Water Purifier

I’m torn… my backpacking / kayak camping gear is almost complete except for a water filter. I’m really interested in the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter and it sounds like it has great reviews but its heavy in comparison to the Katadyn Hiker.

For those of you that kayak camp and choose to filter your own water - which water purifying solution do you use? I dont think I’ll want to use iodine or any tablet solution because I’m sensitive to the taste - even if I could potentially drown it in Kool-Aid, gatorade or some other powdered drink to mask the taste.


Water purifier
I have used the Sweetwater Micro Filter for quite a few years now and i still like it. There are additional items that i have for silt and such. It is relatively light and not too big. Cleaning of the filter is easy and quick. The flow rate is quite good as well.

I use the MSR Miniworks EX
My use is mostly on the BC coast where the water can contain a fair amount of tannin. I’m not concerned with purification, just filtering. I like the fact that it is robust and moves a decent amount of water, doesn’t clog as quickly as some that I’ve used and is easy to clean.

My Sweetwater…
…didn’t perform on the BC coast. It did pump with less effort and filtered more water than the MSR before it clogged. The thing is, it would clog 2 - 3 times for every 32 OZ nalgene bottle. The MSR would get most of the way through a 10 liter bag before it needed cleaning.

I think that some filters work better in different conditions. Throw a bunch of tannin in water and things change. The streams up here can be on the brownish side and if they aren’t it’s a gift. I still have my Sweetwater (smaller and lighter than the Mini EX) but I don’t take it to Canada anymore.


I bought a Katadyn . . .
. . . Pocket filter for my trip down the Mississippi. I have used them in the past (issued by military) and they are a little work but function well and are bulletproof. Interestingly enough, I usually put a little bleach in my water after filtering it . . . you know, belt and suspenders.

Oh yeah . . .
. . . check out eBay. I bought one from and individual that had never been used for about sixty bucks. Some of the on merchants have them for a hundred bucks less than retail.

Aquamira drops
is the stuff you want for tasteless chemical water purification. works faster than iodine too, and the 2 oz kit is compact and lightweight.

Water Treatment Solutions

– Last Updated: Feb-20-09 1:19 AM EST –

For our kayak trips here in Southeast Alaska we have moved away from water filtering devices to either aquamira (www.aquamira.com) drops or MSR's Miox water purifying device. Neither filter the water we drink, but both purify it well, weigh relatively little compared to a filter and are easy to use.

Aquamira drops do not leave an aftertaste and are lighter and simpler to use than the battery powered Miox. Both create a chlorine like solution that kills bugs and everything else. The Miox device actually makes it solution from salt -- we buy ice cream making or rock salt -- and the water you are treating. It has the ability to treat a lot of water very fast; my wife, who is in charge of water on our expeditions, can treat 8 liters in the time others are filtering their initial nalgene. We use the Miox on trips over 300 miles and when there are more than just a few people. Aquamira is used on shorter trips and when its just the two of us.

see this link for a picture of the Miox in action tryhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/umnak/2748725164

I have the Hiker and like it a lot. Be advised, though, the Hiker is a filter and not a purifier. A filter will filter out the bigger nasties like protazoa (giardia and chrypto). That is all you need for places like the BWCA and Quetico (some will argue you don’t even need that).

A purifier will filter and kill off most bateria and viruses. If you are going out of the country or have to use very poor water sources you’ll want to purify. Note that purifying does use use chemicals so you don’t eliminate the chemical taste.

If you go with the hiker get the deluxe (I think that is what it is called) model. I believe the housing is the same but there ia an additional filter that wraps aroung the normal filter. This additional filter is easily removed and cleaned and helps to keep the main filter from clogging.

There is also a prefilter on the intake hose, which catches the really big particles. Some folks will wrap something like a coffee filter around the prefillter as well.


– Last Updated: Feb-20-09 12:56 PM EST –

I use a hiker. No problems. However, if in the BW I use a bottle filter by BOTA. It is cheap in cost and more then adequate. It is a soft Nag bottle with a BOTA filter put in it. If I need water for cooking then the "stuff" is killed by boiling and I don't filter at all. The BOTA bottle filter is more then adequate for just drinking water. I use the Hiker when needed in other places. It also helps to filter away from shore so there is less debris.

