Water filter suggestions

I’ll be doing a week long paddle soon and have decided to buy a water filter. I have been looking at reviews and I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by too many choices. I would like to keep it light weight and simple but don’t want to sacrifice taste. Since this is my first one I was hoping to glean info from those who’ve been there, bought that one, like this one best…



Not exactly the answer you were looking for, but I lost confidence in the filters and now use Katadyn Micropur tablets. While not exactly quick to use, they always work. No clogging, cleaning, replacing filters, etc, and they purify the water, not simply filter it. Compact, lightweight, no taste, and easy to use as well.


I’m with . . .
. . . him. Chemical treatment is light, simple and effective. I use household bleach (8 drops/gallon, clear water, 16 drops/gallon, nasty water).

That said, I have a Katadyn Pocket filter that works well. When I use the Katadyn I use the bleach just for insurance.

mentioned it here before, Aquamira makes 1-oz & 2-oz pocketsize kits, tasteless/odorless and works in 15 minutes. if the water you’re drawing from has particulates in it, you can prefilter it with inexpensive cone-style paper coffee filters and a funnel.

From my experience . . .
. . . coffee filter don’t work very well. Paper towels and T-shirt material work better.


– Last Updated: May-14-09 1:54 PM EST –

many filters....

own first needs (sealed element, needs backflushing if it clogs), sweetwater (easiest pumping, but paper cartridge,in-expensive)but the best bang for the buck is a scrubable with a ceramic element.
I now carry this Katadyn



I like it the best.

The MSR one sounds good too

Don't much care for the adding of more chem's to what I'm planning on drinking....just like to filter out the stuff....if I lived in a place where I had to chemically treat my water, I would still filter.

Best Wishes


– Last Updated: May-12-09 1:51 PM EST –

A recent article I have read suggested that for decades, Giardia has been overblown in the northeastern wilderness areas, and people have been needlessly pumping water versus directly drinking stream and lake water. It suggested that most of the Giardia cases that initially turned up years ago and continue to occur are not from drinking water but from poor personal hygiene related to bathroom habits.

I am not sure I trust the thought enough to abandon my filter but to be honest, pumping water into some Nalgene bottles with my Hiker brand filter has never really been much effort.

Water Filters

In a previous post on the Paddling Forum a number of us discussed this issue. Over my 50 years of teaching Outdoor Living I have used most of the methods for purifying water that are on the market. My personal favorite water filter is no longer available as PUR Company was bought out by Katadyn. They stopped production of the PUR Guide Model Filter which is still the fastest pumping filter made. It pumps on both the pull and push delivering more water quicker. It was made with both a silver iodine filter and a carbon filter to create a clean taste. Its drawback is that when it clogs you have to replace the silver iodine filter which costs $25.

Of the models currently produced both the Sweetwater and the MSR are the easiest to service as the ceramic filters can be easily removed and cleaned. The Katadyn Hiker Pro is an excellent filter but I don’t trust the handle for pumping which I doubt will hold up under serious use. The Katadyn Expedition is to large, expensive, and slow pumping for serious consideration. The First Need is the only filter which removes both virus and bacteria. However, it also clogs the fastest of all filters and the replacement filters are almost as expensive as the original unit.

Other non filter systems include the Meridian Designs MUV ultraviolent pen, the MSR MIOX System which turns a salt solution into chlorine to kill bacteria. The use of Iodine tablets, chlorine bleach, and boiling are also alternatives.

I suggest either the Sweetwater, or MSR filters. They cost $65. and $87. respectively.

Best wishes,


I’ve been using an MSR SweetWater
Microfilter for 10 years. Has provided clean water for groups of up to 9 people and trips of up to two and a half weeks in the Rocky Mountains and BWCA.

I have a MSR filter
and have been happy with it. But if I was buying my first one, I would go with the Platypus Clean Stream system. Just fill the “dirty” bladder, hang it, and let gravity do the work.



Steri pen
This device, which uses ultraviolet light, is foolproof, quick and effective. I now use it exclusively. If there is too much sediment in the water, a coffee filter can be used to supplement.

First Needs
First Needs is a purifier, not just a filter, so to me it’s worth the extra weight and price for the extra safety.

