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Platypus GravityWorks Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Backpacking Water Purification

  • Currently 4.7/5
Overall avg rating 4.7 of 5 based on 9 reviews. Most recent review: April 30, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $100 - $110 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros:  Fastest treatment time, easy to use, relatively light, requires little maintenance.
Cons:  No separate storage for clean and dirty hoses, expensive, hard to collect water from small or non-flowing sources
Best Uses:  Backcountry trips with a basecamp, General overnight hiking trips, car camping.
User Rating:     
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  • 5
 (4.6 of 5) based on 8 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (7/7) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Platypus
Review by: McKenzie Long ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ September 7, 2012  
Overview
After some surprising results in our tests, the Platypus GravityWorks took the lead in our comparison, winning the Editors' Choice award. We initially thought this system would be bulky and time-consuming, but the opposite was true. In fact, this is the fastest system for filtering water, particularly large quantities, is one of our lightest filter systems, and requires little to no maintenance. The filter lasts a long time before replacement (1500 liters), being beaten only by the MSR MiniWorks EX (2000 liters.) Since it easily treats small or large amounts of water, it is the most versatile system, working well for a camp of multiple people, or for a solitary hiker on the move in the mountains. The primary drawback to this system is that is more expensive than the average pump filter such as the Katadyn Hiker Pro or the MSR Sweetwater Microfilter. Also, it does not treat viruses like the SteriPEN Journey LCD or the First Need XL, so if you plan to travel around some very sketchy water, this may not be the filter system of choice.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The GravityWorks is a unique water purification solution in that it combines filtering with storage. With a 4-liter capacity, the Platypus clean container makes for a convenient and ample water supply for your campsite. This means you can eliminate the need to carry a separate water container for campsite water, saving weight and space. In practice, it is fast, easy to use, and makes campsite water easy to access whether you are solo backpacking or in a group campsite.

Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
Credit: Platypus

Performance Comparison
Click to enlarge
Luke Lydiard using the Platypus GravityWorks to rehydrate after coming down from Clyde Minaret in the Ritter Range. The whole system works surprisingly fast, so is useful even for hikers on the go.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Reliability/Effectiveness
The hollow fiber filter in the Platypus GravityWorks is effective against protozoa and bacteria, but not viruses. For what it does sterilize, this is a very reliable system. The absence of moving or electronic parts means that it is less likely to break or malfunction.

Weight
Including the storage bag, this system weighs 11.99 ounces, which is the second lightest filter to the MSR Hyperflow Microfilter. This makes this filter a great choice for hiking since it does not weigh you down.

Time Before Drinking
At first, we were skeptical of this system. We thought it would be slow and cumbersome to use, but instead we were quite impressed. This gravity system works surprisingly fast. We timed the filtration process, and it only took 4 minutes 50 seconds for the entire dirty bag to filter into the clean bag in a complete timed test, and 1 minute 5 seconds to filter one liter in a smaller timed test. This is less time that waiting for tablets to work their magic, and actually involves less work for the user than any of the pump systems. None of the pumps will provide four liters of purified water in under five minutes. Even the SteriPEN, which is our next fastest system, takes 90 seconds per liter, which if you do the math, takes six minutes to purify four liters of water, not counting fill times in between sterilizations. Waiting almost five minutes to drink can seem like a pain, but in actuality this GravityWorks system purifies the most water the quickest.

Click to enlarge
Water flowing from the dirty bag of the Platypus GravityWorks with Clyde Minaret in the background. It takes 4 min 50 seconds for this system to filter an entire gallon, which is faster than all of the pump systems, and even the SteriPen for this volume.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Ease of Use
This system is ridiculously easy to use, even more so than a lot of pump systems. You fill the dirty bag, attach the hoses and with the arrow on the filter pointing towards the clean bag, and set the dirty bag somewhere above the clean bag, which doesn't even have to be very high. This system worked fine with the dirty bag sitting on a rock and the clean bag on the ground, it does not need to be hanging from a tree to operate. After you fill it, you can let it do its thing while you set up camp. We like that the dirty bag and clean bag are clearly labeled, and the dirty bag has an open zippered top, while the clean bag does not, so you will not accidentally mix them up and cross contaminate. The only downside is that the hoses are not as easy to keep separate. Since the dirty hose has the filter attached to it, they are easy to tell apart, but there is no convenient way to pack them to keep the hoses separate from each other.

