We've taken another look at the Katadyn Hiker Pro this year and have gained some fresh perspective on this classic pump. One of the best-selling, lightest, fastest and cheapest of all hand pump style filters, the Hiker Pro is easy to use, reliable, and effective against bacteria and protozoa. It wins our Top Pick Award for the best pump-style filter of the bunch. We took this product out on a trip to Death Valley and discovered how useful a pump filter is in low water sources. We saw the Hiker Pro in a fresh perspective as we reached for it the most often when water was hard to get.
Katadyn Hiker Pro Review
Cons: Only good in small and shallow water sources (pump filters are heavy and difficult to use compared to new products)
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Our Analysis and Test Results
A standard pump water filter, the Hiker Pro is reliable and easy to use but is becoming outdated by new technology consisting of smaller, lighter and faster filters. However, we've discovered its niche! We took it to the desert and found its love of reaching into little pools in hard to reach places and producing fresh drinkable water. This is where the Hiker Pro and pump filters excel over other types of products we tested.
As a durable and reliable pump filter, this contender effectively eliminates bacteria, protozoa, and cysts, but not viruses. It uses an AntiClog pleated cartridge made of glass fiber that includes activated carbon granules. One detail of note is that a simple standard for comparing water filters is measuring pore size. Typically, a pore size of 0.2 microns or under is the ideal size for capturing the smallest bacteria. The smaller the pore size, the more harmful organisms are strained out of the water.
This filter has the same pore size as many products we reviewed at 0.2 microns and is effective at eliminating bacteria and protozoa from water. The MSR Guardian has a pore size of 0.02 microns and can eliminate viruses. The Hiker Pro and other common pumps like the MSR Miniworks EX and MSR TrailShot also have a pore size of 0.2. We were surprised that its claimed lifespan is only 750 liters where most filters in this review will treat around 2000 liters.
The Hiker Pro is made from very durable materials and we didn't worry about it breaking or failing us while in the field; it is very reliable. It's a natural filter to troubleshoot as you can take it apart and clean all of its pieces. Its pump handle seems sturdy and does not appear as likely to break as the Miniworks.
Ease of Use
This filter is simple to assemble and use; everything clicks into place easily. Its strange pump handle takes some getting used to and can sometimes be awkward to hold the filter and pump because the rounded top slides around if you're trying to use it in your lap. We find it harder to hold on to the filter while pumping than any other conventional pump handle like the Guardian or the MSR Miniworks.
Typically, a pump style filter is not our first choice because there is more labor involved in pumping versus using a gravity filter. However, we discovered that they are the best tool for the job when water sources are small, shallow or hard to access because you don't have to fill a bag or be super close to the source to use them.
You can dip the end in the water and pump away! On our trip to Death Valley, where all the water sources were small and awkward to access, we reached for the Hiker Pro over a gravity filter like the MSR Trail Base. Why? Filling the Trail Base's bag (and having a tree to hang it from) was difficult or impossible. Using a straw type filter like the Lifestraw is also very difficult because of how short the straw is, making it impossible to drink directly from the source. Even filling the Sawyer Mini's small bag proved difficult.
This water filter is good for a claimed 750 liters before needing a replacement cartridge ($39-49). This is not nearly as much capacity as a ceramic filter like in the MSR Miniworks EX, which is good for 2000 liters, but it is more than the MSR Aquatabs.
Although it pumps water at about one liter per every 90 seconds, this pump is not the best for large groups and would take it on trips with 1-3 people maximum. A gravity filter like the Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L is best for large group scenarios.
Relatively easy to pump, the Hiker Pro takes right around a minute to pump a liter, coming in a nose slower than the expensive and heavy Guardian.
The Gravity Camp is the fastest of the bunch at 40 seconds per liter, followed closely by the Guardian at 42 seconds. We were able to pump a significant amount of water from a small source in a short amount of water and were pleased with the Hiker Pro's performance.
Weighing just under 14 ounces, including the hoses and storage case, the Hiker Pro lands in the middle of the road in this metric.
Heavy is too strong a word, but the Katadyn isn't exactly lightweight, either. It is the lightest of the hand pump style models in this review and is four ounces lighter than its closest competitor the Miniworks EX. Gravity filters like the Platypus GravityWorks are a better, more lightweight choice over heavier conventional pumps in most instances. Squeeze style models like the Katadyn BeFree and Sawyer Mini are the lightest of the bunch.
We discovered this product's true calling spending time in Death Valley. Its long hose and small intake allow it to be placed in small pools to suck up what's there. Other types of filters have a much more difficult time in this type of environment; the pool is too small to hang a bag, and there's nothing to hang a gravity filter from or you can't get your face close enough to the water to drink directly from the source. The Hiker Pro thrives in desert environments. Trustworthy and durable, this filter is suited for general hiking and camping needs, solo or in small groups. We would also recommend the Sawyer Mini for folks traveling in the backcountry solo or in pairs.
At $85, this is the cheapest pump in our review. It also costs less than UV treatments like the SteriPEN, but much pricier than a chlorine dioxide treatment like Aquamira Water Treatment Drops. If we were to choose only one filter, we'd spend the $110 on the Platypus Gravityworks model, unless we were planning to do a lot of backpacking in desert environments; then we would choose the Hiker Pro for that.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro is our favorite pump style filter in this review and wins our Top Pick Award. It is the lightest and cheapest we've tested and pretty darn fast. Its true calling is getting water in hard to reach places and filtering it, but generally, we prefer gravity filters over this type of pump. It is relatively inexpensive and can treat a moderate volume of water in its filter's lifetime (750). It is on the heavy side, and we found its unique handle more difficult to pump with than traditional filter handles.
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