OR - MSR Ex Miniworks - Michael Dax
MSR MINIWORKS EX MICROFILTER
BY MICHAEL DAX
June 12, 2010
NAME: Michael Dax
LOCATION: Old Faithful, WY
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 210 lb (95.30 kg)
I grew up hiking, backpacking, and cross country skiing in the Northeast
including New York, New Hampshire and Maine. I have been hiking for about
18 years and have been backpacking for about 10 years. I have lived at the
Grand Canyon and I now live in Yellowstone. In all these experiences, I
have slept on a tarp and in a tent, worn hightop boots and lightweight
shoes, carried an external-frame pack and an ultralight internal-frame
pack. Most of my hikes are about 8 to 15 miles (12-24 km). I am not
fanatical about light weight gear, but I am starting to be more mindful.
Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.msrcorp.com"
LINK TEXT = "Mountain Safety Research">>
MSRP: $89.95 (US)
Listed Weight: 16 oz (454 g)
Measured Weight: 16 oz (454 g)
Listed Height: 7.5 inches (19 cm)
Listed Width: 2.75 inches (7 cm)
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 3">>
The main shaft of the filter is translucent grey plastic through which the
user can see the ceramic element, which I will discuss in a later
paragraph. At the bottom of the filter, there is a cap that crews on to the
part where the clean water is expelled. The screws of the filter are made
to will fit onto a nalgene. On the screw cap is a piece of red plastic that
is in a crescent shape which is used for measuring the wear on the ceramic
element. Moving up the filter is the red translucent plastic piece into
which water is initially pumped before it is pushed through the ceramic
element and filtered. There is a chamber that is cylindrical and about an
inch and half (3.75 cm) by an inch (2.5 cm ) in this section. In this
chamber is a round piece with a rubber seal which moves in the chamber and
is controlled by the pump handle. The pump handle is a black plastic piece
and is almost as long as the filer itself. At the end of the handle is a
hook for securing the hose while the filter is stored. The hose runs from
the red plastic piece of the filter. It is about 48 inches (122 cm) long.
Towards the end of the hose is a grey rubber piece of foam which serves as a
float. At the end of the hose is a metal coil that serves to protect the
intake valve. The intake valve is a black plastic piece connected to the
hose. It has three openings. One is where it connects to the hose and the
other two are on the sides where it draws water into the hose. Through the
two holes is a piece of a grey porous sponge meant for filtering out large
The user can screw off the red plastic piece from the main shaft. After
doing so, the ceramic element can be popped out of the grey plastic shaft.
The element is pale orange in color. On the current models, the elements
are ceramic, but they used to be carbon. The element can be touched, but is
very delicate. It is the main filtering piece of the unit. It can be
cleaned in the field and eventually replaced. Both of its ends are hard
plastic. One end has a rubber O-ring and spout which is where the filtered
water comes out. The other end has three points that allow three spaces for
water to go into the element from the cylindrical chamber. Once the water
is pumped into the element, it is filtered through the element and
eventually comes out through the spout at the bottom. The crescent shaped
plastic piece discussed above can be put around the ceramic element to
measure how much the element has worn. If the crescent shape piece can
slide easily on the shaft, the shaft should be replaced.
All of the dimensions, both weight, height, and width are true to the listed
dimensions. With the carrying case and srubbing pad, the filter weighs 17
oz (482 g).
I have owned my MSR Ex Miniworks water filter for about two years. I first
bought it when I moved to the Grand Canyon in the summer of 2008. The first
time I used the filter, I was pumping water that came from a seep spring on
the east side of Horseshoe Mesa off the Grandview trail called the Miner's
Spring. The spring collected in a pool after it had made its way through a
couple thousand feet of sandstone. If I filled my bottle right from the
seep, I would not have needed to filter it at all. However, I was excited
to use my new filter and because I took the water from the pool rather than
the seep, I probably needed to use it. The main point I am making is that
the water was very clear and probably clean. Even though this was the first
time I used the filter, I would not describe the flow as "fast". It was not
slow either, but rather steady. MSR claims that the filter pumps 1 liter
per minute, and from the start, I found that this was not true. With this
first use, I would say the flow was closer to 1 liter per 90 seconds. MSR
says it takes about 70-80 pumps per liter, and although I was not counting,
I would say this is fairly accurate. Despite the fact that the filter was a
little slower than advertised, it still pumped water at a fine rate, and the
water tasted great.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 2" IMAGE CAPTION = "Miner's Spring">>
I continued to use the filter over the next couple months about one to two
times a month for a one to two days each time. I was hiking in the Grand
Canyon, so whenever I was using it, I was pumping a lot of water per day.
