The Katadyn Hiker Pro is an inexpensive and reliable handpump. Its perfectly happy providing clean and fresh water for small groups and solo hikers. While it does require some muscle to get a liter of water, it's one of our favorite hand pumps on the market.
We discovered that the Hiker Pro is a great choice when water sources are small and hard to reach.
This filter utilizes an anticlog pleated cartridge constructed of glass fiber and activated carbon that can filter out standard bacteria and protozoans (Giardia and Cryptosporidium) with 0.2-micron pore size. The activated carbon does a fantastic job cleaning the water of any nasty smells or stenches, leaving you with fresh, clean water to drink on the trail. We also like the clear overcoat that allows you to see the water that you're filtering out quickly.
The filter is easy to maintain and can rid water of bacteria, particulates, and protozoa, but not viruses.
Durability and Maintenance
Overall, this filter performed fine for us in the field but did require maintenance. The construction seems to be prime time with a pumping hand but is a little awkward at first to figure out.
While this filter isn't self-cleaning, it's certainly low maintenance unless you hit super silty or murky water. Make sure to clean it regularly so it can last you its rated 1,100 liters (~300 gallons). Some online users reported this filter cracking when they tried to force water through it when it was clogged. To avoid this catastrophe in the field, unscrew the bottom, remove the filter, and scrub it clean, then put it back together.
Keep in mind that filter life is highly dependent on the water source quality. If clear sources are what you're taking from regularly, expect a long life. But if sandy and silty sources are a norm, expect its life to decrease significantly.
Treatment is relatively fast. During our timed trails, we averaged about 53 seconds to pump a liter. The flow is nice and fast, offering quick filtration.
While we do think that the time is decent, it's not early as fast as our Top Pick for Handpumps, the MSR Guardian, that proved to pump a liter in just under 38 seconds. Also, one of the issues we had with the Hiker Pro is that the handle is not super easy to grab. After a few pumping sessions, we also noticed that it got harder to pump the water through the filter. While these issues did occur, we are still happy with the overall treatment time.
Here we pump some water on-the-go, which doesn't take very long...especially to fill this personal use vessel that is just under one liter.
Weight and Packability
Including the entire kit, this pump is pretty lightweight, weighing just 13.40 oz. For a handpump, this is pretty light, but it's not the lightest of other filters in this review. The packed size is also pretty decent, being just a little bit bigger than a Nalgene bottle. While this kit does come with a few parts when not assembled, we are happy with the cute little carry case included. The Hiker Pro is a far better option if you're seeking a handpump, but the MSR Guardian (1 lb 4.50 oz) is too heavy.
A look at the relative sizes of other handpumps like the MSR Guardian. The Katadyn Hiker Pro is much smaller, offering better functionality as a backcountry water filtration option for those who are weight conscious.
Ease of Setup
After the initial assembly, setup is pretty darn easy. Click everything into place and get on the go. When you're ready to pull the filter out on the trail, unload the bag, unzip, and get pumping.
This does have a bottle adaptor, but when the mouth is too small (or you lose the adaptor), you can just put the tube in the water for easy filtration.
The hose that comes with the setup has a well-designed little float that keeps the tube from hitting the bottom of the puddle and sucking up muck. Because of the longer tube length, it has a nice niche where this filter can take water in from even the smallest sources. On a trip to Death Valley, we found it was easy to get water from tiny puddles without much effort. Overall, setup and water sourcing are easy. Get water from anywhere.
Make sure to pump through a bunch of water before your first filtration you want to drink. When we did our first filtration the water was tainted black from the activated carbon inside. After about 2L of pumping, it was nice and clear again.
Ease of Filtration
After you've found a nice cozy place to start the pumping process, you've got to get to work. All the hand pump filters earned low points in this category simply because you have to pump it using a little muscle. The handle on this pump is a little small, and the top is curved, making it hard to hold the filter. Holding the pump took some time getting used to, but filtration isn't bad for a pump filter.
The hose has a pre-filtration system affixed to the end to filter out larger debris when sucking in water from shallow sources. The water bottle adaptor fits easily onto a Nalgene, but won't fit inside of more narrow-mouthed bottles.
During an at home test, we look at the adaptor end to see what kind of bottles or jars it fits into.
That said, you don't need to use the adaptor if you don't want to. We also love that it comes with several adaptors so you can plug this into a hydration pack if needed. The adaptors seem to cover a wide range of hydration bladders out there.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro's handle can be awkward to hold because the rounded bottom slides around.
One caveat is its performance in silty water. Unlike the MSR Guardian it doesn't have a natural backwash system that continually cleans the filter. Thus, you need to be careful. If pumping gets hard, backwash the system manually; otherwise, you can crack the plastic housing while trying to push water through the pump. While this wasn't our experience, other online users report having had this issue. Overall, filtration is easy when you don't mind pumping for water and when clear sources are plentiful.
Dan Sandberg uses the Hiker Pro to filter water from a running stream, Rocky Mountains, Colorado.
While spending time in Death Valley, we discovered another fantastic niche of this filter. A combination of its long hose and smaller intake allows you to suck up everything from small pools to big lakes. As a lightweight filter, it's been tried and tested on several backpacking trips, serving solo hikers and small groups. Not only is it affordable, but reliable, too. Use it anywhere you need, and make sure to pre-filter when the water's super sandy or it clogs.
Filtering water with the Hiker Pro on the approach up to Mount Ritter in the Easters Sierras.
At just $75, this is one of the highest value pumps in this review. It performs well, is quite versatile, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. That's the exact reason we made this one of our Best Buy award winners. If a handpump is what you seek, the Hiker Pro won't disappoint.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro is a lightweight and affordable handpump. It can treat a moderate volume of water in its filter's lifetime. While it's a little awkward at first, you'll find that you can access any water source easily, with the option to filter right into any storage reservoir you might carry with you.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro is well built and reliable.