This battle looked straightforward to me. The Katadyn Hiker Pro was going to win. But there was a last-minute rally by the Sawyer.
We arrived at a stream crossing about midway through our first day on the trail. “Stream” might be generous. How about “trickle?” The water looked pretty clear, and it was moving, so we broke out the water filters. We each needed exactly one liter, so the race was fair. Out of the gate it was obvious that the Sawyer MINI was slow. The squeeze bag holds a maximum of 16 oz, or roughly 1/2 Liter. In this case, because of the shallow depth of the stream, Supakrunch was getting about 8oz of water at a time. I estimate that a Liter of water takes about 10 minutes through the Sawyer. By contrast, the Katadyn Hike Pro managed a Liter in about 2 minutes. Add in setup and tear-down, and it takes roughly five minutes.
Here where the plot thickened: The water from the Katadyn tasted like dirt. And the pump started resisting me on the last ten pumps or so. Later that day I went to use it again and it had completely seized up, rendering it useless for the rest of the trip. The water from the Sawyer was delicious.
The fault with the Katadyn was really my own. I had let the filter get too dirty. I was shocked, though, to find that (a) the filters don’t last nearly as long as the company claims, (b) the filters become LESS effective as they clog (some filters become more effective at filtration as they accumulate debris), and (c) the filters are very unforgiving. They go from “kinda hard to pump” to “not gonna pump anymore” in a matter of a few strokes. Not cool. That could debilitate a hiker on a multi-day backpacking excursion. Throw in the fact that replacement filters are each, and the Sawyer starts to look tempting. The Sawyer Squeeze filters can be cleaned by reverse flow, and they apparently last up to 100,000 gallons, rather than the Katadyn’s 200. The whole Sawyer system only costs -, too.
For now I’ll stick with the Katadyn filter, though. The speed and convenience (I can attach the output hose directly to my Camelbak hose) turn a 30-minute water break into a 5- or 10-minute water break with little to no cool-down.
– The Social Regressive