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MSR SweetWater Microfilter Review

MSR SweetWater Microfilter
Price:   $90 List | $87.70 at Amazon
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Pros:  Handle is easy to pump, handle collapses to pack, smaller filter pore size than Katadyn Hiker Pro.
Cons:  Very average in weight, pump speed, price, and filter life.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   MSR

Our Verdict

A dependable and popular water filter with average weight and pump speed, the MSR Sweetwater Microfilter is easy to use, has a comfortable leveraged pumping handle, and is effective against bacteria and protozoa, but not viruses. It is very similar in features to the Katadyn Hiker Pro, having almost identical weight 13.5+ ounces, pump-time (1.5 min per liter), capacity (750 liters), and price ($90).

The Sweetwater provides excellent value, dependability, and ease of use for the price, and can treat as much or as little water as needed. For the fastest working filter, go with the Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter, our Editors' Choice winner. However, the SweetWater has the ability to suck water out of smaller, siltier sources than the Platypus, making it slightly more versatile. If you are interested in the lightest and most economical method to purify your water, check out Aquamira Water Treatment Drops.

RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Water Filters and Treatment Systems of 2017

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Weight (including bag and all things that would be carried) Dimensions Filter Media
Editors' Choice Award
12 oz 3 in x 9.5 in Hollow Fiber
12.9 oz (Cartridge) 1.9 x 5.7 / (reservoir) 22 x 10 in Hollow Fiber
11.5 oz 10 x 6 x 2.4 in Pleated glassfiber/carbon
Best Buy Award
1.6 oz for filter alone, 2.5 oz for filter and bottle 5.5 in long 4 in diameter Hollow Fiber
Top Pick Award
22 oz 8.2 x 4.7 x 3.5 in Hollow Fiber
17 oz 20 x 10 in (per bladder) Hollow Fiber Membrane
13.65 oz 2 in wide x7.5 in long Silica Depth
Top Pick Award
3 oz with both bottles and mixing caps N/A Chlorine Dioxide
19.4 oz 7.5 x 4 in Pleated glassfiber, activated carbon granulate, ceramic pre-filter
2.7 oz 9 in long, 4 diameter Hollow Fiber Membrane
14.3 oz 3 x 6.5 x 2.4 in AntiClogTM pleated cartridge made with 0.3 micron glassfiber. Includes activated carbon granules
0.2 oz for 30 tablets N/A Sodium dichloroisocyanurate
6 oz 7.5 x 2.5 UV light
18 oz 2.75 in wide x 7.5 in long Ceramic Plus Carbon
16 oz 15 x 7 x 3.5 Hollow fiber membrane ultra filtration

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jessica Haist
Review Editor

Last Updated:
August 10, 2016

A standard pump filter; this is an easy and popular way to treat water while in the backcountry.

Perfomance Comparison

Using the MSR Sweetwater to refill at Iceberg Lake in the Mt. Whitney region.
Using the MSR Sweetwater to refill at Iceberg Lake in the Mt. Whitney region.


The silica depth filter is effective at eliminating bacteria, protozoa, chemicals, and particulate, but not viruses. It is dependable for use in the backcountry, can collect water from small, difficult sources, and can treat enough water for groups or a single hiker.

This filter is good for 750 liters before needing a replacement cartridge. This is not nearly as much capacity as a ceramic filter like that in the MSR Miniworks EX or gravity filters like the Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L, which are good for 2000 liters and 1500 liters respectively, but can filter more than the MSR Aquatabs.

The Sweetwater feels a little more delicate and has more assembly and parts than other more durable filters in this review like the Katadyn Vario. The handle, which feels really great for pumping, and which detaches in order to pack down better, has been reported by some users to break. We're not surprised, as it has small parts that need to be fixed into place each time, leaving room for user error. This is the only durability issue we have come across with this filter.
The Sweetwater filter handle is the most delicate of the ones we tested.
The Sweetwater filter handle is the most delicate of the ones we tested.

The water flavor remains largely unchanged. Chemicals are removed through the filter, which can make water taste better.

Ease of Use

The Sweetwater is easy to pump. The noteworthy detail is the handle. It unscrews and detaches so that it can fold up better for more compact storage. The way this attaches and detaches is not the most intuitive, but once you figure it out once, it is fairly simple; reattaching the handle adds one more step to this pump than any of the others have. When the handle is connected, it has more leverage and is more comfortable to use than the handles of other filters like the Hiker Pro, although we still prefer a traditional pump handle like the MSR Guardian for pumping.
The handle on this contender is very easy to pump  and then collapses so that it can be easily packed.
The handle on this contender is very easy to pump, and then collapses so that it can be easily packed.


Easy to pump with a leveraged handle, the Sweetwater takes a little over a minute and a half to pump a liter, which is not long to wait.
Luke Lydiard filtering water with the Sweetwater at Iceberg Lake in the Mt. Whitney region. The filter has a pore size of 0.2 microns and a life of 750 liters.
Luke Lydiard filtering water with the Sweetwater at Iceberg Lake in the Mt. Whitney region. The filter has a pore size of 0.2 microns and a life of 750 liters.


At around 13.5 ounces including the storage case and hoses, this filter is average in weight for a pump style filter but heavier than them majority of the gravity filters we tested. Not too heavy, but not ultra-light either.

Best Application

This is a durable and reliable water filter that is great for general hiking and camping. It hovers between a light and fast accessory and a heavy base camp filter.


At $90, this water pump is comparable to other pump-style filters. It is less expensive than UV treatments such as a SteriPEN Ultra, but more expensive than a chlorine dioxide treatment. Overall, this filter provides decent value for its performance.
The pre-filter on the Sweetw#ter  by MSR.
The pre-filter on the Sweetw#ter, by MSR.


We prefer the Sweetwater to the Hiker Pro and the MSR Miniworks EX, but have concerns about its durability with the delicate handle. Otherwise it is easy to use and one of the lighter pumps we tested in this review. If you're looking for a pump to take backpacking for personal or small group use, we'd recommend the Sweetwater. If you're headed out with two or more people, consider a gravity filter instead, like the Editors' Choice Platypus Gravityworks.

Other Versions

MSR Miniworks EX
MSR Miniworks EX
  • Cost- $90.00 (same as the Sweetwater)
  • Weight- 1lb (5oz more than the Sweetwater)
  • Flow- 1liter per minute (same as the Sweetwater)
  • Stokes per liter- 85 (10 more than the Sweetwater)

MSR Hyperfilter
MSR Hyperflow Microfilter
  • Cost- $100.00 ($10 more than the Sweetwater)
  • Weight- 7.8oz (3.2oz lighter than the Sweetwater)
  • Flow- 3 liters per minute (2 liters per minute faster than the Sweetwater)
  • Stokes per liter- 20 (55 less than the Sweetwater)


SweetWater Filter Cartridge
  • Replacement filter
  • Cost - $50
  • Filters up to 750 liters

Sweetwater Siltstopper
  • Extend the life of your filter
  • Cost - $20
Jessica Haist

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Most recent review: August 10, 2016
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