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REVISED: Owner Review - MSR Miniworks EX - Michael Dax

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  • Michael Dax
    http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/OWNER%20REVIEWS/OR%20-%20MSR%20Miniworks%20EX%20-%20Michael%20Dax/ MSR MINIWORKS EX MICROFILTER BY MICHAEL DAX OR
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 12, 2010
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      June 12, 2010


      NAME: Michael Dax
      EMAIL: mjdax30@...
      AGE: 23
      LOCATION: Old Faithful, Wyoming, USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
      WEIGHT: 210 lb (95.30 kg)

      I grew up hiking, backpacking, and 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 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 8 to 15 miles (12-24 km). I'm not fanatical about light weight gear,
      but I am starting to be mindful.


      Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
      Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.msrcorp.com"
      LINK TEXT = "www.msrcorp.com">>
      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)
      Actual Height: 7.5 inches (19 cm)
      Actual Width: 2.75 inches (7 cm)


      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 screws on to
      the part where the clean water is expelled. The threads of the screws of
      the filter are made to 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 debris.

      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 main chamber, it is filtered by the exterior of 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 scrubbing pad, the filter weighs 17
      oz (482 g).


      I have owned my MSR MiniWorks EX 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 of 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.


      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 always been simple and
      fixable ones.


      If slow and steady wins the race, the MSR MiniWorks EX 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.


      Field Cleanable
      Easy Troubleshooting
      Simple Construction
      Easy-to-work Pump Handle
      Good tasting water
      Screws onto Nalgene Bottle


      Clogs in Silty Water


      Michael Dax

      This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
      Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ray
      OK Michael, This looks good. You can place the review at Reviews Water Treatment Filters MSR MiniWorks EX Filter or: http://tinyurl.com/248c226 Be sure
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 13, 2010
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        OK Michael,

        This looks good. You can place the review at

        Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > MSR MiniWorks EX Filter

        or: http://tinyurl.com/248c226

        Be sure to highlight the Owner Review button and delete your test file when done.

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