Usually, I was carrying about 4 liters per day.
At the beginning of August, I did a trip down the Tanner trail with a
friend, and the Colorado River was our main water source. Two days
previous, the Grand Canyon received its largest monsoon storm of the season
which lasted about an hour. For those people that are not aware of
Arizona's monsoon season, it is no joke. It receives heavy (and I mean
heavy) rainstorms that come from India during the summer months, which cause
frequent flash floods. What this meant for our trip was that the Colorado
River was filled with an extremely high level of silt and debris that was
washed into it by the heavy rainstorm and was very muddy brown in color. I
was prepared for it and brought a bucket to fill with water so the silt
could settle to the bottom before I would attempt to filter it. I knew that
if I tried to dip my filter straight into the river, I would have no chance
at successfully filtering the necessary amount of water without clogging my
filter. After allowing the water to settle for two to three hours, I tried
to filter some. Within a liter, I could feel that pumping had become much
harder and that the filter's flow had dropped considerably. After filling
my first liter, I popped the ceramic element out of the main shaft to look
at it. It was noticeably covered with a layer a fine brown silt. Although
the filter can be field cleaned, it is not always a convenient process. The
Miniworks comes with a green scrub pad which is meant for cleaning it.
However, to use it properly, the filter must be cleaned with pure, filtered,
water while it is being scrubbed. Considering how silty the Colorado River
was that day, I did not have a lot of confidence that I would be able to
clean the filter to the point where it would continue to be useful. In
short, the clean water I had already pumped was too valuable to waste on
cleaning the filter which would become clogged as soon as I started
filtering again. I lamely tried to clean the filter, but I did not get
another full liter out of it.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 1" IMAGE CAPTION = "Water that had
been settling for about 4 hours">>
My friend had another brand of filter which was able to get us through the
weekend. However, our routine for the weekend consisted of filling the
bucket with water, waiting four hours, covering the intake valve with a
bandanna, filtering about two to three liters before starting over again,
and remaining very dehydrated. Although the Miniworks failed on this trip,
I do not place a lot of fault on the filter as the conditions were extreme.
When I got home, I thoroughly cleaned it where good water was plentiful.
MSR recommends boiling the element to fully sterilize it. Also, after
boiling it or using it for any extended period, MSR recommends letting the
filter dry for a full three to five days. I have not always been
disciplined about doing this, but I have been better in the past year than I
was in the first.
Since my experience on the Colorado River, I have continued to use the
Miniworks and have good experiences with it. Most of the other times I have
used the filter have been on clear streams that do not carry much silt. For
the most part it has continued to operate on the same level that it did when
I first used it at the seep spring meaning about 90 seconds per liter. In
one instance, it plugged up on a reasonably clear stream, but in this case I
was able to clean it in the field and continue using it throughout the
trip. On another hike, I returned to the Colorado River. I still used a
bucket to let the water settle, but it was not nearly as silty, and the
filter held up reasonably well. Its flow was definitely slower, but I was
able to spend four days on the river without any issues.
In my experience, the pump handle for the Miniworks is overall very
comfortable and ergonomic. the handle moves towards and away from the main
shaft horizontally. It is a mostly natural movement that has allowed me to
pump up to four liters at a time comfortably. Usually, I will hold my
nalgene in between my knees, while I hold the shaft with one hand and pump
with the other. Also, the pump handle has held up well in addition to the
rest of the mechanical parts of the filter. Nothing has broken. MSR sells
replacement elements for the Miniworks, and although I probably should buy a
new one, I have yet to do so. I still have the original ceramic element
that is about two years old now.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 4">>
One of the other things that I have enjoyed about the Miniworks is the ease
of troubleshooting. There are a couple ways of examining the filter while
in use to determine why it might not be working optimally. The main way of
telling is the cylindrical chamber into which water is initially pumped.
