Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner Review (Revised)

Expand Messages
  • Jeff Widman
    Below is the revised version of my Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner Review. I changed a few items in the report, notably reporting on my experience with
    Message 1 of 9 , May 1, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      Below is the revised version of my Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner
      Review. I
      changed a few items in the report, notably reporting on my experience with
      Cascade Designs customer service. Mainly, I updated it to match the
      new standards of the Survival Guide v. 302.2
      Please let me know any comments, critiques, or anything that I messed up on.
      Jeff
      --


      Item being tested: Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter
      Report Number: Owner Review

      Name: Jeff Widman
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6'3"
      Weight: 164 lbs.
      Age: 15 yrs
      Area of Residence: Bellingham, WA (two hours north of Seattle.)
      E-mail address: jeffwidman@...
      Date: 10-11-01 (revised 4-21-02)
      (Please see end of report for a short biography of my backpacking exploits.)

      Intro: My parents purchased a Sweetwater Guardian water filter three years
      ago because we needed a water filter. My family puts in many miles every
      summer in medium length day hikes (10 miles average) and we didn't want to
      carry our own water, nor did we wish to use tablets, or drink straight from
      the source. There are six people in my family, and we often go hiking with
      friends who seldom have their own filters. Thus the Sweetwater Guardian
      appeared to fit the bill. It has a purported pump rate of 1.25 liters per
      minute as well as a weight of 11 ounces (manufacturer's claims.)

      Test Duration:
      We have carried the Guardian over five hundred miles of trails, with about
      100 miles of that being backpacking. This last summer we went on a 40 miler
      with another family (there was a total of two dads and nine kids, both moms
      elected to stay home.) The Guardian was our sole purification system. We
      have probably pumped 50 gallons of water; I am not totally sure of just how
      much.

      Durability:
      All parts of the system have held up reasonably well. The stuff sack is in
      perfect condition. The pump itself works fine, though just recently it
      started to leak a little around the place where the plunger enters the body
      of the pump; probably a bad gasket. Other than that I would say that
      everything is just as good as when we bought it. The filter is supposed to
      last for approximately 200 gallons of water (manufacturer's claim.)

      Ease of Use:
      There are many filters on the market. There were three deciding factors in
      purchasing this model. Price: $48.95 at a local shop. Volume: Pumps 1.25 per
      minute (However, REI's in house tests arrived at a figure of .74 liters per
      minute.) And the ease with which it pumped. Weight was pretty much ignored.
      The filter plunger pumps water on both the upstroke and the downstroke, thus
      pumping in both an up and a down stroke what other pumps do in only the down
      stroke. This means that while you're pumping the same amount for every full
      press/pull, you are pulling less water through on a single press or pull.
      The pump handle also uses a lever for a 4-1 mechanical advantage. This
      definitely makes for easier pumping, though you are exerting pressure on
      both the up and down strokes, rather than just the downstroke of more
      conventional designs. I have been very impressed by the ease of use. You put
      the inlet hose in the water, the outlet in the bottle and start pumping. You
      can choose to pump the filter dry after you use it, thus reducing the
      weight, but necessitating that you pump quickly for two-three minutes before
      water finally starts being pumped. This lack of suction is not due to the
      leaky gasket, as this priming process was needed before the gasket started
      leaking. The pump comes in its own stuff sack, with a mesh top to allow
      ventilation. While some may wish to leave the sack behind for weight reasons
      (see below) I find that the organizational value exceeds the weight gain. I
      always disconnect the two hoses from the pump and carry the entire unit in
      the sack.

      Maintenance:
      The carbon filter eventually gets clogged. Whenever this happens, a pressure
      release valve shoots out water, letting you know that it's time to clean the
      filter. As this is merely a pressure triggered valve, pumping extremely fast
      can create high enough pressure to blow the valve. To clean the filter, you
      must unscrew the pump assembly from the filter and run an included brush up,
      down, and around again inside the filter. It would be possible to go without
      the brush when day hiking, but I try to reduce the possibility of losing the
      brush by simply carrying it. The convenience is worth the weight for me.
      However, the brush cannot be left behind when backpacking. On a recent 11
      person, four-day trip, we probably pumped enough water to fill a bathtub.
      The filter had to be cleaned twice. While cleaning sounds complicated, it
      takes only a minute or two.
      It is recommended in the included instructions that you store the actual
      filter in the freezer to inhibit bacterial growth. I always air dry it and
      then put everything other than the filter in a stuff sack with the rest of
      my family's backpacking equipment. Update 4-21-02: I contacted Cascade
      Designs regarding the leaky gasket and they said that the seals do
      eventually dry out. They suggested that occasionally putting a little bit of
      Vaseline on the plunger would keep the gaskets fully lubricated. This fixed
      the leak, and so in the future, I will be putting a little bit of Vaseline
      on the plunger before most of my trips, as a precaution. The leak only
      marginally reduced the efficiency of the filter, but it was annoying to have
      a drop or two of water dribble onto my hand every time I pumped.

