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Gear Review: Katadyn Pocket Microfilter

Updated on February 7, 2015

I'm sure you've heard the age old adage that "you can survive three weeks without food, but only three days without water." By the same token, drinking water with the wrong kind of bacteria or contaminants in it can kill you even faster. One of the fastest solutions that the modern age has to offer us it the water filter.

Enter the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter. This filter is what would happen if you crossed a cockroach with a Nokia phone, and then tacked on a water filter. It's bomb proof, and solidly constructed. If by chance an asteroid does descend from the heavens and actually manage to land on your Pocket Microfilter, my money is on the filter winning. However, if the odds are against you, and you do happen to have the filter fail or break on you, Katadyn provides a full twenty year warranty for their filter. Now that's a warranty!

Katadyn Pocket Microfilter vs. Other Water Filters

 
Katadyn Pocket Microfilter
MSR Hyperflow Microfilter
Katadyn Hiker Pro
MSR Sweetwater
Sawyer Two Bag
Filtration Rating
0.2 microns
0.2 microns
0.3 microns
0.2 microns
0.1 microns
Flow Rate
1L per minute
3L per minute
1L per minute
1L per minute
N/A (Gravity Feed)
Filter Capacity
~50,000 liters
~1,000 liters
~750L per cartridge
~850L per cartidge
Indefinite
Ease of Cleaning
Easy
Very Difficult
Easy
Easy
Moderate
Weight and Size
10 x 2.4 in. (550g)
8.5 x 2.5 in. (289g)
6.5 x 2.4 in. (310g)
7.5 x 2 in. (320g)
N/A (Dual Bag+Filter)
Cost (02/02/15)
$295.96
$71.92
$72.76
$74.88
$82.03

First Impressions

How the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter stacks up against it's competition is a bit of an odd issue. First off, out of the pump filters, it is by far the most expensive, commanding nearly a $300.00 price. tag. On a good day, that's over three times as expensive as most of it's direct competitors. That doesn't translate well to the lay observer, though. On the surface, the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter has:

  • Slightly slower than average flow rate
  • Slightly above average filtration ability
  • Massively more expensive than any other pump filter
  • Slightly larger than some of the other pump filters
  • Significantly heavier than most of the other pump filters
  • Easier to clean than some filters

At this point, you're probably asking yourself why you would want what appears to be a very costly, quite heavy, seemingly average quality water filter. Under the surface though, the finer details of the Katadyn Microfilter really begin to come to light though.

For example, cost is a major issue. It's hard to commit to such an expensive purchase with so many cheaper alternatives on the market. Its' not without some cost savings included, however. Since water filters degrade and clog as they are used you'll get more use out of better quality filters. We'll take the MSR Hyperflow as an example. The Hyperflow has a capacity of ~1,000 liters. MSR lists a replacement filter element as $39.95 each. That's $39.95 per 1000 liters.

The Katadyn Pocket Microfilter, on the other hand, has a capacity of ~50,000 liters. In essence it would take $1997.50 to keep the Hyperflow running through the same kind of usage a single filter element in a Pocket could withstand. Now, is anyone realistically going to filter that much water for normal usage? Probably not, but it's food for thought.

Quality Above Quantity

Then of course, comes the age old adage that "you get what you pay for." With the Katadyn Microfilter, that's spot on.What makes the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter special are the durable materials and superb craftsmanship that have gone into making it. Seriously, this filter is an indestructible monster, forged out of steel and aluminum in the fires of Mount Doom, and adorned with a dense plastic sheath to protect the robust filter hidden within. You won't find any cheap breakable bits and pieces in this filter, only a very few robust, precision machined parts.

Katadyn seems to have great confidence in their product too, as a twenty year limited warranty is standard for the Microfilter. Having taken mine on every outing and expedition for the past two years, I genuinely wonder how exactly you abuse the Katadyn Microfilter enough to buy it. It would the combined armies of a small third world country to scratch the metal on this thing... but I digress. In short, the quality is superb.

Filter Media and Quality

Control vs. Filtered water
Control vs. Filtered water
Source Water
Source Water

The Katadyn Pocket Microfilter utilizes a silver impregnated ceramic filter to do it's dirty work. It can filter down to 0.2 microns and will take care of bacteria and contaminant with ease. It will even catch some of the physically larger viral strains as well. The 0.2 micron rating is an industry standard for quality filters, although Sawyer does take the cheese with their 0.1 micron squeeze and gravity systems. To see a bit more of the in depth side of silver impregnated ceramic filters, check out this technical article on their efficacy.

Cleaning

One of the most easily overlooked aspects of a water filter is the cleaning process. The MSR Hyperflow, for example, has a complicated cleaning process, which has to be repeated somewhat often. The Katadyn Pocket Microfilter, in contrast, should be cleaned, more or less, when the pump action begins to become more strenuous. Two twists of a screw, and a few pulls will see to the disassembly, and a light scrub with the included scrubbing pad or one of your own invention will clean the filter in no time. For more information, see "How to Clean the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter."

The Final Word

If anything, I think the take away from anyone interested in purchasing a Katadyn Pocket Microfilter should be this very simple thought: The Katadyn Pocket Microfilter is the Sherman Tank of water filters. It's built on the principle of solid, simple reliability, mine has not ever let me down, in all the many places I've taken it. Whether you want a filter to last you through the coming apocalypse, or simply a solid piece of engineering to pass down to your children one day, this is the filter for the job, hands down.

Katadyn Pocket Microfilter at Work

An example both of my horrible videography, as well as an example of the Katadyn Pocket Microfilter at work. The water is a combination of soil, rocks, mulch, plant matter, and creek water.

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