View Full Version : water filters

Dan Bowen
11-13-2002, 19:41
Comments and advice needed.I am trying to decide what filter to bring along with me on my thru-hike.My doctor says "NO iodine for me" and I'm not too sure of using halazone or chlorine.I am going to carry a filter,just not sure witch one.I have a MSR waterworks 2.It is alittle on the heavy side,but it has been relieable.Not sure how many extra replacement filters I will need to buy.Has anyone use a Pur Hiker?Thats my next choice,but I have not used one.Anyone out there that used a filter on their thru-hike?If so, what did you use and how often did you need to replace the element?Thank you

11-13-2002, 21:01
dan, i've used a pur hiker for 3 to 4 years now. it has been reliable and it is pretty light (11oz i think). when i hiked the AT, there was 2 of us using the filter, so lots of water has gone thru it. although pur guarantees the filter cartridges for 1 year against clogging, i needed to replace them every 2 months or so (every outfitter along the AT had them in stock). they never did clog completely, but they became really hard to pump. this may have been my own fault in trying to filter nasty water without extra suction end protection, as pur recommends. i saw some hikers using panty hose material with good results.

having said the above, i'd say i'm sorta happy with the hiker and i'll probably carry the hiker again in 2003 and replace the cartridge often.

in addition, i knew some hikers who called pur everytime their filter clogged and to pur's credit, they recieved new cartridges (freebie) at their next maildrop.

Wander Yonder
11-13-2002, 21:42
I don't have a lot of hiking experience, but I do have a lot of primitive camping experience.

My Katadyn mini has served me well for two years. It weighs 8 ounces. Katadyn is the brand filter that the Red Cross has its employees use in third world countries.

Under optimum conditions, the mini Katadyn will filter 2,000 gallons, but in actual usage it will probably be a lot less. When the filter gets clogged, you can use the little scrubbie that they include to remove the clogged outer layer. They also give you a little gauge to know at what point the filter is no longer safe to use.

It's a 2 micron ceramic filter with silver particles embedded to kill micro-organisms.

11-14-2002, 08:11
Dan - I used a MSR Minworks on my 2001 hike. I think either filter choice will work well for you. The "majority" of hikers that use filters use a PUR. Both filters have pros and cons. I choose the MSR because it does not have an output hose. It screws directly onto a Nalgene bottle. If you use a PUR, you have to be aware of keeping your input and output hoses seperate. If you don't, you can contaminate your output. The MSR takes more strokes and more pressure to pump water than a PUR. The MSR is "slightly" heavier than the PUR

My experience with the MSR was I was cleaning the element at least once a week. After you use it for a while it will become very apparent to you when it needs cleaning. The water output will dramaticlly drop off. When it does, clean it. It only takes 5 mintues to pop out the element, scrub it, and pop it back in. Not a big hassle.

All things considered, for my 2003 hike I'm going with AquaMira. Lighter, easier, and NO pumping. As in all things on the trail, it has pros and cons.

11-14-2002, 08:40
Among those that filter, the Pur Hiker is the most popular. The primary reason is that it pumps much faster than others.

As another post stated, Pur guarantees the cartridge for a year. But the "typical" hiker doesn't use their filter day in and day out like a thru-hiker does. So, when used day in and day out, the cartridge lasts about 2 months. I suspect that even if you are careful, I think it starts to grow stuff. Anyway, outfitters along the trail are used to this, and will swap cartridges with you.

Hammock Hanger
11-14-2002, 10:55
Don't know the reasoning behind your doc's order not to use iodine. Some of the filters on the market actually have an iodine in them as well as charcoal, so check with the manufacturer. Hammock Hanger

11-14-2002, 12:00
If you are sensitive to iodine, look for filters, not purifiers. Filters should just be that: A small filter which traps baddies. A purifier traps only larger baddies (and strains out junk in the water) and uses, usually, iodine to get the rest. Read the specs. for each model to make sure it isn't a purifier. The Miniworks is, I believe, a true filter; i.e, no iodine.

