The Katadyn Vario Microfilter
is part of the backcountry series filter line. The manufacturer
indicates this filter line is good for all round use.
The manufacturer claims that this filter meets the industry
standards for reduction of bacteria (99.9999% Klebsiella
terrigena) and protozoan cysts (99.9 % Giardia and Cryptosporidium).
The system uses a dual
action pump that uses dual pistons. The manufacturer
claims that this technology provides continuous output
with minimum effort.
The Vario filter comes
with the ceramic prefilter disc, 0.3 Micron pleated
glassfiber filter with a carbon core, storage sack,
seven o-rings (two 1.18 in (3 cm), four 1.5 in (3.81
cm), one 2.25 in (5.72 cm)), lubricant 0.11 oz (3 g),
one intake and one output hose, bottle clip, strainer,
weight, hose float, and a 4.75 x 3 in (12.07 x 7.62
cm) filter cleaning pad.
Vario uses a two mode system that is adjustable for
different water conditions. This enables pumping for
longer life and faster flow. The longer life option
allows the water to flow through the ceramic prefilter
disc before passing through the pleated glassfiber filter.
The faster flow option allows water to bypass the ceramic
disc and flow directly through the pleated glassfiber
filter. The Vario filter is preset on the longer life
position. It is recommended to only use the faster flow
option when the water is clear.
The carbon (activated
charcoal) in the pleated glassfiber filter can be refilled.
The manufacturer indicates that the carbon aides in
helping to keep the water tasting fresh. This carbon
core is intended to reduce chemicals and pesticides
in the filtered water.
The filter components
can also be replaced. It is recommended by the manufacturer
to clean the ceramic prefilter with the filter cleaning
pad. The manufacturer also suggests to replace the ceramic
filter when it is worn and the carbon in the pleated
filter after six months of continuous use or after pumping
200 L (53 US gal) of water. The suggestion is to replace
the pleated filter when the output becomes slow or after
pumping 1,875 L (500 US gal).
The Vario Microfilter
can be used to fill bottles or containers using the
bottle clip (to stabilize the output hose). It can also
be used to directly fill hydration bladders by connecting
the hydration bladder hose to the output barb on the
bottom of the filter. This output barb is located beneath
a rubber cap on the bottom of the filter. There is a
cut away opening at the bottom of the filter housing
to ease the removal of the cap. When the cap is positioned
correctly there is a hole to place the output hose through
to the output barb. This is to allow the cap to remain
in place while using the output hose in this manner.
The cap can also be completely removed and used without
the house threaded on a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle. This
enables direct filling of these bottle types without
the need for using a hose.
are located in several places in this filtering system.
They are located near the piston component, on the top
and the base of the pleated glass filter, and below
the threads on the plastic housing.
By twisting the pump head to the right
I was able to remove it to view the ceramic pre-filter
and the output control. There is an arrow printed in
white at the base of the ceramic disc housing. The disc
housing is easily rotated to line the arrow above the
words "longer life" or "faster flow".
The ceramic disc housing is removed by just pulling
up on the housing. This is easily done. This then exposes
the top of the pleated filter. I found it easiest to
remove the pleated filter by exposing the top, removing
the bottom filter cap and pressing on the output barb.
To replace the filter I lined up the cut outs in the
pleated filter top with the notches in the housing and
I pushed it inside of the housing. I was able to easily
replace the pump head by placing it on top of the ceramic
filter and twisting it to the left.
Getting the Vario ready to use the
first time was relatively easy. I inserted the prefilter
strainer through the larger (bottom) opening of the
weight so that the prefilter barb is through the top
of the weight. The manufacturer suggested putting a
small amount of the lubricant on the strainer barb to
more easily insert it into the input hose. After applying
the lubricant to the barb I inserted it into one end
of the input hose. I then slid the float onto the hose.
The red cap on the input barb must be removed before
use. The manufacturer suggests saving this cap to place
on the barb when the input hose is removed and for storage
purposes. I attached the other end of the input house
on the barb. I still needed to attach the output hose
to the output barb. This was done by removing the bottom
cap of the filter and sliding the hose though the hole
in the cap and then sliding it on the barb. I then replaced
the bottom cap. This was all a very simple procedure.
