Water Filters - Gravity vs Pump

IowaNative

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Jan 1, 2022
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Looking at buying my first water filter. Currently a member of my group is running the platypus gravity, but we have always trucked camped and had a couple extra jugs just in case. Looking specifically at the MSR Guardian series for virus protection for family camping trips.

Let me hear the pros and cons of both and what you find works for you. Base camp or mobile backpacking camp, I'm interested in both.

Bonus if you have used the guardian system.
 

Knezzer97

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Nov 24, 2022
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ive used a berkey for boat in hunt camps, large amount of water and tastes good right out of a northen Ontario lake
 

Corvus Corax

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Jul 9, 2019
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Washington State
I’ve bee using the katadyn be free. Light, very fast and provides the ability to carry extra water. Over the years I’ve used the MSR sweet water and steripen, but I really like the gravity system. I keep aqua tabs in my possibles bag for a backup. Just make sure you back flush and drain your water filter. Freezing water in the filter element will ruin them. Steripen is nice for day trips when water sources are around, but I wouldn’t use it for processing water for a camp with multiple people.
 
OP
I

IowaNative

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Jan 1, 2022
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I’ve bee using the katadyn be free. Light, very fast and provides the ability to carry extra water. Over the years I’ve used the MSR sweet water and steripen, but I really like the gravity system. I keep aqua tabs in my possibles bag for a backup. Just make sure you back flush and drain your water filter. Freezing water in the filter element will ruin them. Steripen is nice for day trips when water sources are around, but I wouldn’t use it for processing water for a camp with multiple people.
The other member of my group (3 of us total) has a steripen. It is ok but I don't carry a nalgene (bladder only) so as a backup he would have one, but I'm not sold. I do carry the tablets as a last resort. I guess I'm more curious on using pumps to hit springs/sources as we hunt vs set up a gravity system and have enough water for the next day.
 

Corvus Corax

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There are a lot of different quick connect fittings that will allow you to run a gravity system right into your bladder without removing it from your pack. I happen to like using a HDPE Nalgene bottle and an ultralight platypus platy bottle for extra storage. With that and the katadyn I can carry 6 liters to camp if I want. Or use a MSR dromedary bag as my dirty water reservoir and as much as 10 liters of water. I don’t do that often but I can for areas that water is hard to come by.
 

Desk Jockey

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My $0.02
- iodine is good for backup
- steripen is good for solo. High volume for groups is a pain in the ass
- pumps - haven’t used mine since I bought a gravity filter
- gravity - I run one of any trip with 2 or more peeps. Fill it and then go about your camp chores. Platy 6 liter rig with a 6 or 10 liter MSR dfrom bag as my clean reservoir. I have hiked with it in the desert southwest and needEd the 16 liters of total capacity before but I rarely use that much otherwise. I also run a set of connectors that let me fill just about any bottle or bladder directly. The only down sides IMO are the need to purge and flush it and the possible freeze treat. I keep a gallon zip lock and put the filter and dirty reservoir under my sleeping pad at night if freezing is an issue.
 

Jimss

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The bee free bottles are nice. Where I had water available where I was sheep hunting I didn’t have to carry water all day. When I got thirsty I dipped the bottle and drank. No need to pump or carry around a purifier since it’s on the bottle.
 

SuspiciousFish

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May 26, 2022
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I like pumps mainly because that is what I am used to. It is nice to have in your pack during the day in case you need to refill you water without going back to camp. My Katadyn filter will pump a water bottle full in less than a min so its not a huge time issue.
 

Scottf270

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Sep 26, 2017
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Missouri
Used a 3L bladder with a Sawyer squeeze filter in Alaska on moose hunt. We gravity feed it into a collapsible 2 gallon jug. Back flushed as necessary. Worked great. Kept two guys supplied for 10 days. Always have iodine as back up.
 

jdmaxwell

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Mar 8, 2014
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I have both....
You can pump out of alot smaller puddle than you can dip a gravity bag from..
Pump gives you alot more options.
Bag good for big base camp.
 

NorthernHunter

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Mar 16, 2020
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I have both....
You can pump out of alot smaller puddle than you can dip a gravity bag from..
Pump gives you alot more options.
Bag good for big base camp.
This is the important one. I have found numerous seeps that I filled Nalgene bottles from with a pump that you couldn't have got water any other way. If you will always be close to bigger streams or creeks I could see the gravity bags being easier.
 