      Customer Service: I contacted Cascade Designs via a customer support e-mail
      address posted on their website. The next day I received a response. It was
      a nice letter, expressing that the leakage was a slightly dried out gasket.
      The lady who wrote the e-mail (I forget her name,) suggested that I apply
      some Vaseline to the pump where it exits the filter body. This should
      lubricate the gasket just fine, and suggested that I apply the Vaseline
      every so often, as the rubber would dry out. The lady also stated that if
      this didn't solve the problem, I could send the unit back to Cascade Designs
      and they would either repair or replace it for free (as long as the problem
      was not a result of unusual wear and tear. If it was a result of my error,
      they might charge a small fee to repair it. An example would be if I had
      snapped the pump assembly by jumping up and down on it.) I applied the
      Vaseline, which immediately solved the problem. I have yet to take the
      filter on a trip since then, so I do not have long term results. My guess is
      that once or twice a summer, I might need to apply a little more Vaseline. I
      was more than satisfied with Cascade Designs' customer support.

      Weight:
      The pump is listed at 11 ounces. The stuff sack weighs 23 grams, the
      cleaning brush 8 grams, the pump assembly 100 grams, and both the tubes and
      the pre screen 74 grams. The hoses are approximately 34" in length. The
      filter cartridge weighs 131 grams. (Please Note: This weight will vary as
      the cartridge absorbs water will hiking. This is semi-dry weight, as I
      pulled the cartridge out of the freezer - there was some ice on it. I would
      guesstimate that normal hiking 'wet' weight would add about an ounce - 30
      grams.) Also included with the unit is a bottle adapter to allow the hose
      to pump right into the top of a bottle. I do not normally pack the adapter
      because it weighs 21 grams. Since the hose can be merely dangled inside the
      water container, I find that I have no need of the adapter anyway. The
      total unit weighs 339 grams, without the bottle adapter. The unit as it
      comes from the store (with bottle adapter) weighs 360 grams. This works out
      to 12.70 ounces, not the 11 ounces listed. Cascade Designs, the
      manufacturer, probably lists the weight of the cartridge when it is totally
      dry, which never happens in practice. Thus this is a useless weight, except
      as comparison. Other manufacturers no doubt list the dry weights as well, so
      the dry weight is useful for comparing to the listed weights of other
      filters.

      Modifications:
      One could avoid the stuff sack and cut the hoses shorter, but to do so would
      save no more than an ounce and necessitate a lot of hassle. You decide if
      the weight is worth the convenience. Considering that this filter is not the
      lightest around, it would probably be simpler to get a smaller, lighter pump
      and avoid the hassle. You could replace the stuff sack, but I really
      appreciate the fact that it has a mesh top for ventilation.

      Improvements:
      I can't think of any possible improvements. Everything is well made, well
      thought out, and well designed.

      Overall impressions:
      This is a good durable pump, except for the one leaky gasket. I haven't
      contacted customer support yet. (Update 4-21-02. I have contacted customer
      support, please see the above section titled "Customer Service.") This pump
      is not the lightest around but it is simple and easy to pump. It also puts
      out the volume that many of the smaller models are missing. Considering that
      this can be shared among 10 people, that works out to around an ounce
      packweight per person. The $48.95 price tag will not break your bank, as
      well as being comparable, if not slightly cheaper than the competition. The
      only negatives are the leaky gasket and the weight.

