My favourite microfilter is (was) the MSR WaterWorks II filter which contains a 0.5 micron ceramic depth filter, and integrated granular activated carbon element for removing treatment and secondary 0.2 micron filter. Sadly it appears that MSR has discontinued the WaterWorks II.
However, the ‘son of WaterWorks’ is the MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter filter which I also use. It’s basically the same as an MSR Waterworks II filter with its 0.5 micron ceramic depth filter and GAC element but without the secondary 0.2 micron filter.
The MiniWorks is lightweight, easily maintained in the field and pumps about a litre a minute if the water you are treating is reasonably clear. The clean water outlet has a large fitting that screws onto a standard Nalgene bottle allowing for easy two handed pumping.
The ceramic depth filter is easily cleaned with a scrub pad that comes with it and the filter’s thickness can be checked with a gauge and the filter element replaced when it has been abraded beyond its recommended thickness.
The filter element can be boiled to disinfect it and then air-dried if you are going to store it for long periods such as over winter. The filter elements are quite fragile when removed from the housing so you need to be very careful when cleaning them.
I’ve used this sort of filter for over a decade and only replaced the ceramic element once because I broke it while cleaning. The filter itself is great value and because it is amongst the most widely used in the world, the replacement elements are easily available.
I highly recommend the MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter, which when combined with a chemical treatment such as Polar Pure, creates a water treatment system that can stand up to worst case water situations anywhere in the world.
You can purchase the MSR MiniWorks Ex Microfilter from my shop.
Polar Pure is an iodine treatment system consisting of a tiny jar containing a few grams of iodine crystals.
You basically fill up the jar with water, wait a half hour until the water is saturated with iodine and pour this liquid into a bottle containing the water you want to treat. Instructions on the bottle explain how much to add for a given quantity of water.
Because the water in the jar will only absorb so much iodine before it reaches saturation concentration, the crystals last for about 2000 litres and when you pour the mixture out the crystals are retained in the jar by a clever plastic neck so you can then refill the jar and reuse many times. Because iodine does not degrade over time so you can use the same bottle until the crystals are all used up.
I’ve been using the same bottle of Polar Pure since 1999 and still have another decade of treatment left. I carry Polar Pure in my backpack whenever I’m travelling in a country without trustworthy water and sanitation just in case I’m caught without access to clean water.
Note that iodine is not proven to kill Cryptosporidium so I prefer to use it as a primary treatment for viruses and to rely on a microfilter to strain out pathogenic protozoa like Cryptosporidium.
You can purchase Polar Pure from my shop.
Based in Switzerland and with offices around the world, Katadyn has been producing ceramic water microfilters for over 80 years. They have about half the global market in filters and their portable filters for outdoor and travel use are probably the highest quality available. I own a Katadyn Pocket filter.
- Katadyn Pocket Filter
The Pocket filter is the original ceramic microfilter. It comes with a 20 year warranty and the cleanable 0.2 micron ceramic depth filter (a thick scrubbable filter element) is impregnated with silver to inhibit bacteria growth. This is the smallest pore size available in a microfilter and it will filter out all pathogenic bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worm eggs but not viruses which are far too small to be filtered. The ceramic depth filter will last for 15-20,000 litres depending on how dirty the water is and how often it is scrubbed and thus how quickly the ceramic is abraded.
Katadyn microfilters are probably the most expensive on the market but they are very high quality Swiss products with a proven track record and will last you a lifetime of travel and adventure. Unlike microfilters that use cheaper paper filters that need replacing after several hundred litres, Katadyn ceramic depth filters can be easily cleaned and produce no waste material. To put it in perspective, if you take ten weekend hiking trips per year and pump 15 litres through the filter each weekend this filter will last you for about 100 years without needing any replacement parts.
The combination of a high quality ceramic microfilter and a chemical treatment product is my preferred water treatment system for the toughest conditions and Katadyn offers amongst the highest quality and most proven and trustworthy products available.
I highly recommend their products. You can purchase them from my shop.