What are the favorite water filter and purification systems most hikers use? This is what you will find in this complementary guide (see first "How to Choose your Backpacking Water Filter") of the best backpacking water filter devices.
One of the first vital needs of backpackers is of course water and besides carrying it (maybe possible on a day hike), they will have to use the different springs and watercourses on his trail.
The safest solution to drink water found along your hike is the use of portable water filtration devices.
Although heavier and more bulky than a small box of tablets, they can still be just as effective and bring some extra benefit to the quality of treated water.
The materials used for the filters are glass fiber, hollow fiber, ceramic and activated carbon.
Here are the most popular and safest water filter systems for hiking.
Table of Contents
- Katadyn Hiker Pro - The Bestseller
- Katadyn Vario - The Fastest Microfilter
- Katadyn Water Filter Mini - The Mighty Mini
- MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter - The Reliable Filter
- MSR Sweetwater Microfilter - The Hiker Model
- MSR HyperFlow Microfilter - The Lightest MSR
- Katadyn MyBottle Purifier - The Virus Filter Bottle
- LifeStraw Flex Water Filter System - The Multi-Function Filter
Katadyn Hiker Pro - The Bestseller
According to its manufacturer, Katadyn, it is "the best-selling microfilter on the American outdoor products market".
It weighs 11 oz (310g) and is made of plastic and silicone, which makes it well suited for hiking.
It is a microfilter with a manual pump.
The filter cartridge is made of 0.2μm pleated glass fiber and contains granular activated carbon.
It eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments, and activated carbon reduces the odor and taste of water, but it is ineffective on viruses!
It has a flow rate of 1L / min.
Its filtering surface is 217cm2 which gives it a high flow rate and facilitates pumping. It is supplied with accessories: a pre-filter, 2 hoses, a bottle adapter and a storage bag.
Its lifetime is about 1,150 litres depending on water quality.
Katadyn Vario - The Fastest Microfilter
According to Katadyn, it is "the fastest microfilter in the world".
It weighs 15 oz (425 g). It is still a hand pump filter that has a ceramic prefilter that retains impurities in addition to the previous model, and still has a 0.2μm glass fibre filter membrane and activated carbon granules (replaceable this time).
It also eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments, reduces the odor and taste of the water, but it also reduces the chemical content of the water.
It is ineffective on viruses.
It can have a flow rate of 2L / min (in "FasterFlow" mode, i.e. when the water is clear) or a flow rate of 1L / min (in "LongerLife" mode, i.e. when the water is cloudy).
It is supplied with accessories: a pre-filter, a bottle clip and a transport bag.
Its lifetime can reach 2,000 litres.
Katadyn Water Filter Mini - The Mighty Mini
With a flow rate of only 0.5L / min and simply a ceramic filter of 0.2μm, it deserves to be mentioned here because of the constant dilemma of weight and space that is important to hikers.
It weighs only 7.4 oz (210g) and is smaller than the previous ones.
It still has a fertility of 7000 litres.
MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter - The Reliable Filter
According to its manufacturer, it is also the "best selling microfilter on the market".
With a weight of 16 oz (456g), it is one of the heaviest of the filtration devices shown here.
It is equipped with a manual pump, a ceramic filter of 0.2 μm and activated carbon. It eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts, sediments and chemicals.
It reduces the taste and smell of water.
It is ineffective on viruses.
Its flow rate is 1L / min.
Its cartridge life is 2000 litres and is washable.
MSR Sweetwater Microfilter - The Hiker Model
It weighs 11 oz (312g), a weight close to the Katadyn Hiker Pro, it is the "backpacking" model from MSR.
The pump is manual, its filter is made of silica at 0.2 μm and activated carbon.
It eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts, sediments, chemicals, taste and odor but still not viruses.
It produces 1.25L / min and has a life span of only 750L.
The accessories provided are an 80 μm stainless steel prefilter, hoses, a foam float, a water bottle adapter, a cleaning brush and a storage bag.
MSR HyperFlow Microfilter - The Lightest MSR
The lightest and smallest from MSR: only 7.8 oz (221g) and it is ergonomic.
It is equipped with a hollow fiber filter of 0.2μm.
It is also characterized by a very fast flow rate of 3L / min.
It eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts and sediments well but has no effect on chemicals, taste, odor and viruses.
It can be cleaned without tools and adapted to bottles.
Katadyn MyBottle Purifier - The Virus Filter Bottle
Katadyn MyBottle + ViruPur
This is a very special drinking bottle because it contains a virus filter.
The filter of this canteen has first of all a 0.2μm glass fiber pre-filter, then the 3-layer ViruPur filter made of glass fibre and aluminium particles that retains viruses by adsorption, and finally activated carbon granules.
This filter bottle eliminatesbacteria, protozoa, cysts, viruses, odors, tastes and neutralizes chlorine.
Its flow rate is 0.2L / min.
It has a capacity of 800mL.
It works only with clear water and the filter lifespan is 100L.
LifeStraw Flex Water Filter System - The Multi-Function Filter
Complete and multi-functional system consisting of a filter straw with carbon cartridge and a flexible flask.
The activated carbon cartridge ensures the elimination of a large majority of pesticides, heavy metals and bad tastes.
The screw thread integrated into the straw allows it to be attached onto any common plastic water bottle.
The filter straw can also be connected in series to the pipes of your hydration bag.
The Flex Lifestraw filtration kit consists of two accessories:
- Two-stage filter straw (hollow fibres and activated carbon capsule)
- Soft water flask
With the Vestergaard (LifeStraw) filter, you will be able to filter up to 4000 litres of water
The activated carbon capsule will allow a treatment capacity of 100 Liters.
The hollow filtration membrane ensures the elimination of 99.999999% of bacteria and other parasites, Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia... on a porosity of 0.2 microns.
The porosity of 0.2 microns does not stop the viruses, so if you have strong doubts about the water to be treated, ensure an initial chlorinated treatment, and after that the activated carbon capsule will remove the bad tastes
Filtration capacity: 0.2 Litre / minute
In summary, we can see that each type of filter has advantages and disadvantages:
In this diagram I have classified by size the different microorganisms and particles potentially present in the water as well as the efficiency range of the filters presented above.