      About the author (me): I have spent around 15 nights actually backpacking.
      During those three trips, I have covered close to 100 miles actually
      carrying a 35+ pound backpack. However, my parents (especially my dad,) have
      been enthralled with the outdoors since long before I was born. As my three
      younger siblings and I have grown, we have day-hiked over 1000 miles as a
      family. Over the past year and a half, backpacking has become a natural
      extension of day-hiking. The summer of '01 was the first summer that my dad
      really started taking my siblings and I backpacking. For this coming summer
      ('02,) we have already tentatively planned another 15-20 nights (125+ miles)
      of backpacking.
      On another note, I am a very analytical person, more commonly known as a
      gear freak. I have spent many tens of hours learning about gear on the
      Internet. I have also spend many hours testing gear, returning some gear,
      keeping other gear, as I continually strive to achieve that perfect balance
      of weight-function-durability-cost. My current shelter is an old Sierra
      Designs tent, but I have been seriously considering either a hammock or a
      modified tarp design (ID Silshelter, HS Tarp Tent, etc.) I live and backpack
      mainly in the North Cascades. I have day-hiked in the following National
      Parks: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Yellowstone,
      Glacier, North Cascades, and quite a few others that I am forgetting. My
      family currently averages between 2-3 mph while both day-hiking (faster,)
      and backpacking (slower.)
      Our average day-hike is approximately 10 miles long. Currently, our favorite
      backpacking trips are 4-6 nights long, and approximately 50 miles long. My
      current base pack weight is around 25 pounds, depending on conditions.
    • Andrew Priest
      Hi Jeff What a great report! Well done! I am now going to check out this filter a bit more myself. To your revised report. Just a couple of things - if you
      Message 2 of 9 , May 1, 2002
      • 0 Attachment
        Hi Jeff

        What a great report! Well done! I am now going to check out this filter a
        bit more myself. To your revised report. Just a couple of things - if you
        haven't done it in the HTML version, can you please include the
        manufacturer's URL.

        I also notice that you tend to switch between ounces and grams particularly
        in the weight section. While I personally like my numbers in grams (metric
        downunder) the majority of readers are probably more use to
        ounces. Therefore I suggest you either just put in imperial weights or
        from my perspective you put both in. I just think you need to be consistent
        on this one.

        The above notwithstanding, this is really good work Jeff.

        Thanks heaps
        Andrew


        At 12:22 AM 02/05/2002, you wrote:
        >Below is the revised version of my Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner
        >Review. I

        --
        Aushiker - Hiking in Western Australia - http://aushiker.cjb.net
      • jetriple@rockwellcollins.com
        Toby, Was that the most recent water filter test you got credit for? I was in on that one, but haven t gotten my credit yet. Just curious as to how you got
        Message 3 of 9 , May 2, 2002
        • 0 Attachment
          Toby, Was that the most recent water filter test you got credit for? I
          was in on that one, but haven't gotten my credit yet. Just curious as to
          how you got it (e-mail, snail-mail, or something else). I'm not in a big
          hurry... but don't want to be forgotten either. <g>

          Thanks for any info...

          -James T.





          "Kraft, Toby" <tkraft@...> on 05/02/2002 08:21:18 AM

          Please respond to BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com

          To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
          cc:

          Subject: RE: [BackpackGearTest] Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner
          Rev iew (Revised)


          Glad to see the review. I was having trouble about whether I should get
          the
          Guardian or the Walkabout with my gear credits from the beta test. I ended
          up getting a Guardian, Siltstopper and a mini fuel bottle. $79.85 out of
          the
          $80 credits that I had! So I am glad to hear more detail about the
          Guardian
          because it had mostly been hearsay to this point.
          -Toby
        • Rami
          James, I e-mailed with Brian Mandell on Monday. I had told him the airbill numbers for the canister stove and water filter I had shipped back to him. He said
          Message 4 of 9 , May 2, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            James,

            I e-mailed with Brian Mandell on Monday. I had told him the airbill numbers for the canister stove and water filter I had shipped back to him. He said "I will send further information on compensation for your participation in the next week."

            I took Toby's post to mean he had participated in the first stove test and had already received his certificate.

            -r


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: jetriple@...
            To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 9:39 AM
            Subject: RE: [BackpackGearTest] Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner Review (Revised)



            Toby, Was that the most recent water filter test you got credit for? I
            was in on that one, but haven't gotten my credit yet. Just curious as to
            how you got it (e-mail, snail-mail, or something else). I'm not in a big
            hurry... but don't want to be forgotten either. <g>

            Thanks for any info...

            -James T.





            "Kraft, Toby" <tkraft@...> on 05/02/2002 08:21:18 AM

            Please respond to BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com

            To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
            cc:

            Subject: RE: [BackpackGearTest] Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner
            Rev iew (Revised)


            Glad to see the review. I was having trouble about whether I should get
            the
            Guardian or the Walkabout with my gear credits from the beta test. I ended
            up getting a Guardian, Siltstopper and a mini fuel bottle. $79.85 out of
            the
            $80 credits that I had! So I am glad to hear more detail about the
            Guardian
            because it had mostly been hearsay to this point.
            -Toby




            Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
            ADVERTISEMENT




            To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            BackpackGearTest-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com



            Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Ron Martino
            ... I rather doubt you will be. Their communications tends to be quite good. I took part in the most recent white gas stove beta test, and the information
            Message 5 of 9 , May 2, 2002
            • 0 Attachment
              > Toby, Was that the most recent water filter test you got credit for? I
              > was in on that one, but haven't gotten my credit yet. Just curious as to
              > how you got it (e-mail, snail-mail, or something else). I'm not in a big
              > hurry... but don't want to be forgotten either. <g>
              >
              > Thanks for any info...
              >
              > -James T.

