A lightweight, compact filter-and-pump combo for collecting and purifying natural water sources
Dimensions 3 x 6.5 x 2.4″ (7.6 x 16.5 x 6.1 cm)
Weight: 11 oz. (310 g)
Output: ~ 1 quart/min (1 liter/min)
Capacity ~ 200 gal. (750 liters)
AntiClog Technology with 0.3 micron glassfiber (no cleaning needed), activated-carbon granulate
The Katadyn Hiker water filter is a lightweight, compact filter-and-pump combo for collecting and purifying natural water sources for drinking and cooking, removing dangerous micro-organisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
Living in the wilderness can mean enduring any number of minor discomforts: bug bites, sunburn, scurvy. But a case of Giardiasis—an intestinal infection caused by unsafe drinking water—may make you wish for a speedy death. Symptoms may include the “abrupt onset of abdominal cramps, fever, watery diarrhea, vomiting, foul flatus, and greasy and malodorous stools.” Yikes! Some of these symptoms, and more, can be long-term and lingering, so even if you are able to crawl back to civilization, you probably won’t be very welcome there. An effective means of treating backcountry water will help keep you healthy and comfortable.
Packed in its own nylon carrying bag with the included intake & output hoses, prefilter, and bottle adaptor, the Katadyn Hiker easily stows in a daypack or a kayak cargo hold. Constructed of a high-impact plastic, it seems sturdily built, but is no heavier than comparable pump-filter combos.
No larger than a standard, quart-size Nalgene water bottle, the Hiker is easily and quickly assembled for use. The pump handle swings outward to reveal the filter’s output connection, and for better leverage during pumping. The flexible input and output hoses slip onto their respective pump connections, and the Hiker is soon ready for work. Grab your empty bottles and look for a reasonably clean body of fresh water.
The end of the intake hose is equipped with a weighted prefilter and an adjustable plastic-foam float; the float helps keep the end of the hose off the dirty bottom of the stream or pond, while the prefilter eliminates larger bits of sediment and other crud. The intake hose could stand to be a bit longer; it can sometimes be difficult to keep your feet dry while getting the prefilter into water deep enough and clean enough for filtering.
The output hose includes a bottle adapter intended fit a variety of water containers; I’ve used it to fill Nalgene hiking bottles, hydration packs and wide-mouth water bags, sport-drink bottles, and military canteens. Unfortunately, it does not fit the popular Platypus soft bottles, so requires a second set of hands to hold in place during filling.
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Once setup, the Hiker is easily operated by slowly and steadily pumping the ergonomic handle. Generally, no priming is needed, and the unit soon begins simultaneously pumping and filtering, producing clean, drinkable water. The Hiker‘s 0.3-micron, pleated fiberglass filter element removes dangerous algae, protozoa, bacteria, and other nasties, and even seems to eliminate many off-tastes of natural water sources.
I find that about 50 pump cycles produce a quart of filtered water, so it’s no great chore to refill all the water containers needed for anywhere from one to four campers, in a single session. When travelling solo or with a partner, we generally need to refill only every couple of days or so.
Once your reservoirs are full, simply disconnect and stow the Hiker‘s hoses (the output hose and bottle adaptor should go into their own separate plastic bag, to prevent cross-contamination from the intake parts). Invert and pump a few times to clear the filter, then rotate the handle to cover and protect the output barb and to save space. Stow everything back in the carry bag for next time.
In The Long Run
I’ve been using my Katadyn Hiker for several years, and have run hundreds of gallons through it, from murky inland rivers to Lake Superior waters. It has always proven to be an easy and dependable piece of backcountry gear, and has never failed in the field. When the internal filter element begins to reach its capacity (Katadyn claims 200 gallons), the Hiker will become more difficult to pump, indicating it’s time for a new element. These are easy to replace, but at $35, cost about 50% the price of the complete pump system.
Aside from an unlikely catastrophic breakage, the only parts that may ever need replacement are the main pump O-ring and perhaps the hoses, though mine are still going strong.
All in all, my Katadyn Hiker pump-and-filter combo continues to serve as a solid and reliable producer of drinkable water when hiking, paddling, and camping.
Hits: compact, lightweight, simple, effortless, pre-filter, multi-size bottle adaptor
Misses: short intake hose, rather costly replacement filter element