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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Vapur Element Bottle with Microfilter > Test Report by Steven M Kidd

VAPUR ELEMENT BOTTLE WITH ELEMENT FILTER
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
LONG-TERM REPORT
May 19, 2016

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Carmel, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

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Manufacturer: Vapur
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://vapur.us/
Element Anti-Bottle
MSRP: US $13.99
Listed Weight: N/A
Combined Measured Weight: 1.4 oz (40 g)
SuperCap Measured Weight: 0.7 oz (20 g)
Anti-Bottle Measured Weight: 0.7 oz (20 g)
Capacities Available: 0.7 L (24 oz) and 1.0 L (34 oz) {Testing the 1 L}
Color Choices in 1 L: Water [light blue], Grey/Teal {Testing the latter}

MicroFilter
MSRP: US $34.99
Listed Weight: 1.5 oz (43 g) on website/1.1 oz (31 g) on packaging
Measured Weight: 1.8 oz (51 g)

The Vapur Element, marketed by the manufacturer as the Anti-Bottle, is a collapsible hydration bladder designed to be lighter than a traditional bottle. It comes in two sizes and is one series of a half dozen styles offered by Vapur. They also sell collapsing wine flasks. The Element integrates a wide mouth flip-top SuperCap that also incorporates an attachment clip built into the cap. The Element is made with 3-ply construction in the USA; it is BPA free, dishwasher safe and may be frozen. The website targets the outdoor sports enthusiast as the perfect candidate to use the reservoir.

The Vapur MicroFilter is marketed as a lightweight and chemical-free water filtration system by using hollow fiber membrane technology. The website states the filter will remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa. The filter is capable of purifying hundreds of liters of water during its lifespan. When dry the filter is safe in freezing temperatures, but if stored wet and frozen the filter may be compromised.

Vapur promotes in several places on their website that the products are designed in California and the bottle is made in the USA. The filter is manufactured in Korea.
IMAGE 2

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & SUMMARY

At first glance the Element and the MicroFilter appear to be well designed and quality made products. The bladder feels sturdy when I hold it and easily stands when full of water. The SuperCap easily flips open and snaps shut with one-handed motion, and I can easily do so with either my dominant or weak hand.

When empty the Anti-Bottle is barely noticeable in weight. The bottle and standard cap weigh 1.4 oz (40 g) and the bottle with the filtered cap is 2.5 oz (71 g). When the bottle is empty it can be rolled up and stored securely inside the rotating plastic clip to minimize storage. This cannot be done when using the filter. The clip is a carabiner style with a non-locking gate.

The wide mouth is large and water flows easily enough for me to take large sips when thirsty. The MicroFilter really slows down the flow and nearly requires a sucking action to drink the water. It doesn't allow for gulping by any means. I don't prefer to have to work to drink my water, but knowing I'm safe from protozoa, bacteria and other general creepy-crawly microscopic critters gives me comfort in the backcountry.

I'm not one that generally filters my tap water and I'm generally not offended by the taste of water even in varying locales of the United States, but I do generally treat or filter the water I drink when collecting from streams, lakes and other water sources. The filter will actually only handle up to 500 liters of water. As someone that easily consumes 8 to 10 liters (~2 to 2.5 gallons) a day I could see myself depleting the filter life pretty quickly if I were to use it with tap water over the course of the test series. I will likely reserve the MicroFilter primarily for backcountry use. To be completely honest, I was a little surprised by the filtration maximums. I have another filter that weighs just a little more than the Vapur filter, but it will last up to 100,000 gallons (~38,000 L). I do find the Vapur to be nice and streamlined in the manner it fits into the bottle/reservoir.
IMAGE 3
The neck of the bottle was easily large enough to handle ice pellets that we at had a work when I took it to the office to try out the day after receiving it in the mail. It was easy to drink from, didn't fold over on me when taking a sip and easily sat on my desk. There was definitely condensation from the ice, but I won't use ice in it when backpacking or running with the bottle, so I'm not really concerned about that.

Overall, I'm excited to test the Vapur Element and MicroFilter over the next several months. I'll primarily use the filter when hiking or backpacking, but give thorough feedback when doing so. I'll use the Element for both backpacking and sport usage like running.

My only question or concern is what I consider the limited lifespan of the filter. The attachment clips are very lightweight and at first sight appear fragile, so I will also keep an eye on them during testing. Save those nuances I have no other concerns and look forward to reporting on both products.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Base Camp at BSF
28 - 30 December, 2015, Straightstone, Virginia. I hiked and camped in the wooded areas along Straightstone Creek on my family farm in southern Virginia. The area is filled with rolling hills and the average elevation is 636 ft (194 m). Conditions were dry and temperatures ranged from the high 40's F (~9 C) to around 25 F (-4 C) at night.

15 - 17 January, 2016; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. This was a weekend solo backpacking off-trail and camping on Lake Monroe, covering a total of around 14 mi (23 km) Temperatures were as low as 20 F (-7 C) at night and rose to around 40 F (4 C) in the day. It was grey and dreary, but it never rained.