              I rather doubt you will be. Their communications tends to be quite
              good. I took part in the most recent white gas stove beta test, and the
              information regarding the reward for participating was sent out at the
              end of the second week following the due date. You'll likely hear
              something next week.

              Ron
              --

              yumitori(AT)montana(DOT)com
            • jetriple@rockwellcollins.com
              Thanks Rami! I had the same conversation with Brian on Monday... but wasn t sure I had it all straight. Thank you for the clarification. -James T. Rami
              Message 6 of 9 , May 2, 2002
              • 0 Attachment
                Thanks Rami! I had the same conversation with Brian on Monday... but
                wasn't sure I had it all straight. Thank you for the clarification.

                -James T.


                Rami <rbenhameda@...> on 05/02/2002 09:53:05 AM

                Please respond to BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com

                To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
                cc:

                Subject: Re: [BackpackGearTest] Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner
                Review (Revised)


                James,

                I e-mailed with Brian Mandell on Monday. I had told him the airbill
                numbers for the canister stove and water filter I had shipped back to him.
                He said "I will send further information on compensation for your
                participation in the next week."

                I took Toby's post to mean he had participated in the first stove test and
                had already received his certificate.

                -r
              • Helen Hillberg
                I ve used the Sweetwater, Pur and First Need over the years. For me the winner was the Sweetwater with the Pur a very close second - the First Need wasn t a
                Message 7 of 9 , May 2, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  I've used the Sweetwater, Pur and First Need over the years. For me the winner was the Sweetwater with the Pur a very close second - the First Need wasn't a filter I enjoyed using. I'm looking forward to your review.
                  -Helen

                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: Kraft, Toby
                  Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 6:37 AM
                  To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [BackpackGearTest] Sweetwater Guardian Water Filter Owner Review (Revised)

                  Glad to see the review. I was having trouble about whether I should get the
                  Guardian or the Walkabout with my gear credits from the beta test. I ended
                  up getting a Guardian, Siltstopper and a mini fuel bottle. $79.85 out of the
                  $80 credits that I had! So I am glad to hear more detail about the Guardian
                  because it had mostly been hearsay to this point.
                  -Toby


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Shane Steinkamp
                  I ve used the Sweetwater, Pur and First Need over the years. For me the winner was the Sweetwater with the Pur a very close second - the First Need wasn t a
                  Message 8 of 9 , May 2, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I've used the Sweetwater, Pur and First Need over the years. For me the
                    winner was the Sweetwater with the Pur a very close second - the First Need
                    wasn't a filter I enjoyed using. I'm looking forward to your review.
                    -Helen

                    ### I know this isn't a 'shootout' forum, but could you elaborate just a
                    little on your experience Helen?

                    Thanks,

                    Shane
                  • Helen Hillberg
                    The First Need was difficult for me to operate, the bulky cartridge didn t fit my hand well and pumping was very tiring - it also had a habit of spraying water
                    Message 9 of 9 , May 2, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      The First Need was difficult for me to operate, the bulky cartridge didn't fit my hand well and pumping was very tiring - it also had a habit of spraying water all over the place. I used it for years before deciding there had to be a filter that worked better for me.
                      The Sweetwater was my next filter and I found that filter to be very easy for me to hold and operate, it was lighter than the First Need which helped, and it didn't throw any where near as much water when it needed cleaning. I used that filter for years without any problems.
                      I next bought the Pur filter and I found that filter to be very easy for me to hold and operate but a little bit more tiring than the Sweetwater. I unscrewed the filter slightly and it became easier to pump but the Sweetwater pendulum pumping motion was still easier for me than the upward pull required for the Pur. Overall I liked this filter, just not as much as the Sweetwater.
                      I now use an in-line filter and/or chemicals for long hauls and the Sweetwater for short trips.
                      My husband, on the other hand, had no difficulty with the First Need (bigger hands and more upper body strength) - he liked it just fine but for weight reasons he too switched to the Sweetwater.

                      Helen



                      ### I know this isn't a 'shootout' forum, but could you elaborate just a
                      little on your experience Helen?

                      Thanks,

                      Shane


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.