Water Filter-MSR Hyperflow, Life Straw, Sawyer Squeeze

Filter vs Purification

Before we move onto reviewing the three filters that I have used in the outdoors over the years, I believe it’s very important to discuss and review the difference between filtered and purified. This information is important to know and understand before purchasing any products for cleaning your water and making it safe to drink. Your choice will depend on where you’re traveling whether or not you will need to filter your water or purify it.

Filter

If you’re traveling anywhere in North America the good news is that using a filtration system in the outdoors is usually sufficient enough. Other good news is that pretty much all the water coming out of any faucet in North America they treat well enough to drink. Contracting a virus in the wilderness after filtering your water properly is low and never really a concern to me. Anytime you are out in the wilderness, just make sure that you are using common sense when searching for a water source. This means to check for dead animals or any other obvious sources of contamination close by.

When using a water filter it will remove 99.9999% of all bacteria including Salmonella, Cholera, and E-Coli. It will also remove 99.9% of protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The filter uses either a ceramic cartridge or a bunch of hollow fiber tubes that contain microscopic pores, typically 0.2 to 0.4 microns, which will allow water to pass by but the items listed above will not. Viruses, however, are tiny enough to slip by these pores.

Purification

Once you leave North America or Canada and travel to less developed places, I would consider purchasing a water purifier versus a filter. Now your chances of contracting a virus have now gone up greatly. When you’re in a third world country you must remember that their sewage is usually not treated properly or at all. If you can imagine all that untreated sewage leaks into the local lakes, streams, and coastal area’s, causing unsafe water for consumption. You might encounter viruses like Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Enterovirus due to the fact of pollution and human waste. It would be critical to purify your water for safe drinking while you’re visiting any of these places.

There will be a list of purification devices for purchase at most outdoor retailers. The one method that remains simple and effective is boiling your water for at least one minute and 3 minutes if you’re at altitude. This should kill everything lurking in your water but will not remove any sediment.

This information is to inform you that there is a difference between filtering and purifying your water; please remember to always do your research before making a decision on what to purchase for your travels.

Mountain Science Research Hyperflow Filter

water filter MSR Hyperflow

Personally, I have used this water filter for many years and I was very impressed, the majority of the time. If you research this particular product, you will find that you must back flush it on a regular basis. If you do this, you will have optimum performance. During a hand full of backpacking, and kayaking trips in Florida, I’ve used this filter to pump dark water full of sediment from lakes and rivers, with great success. No matter the trip I easily supplied two to four people with water: for cooking, and consumption. Remember, it is best to always locate water that is moving and clear of as much sediment as possible. This will maximize the lifespan of your filter.

Pro’s

– Lightweight (7.8 ounces, 7 x 3.5 inches)
– Easy to backflush and disassemble in the field, when the filter becomes clogged.
 – Comes with a convenient lid that screws onto your Nalgene bottle with any 63mm opening. Plus, on top of your lid has a quick connect for your Hyperflow filtration system, for easy and efficient pumping.
– Prefilter attached to the end of the hose to remove large contaminants before the water even reaches the Microfilter.
– For me, it took 20 pumps to fill my 1 liter Nalgene bottle.
– Convenient hand grips for smooth pumping.

Con’s

– The need to continually backflush.
– The one-way valves inverting themselves every now and then during pumping, cause delay and frustration.
– During my experience using the pump, it was just about impossible to let the prefilter float on top of the water while pumping. When operating the pump I had to use a rock in order to keep the prefilter underwater, for maximum efficiency.

Life Straw Water Filter

water filter- life straw

My wife and I originally purchased the life straw, in order to try out a new lightweight filter, that we could possibly use to replace our current filtration system. We were impressed with the Lifestraw’s size and quick deployment while hiking. Once we were on the trail the tryout began. At first, we attempted to drink right out of the stream. During my experience, you must prime the straw first by applying suction. Once this occurrs, it became pretty easy to drink from the Lifestraw. Afterward, we gave my 18-month-old, a chance to try it out as well. She claims that she was drinking successfully from the straw and it appeared that way. What a great sales pitch ” It’s so easy even a 1 1/2-year-old can use it”.