The manufacturer suggests in the directions
to flush the system prior to using the filter. This
is done by pumping approximately 1 L (34 oz) of water
through the filter to remove the carbon dust. So I flushed
out the system with tap water. I found the pumping action
to be easy and not strenuous. So now I am ready to use
my filter in the field. I will be using it tomorrow
morning in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.
During the past
two months I used the Vario in several locations in the state
of Utah. The filter was used on day hikes and mountain bike
trips during seven outings in the Wasatch Mountain Range.
The air temperatures ranged from the low 80's F (27 C) to
37 F (3 C). It was sunny most of the time, but there was some
rain and snow on one of the days. In this geographic location
the filter was used primarily in clear running creek and stream
I took the Vario
on a two day backpacking trip in the Uinta Mountain Range
in Utah. During this trip lake water and creek water was filtered
through the Vario. The lake water was not the clearest. There
was some green film on the surface of the water in some places.
The water temperature was cold; I would say around 45 F (7
C). The temperatures during this trip were in the low 70's
(21 C) during the day and around 45 F (7 C) at night. The
lake was located at an elevation of 10,450 ft (3,185 m). The
weather was not ideal. There were rain sprinkles to down pours
The Vario was
also used in American Fork Canyon in Utah in the Wasatch Mountain
Range. The starting elevation was 6,910 ft (2,106 m) for this
trip. It was a very warm day in the mid 80's F (27 C) with
sunny skies. There was not much water on this trail to Mt.
Timpanogos. The streams were the driest I have ever seen them.
However, I was able to use the Vario at a lake located at
10,380 ft (3,164 m).
in the Field
I must say this
filter is the easiest to pump and the fastest I have ever
used. After using this filter the first time I gave my old
PUR Voyager to a friend of mine that was in need of a water
filter. However, they did see how easy it was for me to filter
water with the Vario on a day hike. My friend made a comment
on the performance of the Vario.
I took a Nalgene
bottle with me on a few day hikes and screwed the base of
the Vario to the top of the Nalgene bottle so I did not need
to mess with an outlet hose. This worked very well even with
a splash guard placed in the mouth of the bottle. The splash
guard remained in place and was not dislodged while the steam
of filtered water was entering the bottle.
I also used the
Vario with my hydration system. I use a Camelbak hydration
reservoir while hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking.
After the bite valve and the regulator are removed, the hose
of my hydration system fits on the output barb of the Vario
without any extra attachments. This was a convenient way for
me to get my filtered water into my hydration bladder.
I love the handle
design and the way my hand is positioned while pumping the
unit. There was no hand fatigue or wrist pain experienced
while using this filter. I did not even get any shoulder pain.
In the past I found that I got so fatigued from pumping water.
With the Vario once I begin pumping there is a strong steady
flow with each pump.
On the faster
flow filtering option I can comfortably pump 32 oz (0.95 L)
of water in 28 seconds at a normal pumping speed. On the longer
life setting I can comfortably pump 32 oz (0.95 L) of water
in 44 seconds. This timed test was completed by filtering
clean running stream water from a tiny pool in the stream.
I was very surprised how clean
the ceramic filter remains after pumping some dirty, icky
lake water. I figured that the ceramic filter would have some
icky film on it, but it only had a few black spots. I cleaned
the black spots the best I could with the scrub pad that was
included with the filter. A few tiny spots remained on the
ceramic filter even after I scrubbed it with some elbow grease.
On two occasions when I was
pumping the water on the faster flow option some water started
to seep out of the housing. This was not just a little bit
of seepage this was quite a bit of water trickling out. I
am not certain at this point if I did not have the housing
screwed tightly to the top of the unit or if this was pressure
build up. But, on one of the occasions that this happened
I unscrewed the housing and I heard a pop sound. It sounded
to me like pressure build up. Excess water poured out of the
top of the housing when I unscrewed it.
The water that I filtered using
the Vario tasted pretty good. On one occasion when I filtered
water from an icky lake with green film on the surface it
tasted slightly nasty, but that was to be expected. This water
was filtered first on the faster flow option. When I filtered
the same water again on the longer life option the water had
a slightly better taste.
