Katadyn Hiker Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, easy pumping, consistent and reliable performance, simple to clean, great water quality
Cons: Must replace filter when clogged, construction isn't the most durable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hiker is a simple hand pump that offers remarkable pump-action and performance. It's not the fastest or the most durable, but if you take a bit of care, it'll last you for years. It presents one of the best values in this review and comes with great compatibility options that'll fit your Nalgene or a hydration bladder. A great option for individuals or a group of two.
This reliable hand pump filter provides clean water from streams, ponds, lakes, and rivers. It utilizes a 0.2-micron glass fiber carbon core filter that eliminates particulates, bacteria, and all types of protozoa from the water.
While it does remove most stuff, it does not remove viruses. Katadyn claims that this model is "effective against chemicals" with the use of a carbon core. In our water quality tests, we pumped a silty sludge mess through the filter to see if it would remove the dissolved particulates and chemicals that gave it a yellow look and nasty smell. Like all other hand pump filters, gravity filters, and squeeze contenders, it could not completely remove these specific contaminants. This filter very likely removes chemicals, but it appeared unable to remove these ones. The specifics about which ones they can remove are unclear, so be careful if your water source is contaminated with a high concentration of chemicals. Before you pump, smell the water and check for discoloration.
That said, it's unusual that you'll come across water heavily contaminated with chemicals when backpacking in many places around the world. If you're looking for a water filter that adequately filters water while traveling in areas local to North America, you'll find confidence in this great product.
Durability & Maintenance
This filtration system is reliable but does need to be handled with care. Starting with the filter, if it becomes completely clogged with sediment, it is supposed to be replaced. While you can easily unscrew it if you're in the field, and rinse it with cool water, it may not perform like it once did. The filter itself absorbs water and isn't easy to scrub like a ceramic filter or others we've tested in this review. Be sure to rinse out the filter regularly if you are using this model in turbid water.
In addition, we've read many reviews that talk about the delicate nature of this pump. There is a small nipple for the outlet hose that is close to the bottom of the filter. Several users have reported this nipple breaking off. While many say you can still use it afterward, a couple of wayward travelers could not reattach the hose, which rendered the unit useless to them. We didn't experience this problem through months of testing.
That said, be careful when you use it. Pump it with your hands, and don't place it on a rock for leverage. The Katadyn Hiker Pro has an enhanced connector at this point, which eliminates this issue. So if you're good at breaking things, you might want to consider that pump instead.
The cartridge life of this filter is 1,100 liters or 291 gallons. In order to ensure it doesn't caput before that, ensure you completely dry out the filter before storing it, and try to avoid silty or heavily turbid water sources. This will decrease the longevity of the filter cartridge.
Of all the pump filters tested, this was the most consistent. The advertised flow rate is roughly 0.9 liters per minute. We pumped 40L of clear water from our sink and recorded an average of 42 seconds per liter with roughly 52 strokes per liter. In terms of speed, it falls right in the middle between ultra-fast and slow.
When we did the same in our turbid, sludge concoction, it was able to still pump out a liter in 47 seconds with 54 strokes per liter! We had to clean the filter between pumps, but this contender actually did the best of all filters (not purifiers) in this test. Overall, treatment time is good and offers fast functionality for one to two people.
Weight & Packability
This filter weighs 15.2 ounces.
We loaded it up on a few backpacking trips and it didn't seem to take up much room in our packs. The bag does not have a mesh compartment but is completely sealed. It comes with a plastic individual zippered pouch to keep dirty or contaminated items. The only way this bag could be improved is to add some mesh for better drying. That said, without the mesh, if the filter is wet, the bag prevents other items in your pack from getting wet.
Ease of Set-Up
This filtration system comes with a pump, output hose, and intake hose.
The intake hose has a weighted pre-filter on the end with a long hose…allowing you to take water from steep banks or from the side of a boat. The output hose comes with a bottle adaptor that works best with Nalgene bottles. We found this piece isn't very compatible with most of the bottles we have in our kitchen. You can also take the bottle adaptor off and put the tube into the reservoir that you have.
We also appreciate that this comes with a compatibility valve that connects to any hydration bladder. We found this to be especially useful since not everybody likes to travel with a water bottle. We tried it out, and it worked perfectly! After you've put the hoses onto the nipples of the water filter (this can be annoying), find a nice view and get ready to pump.
Ease of Filtration
The pumping of this filter isn't bad at all. We found the filter to be somewhat small but easily grasped.
The pump arm is a little bit small and isn't the most ergonomic, the pumping is quite smooth and fast. We were definitely tempted to be put the filter on the ground and pump it on rocks while on a trip, but given warnings from previous users about it breaking parts off the filter, we tried to avoid this. Of the pump filters, it's one of the easiest and most consistent to use. However, a gravity filter is far more convenient.
In silty water, we can to commonly clean the filter. We found the prefilter is what needed to get cleaned the most while performing our sludge test. To do this, simply pop the tiny internal filter forward, clean out the gunk with your fingers or some clear water, and continue.
Of all the hand pump filters tested, this presents great value. The cost of the unit is less than most, and even more so when it's on sale. While the long-term price per liter is a little higher than some, its performance is better and offers more consistency while on the trail.
Katadyn claims the cartridge will last about 1,100 liters in relatively clear water. You typically know its time to replace when you can't pump it smoothly or it is hard to pump. Overall, we appreciate the simplicity of this product, its reliability, and ease of use that earns our Best Buy for hand pump model. If you're looking for a great deal on a reliable product, this is it.
The Katadyn Hiker is a wonderful personal filter with reliable performance. Filter out all the nastiest stuff while enjoying the beauty of the backcountry. While it's not the most durable or the fastest to pump water, it offers great value and reliability while you're putting yourself out there in the wilderness.
— Amber King