After drinking directly from the water source, we tried filling up a water bottle and using the Lifestraw to drink from it. Unless I’m forced to drink right from the source, this would be my preferred method of using this filter. Of course, if you’re using this method, you must remember to dedicate one of your bottles to this process. The reason is that once you fill your water bottle up from an unknown source, it’s considered contaminated. Overall, for what it is, it worked well.

For me personally, I would only bring it as a backup filtration system. In my opinion, there are other more well-rounded filters out there for backpacking or any other long distance trips. What I would recommend it for is trail running, mountain biking, or any sport where weight is a concern. The Lifestraw would be an excellent choice during these activities so long as there is an abundance of water sources.

Pro’s

– Lightweight and east to carry (comes with a lanyard for easy carrying around the neck).
– The filter is rather inexpensive, only running about $20.
– You can filter up to 264 gallons (1000 liters) depending on water source quality.
– Back flushing the filter is easy and convenient, regularly blowing through the Lifestraw after use will keep the filter unclogged and operating at peak performance.
– Super lightweight only weighing 2 oz.
– This filter has a 0.2-micron filter that physically removes 99.9999% of all bacteria, Salmonella, Cholera, and E-Coli. Also, it removes 99.9% of protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

Con’s

– If you’re backpacking or doing any kind of long distance trip where you’ll need an abundance of water for camp; this filter will not be a good choice. This is due to the fact that you can only use it like a straw. Now, unless you are hardcore and would like to sip and spit into your water bladder until it’s full.
– If you’re traveling abroad, this filter will work but it will not remove all viruses (Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus, Enterovirus). Read above on filtration vs purified (very important).

Sawyer Squeeze Filter

water filter- Sawyer Squeeze

When it comes to convenience the Sawyer Squeeze is my go to all day long. When I started taking extended trips into the wilderness, I continually looked for easier ways to collect water while hiking. Also, I wanted to reduce the amount of water weight I was carrying. There are many great options on the market today for a dip and go type scenario, so long as there is an ample amount of water along with your route. I purchased the Sawyer mini and it was hands down one of the best all around filters I’ve used for the outdoors. The kit that I picked up came with two mini filters, two 16oz collapsible pouches, and a syringe for proper back flushing. It also included a straw that you can attach to the filter for drinking directly from the source.

If your intentions are to use this filter for any camping or long distance trips, I would highly recommend that you purchase at least one 64oz pouch. This will allow you to collect more water for convenience while camping. Being that there is three of us, not counting the new addition, I bought two 64oz pouches.

The best part about the pouches, they’re completely collapsable and rather tough. This doesn’t mean that they are indestructible though. Please remember to not squeeze the pouch with all your might in order to hurry the process. If you feel like the water is not coming out quick enough remember to back flush. That’s the number one thing you can do to keep your filter flowing properly.

Furthermore, there are a couple other things to avoid doing with you Sawyer. First, don’t screw the filter on to tight. This will cause the o-ring to in bed into the pouch, causing it to be out of place and potentially leak. Last but not least, avoid wringing the pouch for a faster flow rate. If you are faced with a non-moving source of water, I found it to be much easier to dedicate one bottle as dirty, so you can use it to fill up your pouches. I’m saying this because upon my attempt of filling the pouch in non-moving water was very frustrating, due to the fact of the pouch being collapsed while trying to introduce water into it.

Pro’s

– Filter weight 3 oz
– Filter fits on most plastic water bottles that you can buy at the store.
– You have the option to purchase the adapters and hoses needed for an in-line setup.
– Backflushing is easy and quick to perform in the field.- 0.1-micron filter physically removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as Salmonella, Cholera, and E-Coli. It removes 99.9999% of all Protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
– Convenient, collapsible pouches (16oz, 32oz, and 64oz).

Con’s

 – The Sawyer Squeeze will filter the water, not purify it. Meaning it will not remove viruses.
 – The pouches are tough but not indestructible so make sure you have more than one with you.

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