On the Quick:
Dimensions: 7.6” x 16.5” x 6.1”
Capacity (gal/L): ~ 200 / ~750
Output (gal/L): ~ 1 quart/min / ~ 1 L/min
Type: Activated Carbon
MSRP: $74.95 – but can often be found cheaper. At the time of writing, Amazon is listing this item at $56.70
Available from: REI and Amazon.
Note: Katadyn recently released Katadyn Mini which I plan to test.
If there’s one thing every backpacker should have, it’s a water filter. While we do live in a country that sports some of the cleanest water in the world there are still microbial dangers in the wilderness, so having one of these is key when setting out.
Like all my gear, I went through several different models before settling on the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter. You might have just heard of this little filter as it’s the best selling microfilter in the US. Part of the reason for this has to be its ease of use. Out of all the filters I’ve tested, none seem to have the same flow rate as this one.
The Katadyn Hiker is extremely simple in its design. It essentially works like a fish tank filter. The water is drawn through the intake tube as you pump the handle at the top. From there it runs through activated carbon granules that remove larger particles and reduce foul tastes and odor. Lastly the water is pushed through their AntiClog pleated cartridge (0.3 micron). That takes out almost all the possible microbes that would get you sick and the beauty is that the cartridge never needs to be cleaned (Water Filtration systems typically have screens that will block protozoa and bacteria. Viruses can only be killed by boiling water or by using chemical or ultraviolet purification, although viruses are rarely found in North American waters). An EasyFill bottle adapter is included in the kit which fits some – but not all – water bottles and bladders. For example, I carry a Platypus bladder which has a wide mouth opening at the top. For me to fill the bladder I have to drop either the EasyFill adapter into the bladder or remove the adapter and just put in the tube. There have been more than a few times it’s slipped out and watered my pants and shoes. That said, this is a minor drawback if you don’t have one of the compatible products (almost all water bottles fit the adapter).
As I mentioned before, the flow rate is its best feature. While other hikers sit by the water pumping furiously at their military grade water filters, this pumps with ease and only takes a short time to fill a three liter bladder. On their website they state, “approximately 48 stokes per minute to provide 1 liter of water.” While hiking, or after a long day’s trek the last thing I want to do is extra exercise, so this works nicely.
Included with the filter is its carrying case, the bottle adapter, both intake and output hoses and a small lubricant bottle (for the pump). In terms of what I carry, this is the only case out of all my equipment that I bring with me. I want to keep the hoses separate from everything else and all the pieces together. The lubricant I carried for a long time but have never found a need to use it after two years so I no longer carry it.
I have read some reviews that the Hiker breaks easily, namely the lower intake nipple. I have never had any issues with mine, and I’m anything but light on my gear. Having said that, after inspecting my unit I can see the potential for the nipple to break off. While I’m in the wild I never remove either of these hoses and only do so carefully when I’m home. This essentially eliminates the worry of the nipple breaking off. My suggestion would be if you have to remove one of the hoses, to do so carefully and ensure that when it’s packed it won’t be smashed against anything. Lastly, I would say that if you are planning an extended outing, then investing in a ceramic filter might be the way to go, though it will weigh you down more.
Very fast fill rate
AntiClog filter doesn’t need to be replaced
Not the lightest on the market (I.E. Life Straw, Iodine tablets)
Not field repairable
Fragile Joints (this has not happened to me, but seems to be a common complaint)
I haven’t had any issues with my Katadyn and I’m hooked on the flow rate. I have friends who cart their much heavier field strippable water filters around with them and although I’ve never seen them need to actual do a repair while in the wild the option is there. In all truth though, for several years I drank directly out of streams and I’ve never been sick, so I’ll take the lighter of the two any day. For me this is my go-to filter.
Editor’s Note: As with all backcountry water filters, it’s important to note the difference between filters like this one and purifiers. Filters will remove protozoa, bacteria, and sediment from water (as well as any funky taste the water might have), while only purifiers like iodine tablets and ultraviolet light devices or processes like boiling for at least one minute will kill viruses. While viruses in backcountry water in North America are extremely rare, the only sure-fire way to make sure your water is completely safe is a combination of methods.