20 - 21 February, 2016, Brown County, Indiana. My son and I did an overnight outing covering a total of 6 mi (10 km) Low temperatures were right at freezing an highs were at 40 F (4 C), but the wind-chill made it feel considerably cooler. It drizzled lightly as we were hiking out on Sunday morning.

13 - 17 April, 2016, Big South Fork National Recreation Area, Kentucky and Tennessee. A five-day/four-night backpacking outing that centered primarily following the John Muir and John Litton Trails. Distance covered was approximately 55 mi (89 km) with temperatures ranging from 35 F (2 C) nighttime lows to 80+ F (27 C) daytime highs. There was a light drizzle the first evening just before sunset, but other than that the days were dry, warm and sunny and the evenings crisp, cool and clear.

14 - 15 May, 2016, Flatrock River YMCA Camp, St. Paul, Indiana. This was an overnight camping trip with the Cub Scouts. A cold front hit the area just before the outing creating near record low temperatures. High temperatures never rose above 46 F (8 C) and nighttime lows were around 35 F (2 C), however, wind chills made it feel considerably cooler. Everyone in the Pack was wearing their winter coats, stocking caps and gloves for the majority of the outing. It was grey and cloudy, but dry.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

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Cub Scout Camping with the Vapur
I found the bottle to be lightweight and convenient. Overall I enjoyed the size of the orifice for drinking and filling the Vapur. It did create a minimal drawback in that the sizing was different from my current hydration system. However, that is only a concern when I'm not using the MicroFilter which wasn't the case during the course of testing.

The bottle is small, lightweight and easily collapsible. I found it very useful not only in the backcountry, but also during travel. I fly regularly for work and TSA rules prohibit bringing liquids through security. I carried it in my backpack every time I traveled and would stop by a water fountain as soon as I made it through the entry checkpoint. I likely had as much or more use in this scenario as I did using it during camping.

When I did use the Vapur for travel I did not use the filter. Due to this I always cleaned the bottle with a little bleach after an outing that required filtration. I did like the aspect and ease of use of the filter, but I didn't love the effort it required to drink when using the filter. It wasn't like drinking through a straw, it required a bit of sucking to draw the water up.

That stated, the filter worked and that is all I can ask for in a water filter. I used it in murky water, clear water and everything in between. I never noticed or tasted sediment and more importantly I never contracted a water-borne disease. The bulky nature of the filter and the limited lifespan were disconcerting but the ease of use and the carabiner clip were bonuses. On my recent Big South Fork outing I hydrated throughout the day. I'd estimate I filtered 25-30 liters of water over the course of that trip. I guess I have to mentally keep up with the overall lifespan of the Microfilter. I'd estimate I've used up over 20% of the overall lifespan of the product.

When temperatures dropped below freezing I kept the filter in a watertight storage bag and slept with it. I've had other filters rendered useless after freezing, so I did this in habit as a precaution.

I often used the biner clip to attach the filter to my pack for drying and quick use, but I didn't generally clip a full bottle of water to my pack. I initially tried attaching full bottles to my shoulder straps but I found it inconvenient. I have a method of attaching 1/2 liter bottles to my shoulder harnesses when backpacking, but it wasn't comfortable with this bag-like bottle. However, in camp, at work and during travel the pleated base that allowed the bottle to stand without falling or flopping over was an asset for me.
IMAGE 3
Vapur Clipped to a Hammock Ridgeline for Easy Hydrating

The large drinking spout was, for me, a positive when I wanted to drink a lot of volume at once. While on the trail, I primarily used the MicroFilter with the bottle, so this wasn't quite as simple a task as it was when I was in an airport. In the future I may very well consider using the Vapur without the filter for this very reason. I did find the cap a little bulky and the carabiner unnecessary for my needs on the trail, but it wasn't a complete negative. I sleep in a hammock and like to sip on a little water throughout the night, so I would often go to bed with about a half-filled bottle and clip the biner to the ridgeline of my hammock. This allowed the bottle to suspend just above my head and out of the way. As I needed a sip, I would reach up, drink and re-clip. That was very nice in my opinion! I failed to capture a backcountry image of this setup in action as I usually wouldn't think of it until I was tucked away in my hammock underneath a tarp and quilts well after dark and the flash of a camera and the photo angles never made for a good shot. I have included a picture in that should clarify how clipping the bottle to the hammock ridgeline works. The only difference here is that I'm soaking up the sun and relaxing with a cool drink while my kids are splashing away on hot days!


SUMMARY

I found the Vapur to be a great product for both my backpacking and travel usage. The MicroFilter worked well, but it doesn't suit the primary filtration system I prefer for long hikes.

I'll likely add the bottle to my regular gear stash for backcountry use, but limit the filter to day hikes or even vacation use when outside the United States. The Vapur doesn't mesh with the in-line filtration system I currently use with other bladders, but the volume I can drink based on the large drinking orifice overcomes that nuisance as I have a method to address that.

I often shop with a small online vendor that specializes in ultra-lightweight trail gear and noticed they were now selling the Vapur. I found this interesting and appealing for the 'gram weenie' in me! They even apparently sell a Vapur wine flask!

I'd like to thank both BackpackGearTest.org and Vapur for allowing me to test the Vapur Element and the MicroFilter.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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