The Pocket is awesome pump, but the cost is high. It is however one of the only pumps that I know of that is approved by the Red Cross for global applications. Not to also mention the fact that can filter 97% of radioactivity from water. Do you paddle in radio active water areas?

Consider two solutions
I have the MSR Miniworks and have been happy with it. I understand that teh Marines use it as well (good publicity).

For kayak camping you migh also consider the Katydin and Platypus gravity filters that use a reservoir bag and drip system. I am thinking about one of these for myself.


I’ve used the Hiker Pro for a couple

– Last Updated: Mar-04-09 8:57 PM EST –

of years in the BWCA and elsewhere. It has worked fine for me. Filtering 3 or 4 quarts of water a day sounds easy, and it is, but it turns into a pain. Those filter bags, that you fill and hang up to let gravity do the chore? Sounds like a good idea to me. I do wrap a coffee filter around the intake hose and get my water from the middle of the lake. Overkill in the area I'm in for sure, but I don't take chances with my drinking water.

I like the looks of the Platypus
even though it is more expensive than the Katydin. With the Katy you have to filter on demand, and wait for your secondary container to fill up. With the Platy you can hang it and leave it while the “clean” side fills. Should be easy to backflush as well.


MSR Hyperflow
Consider the MSR Hyperflow.

I used one last summer during a seven day canoe trip and it performed admirably. It’s very light and small, yet pumps quite fast. It’s also field maintainable and back flushable. I think you would enjoy it.


Katadyn Vario?
What do folks think about the Katadyn Vario? I’ve used one once in flowing water. Seemed to work well. I’ll confess I’ve not studied these much.


Water Purifying!

I was a backpacking & mountaineering instructor for over thirty year and have used just about all the filters on the market at one time or another.

All filters will clog in waters like the Missouri River or glacier silt rivers like you find in the Northwest and Canadian Rockies.

My personal favorite is a filter that is no longer produced. It is the PUR Guide Model. PUR was bought out by Katydin and they discontinued the bigger, heavier Guide Model with the Hiker Model. That was a mistake. The Guide Model was the fastest pumping filter available and had a multi filter with silver iodine and carbon post filter. That said, I believe Sweetwater Micro Filter and the MSR Micro Filter are the best on the market for cleaning when there is high concentrations of silt in the water. The Kat Hikers filter has to be replaced when clogged but does an excellent job of filtration. The only filter which takes out virus as well as bacteria is the First Start Filter. Problem is, they also are the slowest pumping and the easiest to get clogged. Their filters are very expensive. There are a number of water purifying systems on the market but they do nothing about removing silt from the water you drink.

When I use a filter in silty water I take a collapseable water bucket and fill it with the river water. Then I use a prefilter on the pump and cover the intake with cheeze cloth to further filter the silt. Leave the water in the bucket for at least an hour to let silt settle out to a degree. Then pump! Its harder with glacial silt as it does not settle out like mud does. Glacial water going through most filters still has a bad taste. That is why I like my PUR Guide Model. The carbon post filter cuts out the bad taste. Problem is I have to carry a spare filter in case the filter clogs. That is not necessary with the Sweetwater and MSR.

Take Care!

First Need and a Steripen
In the past for a group size of 4 to 6 on a canoe trip, I would carry 2 filters because of the clogging factor. Now I carry a First Need and a Steripen. (Murph - is the First Start in your post actually First Need?). The First Need is slow, but it can be backflushed in the field and it does amazing things to water. It will even give you clear water from heavily tannin stained source water. The steripen is quick and does most of the work load for me when the water source is clear lake water.

Name of Filter
I stand corrected on my post. You are right on the name. Old age is catching up with me. Thanks for the correction.


I love light force required with my Sweetwater…before it clogs…I need your help figuring out how to slow down that clogging thing,if possible. My MSR, while requiring more force to pump is so much slower to clog. It is my staple, no-brainer, production water filter. I still have my Sweetwater but I won’t take it kayaking. What do you suggest?