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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > Aquamira Frontier Pro Filter > Test Report by Josh Cormier
Aquamira Frontier Pro Filter
Tester series by Josh Cormier
Initial report: 8-July-08
Field report: 7-Oct-08
Long term report: 6-Jan-09
I joined the Boy Scouts when I was 11 and have been camping and backpacking ever since. I like to do challenging trips ranging from week long to weekend in mountainous areas. I would classify my gear as mid weight although now I am trying to move more toward lightweight. I now go backpacking at least once a year in the Sierra Nevada Mountains as well as monthly car camping trips with the Scouts.
Product Information: (information taken from Aquamira website)
- Manufacture: Aquamira
- Manufacture’s web site: http://www.aquamira.com
- Item Description: Frontier Pro filter
- Listed Weight: 2 oz (57 g)
- Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
- Listed Dimensions: 1.125'' OD x 5.5'' L (28.6 mm OD x 140 mm L)
- Measured Dimensions: 1.188'' OD x 5.5'' L (38.2 mm OD x 140 mm L)
- Strap Grip: Protects the “Bite Me” Valve from contamination and secures cap when in use.
- Two Stage Filtration: Replaceable pre-filter removes larger particles. Aquamira porous plastic microfilter removes 99.9% of Cryptosporidium, Giardia.
- Capacity: 50 US gal. (200 L)
- Pump Free Design: Eliminates hoses, reduces size, weight, and cross contamination potential from hose mix-ups.
- Miraguard™: Suppresses the growth of bacteria, algae, fungus, mold and mildew within the filter media.
- Year of Manufacture: 2008
- MSRP: $19.95 USD
- Item Received: 01-July-08
Initial Report - 8-July-08
The Frontier filter arrived in a nice looking package showing off the filter itself. The package included the filter, a length of hose, four extra pre-filter disks, and an Aquamira sticker. There is also a pre-filter disk installed in the filter already. The filter is covered by a rubber no-slip cover called the “Strap Grip” that allows a sure grip on the filter and captures the top cap when I remove it. The Bite Me valve appears to be made of a black silicone rubber and seems to be a unique design that I have not seen before.
The filter is a two stage filter consisting of a porous plastic microfilter and a carbon filter. There are several methods to get water into the filter: Screw any 28 mm threaded container into the bottom of the filter, connect the included short piece of hose, or attach to a hydration tube. The filter will need a pre-filter disk placed in the lower section of the unit, this will keep large contaminates from entering the filter. To use the filter remove the top cap and gently bite the Bite Me valve. The filter housing is a grey plastic and has a darker grey rubber material to capture and hold in place the cap, the manufacture calls this grey rubber the Strap Grip.
The filter was just what I expected from the pictures and description from the manufacture’s website. Talk about simple and straight forward, there is not a lot of complexity to the operation of this filter. The top cap pulls up easily to clear the valve and is held near the top by the Strap Grip. I was not exactly sure where to bite down on the valve to get the best flow, so I squeezed it with my fingers in different places to judge the best effect. The bottom of the filter unscrews easily to reveal the area to put in the pre-filter disks. I removed the pre-filter disk then put it back in and screwed the lower section back on.
Once I put the filter back together, I removed the bite valve and filled up an off-brand water bladder with a 28mm screw top and connected the water filter to it. Turning it upside down I squeezed the bladder to see if the filter would leak out of the connection, no leaks. I then removed the valve and squeezed the bladder to let the water flow through the filter and remove all the loose charcoal dust. The water came out a grey color then cleared up pretty quickly. Once the water was clear I shook the filter and more grey water came out. I ran more water through it a few times while shaking it until the water came out clear most of the time. I put the bite valve back on and took a drink of water and could detect no charcoal or unpleasant taste.
The packaging makes no mention of the “gravity feed” mode as the website does. This “feature” was of particular interest to me as I would be using the filter for multiple people and need a way to filter the water without drinking directly from the filter. I removed the bite valve and filled the water bladder with water. Holding the bladder above the filter and applying no pressure I allowed the water to filter down and out the end of the filter. The flow was not too impressive but, if I can fill the bladder and leave it hanging around camp to filter while I am doing other stuff speed should not be an issue. I would like to see if adding an output hose might create some suction on the filter and cause the water to flow faster due to gravity pulling water through the filter. These are a few things that I will be playing with on my upcoming trips.
