Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L Review
Cons: Doesn't filter out viruses, no additional storage reservoir
Our Analysis and Test Results
With exceptional performance at a great price, the Katadyn GravityCamp 6L wins our Best Buy Award. Of the gravity filters tested, it offers the best performance for its price. It comes in both a 6L and 10L options.
The Gravity Camp features a pleated glass-fiber filter with activated carbon inside. The activated carbon does a great job removing nasty smells from water, providing fresh and clean hydration. The 0.2-micron pore size will filter out protozoa and bacteria and other sediment and debris. It does not, however, filter out viruses. If you plan on going to international areas where viruses may be a concern, consider a different option, or add another in-line purifier system. Other gravity systems have the filter in-line, but in this setup, the filter is inside the bag, located right at the base.
In clear or slightly turbid water, this filter does a fantastic job. It will provide water of a high quality that is ready to drink. That said, water that is highly turbid is a different story. If you research the filter used in this system, Katadyn does claim that it is all right to use in turbid conditions. Turbid means water that contains lots of sediment and is not clear. There is a range here. While it does work for conditions with "low turbidity," like a little bit of murk in a puddle, it did not perform well during our Colorado River sediment tests where the water was "highly turbid."
After big rains in the desert, many water sources can get flooded with sand and dirt from overlaying areas, making the river look like chocolate milk. After filtering just 2L, the filter clogged. While water did flow, it took over 10 minutes to fill up a liter in these tests. When we took the filter apart, it was full of silt and sand. Upon cleaning it out, which involved scrubbing with a small sponge (provided) and removing the protective pleats, it worked again. But it clogged once more shortly after.
As a result, it does work, but at a much slower rate in highly turbid conditions. In addition, the filter is a pain to clean as you've got to take the whole thing apart. It's not a simple backflush solution. It's important to note that none of the filters were able to withstand these conditions. As a result, it's essential to pre-filter your water or let the sediment settle before filtration. If you carry an extra ziplock bag or storage reservoir, you can collect the water, let it settle, then decant the water off the top into the gravity bag. Aside from that, it works like a charm, providing clean and freshwater, free of microorganisms and water-borne pathogens. It also tastes great.
Durability and Maintenance
This product features strong construction and is easy to maintain. The filter cartridge treats up to 1,500 liters and is easy to clean on the trail. In comparison to other filters, we didn't have to work as hard to maintain this filter unless we encountered turbid water. We also appreciate that it keeps on working even if it freezes, which is head and shoulders better than hollow filter constructions that are unusable after a freeze.
The filter's protective screen staves off the entry of larger debris, prolonging life. It can easily be rinsed off and scrubbed with the small sponge provided. With its design, this filter can freeze in cold weather. While it can't filter while frozen, it can still be used after it thaws out. This makes it a better choice than other gravity filter options for cold weather.
The reservoir bag is much more durable than any of the other bags we've tested so far. It's composed of a nylon material with a clear looking glass feature so you can see the clarity of the water. When hanging it in trees and around pointy bushes, we weren't worried about punctures or holes. The roll-top is well reinforced and easily supports the weight of the water, not showing wear and tear even after months of consistent use. Overall, exceptional durability and construction should lead to the longevity of the filter.
The Gravity Camp is one of the fastest gravity filters tested. Most of the gravity filters performed close in time during our time trials. After three timed trials, the Gravity Camp filtered one liter in an average of 64 seconds. This is super fast! When the bag is full, the speed increases, but when it gets to a low volume, the speed slows done. The full 6L filters in just over 6 minutes.
The advertised flow rate is at 2L/minute. While we did see this rate when we first opened the package, it decreased a little over time. Overall, it's a fast filtration system that can easily provide water for the solo hiker or several people at base camp.
Weight and Packability
The Gravity Camp weighs 11.65 ounces, making it a lightweight filtration option. It packs up to the size of a water bottle and given that the parts are quite pliable, it can be folded up. It also comes with a zip-up carry case that helps prevent the loss of any parts. Once you've assembled it, you can keep it all together, fold or roll it, and easily get it into the pouch without issue. A great option if you're heading out on a multi-day backpacking adventure into the unknown.
Ease of Setup
This bag features a 6L roll-top reservoir with a hose extension and filter that sits inside of the bag. Assembly of this product can be a bit more difficult because you need to screw the filter into the bag before you put it in the water source. That said, if you're on a trip, you can keep the filter in for easy setup later on.
Once you've assembled the filtration system, you can take your bag, and fill it up in your nearest water source. Like all gravity filters, you need a good flow of water. The Gravity Camp is not the best filter if all you have is a puddle or super shallow source. It's perfect for rivers, streams, and lakes.
Once you've collected your water, roll down the top, and hang it in a tree. We noticed that the GravityCamp needs to be suspended high in a tree which is in part due to the longer included tube. You can easily cut off a portion of it to make it shorter.
Ease of Filtration
Once you've set up your system, it's time to hang out and relax. Like all gravity filters, the biggest benefit is that you don't have to do a whole lot. Since the Gravity Camp doesn't come with an additional reservoir for clean water, you need to bring an extra water storage container (if you're going to need it on the trail) like a hydration bladder or bottle.
This filter is pretty simple, making it very compatible with other products. It comes with an adaptive end that can be slipped into the output tube, making it compatible with most hydration bladders. We tested this with the clean reservoir in addition to several hydration bladders that we are currently testing and found that this end is compatible with all of them.
If you don't have a hydration bladder for storage and only want to fill a water bottle, it's easy to do that, too. Just take off the end, or drink right from the output if you're really thirsty. We also like the tube clamp that makes it easy to stop and start the flow of water.
The Gravity Camp is one of the best value gravity filters in this review. It beats out its competitors at an affordable retail price. It earns our Best Buy Award because it affords high quality without a high price. Since it's also fantastically durable, you should expect this system to last you a long time, and you can use it all year round (and in cold weather!).
The Katadyn Gravity Camp is one of our favorite gravity filters at a relatively low price. It's fast, easy to use, and can filter a wide range of water sources through all seasons.
— Amber King