Pump filter and purifier


1 lb. 1.3 oz.

Filter life:

10,000 liters

What we like:

The most advanced backcountry water treatment system on the market and a great option for travel.

What we don’t:

At $350, the Guardian is very pricey and overkill for many backpacking scenarios.

MSR has been a long-time pioneer in the field of backcountry water purification and it’s no wonder that their Guardian is our top choice pump on big trips overseas. We brought this innovative hybrid purifier and filter for a trip to Peru’s Cordillera Blanca as well as Mongolia’s central mountains and were pleasantly surprised with its user-friendly as well as its lack of maintenance along with its reasonable weight and outstanding quality and durability. Although it’s not the most affordable or lightest choice available but we believe that the extra weight and cost are well worth the cost in appropriate circumstances. In the following, we go over the Guardian’s configuration and functionsmaintenanceweight and packabilitybuild quality and endurance and many more. To find out the way it compares to other brands read our review on the top backpacking water purifiers as well as purifiers.


Configuration and Functionality

It was MSR Guardian was extremely simple to setup and use at the very first try. All we needed to do was remove the cap, then connect an Nalgene (or put it on top of the bottle of a different size or reservoir) and then put the intake hose into an water source, then begin pumping. As soon as water began to flow upwards through the hose we were awestruck by the speed at which the Guardian performed. We usually filtered four Liters at a time taking about 3-4 moments (the Guardian claims it can deliver around 2.5 liters of water per minute, however we often discover that the claims of the manufacturer are somewhat over-the-top or not applicable to ideal conditions). Since it was so easy it was a no-brainer to use filter-filtered water for everything that we did during our trip, even dishwashing. There were some challenges keeping the intake hose in the water. It would often turn and slide up to the top when placed in still and flowing sources. But after some fumbling we realized that placing it against a rock is an easy fix.

Although it is true that the Guardian is extremely simple to utilize, it’s real merit lies in its dual filtration and purification capability. A quick summary is that water purifiers do not get rid of viruses (pumps of brands such as Katadyn and MSR are only able to protect against bacteria and protozoa) and purifiers of water (like Aquamira drops) don’t remove particles or sediments from water. However, the MSR Guardian is the most efficient of both by providing the ability to purify and filter your water simultaneously. It’s the ultimate security when traveling in areas that are heavily used (viruses are typically found through the human waste). For a real-world test the first night we went biking through the Peru’s Cordillera Blanca range, we pumped and drank water from the same creek where a cow skeleton had taken a rest, and we didn’t get sick. In actuality the Guardian is an extremely reliable and efficient system that it’s being utilized to purify water in emergency situations during natural disasters, and also in countries that are less developed around the globe.


In addition to its easy installation and filtering, the other advantage that is a benefit of MSR Guardian is its lack of need for maintenance. When our only option was the water that was murky, it did not block the flow with silt, or was slowed down in its flow. How do they accomplish this? Every time you use the Guardian self-cleans itself by making use of 10 percent of the fluid to wash out any contaminants inside the filter. This means that you do not have to bother to clean the cartridge constantly to keep it flowing. Alongside the Peru journey, we utilized the Guardian during the bicyclepacking trip in the Mongolian Khangai range as well as a hike within the Tavan Bogd massif. In both instances, sources of water were scattered and cloudy, however, the Guardian kept up its rapid flow and gave crystal clear water each and every time. After three weeks of intensive and frequent usage, the purifier had zero cleaning at all.

Furthermore, the Guardian’s filter can handle as much as 10,000 liters prior to having for replacement. According to MSR’s claims, this means that four people could use water using the Guardian for around 60 days a year for 10 years prior to when it required a replacement filter. Even for gear testers with years of experience who regularly test their equipment under the test of time, it will take some time. To give you an example, a pump system , like the Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter would require replacement every 775 milliliters. While the Guardian tops the list for the most minimal amount of maintenance needed for a pumping system, other alternatives like straw filters typically require less effort. The Sawyer Squeeze comes with a filter lifespan of one million gallons, while it’s the Sawyer Mini can hold 100,000 liters.

the weight of an item and its packability

With a weight of 1 one pound 1.3 grams at the weight of 1 pound 1.3 ounces, the Guardian is among the largest options available that are available. We were impressed with the MSR when we traveled abroad in areas that are less developed for its purifying properties, however, it could be too much when you’re in the United States. A pump filter (that does not purify) such as one like the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter is cheaper than the Guardian by over 6 ounces, which is a lot while on the trail. We think the Guardian’s extra weight is worth it if seeking a complete system that can be taken wherever you go. We were impressed with the security and the capability to filter every source of water we came across in Peru and Mongolia, regardless of its clarity, depth or carcasses of animals.

Storage capacity and weight are acceptable considering the Guardian’s huge capacities and power output. The tubes are neatly wrapped around the filter, and it’s easy to put everything in the bag that comes with it (which is also amazing in that it removed any water remaining from the pump after you put it in the trash). When it’s put in the bag the Guardian is approximately the size of a 1 liter water bottle. It’s definitely heavier than other pumping systems, but it’s a lot more durable too (more about this later in the article).