The filter claims to remove 99.9% of Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Though this may seem to leave .1% of the Cryptosporidium and Giardia for me to ingest I will be using the filter without chemical or any other treatment.
The overall construction of the filter is excellent and seems very durable. This filter will be a nice addition to my day hiking and survival gear, as it provides a good method of obtaining safe drinking for minimal weight. Its use as a backpacking filter for multiple people will remain to be seen as it seems to be made for one person use.
Field Report - 7-OCT-08
I got a chance to use this filer on a 3 day 2 night camping trip at Half Moon Bay State Park. The elevation ranged from 0 – 100 ft (0 – 31 m) and the temperature ranged from 55 – 76 F (13 – 24 C). There was a slight mist one night during this testing period, and some fog. The area was a sandy beach with some small trees, shrubs, and a grassy area where I placed my tent.
I used this filter in three different configurations on this trip. Below you will read my report on how each configuration worked for me and any problems I encountered. First off I would like to say that the top cap is a great idea. I have already dropped this filter in the dirt a few times and the cap kept the bite valve dirt free.
Use with hose from hydration pack:
In this configuration the unit acts as a down stream filter. Unfiltered water goes in to the water bladder and gets filtered right before I drink it. I filled my water bladder up with water and connected the hose to the bottom of the unit. Here is where I encountered my first issue. The hydration hose is slightly enlarged because it was connected to a bite valve. When I removed the bite valve and tried to connect it to the bottom of the unit it was a very loose fit. If I hung the unit upside down by the hose it would fall off onto the ground. I suggest making this hose connection either larger or tapered to accommodate different sized hoses. Using my hands to hold the hose on the bottom of the unit I squeezed the Bite Me valve and started sucking on the top of the filter. It took a while but water started to move through the hose and started to come out of the filter and into my mouth. The bite valve worked ok but took a few tries to find where to bite for the best flow. Sucking the water through the filter was not super easy and I felt like I had “earned” my drink of water.
Use attached to 28 mm threaded container:
In this configuration the unit again acts as a down stream filter. I filled my water bladder up with water and connected the filter directly to the 28 mm threaded opening on the container. This works the same as using the hose above with the following exception. I used a flexible container for my unfiltered water and since it was in my hand while I was drinking I was able to squeeze it. By squeezing it I was able to force water through the filter more rapidly and make drinking from the filter easier. Even when squeezing the container, the Bite Me valve did not drip.
Use as gravity filter:
This was an interesting test as the website mentions its use as a gravity filter but the packaging mentions no such thing. To make it into a gravity filter I filled my water bladder up with 1 L of water and connected the filter directly to the 28 mm threaded opening. Then I removed the bite valve revealing a spout, much like the one on the bottom of the filter but about 2-3 times bigger. I squeezed my other hydration pack hose into the spout which fit nicely and hung the filter and attached hydration bladder upside down. I waited but nothing happened, no water was getting through. I squeezed the bladder and water began to trickle out of the filter and down the hose. The rate was pretty slow so I continued to squeeze until the hose was full of water and there was a bubble in the top of the hose near the filter. Once I got to that point the gravity of the water above and the suction of the water in the hose were enough to keep the water flowing. I measured the amount of water I put in the hydration bladder so I could determine how fast the water was filtered. The filter completed .25 L per minute or 1 liter in 4 minutes. Not too bad for filling the system hanging it up and walking away.
I am still getting used to the bite valve and where I should bite it for maximum flow. It is somewhat of an effort to drink water through the filter but not so much that it is not useable.
Long Term report: 6-Jan-09
I took the filter on a day hike in Morgan Hill, CA, elevation 350 – 1,402 ft (107 – 427 m). The climate was sunny and warm with no clouds in the sky and a temperature of 78 – 82 deg F (26 – 28 C). The terrain was brushy with rolling hills and loose dusty dirt. I did not encounter any water on the hike so I did not have an opportunity to use the filter. However I was going to filter some water from my hydration pack into someone else’s water bottle, but was unable to as my hydration pack hose would not fit securely onto the fitting on the bottom of the filter.
I got a chance to use this filer on 2 day hikes near Mesa, Arizona. The elevation ranged from 1200 – 1750 ft (366 – 533 m) and the temperature ranged from 31 – 72 F (-0.6 – 22.2 C). There was some frost at night and the days were clear but cool. The area was rocky desert, sandy with some small shrubs, grass, and lots of cactus. I got water from several small streams that were flowing through the rocks near where I was hiking.