Sawtoothsteve

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Dec 24, 2012
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Idaho
I love carrying the Platypus big zip 3 litter with sawyer filter inline. The bag is for dirty water, dip and go and filter as I drink. I carry lightweight 5 liter bags to gravity filter into if spike camped in same spot for a few days for drinking/cooking water at camp.

While I understand the preference for a pump if you have small seep pools, I have been more successful in Idaho mountain backcountry to find seeps that drip vs. pool and the big zip can catch the water better than any canteen by creating a "V" with the bag lip, and a pump would be worthless as there is no pool at all.

That said, I am looking for a way to change this setup for cold weather as the inline filter and/or hose tend to freeze. So I'm interested in hearing how you all manage a cold weather setup.
 

as.ks.ak

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Aug 22, 2015
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AK
Seems a lot of the same thoughts being echoed here. I think what you’ll find is it all depends on scenario and ultimately, your preference.

Gravity is amazing if you have no threat of freezing temps. And don’t want to have to deal with treating every time you want a fill up.


Pump is money when it’s small seeps or anywhere you can’t dip a big gravity bag. Also freezing temps because you can always keep it on your person to prevent freeze up.

And I always have aquamira on hand if the brown stuff hits the air circulator.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

DSYL1

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Oct 10, 2022
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San Diago
I used a pump for years, then used a gravity for years, mixed a steripen and even the old MSR miox into the mix as well. I've got a lifestraw waterbottle that is great to bring along too. They all work if used correctly. The easiest one is by far the gravity and a lifestraw waterbottle. MSR makes a great gravity system that ends up in a bladder, or into your nalgene, or wherever else you may want to drain it into. This "MSR trail base personal pump and gravity water filter" is my standard go to now as it is lightweight, easy to fill, easy to drain, allows me to carry extra water if needed, you can take the small filter off and also use it to pump right out of dirty water and drink right from it or into your drinking vessel. This piece of equipment allows you to have both.... worth checking out.
 

Windigo

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Oct 15, 2018
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OR
I love carrying the Platypus big zip 3 litter with sawyer filter inline. The bag is for dirty water, dip and go and filter as I drink. I carry lightweight 5 liter bags to gravity filter into if spike camped in same spot for a few days for drinking/cooking water at camp.

While I understand the preference for a pump if you have small seep pools, I have been more successful in Idaho mountain backcountry to find seeps that drip vs. pool and the big zip can catch the water better than any canteen by creating a "V" with the bag lip, and a pump would be worthless as there is no pool at all.

That said, I am looking for a way to change this setup for cold weather as the inline filter and/or hose tend to freeze. So I'm interested in hearing how you all manage a cold weather setup.
Used an MSR auto flow for a 10 day late season elk hunt; just disconnect the hose and bring it inside the tent.
 

rclouse79

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Dec 10, 2019
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1,220
I rigged a Sawyer squeeze into a gravity system. I have a 6 L bag for my dirty water and will fill up two 2 L platypus bladders while I eat lunch. Maybe pumps have improved since the last time I used one, but my experience was them always clogging and being a pain. I don’t see myself ever going back from a gravity system.
 

E6ylK

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Dec 30, 2020
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PNW
Definitely a gravity system!

A sawyer mini or squeeze paired with a cnoc 2/3 liter bag is ultra light and still hard to beat for family / car trips. Sometimes I’ll squeeze the water through, but mostly I hang it on a tree and do something else while the water is filtering. The cnoc bag also opens up to allow scooping water from shallow puddles.

Gravity systems can also be scaled up with larger bags or even a 5 gallon bucket with some creativity and adapters. However, you still don’t need that much water for drinking and cooking, even for a family if 4, so I mostly just stick with the same setup as for backpacking and maybe filter 2-4 bags a day. Filtering water for showering may demand a larger setup.

Be selective on which filter you get, because some don’t filter out all of the nasties, where as the sawyers are supposed to for anything found in North America.
 

E6ylK

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Dec 30, 2020
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Seems I can’t edit my post.

Here’s the vecto cnoc bag that works directly with the sawyer filters.

 

aaronoto

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Oct 9, 2018
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Pump 100% for me, the areas I hunt just aren’t conducive to having enough water available to easily fill a gravity system bag.
 

E6ylK

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Pump 100% for me, the areas I hunt just aren’t conducive to having enough water available to easily fill a gravity system bag.
Pumps can definitely be useful, but as a counterpoint:

There was a spot I gathered water this summer where there was a small trickle running down a large flat or slick rock surface. I was able to open the bag and position the mouth against the rock and collect the water. Admittedly, this was uncommon and a pump surely could have been made to work by searching up or down the hill.
 
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