Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
on August 11, 2014
I've had my Hiker for about 10 years now, and the design has not changed much, if at all. It's served me well on many trips over the years. I'm reviewing it now because I just purchased a different filter (Sawyer Mini) and finally have a base of comparison. The hiker works exactly the way that it's supposed to. It comes with several accessories for different uses and pumping scenarios. For the last few years, I've been the only one of my friends who brought a water filter on our backpacking trips. We were all able to share it, and filter all of the water that we needed quickly and easily. Even though this filter is a lot more expensive then the popular Sawyer Mini, this Hiker has some real performance benefits that I think many people would prefer. You can filter a lot of water quickly with this Hiker (huge benefit over the Sawyer Mini). I can fill my Nalgene bottle in 20sec or so, and fill my 3L bladder in 90sec. Just keep pumping until you get what you need. Also, you can easily get water out of even the most shallow stream or pool of water, even dirtier water. It's kept me hydrated and healthy for countless trips, obviously a must-have tool.
The downsides: Using this Hiker can seem a little cumbersome, when you're trying to manage your water bottle, the pump, and the two tubes collecting and delivering the water. It's kind of the nature of the beast, and you get used to it quickly enough, but I've appreciated the simplicity of my Sawyer Mini for this reason.
The biggest issue I've had with the Hiker is that the filter cartridges do not seem to last very long. I'll share this filter with my (8-10 person) group for a 3-day trip, and the filter will be very tough to pump by the end of the trip, and require replacement. Replacement cartridges are not cheap, at $50ea, so it has become kind of a sore point for me each year. I can't imagine that we are pumping more then 100 gallons over the course of the trip, but year after year, I need a new filter following each trip. We're generally not filtering our water out of muddy puddles or from the sandy bottom of a creek, so I don't know what more I could do to prolong the life of these filters. This has been the only real disappointment.
After 8 years of use, the handle broke on me while pumping water through a nearly-finished filter. Fortunately this happened on the last day of our trip, so we were not stranded w/o water. I contacted Katadyn and they sent me a replacement pump handle for free. Can't beat that customer service.
All in all, I like this filter a lot. Even though the filters are expensive, I'll keep this Hiker around for use on the trips that require a lot of water consumption. I definitely think this is a better performer then the Sawyer Mini, but it comes at much higher cost, so it's up to you and what your itinerary and needs will be.