Water Filtration Test

Searching for a clean water source can be difficult in the Colorado high country, but on this day I was looking for the most contaminated. My plan was to run the dirtiest water through all the filtration systems to see which ones handled the job the best.
Finding a contaminated water source was a much easier task! The saying "Beaver Fever" had to come from somewhere, so when I walked by this beaver pond I knew I was in the right place.
I had a little better feeling about pumping from a crystal-clear high mountain stream, but I could still see elk droppings within 25 yards of the creek.
The MSR Gravity Works getting tested in a little cleaner environment... Poor thing needed a break after the beaver pond!
Yep, the best-tasting water always comes from a creek, not a faucet!
Platypus - Gravity Works Overall Rating: ✪✪✪ 1/2 Hits: When we tested the Gravity Works in a controlled environment, it actually outperformed its listed rating of 140 ounces in 2 1/2 minutes. When we filtered water out of a debris-filled beaver pond, the output times increased by only a few seconds, and we didn't need to backflow the system until we had run 1,280 ounces of debris-filled water through it. Misses: As with any-hollow-fiber filter, if the Gravity Works is subjected to subfreezing temperatures, the water inside the filter will expand and break the fibers, rendering the filter useless. [ $90; cascadedesigns.com/platypus ] Report Card
Performance: A+
Design: B+
Price/Value: B+
Katadyn Hiker Pro Overall Rating: ✪✪✪✪ Hits: The Hiker Pro had the same output time (2 1⁄2 minutes per 100 ounces) with all water sources. It comes with a multitude of attachments for several types of water containers, and a quick-connect inflow valve, which allows you to keep the contaminated tube separate from the non-contaminated one. Misses: The total output of the pleated filter was lower than we had hoped, becoming unusable after filtering 80 gallons of debris-filled water. The pleated filter does allow for field cleaning, but if it's pushed too far, a replacement will run about $39. [ $80; katadyn.com ] Report Card
Performance: A
Design: A
Price/Value: A
MSR MiniWorks EX Overall Rating: ✪✪✪ Hits: The MiniWorks EX is very consistent, producing output times within seconds of each other with all water sources. The ceramic element (the working part of the filter) should have a long life span before needing to be replaced. Misses: It was relatively slow, yielding 100 ounces of filtered water in 3 1⁄2 minutes. We experienced problems with the seals on our first test unit. [ $90; cascadedesigns.com/msr ] Report Card
Performance: B+
Design: B
Price/Value: B

Aron Snyder hiked into the backcountry to test water filtration systems on the market.