LTR: Katadyn Base Camp Filter - Mike Curry
- For your editing pleasure, here is my Long Term Report. HTML can be
viewed at http://tinyurl.com/yw33ew
December 1, 2007
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Long-term testing occurred along the coastal strip of Washington
State, including backcountry beaches and along coastal streams and
rivers. Elevations ranged from sea level to approximately 800 ft (244
m). Temperatures ranged from highs near 65 F (18 C), and lows right
around 32 F (0 C). Weather conditions ranged from clear skies to
windy, rainy weather. The filter was used as the only filter on solo
trips, and trips with 1, 2, and 3 companions.
Water sources during long-term testing were exclusively coastal
streams and rivers, many of which had a great deal of fine, silty
sediment suspended in them. Tannin stained water was also filtered. I
would estimate water temperatures to have been mostly around 40 F (4
I estimate I have filtered approximately 40-45 gallons (150-170 L) of
water with this filter to date.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Katadyn Base Camp filter has continued to perform well during
long-term testing. This period of testing provided opportunites to
use the filter with water that was dirtier than than I encountered
during initial field testing.
The image to the left shows the filter filled with water stained dark
from tannins leached from woody debris and decaying vegetation. If
you look carefully, you can see the filter element, barely visible
under only about 2 in (5 cm) of water. This sort of water is common
along the Washington coast, and though the tannins themselves pose no
health threat, the water has a bitter, astringent taste. While the
filter did not clear the water completely (it came out looking like
tea), it did do a very good job of improving the taste of the water.
It was palatable even without the addition of flavoring (something
that I usually find necessary to drink any quantity of tannin-stained
water). In the area of taste, I've never encountered a filter that
outperformed the Katadyn Base Camp in improving the taste of our
coastal stream water.
The filter itself I found to be remarkably easy to clean after my
trips. I used nothing but warm water and the sponge included with the
filter, and have encountered no staining or buildup on the inside of
the filter bag. After a quick wipe-down and rinse, I hang the filter
bag upside-down, and it is usually dry enough for storage after
hanging overnight. The filter protector has discolored somewhat, but
this does not seem to impact its performance. The materials have held
up well, with no fading or wear outside of minor scuffing.
Regarding maintenance of the filter element itself, it has required
cleaning several times, but still produces adequate flow. After use
in one particularly sediment-choked stream, the filter's flow dropped
to a slow trickle. While I was initially worried that I might have to
resort to chemical treatment as a backup, I found a field solution, I
emptied the bag, turned it inside-out, and rinsed the filter element
off with water I'd already filtered. I then used my cooking pan to
dip water for the filter, letting the sediment settle out for several
minutes before filling the filter. This restored the flow enough I
was able to use it, but not until I was able to gently scrub the
filter with the sponge when I got home was I able to gain a flow rate
I was happy with (there was a lot of fine sediment that adhered to
the surface of the filter that was easily wiped off). Despite
repeated cleanings, the flow has slowed now to where it takes about 2
1/4 minutes to filter 1 qt (.95 l) of water. I plan to replace the
element before using the filter again to improve the flow rate.
I used this filter on several day hikes in addition to overnight
trips, and was surprised with the results. I found it to be no less
inconvenient or cumbersome to use than other filters, though it is
rather bulky in a pack.
One area I was unable to fully evaluate the filter was its
performance in freezing temperatures. I did encounter a few mornings
with light frost, but nothing that allowed me to truly evaluate its
performance below freezing.
In all, I am very satisfied with the Katadyn Base Camp filter, and
would consider the following its main strengths and weaknesses:
*Gravity does most of the work
*Easy to operate shutoff valve
*Good flow rate with clean filter
*Bulky in pack
*Heavy when full
*Can be difficult to find a suitable location for hanging
I anticipate that I will continue to use the Katadyn Base Camp filter
for quite a few of my future trips. When I have a trip where camp
will remain in one location for more than a night, there will be
trees with suitable limbs for hanging, and space in my pack won't be
at a premium, it will be my first choice. For trips where camp moves
every night, trees are scarce, or where pack space is at a premium, I
will probably use a more conventional filter or chemical treatment.
For trips with my kids, it will probably be my first choice, since it
is easy for them to use (once I have filled and hung the filter).
THOUGHTS FOR IMPROVEMENT
This filter has performed admirably during testing, but its bulky
size in my pack and rather heavy weight weren't to my liking. As a
hiking buddy of mine and I were looking at it one day on the coast,
he turned to me and said, "you know, if they just made that smaller,
it would be the perfect filter."
I realized when he said this that the only weaknesses I see, other
than finding a place to hang it sometimes, would be solved with a
smaller version. This filter worked great when hiking with two or
three other people, but its size was overkill for my solo trips.
While alone, I simply didn't fill the bag as full as I normally
would, but as I looked at the filter, I realized I'd like to have one
half its size for my normal use.
What I would like is a filter bag half this size, and a filter
element that was exactly the same, only in a "stubby" configuration,
about half the length of this filter. Even without a stubby filter, I
would still like a filter bag half the size of this one for solo
trips, and those with only one companion.
That said, the Katadyn Base Camp filter is a good, solid filter that
I will continue to use, especially when hiking with larger groups
(like my family).
This concludes my report. I would like to thank Katadyn and
BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test this filter.