Owner Review - Cascade Designs MSR Miox Water Purifier
- Hi there,
This is my first owner review. Thanks in advance for your time to look it over. Please let me know how to proceed.
Cascade Designs MSR Miox Purifier
Name: David McKinnon
Height: 5’9” (175 cm)
Weight: 170 lbs (77kg)
Email address: david@...
City, State, Country: Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Date: September 6th, 2011
Backpacking Background: I’ve been backpacking fairly
regularly for 25 years and try to average a 3 to 5 day trip 8 to 10 times a
year. I typically hike Tennessee’s state and national parks including the
Smokies, but also try to make it to destinations such as the Rockies and Alaska
when possible. I’ve been putting a greater emphasis on smarter gear choices and
pack weight the past 4 to 5 years.
Manufacturer: Cascade Designs
Year of manufacture: 2007
Listed weight with batteries: 3.5 ounces (99g)
Weight as delivered with batteries: 3.4 ounces (96g)
Weight with salt in chamber and carry pouch: 4.1 ounces
Variable weight: Extra salt and free-chlorine test strip
quantities will vary with trip durations (10 test strips and test strip
container weigh .5 (14.17g) ounces plus .5 ounces (14.17g) of salt cover most
3-5 day trips)
Length: 7 inches (18cm)
Width: 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Battery type: 2 x CR123
Battery life: Listed as 50+- gallons (200+- liters)
The MSR Miox comes packaged with the Miox treatment device
(referred to as the Miox “pen”), 1 ounce (28g) of rock salt in a 3” (76mm)
square zip-lok style bag, 2 CR123 Lithium batteries, 50 free-chlorine test
strips in a 3” (76mm) tall by 1 ¼ “ (31.75mm) diameter flip lid container. All
items are stored in a 4 ½” (108mm) by 8” (203mm) pouch which has a mesh front,
nylon back and locking draw string at the mouth opening.
The MSR Miox purifier pen is a lightweight electronic
water-treatment device that is designed to kill water-borne microorganisms. The
device produces an oxidant solution that, when mixed with potentially contaminated
drinking water, kills viruses, bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.
The Miox pen has 3 internal chambers: the battery chamber is
located on the bottom of the unit and is accessed by a threaded cap. The salt
and water chambers are on the top of the pen and are accessed by both a
threaded cap on the very top of the unit, and a screw- off chamber below the
top cap. The top salt cap and bottom battery cap are joined by a lanyard, which
keeps either cap connected to the device if they are unscrewed individually.
The salt and water chambers are separated by a 3/8th” (9.53mm)
diameter screen that allows the salt to dissolve into the water as part of the
An activation button and indicator LED lights are stacked
vertically down the shaft of the Miox pen. A button click chart located near
the bottom of the unit indicates the number of clicks required to treat certain
amounts of water, but this measure can vary substantially as will be outlined
further. The activation button is located about midway on the Miox body. 3
indicator lights are located on the upper half of the device: a battery status
LED, a salt status LED, and a RUN status LED that indicates the unit is in
After salt and water are applied in their respective chambers,
activation of the Miox pen produces an electric current in the salt-water
mixture, which chemically creates the microorganism-killing oxidant solution.
The in-a-nutshell operation instructions could read: put
salt and water in their chambers, close lids, shake, open water chamber, click
button and watch it fizz for a few seconds. When done fizzing, add the few
drops of produced solution to the water supply. Test water if needed.
I have used the MSR Miox for 4 years on approximately 36
hikes in a wide-ranging array of conditions and durations. Elevations have
varied from about 300 feet (91m) ASL to 9000 feet (2743m) ASL. Temperatures
have ranged from 0 degrees F (-18C) to 95 degrees F (35C). Most trips ranged
from 3-5 days. I have used the Miox on clear sunny days, rainy days varying
from light sprinkles to torrential downpours, and snowy days ranging from light
snow to near white-out conditions.