High Quality and Durability and Build Quality

It’s the MSR Guardian is a notch over the competition in terms of construction quality. We’ve had a few issues with durability with other pumps, including hoses and other tiny plastic parts breaking off, but we observed that the Guardian to be significantly more durable. For the filtering component of the system is concerned, MSR uses hollow fiber which is a common feature for pump models that filter water. The pores of this fiber are astonishingly small–0.02 microns to be precise (1 micron equals 1 millionth of one meter)–which is the reason why the Guardian is able to keep out the tiniest of threats to water viruses. This is no small achievement, considering that many other pumps aren’t able to claim the same (either chemical or ultraviolet treatment is required for the removal of viruses). To give you an example the Katadyn Hiker and MSR MiniWorks EX filtering systems both contain pore sizes of 0.2 microns, which is 10 times larger than the Guardian.

The housing made of polyurethane of the Guardian performed our testing easily. MSR claims that it is able to withstand the impact of a 6-foot drop on concrete. While we couldn’t duplicate that specific test exactly, we did accidentally bounce the filter around after filtration and it showed no more than minor cosmetic wear. The filter was also placed in the area of the vestibule in our tent for backpacking in the evening, where it was exposed to temperatures that dropped far below freezing. it was unharmed and in good working order.

What We Like About

  • Guardian Guardian is in an entirely different category as an integrated pump filter and purifier, which makes it a fantastic choice to travel with.
  • The self-cleaning system prevents the filter free of clogging, while it allows the flow to be steady, which is a from the cheaper filters that require constant care.
  • Very easy to set-up and make use of.
  • The Guardian has a remarkable 10,000-liter filter life, which means it needs very little maintenance over time.

“What We Never Do”

    • For a staggering $350 and over one pounds, it’s among the most costly and weightiest filtering options for water available.
    • The additional purifying features might be unnecessary if you’re traveling in highly-used areas or in less developed regions of the globe.
    • The intake hose rotated and was pulled out of the water accidentally on numerous occasions, which required us to put it in the rock in order to filter it properly.

Comparative Table

MSR Guardian $350 Pump filter/purifier 17.3 oz. 10,000 Liters 2.5 L/min Unlimited
Katadyn Hiker $70 Pump filter 11 oz. 775 Liters 1 L/min Unlimited
MSR MiniWorks EX $90 Pump filter 16 oz. 2000 to liters 1 L/min Unlimited
Platypus GravityWorks 4L $110 Gravity filter 11.5 oz. 1,500 Liters 1.75 L/min 2L, 4L
Aquamira Drops $15 Chemical purifier 3 oz. 30 gallons/1 oz. 1L/20 min 32 oz.

The Contest

It is the MSR Guardian is in a category of its own in terms of an engine that can cleanse and filter water. No other model can do both. But, there are different pump filters available in the market that perform well on most hiking trips, and reduce weight and costs when you use them. For instance, the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter can clock at 11 pounds (6 pounds lighter than the MSR) and is priced at $70. Its small filter lifespan (750 milliliters) and the price of a replacement filter ($50) makes it less of an attractive long-term choice, particularly for those who intend to travel overseas and need the purification. However, for backpackers on the weekend seeking a reliable and simple pump filter, at a price of less than $270, the Katadyn is an excellent option.

If you’re considering Katadyn but you’d like to extend the filter’s lifespan, MSR’s MiniWorks EX may be the right choice. Both filters share the same size of pore (0.2 millimeters) and are protected against cryptosporidium and Giardia, however, they do not protect against viruses. It is the Katadyn is lighter, at 11. ounces, while the MSR has a much longer life span at 2500 Liters (the MSR is carbon/ceramic while the Katadyn is carbon). Furthermore, both pumps allow users to filter water without the hassle of droplets or straws. However, we found MiniWorks EX to be slow from the beginning. MiniWorks EX to be slow at the start (it lists a flow rate of one Liter per minute, however we observed a slower rate in actual use) We also experienced the experience of being much more smooth and robust experience using MSR Guardian. MSR Guardian.

Pump system aside, we’re big fans of gravity filters designed for backpacking. This is the reason Platypus’ GravityWorks 4L is the top of our list of backpacking water purifiers and water filters. The 11.5-ounce model is able to filter more than 1,500 liters of water before needing replacement and is a breeze to use. Instead of pumping, simply fill the reservoirand hang it on an erect tree branch or boulder, and wait for a couple of minutes for it to drain into the clear reservoir. Although it is easy to using, water extraction can be difficult in the absence of an adequately deep or fluid source (similar to any other system which relies on a bag to hold water). Although we appreciate the convenience and less expensive cost however, a pump is more suitable for water sources with low levels and the MSR is a winner with regards to security against viruses.

The last but not least If water purification is what you’re looking for, then the simple Aquamira chemicals are a great option. The system is priced at 15 dollars and weighs only 3 ounces. Its liquid solution of chlorine dioxide eliminates bacteria, protozoa and viruses. To cleanse water, mix 7 drops from Part B and Part A into the cap that comes with it and let it rest for 5 minutesand then mix the mixture into 1 Liter of water. Wait 15 minutes prior to drinking water for protection against Giardia bacteria, Giardia, as well as virus (4 4 hours for the Cryptosporidium). Also, Katydyn’s Micropur Tablets are simpler for use (no mixing needed) however, they take 30 minutes in total to eliminate Giardia. They also leave somewhat more of a chemical taste. For those who are interested in purification and filtration in specific situations can opt for a less expensive filter such as Katydyn’s Microfilter, which is mentioned earlier and then add drops of chemical when you want.

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