First Look: A Trekking Pole that Doubles as a Water Filter
Is the PürTrek pole-filter mashup a brilliant idea or a Frankensteinian mess?
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When I first heard about PürTrek mashing together trekking poles and a water filter into one product, I was intrigued. I’m a big fan of efficiency and having a water filter always at hand when hiking sounded like a great idea. I got one, and after a couple of weeks of use, I believe that some people will love these poles, and others will think they’re dumb and absolutely unnecessary.
The dividing line will be how important weight is for you—and then how absent-minded you are when packing and keeping track of your gear. The PürTreks are heavy: each pole comes in at 1.25 pounds. That’s more than two times heavier than these nice but standard Black Diamond poles we’ve recommended in the past, and more than quadruple the weight of a pair of Black Diamond ultra-light Carbon Z poles.
Runners and through-hikers who want to move fast and far in the mountains will certainly think the PürTrek poles are far too heavy and bulky, and instead choose a lightweight pair and a small water filter like the feathery five-ounce MSR TrailShot. It’s true that these faster folks will need to keep track of two different pieces of gear, but the weight savings makes it a no-brainer.
Weight weenies aside, I do think others will dig the design. Chief among them will be the more easy-going hiking, backpacking, and hunting communities. These groups aren’t known for being unnecessarily preoccupied by weight but definitely want trail stability, easy gear organization, and a trustworthy filter they can use to gather water from lakes and streams.
Hunters and others who love bushwacking will like that the poles are made from a durable 7075 aircraft aluminum that can be raked against trees and ground over rocks and be no worse for the wear. The filter also pumps out a very generous two liters per minute, which is double what a more standard backpacking filter like the MSR MiniWorks can produce.
The included two-stage hollow fiber microfiltration is pretty standard and removes 99.9999 percent of bacteria including E.coli, and Salmonella and 99.999 percent of parasites including Giardia and Cryptosporidium and Protozoan. It also claims to remove 99.99 percent of microplastics, which is a nice add-on. PürTrek says the filter will clean up to 2,000 gallons before it needs to be changed.
To test the ease of use and flow rate, I first filled my bathtub with a few inches of water. To pump, you slide back the cover that keeps mud and dirt out of the filter intake located at the bottom of the pole above the basket, then unscrew a mid-section of the pole from the upper handle, freeing that section to move up and down the pole, sucking water through the filter. Pumping was easy and fast (appearing to match the two liters per minute claim), but I immediately noticed that the filter is about five inches above the bottom tip, so users have to find a spot of water that’s at least that deep, or be forced to awkwardly tilt the pole at an angle so that the basket is submerged.
The clean water shoots through a hose attached to the very top of the pole. If you’re pumping straight into your mouth it’s easy to hold the end of the tube in your lips. But the hose is not long enough to reach a water bottle on the ground when the pole is upright in shallow water, so to fill a bottle I had to awkwardly hold it with my non-pump hand and keep the hose in it as best I could. Hopefully PürTrek can solve this problem down the road.
Given that a solid pair of hiking poles run more than $100, as does a good filter, PürTrek’s $189 price isn’t bad for the combined package. Anyone who likes the convenience of having a filter always with them and instantly ready for use—and isn’t preoccupied with weight—will put the poles to good use. Those who are happy throwing a light filter in their pack might want to wait a couple of years to see if the company launches a second version with improvements.