I also carried the filter with me on my hike along the Grand Canyon, Arizona. I was not able to use the filter because there was lots of snow on the rim and everything was frozen. The elevation was around 6800 ft (2073 m) and the temperature ranged from 17 – 34 F (-8.3 – 1.1 C).
I carry the filter on all hiking excursion whether I think I will need it or not and will continue to do so. It provides me a sense of security knowing I will be able to filter water wherever I go. The filter stows well and does not take up much room in my bag, nor does it add any noticeable amount of weight.
Pros: The filter is light and easy to pack anywhere I go, the cap keeps the bite valve clean, 3 modes of usage.
Cons: When removing the bite valve to use the filter in gravity flow mode, the plastic that holds the bite valve cracked. The unit still works but I need to be careful when removing or replacing the bite valve not to cause more cracks. Additionally the fitting at the bottom of the filter that attaches to a hydration pack hose will not fit on hoses that have been enlarged by a drink tube bite valve.
Does the “Bite Me valve” continue to be drip free through the life of the unit?
- I have not encountered any dripping from the “Bite Me valve”
Does the “Bite Me valve” resist wear from being bitten on all the time?
- The valve does not show undue wear from my biting on it
Does the integrated cap and strap resist wear from constant stretching?
- The cap continues to perform its function well and the strap has not broken or lost its elasticity
Does the filter attach leak-free to the hydration hose?
- This would be my one major complaint; unless I cut the hose to a portion that has not been enlarged, the connection will fit loose and leak, requiring me to use my hands to hold the hose in place
Does the filter work well without clogging in a short period?
- I have not had clogging issues with the filter although I have only run relatively clear water through it
Does the filter get noticeably harder and harder to get water through as the gallons go by?
- Having only run relatively clear water through the filter and not any where close to the 50 gallons (200 L) described by the manufacturer, I have not noticed an increase in the pressure needed to push the water through
Do the replaceable pre-filter disks stop silt, mud and fine sediment from clogging the filter?
- The pre-filter disks do a good job of stopping large sediment from entering the filter
Is there any maintenance that must be performed on the unit?
- Other than replacing the pre-filter disks if they become clogged there was no other maintenance that I needed to perform on the unit
Does the “Bite Me valve” provide good flow or does it restrict the flow of liquids?
- It does restrict the flow of liquids somewhat but not enough to concern me
Does the integrated cap provide enough protection to keep the “Bite Me valve” from leaking if pressed between two hard objects?
- Yes, the cap did and excellent job of keeping the valve safe and clean
Does the integrated cap and Strap Grip keep the drinking end clean and contamination free?
- Yes, I dropped the unit on the ground several times and the cap kept the valve clean
With the filter attached to a hydration hose, does it get in the way?
- It is somewhat large on the end of the hose but that all depends on placement
How well does the unit perform in the “gravity flow” mode?
- I like using the filter this way, after setting it up it was pretty much hands free
Can I truly set the unit up in “gravity flow” mode and walk away?
- Yes, as long as I can find a place to hang the water to be filtered from
Do the pre-filter disks need to be replaced often to maintain a good flow rate?
- I did not need to replace them at all but I was always able to find clear water
- For my usage, yes
Ease of Use:
Is the “Bite Me valve” easy to grip with my teeth?
- Easy to bite, Yes – Easy to find the right place to bite, No
Is the “Bite Me valve” easy to suck water through?
- The pressure required to suck water through the valve is miniscule compared to the pressure required to suck water through the filter
Is the integrated cap easy to remove and replace?
Is the integrated cap easy to remove and replace one handed?
Does the filter easily attach to a hydration hose?
- No, it will only attach to hose that has not been enlarged by being attached to a hydration bite valve
Does the filter easily attach to “any water bottle with a 28mm opening”?
- Yes, although I had several leak until I tightened them down real tight
Is the filter easy to set up in “gravity flow” mode?
- Yes, this requires removal of the valve which is the most difficult part of setting up in this mode
Is it easy to use the filter to drink from any open container or water source?
- The provided straw makes this relatively easy
Is it difficult to replace the pre-filter disks in the field?
This concludes my Long Term Report. Thank you to Aquamira and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test this item.
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