Trail Yeti
11-14-2002, 18:00
I used 4 different filters myself on my hike, and borrowed one other.
I started w/ a sweetwater-I luve this filter...the only reason I got rid of it is because it was so heavy (11 0z same as pur).
Then I used a squeeze bottle filter....all built in. Really nice for the south where there is lots of water, NOT recommended up north unless you want to carry more than one.
After that I used an inline filter...liked this a lot. Went through 2 in around 1400 miles...not too bad. Would've stuck with this except I couldn't find a replacement up north.
Finally I used a Katadyn mini. HATED this filter. The only thing I liked is how much it weighed. Pain in the butt to pump, had to clean it at least once a day, and it BROKE on me in the 100 mile wilderness...
Borrowed a Pur Hiker after the Katadyn broke. pumps fast and easy just like my sweetwater. However, I heard more complaints about this filter from other hikers than any other.

hope this helped

11-14-2002, 18:31
I also use the Sweetwater filter and think it does the job but would love to lose some of the weight.

11-15-2002, 15:06
Hi there,

We started with a brand new Sweetwater Guardian, because stripped down it was the lightest. We had major problmes with it (it was blowing water out of the top seal) by Hiawasee GA, and called the company to ask for help. Granted, everyone has different experiences with gear companies, and others we talked to had no troubles dealing with Cascade designs for anything, but we got NO help from them and were told, in so many words "sorry, you're out of luck." Long story short, we bought the Pur Hiker, got rid of the little black filter thingy on the end and wrapped it in coffee filters instead to save weight, and it worked successfully and quickly the reaminder of the trip. We replaced the filter twice (we were using it for two people, about 6-8 liters a day). Hope this helps!

11-26-2002, 06:55
I have been carrying a 1/8 oz. bottle of Chlorox...4 drops per quart and so far no GI problems...the small bottle will treat 5 gallons, good enough for most local water treatment facilities..your thoughts please.

11-26-2002, 10:06
Use of chlorine (ie. bleach) for water disinfection should be fine for clear water. However, if organic matter is present in the water, chlorine will react with it and form carcinogenic compounds. In addition, the effectiveness of chlorine depends on the water pH. I use bleach to kill viruses after filtering, and I feel confident with this usage. Such use is even approved by the EPA in conjunction with the Sweetwater Gardian filter. In terms of the effectiveness of chemical treatments alone (particularly cyst inactivation), iodine is better than chlorine and chlorine dioxide is better than iodine. AquaMira and Pristine are the 2 brands of chlorine dioxide available. They impart a slightly bitter taste to the water. More inconvenient than iodine or bleach because of the 5 minute premix time required.

11-26-2002, 12:51
Hi, I'm new to this forum. I use the "First Need" water purifier. It's the only purifier that eliminates virus' from your drinking water. This includes montezuma's revenge, etc. Katadyn is the choice of filter used by the red cross overseas, but lacks critical virus elimination.

It has a removable sealed filter which eliminates contamination caused by opening & scrubbing a conventional filter. I believe it has a charcoal filter inside the casing to eliminate bad tastes as well. So long as your not trying to filter a muddy river bed, you should get about 100gal. per $40 filter @ roughly 1min. per 32oz. I had to filter stagnant water on Vermont's long trail last summer, and I was fine (and it tasted great!). So far I've filtered about 40gal., and I haven't noticed any decrease in purification rate, or quality.

From what I'm told, viral contaminated water isn't much of a problem unless your in tropical/sub-tropical climates. In which case filters work fine.

11-26-2002, 15:19
I had a First Need filter that clogged up after 1.5 weeks pumping for 2 in Vermont. It always gave great-tasting water, and the fact that it clogs means it's working. But it's a lot of weight for something that is uncleanable and might become dead weight in your pack. I complained to First Need about the clogging and they gave me a new canister for free. I've since switched to a Sweetwater Gardian because of the cleanability. So far have only used it for one week pumping for 3. I like AquaMira too.

