82449Owner Review - MSR Sweetwater filter - Valentin Romanov
- Nov 3, 2013Dear Editor(s),Included is my owner review based on the October focus on water filters.http://tinyurl.com/ mwwvvlr
MSR SweetWater Filtration System
Owner Review by Valentin Romanov
October 19, 2013
Name: Valentin Romanov
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
Weight: 165 lb (74 kg)
Email address: vromanovaus AT gmail.com
City, County, or area: Salt Lake City
I started hiking seriously about 3 years ago, however I have covered a lot of miles in those 3 years. One year was spent backpacking the length of South America while subsequent trips have mostly been to the national parks of the USA.
Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
Year of manufacture
Filter pore size
0.2 microns (0.00008 in)
1 liters per min (33.81 fl oz per min)
11 oz / 320 g
12 oz / 340 g
Dimensions (width and length)
2.5 in by 7.5 in (5 cm by 19 cm)
Filter life span
Around 750L (198 US Gallons)
Description of the product
The MSR Sweetwater filter comes in a nice, perforated bag. The entire mechanism fits snuggly into the bag where by the entrance is closed off using a pinching mechanism. The bag is robust meaning that it will not tear after continual removal from the backpack.
This product will be evaluated from the point where the pre-filter is inserted into the water source to the out-take hose leading into the bottle.
The pre-filter is a small, circular 3 mm (0.12 in) thick device to which the intake hose is attached. The pre-filter is the point of contact with the water source. The housing is designed using ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), used for is high impact resistance, chemical resistance and toughness. ABS is shatter resistant between temperatures from -20 to 80 C (-4 F to 176 F). To note: ABS is flammable when exposed to extreme temperatures such as wood fire and will eventually burst into flames if left in contact with the flames. ABS can also be damaged by sunlight, as such the filter should not be left out in the sun for extended periods of time.
The mesh found on the top of the housing is designed using stainless steel, criss-crossed to prevent particulates of 75 um (0.00295 in) or greater from entering the filter. As such, the pre-filter ensures that distinctly heavy particulates do not enter and prematurely block the filter. To ensure that the nozzle does not sink to the bottom of the stream or get caught in between rocks, a floating device is attached half way down the tube. The flotation device ensures that the water is pulled from the greater body of water rather than the sediment bed.
From there the water travels through an 81 cm (32 in) long tube to the inlet of the filter. The cable is made from Silicon with an inner diameter (ID) of 3/16" (0.476 cm). Silicon is a durable material, chemically inert material with a high melting point. As such, the tubing is hard to damage and so should in theory withstand quite a lot of abuse.
The hose is attached to the filter cartridge which is essentially a hollowed out chamber with an inlet and an outlet port. The chamber is made out of PC (polycarbonate), a thermoplastic used for its high impact resistance and overall durability. This filter uses activated carbon for adsorbing molecules within the porous structure helping to eliminate any odors in the water. In addition, the silica depth filtration technique employs a filter size of 0.2 um (0.00008 in). By this process, the manufacturer states that the filter is able to eliminate over 99.99% of all waterborne bacteria and some parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Furthermore, filter life is estimated at around 750 L (198 US Gallons)) of water at 1 L per minute (33.8 fl oz per min). If the filtration rate dramatically reduces it may mean that the silica filter is getting blocked. In this case it may be cleaned using provided filter brush.
The water is pumped into the filter via a cartridge affixed to a handle. The pump handle is attached to the housing via a retainer pin which slots into a hole allowing for lever like motion of the handle. Built into the housing is a pressure release valve ensuring that if any clogging were to occur water would come pouring out rather than cracking the filter. The pumping mechanism is screwed clock-wise onto the filter. The lever-action is designed to provide a 4 to 1 mechanical advantage, both on the up and down stroke.
The purified water is then delivered into the bottle via another 81 cm (32 in) silicon tube. To ensure that the hose does not slip out of the bottle, a universal bottle adapter is attached to the end of the hose.
In the field
This filter was purchased for our backpacking trip to South America. It lasted 8 months however we noticed a drastic reduction in performance after 6 months. The filter was used to purify water for 2 people. Locations of usage included national parks in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. As an average I would estimate that the filter was used to purify 4 L (1.06 US Gallons) of water, 4 days a week. As such, using this rough estimate, the filtration system purified around 550 L (145 US Gallons) of water over a period of about 140 days.
The filter was used in the following conditions:
Clean, mountain fed streams
Fresh water lakes
Dirty, run off streams
It has been used in a number of environments from the heat of the Colombian jungles 35 C (95 F) with 100% humidity to the frozen, glacial mountains of southern Chile 0 C (32 F).
Review of the product
The MSR Sweetwater filtration system performed as expected. We found that it was very easy to setup and to pack up. The pump handle comes apart via the removal of the retainer pin. The handle comes flush to the body of the filter and is then secured to the body via the wrapping of the silicon tubing. We had no problems with assembly and disassembly of this unit.
I really enjoy the fact that the pre-filter can be lowered into a body of water. This means that I don't have to bend over a rock or go wading into water in order to scoop up an appropriate amount of water for filtering. The pre-filter works like a charm and in a running source of water, does not block at all. The only issue with blockage is when the filtration system becomes blocked. Initially the hand unit can filter about a liter (33.8 fl oz) of water per minute however after 6 months of use the rate had slowed to about half that. Luckily, the setup comes with a filter brush. In order to remove the build of sediment within the filter, the filter brush needs to be inserted into the tube and gently twisted. While this gets rid of most of the build up, it is a short term solution. The filter will need to be replaced. We used the filter for 2 more months afterwards and noticed that because of the reduced performance of the filtering system, the filtration rate continued to reduce to a point where every other stroke water would come squirting out of the pressure valve. The device is still usable at this point, however it becomes a pain to apply enough leverage for effective water filtering. We could not find the appropriate parts in South America, and even if we did, the price was usually double the recommended retail price.
Furthermore, the filter performed well in sandy conditions. With use, I noticed that sand tended to build up around the point of where water entered and exited the filtering system. In order to properly clean the system, I had to disassemble all of the tubing. Beyond that, this filter requires little maintenance and is quite robust.
Overall, I really like this filtration system. It packs very well, with no loose hinges or other bits that may snag on the inside of the bag. I found that it is quite easy to use when on a trail or even in a hostel. The life span of the filter itself will be determined by the level of sediment in the water. I was quite impressed with how long our filter lasted considering that we filtered in every imaginable water environment.
Fast filtering rate
Convenient to use
Additional filters are expensive
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