Like all water treatment methods, the Miox has its strengths
and weaknesses but overall, I find it to be one of the better options on the
market. Unlike water filters, the Miox requires no pumping, virtually no
cleaning, and does not have the potential to clog in the field. Perhaps my
primary personal “like” of the Miox is that, if operated correctly (proper
amount of solution applied to appropriate amount of water), the Miox adds
little to none of the bitter flavor produced by many tablets and drops. The
device also kills more potentially dangerous microorganisms than most other
water treatment options. Unlike ultraviolet treatment methods, Miox treatment
is unaffected by the cloudiness of the water. A very important factor to me,
Miox-treated water can be tested with the provided free-chlorine strips to
determine the effectiveness of the treatment. UV treatments can’t be verified
under questionable circumstances. A little verification adds a great deal of
comfort with your drinking water when you’re miles into the backcountry.
There are, however, drawbacks to the Miox. The multi-step process
that produces the treatment solution comes with a learning curve. Salt and
water are added to their respective chambers, sealed, and shaken to combine
through the screen that separates them. If not enough of either ingredient is
added, the combine can fail. Fortunately, the indicator LEDs warn you of these
types of issues. Once I get used to how much salt each treatment uses given a
particular water source or water supply in a specific area, this is a
non-issue. I highly recommend experimenting with the Miox at length prior to
taking it into the backcountry for the first time.
Perhaps my biggest issue with the Miox pen is the
inconsistent battery reading. On most trips of 40 degrees F (4.44C)
temperatures or lower, the batteries must be warmed prior to use to avoid
getting a “battery low” warning even on a fresh new set of the CR123s. I
typically pop the batteries out and place them somewhere warm (pockets, hands
etc) for about 30 minutes when using the Miox in cold weather. MSR rates the
battery life at 50+- gallons (200+- liters) but I’ve only gotten close to this
quantity on new batteries in extremely warm conditions, so the safe bet is to
keep a spare set on hand. Again, once I got used to this battery issue, it
didn’t affect my operation of the device.
Though the Miox treatment means a certain death to most bad
stuff living in water, the waiting time for this process can be a drawback.
Most viruses and bacteria are killed within 15 minutes, Giardia in 30 minutes,
but to ensure that Cryptosporidium is killed, the wait time is bumped up to 4
hours. If Crypto contamination is a possibility, proper water planning and
rationing might be necessary with these wait times. Given the fact that many
treatment methods don’t kill Crypto, it is worth the wait to me if there is a
possibility of this type of contamination. There have been a number of
instances in which water sources were not what I expected and ended up drinking
a batch treated with the Miox a bit sooner than recommended, but I’ve never had
a water related health issue in my four years of using the device.
A commonly raised concern with the Miox is that, like
tablets or drops, it does nothing to remove particulates (crunchies) from the
water. On a trip to Denali, Alaska, we were dependant on glacier fed streams
that were almost as much silt as they were water. I found that filtering the
water with a bandana or coffee filter made this a non-issue. In my opinion,
this certainly beats dealing with a repeatedly clogged filter.
I have found the click chart on the face of the Miox to be a
rough suggestion only as the number of actual clicks required vary surprisingly
depending on water conditions. The chart indicates 1 click for ½ liter of
water, 2 clicks for 1 liter, 3 clicks for 2 liters and 4 clicks for 4 liters,
with each subsequent click raising the potency of the produced solution. Once
the solution is added to the drinking water, the free-chlorine test strips
which are provided are dipped into the water and the depth of the resulting
purple color on the strip indicate the relative treatment and safety of the
water once the appropriate amount of time has passed. The number of clicks
rarely corresponds to the amount of treatment actually needed to satisfy the
test strip. If in doubt, I typically double the number of suggested clicks to
be on the safe side and have never had an issue with water treated with the
The Miox is not the most glove or cold-hand friendly device.
On a 5 day snowshoe trip in the Colorado Rockies I had several difficulties operating
the unit in conditions where removing my gloves was not a very appealing idea.
The small size and light-weight aspect of the Miox dictate that the caps and
activation button are also small. This renders them a bit awkward to use with
heavy gloves. I learned to plan accordingly when temperatures were in the teens
and single digits and to make sure I was out of the wind and as warm as
possible to effectively operate the device after removing my gloves.
