Caribou Gear

Water Filters

Art Vandeley

Well-known member
Dec 12, 2011
What are you guys using for water filtration on backpack trips? I have seen the pens, pump filters, tablets etc. I would think the pump systems are the way to go when you need enough water for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth etc. Can anyone recommend a quality light weight one? Have been looking at the MSR ones right now at around 10 oz.

I have an MSR pump style filter that works pretty good. Silty/cloudy water will plug it up and you have to clean it so be sure to keep a brilo type pad with you.

That said, if I was buying new, now, I would go with a gravity setup. Pumping can suck. One of these would work.

If you use a hydration pack, some folks tie in the gravity filters inline to the hose on the pack. Just fill with "dirty" water and sip clean water.
We used a katadyn hiker pro on our last hunting trip to Colorado in '13. It worked great. We shared that one as a group but I bought my own for our trip this year. I also carry some of the Micropur tablets as a backup. Would hate to have mechanical issues and not have any other alternatives especially with the negligible space and weight of the tablets. They actually came in handy one day when we were high on a mountain ridge and I ran out of water. Each time we came to a patch of snow I stuffed my water bottle with snow (it was warm out) until it all melted and I had 32 oz of water. Although the melted snow was likely OK to drink I didn't want to take any chances so I dropped a tablet it for insurance. Didn't have a way to pump snow through the filter!! But I believe the filter removes more of potential "bad" stuff so it is my main source of purification.
I use a MSR pump style,15+ yrs.
I always can get pure water to drink while away from camp and water stash. I carry my filter with me and can fill the pack bladder while mid-day breaking.
The tablets are in my 1st aid/emergency bag that is with me at all times,but have never been needed.
I filter snow melt too these days and springs......sorry once will do it.
I use a Katadyn Hiker Pro, works great. One advantage to a pump is that if all you have is a tiny trickle, you can still fill up large containers.
Depends on how many guys. Last year for Randy11's goat hunt, there were five of us. I brought in a Katadyn Base Camp and it worked superb. It weighs about as much as some of the pumps and others. But, it requires a bit bigger water source to fill the huge reservoir. I have the pumps, but they are a serious PITA. I prefer to let gravity work, whenever possible. I also have two Platypus gravity flow systems and they are really good, also.
I assume none of these work when below freezing, right?

I just use iodine tablets these days. Perhaps there is a reason I shouldn't. I bought a pump about 20 years ago and found it too much trouble... you sweated a quart to get a 1/4 gallon of water. My wife has one that flows better but it is bulky.

The wife is a RN. She advised us, that if a guy is allergic to shellfish, then he is probably allergic to iodine to. So be careful of the iodine tablets if you are allergic to shellfish. The last thing we need is a reaction miles into no-mans land.
I also have a Katadyn Hiker Pro. I've had it for years and have yet to suffer any mountain water diseases.

Santa put a LifeStraw in stocking last year. My kids and I have tried it out in the creek. No deaths yet.
I was thinking of getting a Katadyn bag to pour creek water into faster,easier than pumping,ala Randy.
But then again I go solo,and there are almost no water sources here where I am in NM to pour out of,cept stock tanks. How do the bags work with NM style water Randy? Do they clog up with the silt?
I can get my bladder filled form a small puddle if needed with the pump,lots of those here,LOL.
I fill milk bottles(screw lid type) with water and freeze it for the camp cooler and take water jugs for bulk. I have only run out a few times even with dish duty. Then it's off to nearby town for water and a cuppa.
The wife is a RN. She advised us, that if a guy is allergic to shellfish, then he is probably allergic to iodine to. So be careful of the iodine tablets if you are allergic to shellfish. The last thing we need is a reaction miles into no-mans land.

Yikes, my son is allergic to shellfish. Thankfully he has never reacted to iodine on our trips. Perhaps it is because I use the neutralizer.

[edit - the iodine/shellfish connection seems to be an urban legend:, but I have heard people discourage iodine for some reason.]
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I have a sawyer microfilter for backpacking. I like the option of being able to gravity feed large quantities or squeeze smaller amounts using the bags that come with it. I follow it up with a steripen for good measure. I have never done it but they say you can use it like a straw.
And all need to be drained and left open a bit if it's going to freeze. Never had my MSR freeze...yet.That would ruin it IMHO.
Sawyer Mini. Splice it directly into a water bladder line and there is no comparable option available. Top-notch convenience (fill your bladder and roll on), ultra lightweight, no issues with taste, and virtually indestructible (sleep with it in cold weather conditions!). Get em' for around $20 on Amazon.


If you're real cheap, you can take 1 for every other hunter on your trip and have filter sessions. Check out the wallow water in the top bladder! Take what you can get on top of the mountain.
To me, it seems like the something like the Sawyer Mini or the Platypus gravity system is a no brainer. Lightweight, easy to use, and looks like it filters a lot of water quickly. Are there any disadvantages?

Thanks for the replies
A tip for the Katadyn Base Camp set up. If you know (or even suspect) you'll be filtering fairly turbid water, take several coffee filters and some rubber bands. Place coffee filter over top of internal filter cartridge to screen out the bulk of the silt. This worked great for me on a glacial river in Alaska.
I cant believe you drank wallow water!!!!You had to be dying of thirst.My pump works great but I always put a new filter in it each year.When the filters clogged its a pain to get any water.I always bring a back up using tablets.I know I've heard bleach works but using the right amount important

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