Click to enlarge
Scooping water into the Platypus GravityWorks. Unless the source is a really small puddle, this filter is the easiest to use and the fastest working filter.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Durability/Uses Before Maintenance
The maintenance on this system is very low. The filter is good for 1500 liters, which is second only to the MSR Miniworks ceramic filter, so it does not need to be replaced all that often. In the meantime, the only other maintenance required is a quick and painless back-flush when you set up the gravity system. All this requires is elevating the clean bag above the dirty bag for a couple seconds to let air bubbles escape, which is nothing compared to scraping a ceramic filter or reversing all the valves to set up the complicated back-flush on the MSR Hyperflow.

Click to enlarge
The Platypus GravityWorks system is simple and low maintenance. The arrow on the filter shows the direction of flow, and it lasts for 1,500 liters.
Credit: McKenzie Long

The one thing to watch out for is that you do not puncture a hole in one of the bags, which would ruin the system. However, the bags seem very durable and in our tests we have not had an issue with this.

Taste
The water flavor remains unchanged and particulate is strained out of the clean water.

Best Applications
Since this system excels at purifying larger quantities of water, it is well suited to car camping, or backcountry trips that will involve a base camp. Our initial impression was that it would not be as conducive to fast in-a-day backcountry missions where you want smaller quantities of water quicker, and do not want to sit around for five minutes waiting for it to filter. Then we tried it on our own hiking mission and felt that it took only as much, if not less, time to filter water through this system as with a pump. Even though the bags hold a gallon of water, you can fill the system just part way if you are in a hurry and do not want to carry extra water. Our final verdict: it works well in just about any backcountry situation where you would like to filter water, with perhaps the exception of really nasty pools where you don't want to scoop out goopy water.

Click to enlarge
Water flowing from the dirty bag of the Platypus GravityWorks with Clyde Minaret in the background. It takes 4 min 50 seconds for this system to filter an entire gallon, which is faster than all of the pump systems, and even the SteriPen for this volume.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Value
At $110, this filter is on the expensive side, which seems strange for such a simple system. It costs more than even the SteriPEN with its high-tech UV light. This system is excellent to use and works very fast, so it may be worth the investment, but expect to shell out a few more dollars for the luxury that the gravity system provides.

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The clean bag rapidly filling.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Conclusion
In the end, we felt that the GravityWorks was the best water purification system available, and the one we'd recommend to friends and family for general use. If you are looking for one water filter that can serve your needs, whether car camping or backpacking, this is the one we'd pick. And, that's why it earned our Editors' Choice Award for best water filter.

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The Platypus GravityWorks does not need a lot of height in order to work properly.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Other Versions
There are other gravity style filters on the market, which are likely to be as low-maintenance as this system.

For 2013, Platypus is offering two different kits for this filter, a Bottle Kit and a Complete Kit. They both come with a bottle adapter that makes it easy to filter directly into a water bottle or water reservoir without removing it from your pack. This new offering makes this filter even faster and more convenient than the edition of this filter we used for this review.

McKenzie Long

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 30, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.6)

