If you’re going into the backcountry water filtration is going to be the most important piece of your gear. Unless of course you’re lugging all of your H20 in with you. Tablets taste funky and Steripens do nothing to get rid of grit. This is why I looked to an actual water filter to take with me on trips. Enter the Katadyn Hiker Pro, which I got through REI’s 20% member sale this past March.
The Hiker Pro Filtration System weighs just 11 ounces and is able to pump through roughly a quart of water per minute. It protects against chemicals, micro-organisms, and takes the “off” taste out of water as well as calming gross cloudy water.
The filter is replaceable and costs about $40. But if you keep it dry after use, like when you get home from each adventure — you won’t need to replace it often. Each cartridge does about 300 gallons effectively, but there’s reviews on the internet of people doing much more. I just don’t need extra critters swimming around in my gut, I’ve got enough thanks. Additionally the Katadyn Hiker Pro has a removable pre-filter or filter protector. It not only helps extend the life of the filter but also helps from gumming up the entire works. Just take it out, swish it in the stream and go about your purification.
We took the system on all of our backcountry trips this year and it performed admirably. The inlet has a float on the end and a bulb to protect the inlet that has a grate to keep things like big rocks or plants from being sucked up. It assembles in seconds with just the inlet and outlet hoses being attached to the pump itself, one end of the hose into the water source, the other directly into your water bottle or hydration bladder. The handle reverses onto itself for easy storage and covers up the outlet port. A gentle pull and reversal of the handle, plopping the inlet into the water source and you’re on your way. A couple of pumps later you have fresh filtered water!
It’s simple to use and seemingly indestructible so long as you keep the filter and pre-filter relatively clean.