11-29-2002, 05:50
The first need purifier is cleaned by reversing the filter and back flushing it with clean water.(in town would be best)


filters only remove bacteria sized stuff while a purifier must remove virus sized as well.

also the first need uses a ceramic in the cartridge which can crack if allowed to freeze with water in it.:eek:

11-29-2002, 09:47
Originally posted by Dirtyoldman
The first need purifier is cleaned by reversing the filter and back flushing it with clean water.(in town would be best)

This was ineffective in my case.

11-29-2002, 19:37
Sorry to here you had bad luck with your filter Deb. Maybe you got a defective filter or something. I've been using mine for 7 or 8 months now, and I've been pleased. If not for the virus elimination, I would have chosen a Katadyn Filter rather than my First need purifier. I probably have nothing to worry about (as far as virus' are concerned), but I like the security of knowing 100% that my water is also virus free.

I just realized that ceramic filters could indeed go kaplooey if water freezes within them. Thanks for the tip DirtyOldMan.

Some magazine just had a big article on water filtration. There were a bunch of micro-biologists, rangers, and supposed "famous" hikers giving info. According to these guys, most running water is drinkable without filtration within the united states. I'll stick with my purifier :D.

12-01-2002, 21:37
see my earlier post about the pur hiker, then DISREGARD. just got back from a 4 day hike. second day out, the new cartridge clogged solid. piece of crap!!!!

SGT Rock
12-02-2002, 09:35
I just got Aqua Mira to try, total weight something like 2.5 ounces with some coffee filters. I'll make a weekend trip to the local Louisiana Swamp and drink some on purpose to evaluate it. Good thing the Army has free health care.

I figure if it works in these conditions, the relatively clean water on the AT won't be a problem.

12-02-2002, 13:30
I was thinking abouy giving the Aqua Mira a try, but then I started thinking about some of the places I have filtered water from in the past. Some of these places were pretty small places. You would of had to had a pretty small cup and you would have been all day scouping the water out of it to fill your bladder. Granted I have not always had this problem but you just never know what the next water source will be like. I like the idea of using Aqua Mira and an inline filter but the idea of scouping water sounds like a big pain in the ass.

SGT Rock
12-02-2002, 13:40
It can be, but my guess it isn't a regular thing.

Last time I absolutly had to scoup water was October 1997 in Virginia after walking 5 miles from water to a shelter labeled as "Reliable Spring" in the guide. Of course it wasn't, not even mud. I had enough for dinner but not for washing anything or breakfast. The next day we walked 4 hours until we found a muddy seap of water where I dug a hole and proceeded to bail 8 liters of water from a seaping hole in the ground. I would still rather carry a 0.5 ounce cup and 2.5 ounces of coffee filters and treatment than 4 times that for a filter. BUT I could see how someone else might not.

12-02-2002, 14:58
We hiked with a LOT of thru-hikers this year who used Aqua Mira. One of the big jokes in the registers was the warning label on the back that talks baout "gastric lavage." They were generally happy wih Aqua mira,, but we did lend out our filter more than once to such hikers becuase of a sketchy water supply...

12-03-2002, 12:08
I have the pump from the original First Need filter. It's a bare pump with a piece of tubing out of the clean end. Solves the problem of extracting water from small puddles, but a bit awkward to pump since you have to hold the end of the pump in the water. Weight probably 3-4 oz with the hose, so not superlight. Can use it plain or attach any kind of filter with hose attachments on both ends. Works with new First Need filters and the Safewater Anywhere in-line filters, which are fairly light. A good combo might be this pump (or something lighter?), a Sweetwater Siltstopper (5 micron prefilter), and AquaMira. Or the pump and a Safewater Anywhere in-line filters may be almost as light. I see a market for a lightweight water pump... Sgt. Rock?