Long Term Report
December 4, 2007
Field Testing Locations
During the past two months I continued testing
the Katadyn Vario in the state of Utah. The Vario was used
to filter water from the Virgin River for an overnight trip
in Southern Utah. The elevation was approximately 4,500 ft
(1,372 m). The water was filtered for the start of the overnight
trip and towards the end of the trip. The daytime temperatures
were in the low 70 F (21 c) range. I also filtered water from
small streams on this trip.
The Vario was also used in Canyonlands National
Park Utah during a three-day trip. The water filtered in this
location was from the Colorado and the Green Rivers. The elevation
was around 3,900 ft (1,189 m) at both river locations and
the daytime temperatures were between 55 F (13 C) to 60 F
(16 C). The nighttime lows reached 27 F (-3 C).
I used the Vario on two separate trips
during the long term report period. Both of these trips
were to Southern Utah.
I am quite impressed
with the Vario filter. I filtered water from the silty
Colorado River and the picture in the right is the filtered
water from this water source. There were two ways that
I filtered water from the river. First was by letting
the water sit overnight so the sediment would not clog
the filter. Second was by filtering directly from the
river. The picture on the right is water filtered directly
from the river.
On this trip I was with
a large group. Some of the group members used the Katadyn
Base Camp Filter. I filtered water with the Vario for
those that did not have a filter. The park ranger suggested
letting the water from the Colorado River sit overnight
because of the high amount of sediment in the water.
The water was not the dirtiest that I have seen it,
but it was not crystal clear either.
When I let the water sit overnight there
was definitely quite a bit of sediment at the bottom
of my friend's large camp bucket. The overnight temperature
was below freezing (0 C) in the morning. The water was
not frozen just very cold. Since the water was
not clear the filter was used on the longer life setting.
I was able to pump the water quickly and I was very
surprised how clear the water was. There were no complications
filtering the cold water or from the cold air temperature.
Crystal Clear Water From The Colorado River
The next day I decided to be brave and filter
water directly from the Colorado River. I used the longer
life setting. As I was pumping I could see some particles
in the intake strainer. The filter started to clog after pumping
almost 110 oz (3.25 L). I opened up the housing and rinsed
the ceramic disc and the pleated filter with filtered water
to clean some of the particles off. I also used the scrub
pad to clean the disc. I was actually surprised that the ceramic
disc and the filter were so dirty. I still had lots of water
to pump so when the filter became clogged I just rinsed and
scrubbed the ceramic disc and rinsed the filter with clean
water. I used the bottle clip to fill the bottle in the picture
above. I found the clip to be very handy and easy to use.
I was very impressed how clear the filtered
water was pumped directly from the Colorado River. My friends
were quite impressed as well. I thought I would have some
arm, neck, shoulder, and hand pain since I pumped hundreds
of ounces (and many liters) of water on this trip, but, I
did not have any pain.
The third day I filtered water from the Green
River. The water in this river was clearer than the Colorado
River. So I decided that I should use the faster flow setting.
I pumped about 50 oz (1.48 L) of water and water began to
spurt out the housing. I had to open up the housing to relieve
the pressure build up and stop the water from seeping out.
This also happened during my field report testing. I am still
awaiting a response from the manufacturer as to why the water
squirts out of the housing.
When I filtered water from the Virgin River
is was a little bit muddy. I set the filter on the longer
life setting. On this trip I was pumping small amounts of
water and I did not experience clogging.
All the water tasted good that was filtered
during the long term testing period. I am still very impressed
with how fast I can pump water and how clear the filtered
Things I Like:
- How quickly
I can get fresh filtered water
- The ergonomic
design of the handle
- The taste
of the filtered water
- It is easy
Things I Do Not Like:
water seeps out of the housing
- The filter is on the heavy side
I found the Vario
water filter to be the fastest way to get fresh filtered water
in the field. It is easy to use and does not cause me any
hand, wrist, or shoulder discomfort while pumping. I also
like the fact that I can use the Vario with my hydration system
without any extra attachments. I am concerned about the water
that squirts out of the housing on the faster flow setting.
I am uncertain if it is a pressure build up or an issue with
concludes my testing on the Katadyn Vario. Thank you Katadyn
for providing me with the opportunity to test the Vario Water