as it appeared blocked
  • Boiled pre-filter in camp and used brush to remove any scale or plugging.

I have been using the MSR Sweetwater for 6 years while elk hunting. I always use the brush, at home before I leave for a hunt. Usually pre-filter 6 liters in camp right away, so I don't have to filter daily.

Always us the pre-filter; without it, it will allow specks of stuff into the o-ring/cartridge area and will cause erratic/reduced clean water production.

My pre-filter seemed to scale/plug up this year — I think there was some sort of scale or algae plugging the suction line prefilter. Not sure what MSR would say but I lightly boiled the prefilter, used the brush to try to clean the fine screen. Worked better. When I got back home I cleaned it again and put it in a bowl of vinegar to soak.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $99

My SweetWater died almost immediately.

Pump was used in -2 Celsius the pressure relief popped constantly with almost no pressure while pumping melted snow.

After 2 days of use for 4 people the body started to crack at the threads and leak with every pump.

Solid performer.


  • Lightweight
  • Fill a bottle quickly
  • Durable


  • Replacement cartridge cost

After using the old porcelain Katydin filters of the '80s, this SweetWater was revolutionary. You could actually fill a poly bottle in a reasonable amount of time, and it is lightweight.

I bought my first one in the '90s and we are on our second cartridge and just replaced the yellowed tubes last year, on the second pump. We usually put a pan in the stream and let the water run over the edge, that way you don't suck up the particles that plug the cartridge up. If it spits water at you, slow down or clean it.

Source: bought it new

Great little pump.


  • It just seems to last


  • It has a few

I've had mine must be almost 10 years or pretty close. Bought the system when they first came out, used in all four seasons, used it to get water from a streams, lakes, through the ice. Works really well.

Replacement filter is a little pricey, and it doesn't pump the volume of the newer ones ,or as fast. But I just don't have the heart to replace it. It works so well and the Sweetwater purifier solution that comes with it makes the water taste like the water that comes out of your faucets... if that's what you want, and it even comes with a cleaning brush.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $100

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Price MSRP: $99.95
Historic Range: $24.93-$100.00
Reviewers Paid: $99.00-$100.00
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