SGT Rock
12-03-2002, 13:48
I bet there is a market for something like that, but I'm sort of in the KISS frame of mind on most things. Scoup, pour, and add chemicals is very hard to break and has very few parts and pieces.

12-13-2002, 17:07
Well my First Need just failed me. Of course it was the first time I used it again after boasting about it earlier. Should have knocked on wood. Backflushing was in-effective. First Need won't replace the filter. then I read this post by DebW...

I have the pump from the original First Need filter. It's a bare pump with a piece of tubing out of the clean end. Solves the problem of extracting water from small puddles, but a bit awkward to pump since you have to hold the end of the pump in the water. Weight probably 3-4 oz with the hose, so not superlight. Can use it plain or attach any kind of filter with hose attachments on both ends. Works with new First Need filters and the Safewater Anywhere in-line filters, which are fairly light. A good combo might be this pump (or something lighter?), a Sweetwater Siltstopper (5 micron prefilter), and AquaMira. Or the pump and a Safewater Anywhere in-line filters may be almost as light. I see a market for a lightweight water pump... Sgt. Rock?

This sounds like a fantastic idea! I'm going to strip down my first need pump just to the basic pump mechanism, add a siltstopper pre-filter, and then apply aqua-mira. Perhaps I can find an even lighter pumping mechanism...

After some thought, perhaps a safe-water-anywhere filter would make a good addition to the siltstopper pre-filter. Hot summers in the green mountains often makes for nasty looking water sources. Plus I like to remove turbidity and foul-tasting remnants.

Another heavy but probably bullet proof physical system would be a silt-stopper pre-filter, safe-water-anywhere inline primary filter, and then feed this highly filtered water through the first-need filter just for virus protection. You'd be talking over a pound though for this setup. I suspect it would increase the life of the first-need filter dramatically, but nonetheless provide a filtration system that removed virus' without the use of chemicals. Too heavy for me though...

I'm a massachusetts grade 5 waste water treatment operator. We use activated sludge organisms to remove suspended solids and it's resultant turbidity, chlorinate with pure liquid chlorine, and then eliminate the chlorine with sodium bi-sulfite. But this isn't safe to drink really. Its just safe enough to put to the local river without signifigant ecological impact. Here is a set of goals for creating a filter/purifier system...

1- Remove large debris such as leaves and algae.
2- Remove silt & other large suspended solids.
3- Kill/Remove organisms such as bacteria and cysts.
4- Kill/Remove Virus'.

In addition, a clear neutral tasting water would be preferred.

Filter system must be reliable, and not permanently clog after 10 or 20 gallons.

The top two items can be removed from the fluid stream by the SiltStopper Pre-Filter. The bottom two can be killed (not removed) by Aqua-Mira treatment.

This leaves us with a fluid that is safe to drink, but may have "gross" discoloration and taste depending on the original water source. A charcoal filter will give a neutral taste. Discoloration is tough to remove without a 2 micron filter. The safe water anywhere in-line filter would remove contaminant 3, and offer clear neutral tasting water. However it has a slow-flow rate I've heard, and would make pumping a pain in the ass. The PUR Hiker has a very poor pump mechanism & pre-filter, but a great primary filter. It only weighs 3.6oz. as well. A modified version within a plastic tube could easily provide a betetr alternative to Safe-Water-Anywhere's filter.

My conclusion as of now...

Silt-Stopper Pre-Filter is a must.
Most water sources look good most of the year. You can always bring a primary filter such as the Safe-Water-Anywhere, or a modified PUR replacement, and add or remove it from the hosing system with a simple plastic tube connector. Post Viral treatment using Aqua-Mira would be a standard precaution. If streams are aesthetically good, just use the Silt-Stopper and Aqua-Mira. For Duck ponds or nasty looking water, add the primary filter to the tubing system.

With a lightweight pump (which I'll look for), this whole system would be highly adaptive to local conditions, and should weigh slightly less than your average pain in the rear end filter system. A basic ball-check type pump with handle could weigh as little as 3 oz. I'm looking...

