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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2009
I've had a Sweetwater filter for years, going back to before MSR acquired the brand, and I've been very happy with it. On a recent long backpack I was able to compare it to the MSR Miniworks, since I tried my hiking partners' Miniworks several times. If I had to get a new one I think I'd give the edge to the Sweetwater, but it would be close and both are excellent. (Before the Sweetwater I had a First Need, and both of these MSRs are far better.)

Filtering ability is, of course, the most important criterion, but I can't test that and so I leave it to the lab folks. I can say that I've never gotten sick drinking water from either model (and given how much I sweat when hiking, I've swallowed a LOT of filtered water, much of it downstream from beaver habitat, so you know what that means), so for my purposes I consider the two to be functionally equal in that regard. The Sweetwater is noticeably lighter, which matters to me. The Miniworks does feel more robust (hence the extra weight), and perhaps it is, though I've never had anything break on my Sweetwater. Also, it's cleverly designed to give the pump handle extra mechanical advantage to make the pumping easier (see the pictures and you'll see what I mean, but note that the handle folds down for easy packing). For both models the ceramic filter has to be cleaned regularly which requires a bit of disassembly. The Sweetwater is cleaned by a brush that runs through the center of the cartridge, which always remains in its plastic casing. The Miniworks' cartridge has to be fully removed to be scrubbed on its exterior, and so there's a bit of a risk of breaking it if it's dropped.

The Miniworks is threaded to screw directly (i.e., without using an outlet hose, although it comes with a hose for other bottles) into a standard Nalgene bottle, or into anything else, such as some hydration bladders, that have the same size and threading. This is convenient but requires that the weight of the bottle or bladder is suspended from the filter while pumping. The Sweetwater instead has an adapter on its outlet hose that fits (but does not thread into) a Nalgene and several other openings, so that the bottle or bladder can sit on the ground while it is being filled.

There are plenty of other filters out there that I haven't tried and so I have no opinion on them, but I do think that the Sweetwater is a winner.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2009
I have had an original "white" model of this filter for many many years and the center filter pump column cracked just a short while ago. The new filter is almost identical except for the color. I consider this filter to be my gold standard for water filters. It works flawlessly and effortlessly. I have had other filters but they are always more difficult to pump. This one has never let me down. You would also find that the company honors the lifetime warranty without question. Great company. I will go out of my way to find products by Cascade design (they have the MRS brand) now because of their great customer support. I called them and told them the center stem had cracked on my 25 year old model and they had me send in the cracked stem and sent me a new one within a week. Another customer I met in a store here told me the same story about his old filter. He also had the same experience with them honoring their warranty.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2011
I was talked into the Sweetwater by a salesperson who has one after the Katadyn I wanted was out of stock. We took it to the Ozette Loop on the Washington coast, which is known for very tanic water. It worked like a champ for 3 days. Of course, it did not remove the yellow color of the water, but we did not expect it to, and the water tasted wonderful! It started to get a little harder to pump on the last day, but I will use a piece of pantyhose over the pre-filter next time to help that out. It pumped smoothly after cleaning the filter when we got home. My only complaint is the foam float, which I found to be pretty useless. It did not matter how far up or down the hose I placed it, it caused the pre-filter to tilt sideways and not stay in the water, so all I was pumping was air. Also, I ran into another hiker with a Sweetwater who said his was cracked after storing it in the freezer as recommended in the user manual, so I dried mine out real good before I put it in the freezer.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2010
I have been on trips with people who already had filters for years, thus I never had the need to buy one myself. I just recieved this filter as a present from my inlaws before a big trip in the smoky's and I have to say that the price, weight, and flow fits the average adventurer. I know there are some lighter options and some faster flows as well but if you want an all around filter this fits the bill. I used to work at a gear store in college and couldn't decide but this filter will work in any situation. Unless you have a special situation for ceramic filters or ultra light This is the way to go.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2010
I've seen the MSR SweetWater used by friends, and my experience with their equipment has been great. This product works as required in colder waters, whereas the ball valve in the MSR MiniWorks Ex would fail.

I purchased one of my own on Amazon since it was the lowest price I could find. Upon reception, I read the instructions and performed the initial filter scrubbing as directed. However, upon testing in my kitchen, water gushed out of the rubber seal between the filter housing and the pump. Visual inspection of the o-rings revealed a small divot in the filter housing seal, allowing pressure to force the seal apart just enough to cause the leak. Through all of my testing, not even one drop of water was filtered. I still give the product 2 stars, because for those that are functioning, I have been pleased with the product.

This is the first time I've used Amazon's return system, and I was pleased with the ease. I will try the SweetWater again, but this time I'll pay a little more at my local REI. Their "no questions asked" return policy and ability for quick returns (since I can walk into the store) will be worth the extra price. My additional inquiries to colleagues and learning of their experiences has indicated that microfilters seem to be "hit or miss" on functionality among most brands and models.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2014
I'm very sorry to have to give this water filter a poor review. I had a previous model for years that worked great. But this model doesn't work. All the water sprays out of the pressure release valve, and none is left to collect to drink. That should only happen when it is old and dirty and clogged, but this one is brand new. Also I followed the instructions, which said to use the cleaning brush initially, but that made no difference at all. Luckily I realized it just in time to be able to return it. Either they changed the design since my previous version, or I got a dud with this new one. I am going to buy a different brand instead.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This failed on a trip on isle Royale, luckily we had back ups. When the filter starts to get dirty the resistance increases dramatically, the piston snapped causing the filter to completely fail.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2014
Took on a 50 mile, 7 day hike as the main source of water purification with a Steri-pen as back up. The pump failed almost immediately (bypassing on day one approximately every 5th stroke. by day 3 was bypassing almost every stroke unless you went painfully slow, at a rate of approximately 1/2 L per 3 1/2 minutes). I had researched quite extensively between the MSR and the Katadyne and regret going with the MSR. Trying to contact the seller, will update the review once I do and hear back regarding what action they will take. Extremely disappointing and frustrating (do not want a new filter, wanted a filter that works correctly, right out of the box).

Just want to update in fairness the return policy with amazon was outstanding and very customer friendly. Had I tested the filter well in advance of the trip I may have had the opportunity to return it and have a usable filter in time. Looks like I just got a dud. 'things' happen, and amazon corrected it immediately.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2013
I am very pleased with this water filter. I recently upgraded my filter from an older model MSR. The quality of MSR lasts years. I used this filter primarily in the backcountry. The pump system is easy to use in the cold and with the float goes right into my bottle. Filtering water can be a chore. The design of the pump is a bit more complicated than other water filters, but I treat my gear well and expect this to be durable for years. Some preventative maintenance (filter cleaning) and proper storage will preserve the unit's lifespan.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2012
This pump is worth every penny. It's small and light enough for backpacking, yet sturdy enough to be used heavily. The pump action is smooth, and I was surprised at how quickly it would fill a gallon jug. It is easy to assemble, and easy to clean. I can't really think of anything I don't like about it. I would definitely buy it again.
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