When the filter is operating properly, this chamber should fill almost
completely just leaving a small air bubble at the top. If it is not filling
properly, either the intake hose is not fully submerged, or the filter is
clogging. Another way of detecting if the filter is clogging is through the
pump handle. If pumping becomes noticeably harder, the filter may be
clogging. On the other side, if the pump is snapping back to the body of
the filter without any force, the intake hose may be twisted and airflow cut
off. Another nice feature of the filter is the translucent shaft. Through
this plastic, the user can detect the height of the water level. If the
water level is staying high without dropping, the pump may be clogging from
the element. Although I have had a number of experiences with the Miniworks
clogging while in the backcountry, I very much enjoy that I have always been
able to detect the problem and that the problems have alwasy been simple and
If slow and steady wins the race, the MSR Ex Miniworks is a great filter. I
have used other filters that have pumped faster, but the MSR Miniworks has
many other features that make it very user friendly. Unlike other filters
that I have owned, no piece of it has yet to break. All of its valves and
plastic extremities have proven to be very durable. Also, it is field
cleanable, which I like a lot. It needs water to be cleaned, so the one
time I found myself in a situation in which I knew resistance was going to
be futile, this was not particularly helpful. However, as stated above,
this was an extreme situation. Not only is it field cleanable, but it is
easy to figure out what the exact problem is. All the problems that I have
experienced with the filter have been relatively simple to determine and
fix. I have used other filters in which I have had to spend hours trying to
figure out what was causing any particular problem, which I found extremely
frustrating. All the water I have ever drank from the filter has tasted
great. I have owned the filter for two years and filtered many many liters
with it. It has continued to work well. It definitely requires proper
care, which I have recently started giving it, but for someone who is
willing to put in the effort and is slightly mechanically inclined, I
recommend it highly.
THINGS I LIKE
Easy-to-work Pump Handle
Good tasting water
Screws onto Nalgene Bottle
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Clogs in Silty Water
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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Edit Administration Manager
- Hi Michael,
Nice job on this review. Here are your edits. Once made please repost here and update the HTML version too.
***LOCATION: Old Faithful, WY
EDIT: please spell out the name of the state and ad "USA" for the benefit of our international readers.
Also, I am sorry to say but your bio is over the 100 word limit. Can you please shorten it a bit?
EDIT: please spell it out the first time at least putting the (MSR) in parenthesis. Then you can use MSR for the rest of the review
***Manufacturer's Website: Mountain Safety Research
EDIT: the URL needs to be the actual address, not just hyperlinked
***Listed Height: 7.5 inches (19 cm)
***Listed Width: 2.75 inches (7 cm)
EDIT: what are the actual measurements?
*** At the bottom of the filter, there is a cap that crews on to the part
EDIT: a cap that "screws"
*** The screws of the filter are made to will fit onto a nalgene.
EDITS: The "threads" of the filter are made to will fit onto a "Nalgene" (proper name)
*** There is a chamber that is cylindrical and about an inch and half (3.75 cm) by an inch (2.5 cm )
EDIT: delete extra space in parenthesis
*** The other end has three points that allow three spaces for water to go into the element from the cylindrical chamber. Once the water is pumped into the element, it is filtered through the element and eventually comes out through the spout at the bottom.
Comment: are you sure about this? I believe that the water is forced through the sides of the ceramic element where the filtered water runs out through the bottom valve. The umbrella valve lets water into the main housing correct? This should be why you clean the filter by scrubbing the outside of the element. If it filtered through the center as you describe the element would need to be scrubbed inside.
*** With the carrying case and srubbing pad
***I have owned my MSR Ex Miniworks
MSR MiniWorks EX
***It was noticeably covered with a layer a fine brown silt
EDIT: a layer "of" fine brown silt
*** The Miniworks comes with a green scrub pad
EDIT: MiniWorks please look for all instances of this
***In my experience, the pump handle for the Miniworks is overall very comfortable and ergonomic. the handle moves
EDIT: capitalize The
***Usually, I will hold my nalgene in between my knees
*** I very much enjoy that I have always been able to detect the problem and that the problems have alwasy been simple
EDIT: "always" been simple