Note: This was just a personal brain-storm that I just spewed onto my computer.

12-15-2002, 18:19
I stripped down my First Need Purifer unit and got down to just the pump unit, and 2 feet of input hose and got 4.5oz. The output will consist of two feet of hose and a platypus mating adapter. This will add 1.5-2oz total. Add 1oz for the SiltStopper Pre-Filter, and 3oz for an in-line primary filter. Then 2 ounces for the Aqua Mira. A grand total of ~11oz. This could be further stripped down another ounce or so with a lighter weight pump unit.

This system has one big advantage over other purifier/filters. It has the ability to accept nearly any filter component. If you don't mind about turbidity/taste, you can eliminate the 3oz. primary filter, and still drink safe water. This would be an 8oz system that would clean 30 gallons of water (or more if you carried another set of aquamira chemicals). The primary filter can be removed when the water looks and smells good. The Aqua-Mira kills the cysts/bacteria/virus' anyway. This could extend the life of the primary filter for a long time, being used only in the nastiest of conditions. It also would not be a system which would leave you dry if something broke. You always have the aqua-mira.

12-16-2002, 05:17
hampster... you could try removing the bite valve and filling the bladder thru the hose instead of an adaptor.

01-01-2003, 21:43
I've decided to use my first need pump with a siltstopper pre-filter and aqua-mira. I'm just going to say "To Hell With It" with the primary filtration system. The only downside to this will be embibing water which is discolored our poor-tasting. I've heard that aqua-mira does improve these qualities somewhat though. Total system will be around 8 or 9 oz, with 2oz being the aqua-mira. The pre-filter pump setup will be used for pre-treating and easier access to small water sources. I may carry two-sets of aqua-mira at a time when one is getting low. 1 aqua-mira set will treat 30 gallons of water. I use just over a gallon a day. This means replenishing my supply every 3 weeks or so. Ordering 2 sets tomorrow, along with the siltstopper pre-filter.

01-02-2003, 13:29
MSR Miniworks works for me! Easy to clean,and break down if your seals leak put some Silicon based lip gloss on then and it's a quick fix.plus it hooks right to my MSR Dromalite bag and Nalgene bottles!


01-04-2003, 14:08
Yeah! Just got all the stuff in, and built the filter...

Ok here it is. First Need Micro-mesh PreFilter (for large debris, algae, bugs, etc), SiltStopper II 5-Micron Pre-Filter (silt, other suspended dirt particles, and large cysts), First Need Pump (Stripped, pumps both on up and down stroke), Platypus bag adapter, and hosing comes in at a grand weight of 7.5oz. I need to still finish stripping the first need pump. This should kill another 0.5 to 1.0 ounce. Total weight should be about 7oz. You also need the 2oz Aquamira set (which kills all remaing baddies and improves color/taste). I bought two, and put both mixing caps with one set for treating large volumes of water. In addition, for the ultimate in reliability, you can carry 3 replacement filters for the siltstopper (overkill but long-distance reliability) which total a whole 1oz. So for a water purification system that will never let you down, you have to lug 10oz. This is still an ounce less than the PUR Hiker standard. This is what I plan on using.

01-04-2003, 15:11
RagingHampster, this looks like a good setup and I will probably end up using something similar on my longer hikes. Though I would omit the First Need prefilter if replacement Siltstopper filters are just as light.

01-04-2003, 16:20
Deb I suggest using some type of mesh prefilter before the SiltStopper. The siltstopper has no protection from large media, and could quickly succomb to a clog from algae. Even a tiny synthetic no-see-um filter on the tip of the intake hose would suffice. I'm just using my First Need one because it attatches to the hose nicely. You will see what I mean if you purchase a SiltStopper II Pre-Filter.

I'm also trying to find an even lighter weight pump. I know they exist. This could cut up to an additional 2 ounces.

01-05-2003, 20:57
I've just added a photo of the system to the Photo Gallery...