Water Filters
What kind of water are you filtering. Silty or clear?

I usually use a Katadyn Vario. I have a PUR Hiker, MSR Miniworks, and a Timberline also, and the Vario is the only one I like. It pumps fast. It was too heavy for backpacking, so it only gets used in the canoe.

I think more people are coming around to think the MSR Mioxxs and Steripens are more of a gimmick, but I get most of my gear opinions from backpackers.

MSRMSR MiniWorks EX micro filter
I have a MSR MiniWorks EX micro filter. I have taken it on a few trips. I will be taken it on my 12 day Illinois River trip. I am paddling from Chicago to St. Louis. I love this filter. Yea it is a pump, but I don’t mind. It is much easier than dealing with tablets.

I am taking Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Tablets because I don’t how much agriculture toxins are in the water and how it has affected the water.

Ummm, excuse me. No it doesn’t.
No chemical additive “purifies” water. According to the Katadyn website:

The Only EPA Registered Purification Tablets on the Market - effective against Cryptosporidium, Giardia, bacteria, and viruses. The only disinfection system effective against viruses, bacteria, cryptosporidium, and Giardia. Fresh tasting water - no unpleasant taste. Easy to use tablets. The same proven technology that is used in municipal water supplies. Lightweight and compact - ideal for traveling, lightweight backpacking, and emergency use.


It sanitizes the water, which means it kills organisms. That’s important. But that’s not the same as purifying, which means removing harmful contaminants. I don’t mean to split hairs, but one could falsely take from your post that it could make contaminated water clean. It won’t. No tablet can do that. Put a tablet in dirty water, water with chemical contaminants, heavy metals, etc., and it will not change it one bit.

It WILL, according to the NSF testing (very important verification, btw), make the water microbiologically safe. And I would agree that for good, clean, uncontaminated water, that’s all one needs.


From the front of the Katadyn Micropur MP1 package:

“Water Purification Tablets”


“Meets EPA microbiological water purifier test standards”

Maybe a case of false advertising?


another vote for msr
easy to field clean, current unit is 8 years old (mind you, I only use it 2 weeks a year)

but the real trick of filtering is to have someone along who has never filtered water before. The novelty of filtering water is good for a few days before its time to take a turn at the pump.

Hiker model
Bummer that katahdyn stopped making the Guide model - it weighs more or less what the Hiker model does, but was a lot easier to pump - better designed handle and faster rate of filling a gallon jug. At one point, there was a rumour that they were discontinuing the Guide, to be replaced by a “Guide Pro” model, as they did with the hiker.

In any case, I have both the Guide and Hiker from Katadyn, and still have and use the old “Pur” version of the Hiker which I have had for 10 or 15 years or whatever, and it still works. No breakdowns of any kind.

Always best to wrap a coffee filter around the inlet, to extend the life of the filter cartridge.

Another tip for water filtering - buy one of those collapsible nylon buckets and use that to filter out of - you can bring the bucket over to a more comfortable spot in camp (even sit in your chair if you have one), rather than trying to filter directly from the lakeshore or stream (awkward, hard on the knees) - works way better - you need a piece of string to tie the bucket handle up to a tree branch or whatever, to keep the bucket from falling onver.

I still carry some iodine tablets as a backup, just in case the filter does clog, or it breaks, or I lose it.

I have an MSR filter that I’ve taken with me on many a backcountry trip. It’s served me well. It also screws onto the top of a standard Nalgene bottle for convenience.

I even use it in places where the tap water is questionable - the activated charcoal stage of the filter helps with taste.

The Katadyn Pocket . . .
. . . is the gold standard and priced accordingly. Stout and easy to clean in the field. Pumping is a pain on most pump filters I have used. Like he said, fill something with water and carry it back where you aren’t standin’ in the mud tryin’ to pump.

I filter and treat the water I drink. I just use a prefilter on water I will use for cooking to remove the minnows and fish poop.

I have a prefilter I made out of a 2 liter pop bottle. The bottom three inches or so hold a piece of folded up T-shirt material. Melt some holes in the bottom to let the filtered water out. I epoxied the top part of the bottle to the bottom to create a funnel that makes it easy to direct the filtered water into another container.