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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Vapur Element Bottle with Microfilter > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Vapur Element Bottle with Microfilter

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - December 1, 2015

Long Term Report - April 12, 2016

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking venues have mostly been a combination of Minnesota, where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona where I moved to about six years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  I normally carry a lot of water on overnight trips due to the arid conditions in Arizona, and typically carry some kind of water treatment into the backcountry.

Initial Report

In this test report we will review two components of a hydration system: the Vapur Element 1L (34 oz) water bottle and the associated Microfilter.

Product Information

The following photos show an overview of the Element bottle: at left - in the packaging, upper right - rolled up for storage, bottom right - filled with water and self-standing.

v1
The Microfilter is used simply by replacing the Element cap with the filter - they have the identical cap and carabiner on them.  The following photos show the filter alone and screwed into the bottle:
v2

Manufacturer: Vapur
Manufacturer website: http://vapur.us/
Model:
Element
Microfilter
Year of manufacture: 2015
2015
Country of origin:
USA
Korea
MSRP:
$13.99
$34.99
Color tested:
Grey/Teal, also available in Red, Fire (red/black), and Water (blue)
Black (only color available)
Weight:
Manufacturer: 1.4 oz (40 g)
Measured 1.5 oz (42 g)
1.1 oz (30 g) listed on the packaging
1.5 oz (42 g) listed on the website
1.8 oz (50 g) measured
Warranty:
1 year
1 year

The small discrepancy in the bottle weight may easily be explained by measurement error, and/or the presence of a few droplets of water in the bottle.  The more substantial discrepancy of the filter weight is not so easily explained, and Vapur needs to get their packaging and website in sync.

The features listed by the manufacturer include:
  • Cap: tight seal, easy to open
  • Durable 3-ply construction on the bottle - dishwasher safe and freezable
  • Folds/rolls up for storage, bottle is self-standing when full
  • BPA free
  • Filter: Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (such as Salmonella, Cholera and E. coli) and 99.9% of protozoa (including Cryptosporidium and Giardia), filters up to 500 liters

Initial Inspection

After removal from the packaging I visually inspected the unit for manufacturing defects and found none.  I filled the bottle to capacity and measured how much water I could get in it - exactly 1 liter (34 oz) as advertised.  I've had problems in the past with some soft-sided bottles with actually attaining the specified capacity, so I was glad I had no issue with the Element.

After draining the bottle I swapped the cap with the Microfilter which fit perfectly.

Summary

I am looking forward to getting the Vapur system into the field and seeing how it performs under trying conditions.  I am heading to the Grand Canyon for a weeklong trip in a few weeks, and I'm excited to see how it does with Bright Angel Creek water.

Things I Like So Far:

  • The bottle attaches nicely to my ULA Ohm 2.0 backpack shoulder straps
  • Lightweight
  • The filter doesn't flop around, it is contained inside the bottle

Things That Concern Me Upfront:

  • I've had problems with in-line filters requiring a lot of "suck power" to get water through them.  See my review of the Aquamira Frontier Pro on the BackpackGearTest.org website.
  • I don't like the loss of capacity in the bottle with the filter on the inside.  I often have to carry a LOT of water in Arizona, and I need every bit that my gear affords me.

Long Term Report

Field Use Conditions

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Altitude
Weather
Dec 5-12, 2015
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona USA
R2R2R + Clear Creek
70 miles (113 km)
2600-8300 ft
(790-2530 m)
25 to 60 F, partly cloudy
(-4 to 16 C)
January 16-18, 2016
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, Arizona USA
None
20 miles (32 km)
2550-3100 ft
(780-945 m)
32 to 65 F, partly cloudy
(0 to 18 C)
February 8-9, 2016
Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona USA
Romero Canyon
12 miles (19 km)
2600-4788 ft
(790-1460 m)
40 to 80 F, sunny
(4 to 27 C)
March 5-8, 2016
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona USA
Hermit Trail
29 miles
(47 km)
2300-6640 ft
(700-2020 m)
40 to 70 F, mostly sunny
(4 to 21 C)
March 11-13, 2016
Superstition Mountain Wilderness near Phoenix Arizona, USA
Reavis
15 miles
(24 km)
3050-4620 ft
(930-1410 m)
38 to 70 F, sunny & windy
(3 to 21 C)

Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) + Clear Creek

v3Though the hike was over an 8-day period, we started at 4pm on the first day and finished up by noon on the last day, so really 7 days of hiking.  This was a fairly strenuous hike, averaging about 10 miles (16 km) per day hiked which is a lot for the Canyon with all the altitude change.  The Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim segment was all on corridor trails where ample supplies of clean water were available, but the Clear Creek segment is a Primitive area which means we had to purify our water.

One of the pleasant surprises with the Vapur Element bottle on this trip was that I found I can drink from the bottle without detaching it from my pack's shoulder strap.  This is shown in the photo at left.  This is a big deal for me, as it makes using the Vapur bottle as convenient as a hydration bladder - I don't have to reach for a bottle, just pop the cap, bring it up to my mouth, and with a little squeeze I have water shooting into my mouth!!  This technique would work with any pack that has a sturdy shoulder strap attachment point.




v4We stayed one night at Clear Creek. As the name implies, there is a beautifully clear stream that runs right by the campground that comes down from the North Rim.  With its clarity, I had no concerns with using the Microfilter for purifying my water.  If I was drawing water from the Colorado River, it would have been a different story as that water source is notorious for clogging up filters almost immediately.