Like all water treatment techniques, there are advantages
and disadvantages to the Miox. I found that once I conquered the learning curve
of a technique that really is unique in this application, the Miox became my
preferred treatment method. The MSR Miox
kills more microorganisms than most other techniques, is easy to use once you
understand the nuances of the device, and has never failed me on hundreds of
miles of backpacking.
Pros: Provides consistent and measurable water purification
If used in correct proportion, water tastes great
Lighter than filters and doesn’t clog or require pumping
Cons: Does nothing for particulates in water
Cold weather functionality is a bit finicky
Requires a substantial initial learning curve
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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- Hello David,
Welcome to BackpackGearTest and thank you for your Owner Review, it is a very nice first review. (I have one of the MIOX units too.) Your initial edits will follow. They will take the following format;
EDIT: must be changed
Edit: should be changed but will be left to your discretion
Comment: just that or something to think about
When you have made the changes please repost here with REPOST added to the subject line. Include your name also please.
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***Cascade Designs MSR Miox Purifier
EDIT: it is spelled with all caps, MIOX. Please correct all instances.
***Listed weight with batteries: 3.5 ounces (99g)
EDIT: need a space between the number and the "g" please correct all instances of this as there are a lot of them.
***Extra salt and free-chlorine test strip quantities will vary with trip durations (10 test strips and test strip container weigh .5 (14.17g) ounces plus .5 ounces (14.17g) of salt
EDIT: when writing fractional unit please put the zero before the decimal point, and really the metric equivalents should go after the imperial units. "0.5 oz (14.2 g)"
EDIT: Need the dollar sign, and as we are not the only country to use dollars it should be US $139.99
*** The device produces an oxidant solution that, when mixed with potentially
contaminated drinking water, kills viruses, bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.
Comment: you may want to share that MIOX stands for MIxed OXidents
***The salt and water chambers are separated by a 3/8th (9.53 mm)
Edit: they prefer that we round off the numbers so 9.5 mm is sufficient
***After salt and water are applied in their respective chambers,
EDIT: I think "placed", "put", or "loaded" is the word you want instead of "applied"
***The in-a-nutshell operation instructions could read: put salt and water in their chambers, close lids, shake, open water chamber, click button and watch it fizz for a few seconds. When done fizzing, add the few drops of produced solution to the water supply. Test water if needed.
Comment: you forgot, cough and wipe eyes ;-)
*** Elevations have varied from about 300 feet (91m) ASL to 9000 feet (2743m) ASL.
EDIT: if you want to use ASL you need to spell it out at least the first time with the abbreviation in parenthesis. Then you can use it the rest of the time. Most of us don't bother as any elevations outside of Death Valley and a couple others are going to be above sea level.
Temperatures have ranged from 0 degrees F (-18C) to 95 degrees F (35C).
Comment: you don't need "degrees", just 0 F (-18 C) to 95 F (35 C) works fine.
***Like all water treatment methods, the Miox has its strengths and weaknesses
EDIT: Unless you have used every method it is best to qualify that by saying, Like all water treatment methods "I have used"
*** A little verification adds a great deal of comfort with your drinking water when you're miles into the backcountry.
EDIT: We keep everything in the first person, no "you"s, just "me" and "I". Here is my canned explanation.
"When you tighten the laces on the boots, you pull the shoestrings in an out and upward motion. Then you tie it with a double knot and you are ready to go down the trail."
This is a very common way to write, but in doing so we just said what "other people" would do, not our self. This is projecting our thoughts onto the reader. We do not know how other people tie their shoes. We keep away from "you" and "your" in our writing.
We are writing a review of "our" gear based on "our" experiences. So we need to keep it in the first person. Here is how it should look;
"When I tighten the laces on the boots, I pull the shoestrings in an out and upward motion. Then I tie it with a double knot and I'm ready to go down the trail."
*** Fortunately, the indicator LEDs warn you of these types of issues.
EDIT: warn "me"
*** On a trip to Denali, Alaska, we were dependant on glacier fed streams
that were almost as much silt as they were water.
Comment: Got milk? ;-) (Been there, drank that.)