Ask Kristin

Water Filter Working?

How can you tell if your water filter is still working properly?


How can you tell if your water filter is still working properly?

Submitted by – Myron – Syracuse, NY


A tricky question. Is water still flowing through? Then it’s working, at least on some level. Is it removing all the microscopic bugs that you want it to? Can’t answer that one. And the only folks who can are the lab rats who run the tests and analyze them.

But let me ask you this: Why angst about it? Have you tried other ways of treating your water? Personally, I got tired of pumping years ago and haven’t carried a filter since I tested the MSR HyperFlow back in late 2007. We gave it an Editors’ Choice Award, because it’s the lightest, fastest, easiest-to-use filter we’ve tested in a while. But since then, I’ve gone back to using chemical treatments which are so much easier, lighter, smaller, and fool-proof. I like Aquamira drops and tablets. They’re easy, don’t effect the taste of the water, and I’ve never gotten sick in all my years of using it. If you believe the reports (and I do), it will kill anything and everything you’re likely to come into contact with in North American backcountry—protozoa, viruses, and bacteria. For suspect water, you should double the recommended dose, and for silty water, you should prefilter through a bandanna or by allowing it to settle.

That’s my two cents. I’ve tested a ton of filters, but I keep going back to chemicals because I’m always trying to shave weight off my load without sacrificing convenience or safety.