I purified several quarts (liters) of water at the site.  The Microfilter was easier to suck water through than I thought it might be.  With a little squeeze on the bottle, I was able to drink purified water as fast as I wished.

As shown in the photo at right, I found that using gravity helped draw water through the Microfilter.  I also realized that the intake holes for the filter are near the top - this is visible in the photos of the Microfilter near the top of the Initial Report.  This allows the user to drink out of the bottle with very little "dead space", i.e. very little water that cannot be consumed and must remain in the bottle.  This is good design.

During this trip I had no issues with the reliability of the gear.  No bottle leaks, no breakage, no filter clogging.  I did notice that the carabiner clip popped out a few times, but it was trivial to just push it back into the carabiner.

Overall, I would say that this trip was a big success for the Vapur system: everything worked as expected.

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness

This 3-day backpacking trip was ideal for trying out the filtering performance of the Vapur system, as the entire hike was in and along a creek, so I could scoop up and replenish my drinking water at-will.  I carried in 2 qt/L, and consumed about 3 qt/L per day, so I filtered about 9 qt/L on this trip.

v5As can be seen in the photo at far left, the creek was deep enough to fill the bottle with no problems, but I had to fill it horizontally and could not submerge it.  The current did a great job of filling the bottle if I inflated it fully with air first by blowing into it.  I was able to fill it up every time so that when the filter/cap was screwed on, the bottle was completely filled with water.

I carried 3 bottles on this trip: the Vapur, a second bottle for my backpack strap which can be seen in the first Grand Canyon picture above, and a Nalgene as show in the photo at left which I used to mix up my morning breakfast shake.

Of course I could drink water directly from the Vapur bottle, but with the other two I had to use the Vapur system as a filter.  I'd fill the Vapur bottle, and squeeze hard to filter water into one of the other bottles as shown in the photo at left.  When the other two bottles were full, I'd fill up the Vapur bottle and I was ready to go.  This system worked better than I anticipated.  I was able to filter one bottle of water in about one minute.

Aravaipa Creek is fairly clear as is visible in the photo at left above, so at the end of the trip the filter had no performance issues from clogging.

All together, I was very happy with the performance of the Vapur system on this trip.  No issues, just clean water!

Romero Canyon

This was a simple single night backpack to get an old friend out on the trail who had not backpacked in many decades.  This was a great route to test the Vapur system, as there are multiple spots to get fresh water along the way, and the water runs clear from snowmelt this time of year.

I purified about 4 full bottles of water on the 2-day hike.  As usual, no issues whatsoever.  One of the nice things I noticed on this hike is that my other bottle that I hung from the shoulder strap was "squeaking" as I walked, emanating from the metal wire I used to attach it to a carabiner.  Conversely, the Vapur bottle swung silently from my backpack.  I like quiet gear!

V6
The Vapur system in use in Romero Canyon

Hermit Trail

V
I applied for a Hermit Loop permit, but apparently the Grand Canyon starts getting busy again in early March and my permit was denied.  I had to settle for what they could give me when I showed up at the backcountry office: Hermit to Monument Creek to Granite Rapids to Hermit Rapids, out via Hermit Trail.  The good news is I would have fresh creek water every night filtered through the Vapur.  The photo at upper left shows me at Hermit Creek, and the middle photo where I am drinking through the filter at the same location.

Everything went smoothly, the bottle and filter continued to work well, though I have noticed some leakage from the cap when the bottle is jostled.  The photo at upper right shows the water droplets on the back of my pack that occurred while I was driving to the trailhead (the Vapur bottle was laying on top of my pack).  Nothing major, but I do like my water packing systems 100% leakproof.

Reavis Falls

This was a new trailhead for me into the Reavis area of the Superstitions, with our goal being Reavis Falls.  The only source of water was Reavis Creek, so I filled the Vapur bottle with fresh water before we left and filtered one bottle from the creek with no issues.

I had a bigger leak from the cap on the way to the trailhead - the cap oozes water when under pressure (in this case from my backpack sitting on it).

Summary

Good Stuff

  1. Great convenience with the built-in carabiner for hanging from my pack straps
  2. Easy to drink from, even when still hooked on to the pack strap
  3. Lightweight
  4. The filter worked well, displaced little water from the bottle
  5. After 4 months of use, the filter has not clogged

Not-so-good Stuff

  1. Some cap leakage when under pressure

My bottom line on this bottle is: Super!  Not so much with the filter, despite the fact that it worked well for me.  I think the filter is great for day hiking, or as a backup water purification device, but it has maybe 1/4 of the capacity I need to purify water at the infrequent refill opportunities I run into in Arizona.  If I did more of my hiking where water was available every 5 miles (8 km) or so, it might work really well even for longer backpack trips.


Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Vapur for the opportunity to contribute to this test.



Read more reviews of Vapur gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Vapur Element Bottle with Microfilter > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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