100% of 7 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
8 Total Ratings
5 star: 63%  (5)
4 star: 38%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 8 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Apr 30, 2014 - 01:55pm
Platy Hydration · Climber · Seattle
Hello! We at Platy would like to answer some of the questions mentioned in the reviews.
You can filter directly into any hydration system (not just Platy) using our Universal or Push/Pull Adapter. The Universal is included with 2L systems. Both can be purchased separately.
We are currently working on a new bag opening that will allow better water collection from small streams. When water sources are really small and non-moving we use a cup to transfer water to the Dirty reservoir.
Freezing and hard drops are a concern for all hollow fiber filters currently on the market. In the case of freezing, ice crystals forming inside the filter can rupture the hollow fibers. Our instruction manual includes an easy field test that will determine if your filter has been compromised. The best way to prevent freezing is to bring the filter into your tent at night.
Thanks to everyone who purchased and reviewed the GravityWorks!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 1, 2014 - 10:43pm
C.Houston · Backpacker · Greenwich, CT
Admittedly, I've never used a pump, but compared to a steri pen, this is far easier if filling anything more than a single nalgene. My initial understanding was that you could filter directly into the drink tube of a Platypus hydration system, but I haven't been able to do this due to tube and fitting sizes. Instead, it seams you have to fill the clean bag and can from that fill a hydration system through the drink tube.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 11, 2014 - 11:34pm
Fair-In-Height · Backpacker · Portland, Oregon
Four of us went camping in the Three Sisters wilderness last fall for 4 nights. We took two filters along, the GravityWorks and a pump filter. I don't know what brand the other filter was because it never showed itself. We had unending filtered water. What an absolutely amazing filter. At the end of the trip we rated the various peices of equipment we brought along. The Platypus GavityWorks was rated by all of us as the #1 best peice of equipment we brought.

I found out that one of the guys bought a GravityWorks filter for himself a week later.

Bottom line… I give it 5 stars.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 7, 2014 - 04:04pm
WhiteTomato · Hiker
Used this over a four-day trip to Saguaro National Park.

The filter is as simple and fast as described. It filtered four liters of water within minutes with little hassle.

My main reason for not giving it four stars would be the slight frustration with gathering water. I had a small spring that had gathered in a pool, so I had water flowing into the source but not moving out quickly. I had to scoop water. I tried submerging the entire bag a few times and that didn't fill it any quicker. I basically had to scoop water every time and multiple times. I would have preferred if it would have worked by submerging it so that I didn't stir up as much debris as I did in a shallower pool on my first attempt. It might be a bit easier if the opening was a wider. Also--and I readily admit this might be user error--I could never quite get to four liters of water. Whenever I attempted to seal the bag to travel back to my camp site, water squirted out. I'm sure with time I could figure this out, but the seal--a ziploc type seal--wasn't that easy to secure, although once done, it didn't come undone. It would also be nice if the line for carrying the bag was longer. I had a little trouble climbing over rocks with the bag.

It is a bit bulky also so if size is an issue, this may push some people away, but it is also light. Although the Outdoor Gear Lab review mentions no separation of clean and dirty hoses, the directions specifically state NOT to detach the hoses while using them/on a trip. Also, the hoses are different lengths so its easy to know which is which.

In response to a below-review, water did freeze in the bag and hoses overnight. It did not affect use of the filter after it melted and the instruction manual makes no mention of adverse effects from this happening.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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May 7, 2013 - 06:10pm
 
harpo · Climber · South Lake Tahoe
I just got the MSR Autoflow gravity filter, which I am pretty sure uses the same filter element as the Platypus GravityWorks. The MSR directions says you have to be careful not to freeze the filter element. Do you have to take the same precautions with the Platypus? What does it say in the directions? Anyone have problems with the Platypus or the MSR freezing in the feild?
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   May 6, 2013 - 12:18am
silveriec · Mountain Biker · VT
I have only used this as a guest project assistant for a Great Basin Institute trail crew. The trail crew was along a fairly large river in a canyon just outside Reno where the water was very churned up from snowmelt (it was late June). Their feedback as a group in the mid-day heat was that they were drinking so much and having to refill it often--- was that the filter replacement cost was going to be a concern for them that season. They also were trying to be careful to not puncture the bags as they were using them so regularly.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 10, 2012 - 01:54am
ole'Eagle · Backpacker · Oregon-California
Our group of six used this over our eight days from Isberg Pass Trailhead to Happy Isle, YoValley (August 2012), with three nights at Lyle Fork of the Merced River under Mount Ansel Adams. Worked incredibly well--water detail no-longer a serious burden. Hang it on a tree, walk-off, comeback, you have water!!! Was skeptical even after testing at home, but entrail and in camp it worked flawlessly. Four stars (fishermen always leave the limit short one for the BIG one) leaving room for the next evolution :-) !! ~~ole'Eagle'Paul

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 26, 2012 - 12:29am
spidey · Climber · Berkeley CA
Used it on the JMT last year and it worked great! way easier and faster than a pump filter.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
Credit: Platypus
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