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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > MSR Hyperflow Filter > Test Report by Greg McDonald
I have been camping for 17 years, 12 of them have been spent hiking in the backcountry. My hikes are almost exclusively in Florida and generally range between one and three nights. My all-time favorite hike was a 10 day expedition in the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. I consider myself a lightweight but comfortably equipped hiker, with a pack averaging between 25 and 30 lb (11 and 14 kg).
Product Information & Specifications
Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
Model: HyperFlow Microfilter
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.msrgear.com
MSRP: US $99.95
Filter Element: Hollow Fiber
Filter Element Pore Size: 0.2 microns
Removes bacteria and protozoan cysts
Flow Rate: 3L per minute (Depending on water quality and conditions)
Rated Filter Life: 1,000L (Depending on water quality and conditions)
Listed Weight (Filter): 7.4 oz (209 g) [Verified Accurate]
Listed Weight (Packed Kit): 10.2 oz (289 g)
Measured Weight (Packed Kit): 10.4 oz (294 g)
Measured Weight Breakdown:
Pump: 4.9 oz (140 g)
Intake Tubing: 1.9 oz (55 g)
Pre-Filter: 0.6 oz (17 g)
Attachment Cap: 1.3 oz (36 g)
Stuff Sack: 1.7 oz (47 g)
Product in Depth
The MSR HyperFlow Microfilter is a water treatment system from MSR's "Fast and Light" series. It is one of MSR's newest models, designed to be more compact and lightweight than the MiniWorks series of filters.
The photo above shows all the components that comprise the filter system. The pre-filter is at the top, immediately below it is the attachment cap, below which is the filter pump itself. To the right the filter pump and attachment cap is the intake tubing and at the bottom of the photo is the included stuff sack. The photo below shows the HyperFlow components properly put together.
The filter media is an interesting design new to MSR. MSR calls it "Hollow Fiber Technology" but I had quite a bit of trouble finding information on it. I e-mailed MSR customer service to see if they could point me in the right direction and they promptly responded with all the information I wanted. What I learned is that the filter is basically a jumble of fibers "glued" (as it is described by MSR) into place. As the raw water passes through the jumble of fibers the fibers filter out 99.9% of all the bacteria and protozoa that flows past. The way that I've visualized it is coffee grounds being caught by the coffee filter (for lack of a better visualization).
The HyperFlow arrived with some assembly required, but it was a small task for me since there really isn't a whole heck of a lot to it. One end of the tubing goes into the inlet on the pump while the other end is attached to the outlet on the pre-filter.
One thing that dumbstruck me is the number of instruction manuals included with the HyperFlow. Total there were nine sets of instructions in various languages only some of which I was even able to identify (I'm pretty sure about the English one, Spanish, German, French, Russian and I think Chinese...). After getting over the language shock I poked around in the English one and found it very helpful in figuring out some of the backflushing and cleaning operations that I'll need to do. I do have to say though that probably the best instructions I found were actually on the MSR website, in particular a few videos they had posted that demonstrate several things, including a step by step demonstration on how to backflush the HyperFlow.
I am very pleased with the out-of-the-box quality of the HyperFlow. It is free of any obvious manufacturing defects and does not feel even the slightest bit flimsy in my hands.
Care & Maintenance
From reading the instructions I believe that the routine maintenance that I will be performing most often is backflushing. The backflushing process initially appeared to be pretty daunting and I wasn't looking forward to it. Then I found the instructional video on MSR's website and my opinion completely changed. MSR recommends that the HyperFlow be backflushed after about every 8L of water pumped. I'm not an expert by any means, but it seems to me that backflushing is basically just reversing the flow of the pump to blow out any sediment or other debris that starts to gunk up the "intake" end of the filter media. The process really isn't too complicated, and with a few practices and the help of the handy dandy YouTube video, I'm able to do complete the entire process in only a few minutes. Of course, at this point I've yet to try it in the field… so who knows what challenges that might bring. I mentioned before an instructional video posted on the HyperFlow page of the MSR website. This video is by far the most helpful thing I viewed or read on how to backflush the filter. Even in my utterly confused state from all the diagrams and text instructions it taught me how to do it in under two minutes.
Down the Trail
I think the HyperFlow is a product with mountains of potential. It is compact, lightweight, easy to use, and my first impression is that it is a well built product. I am also extremely pleased at the abundance of information available on the filter's use, care, and troubleshooting. I can't wait for next weekend when I'll be hitting the trail with the HyperFlow for the first time!
Field Locations and Conditions
The MSR HyperFlow has been called into service on the trails on and around Lake Okeechobee, the spur trails of the Florida Trail, and in Myakka River State Park. Temperatures have ranged between 46 and 92 F (8 and 33 C) over the course of the field testing period with precipitation on one occasion.
One of the best things has to be the packed size and low weight. I've seen hikers out there with some real clunkers but the HyperFlow certainly isn't one of them. I've found that I can easily justify carrying the filter in my daypack so I can reduce the water I have to lug, but the bulk and weight savings also mean that I can pack it pretty much anywhere in my bigger packs as well. I used to not be able to carry my filter in the lid of my pack because it got annoying when it moved around too much, but I haven't been noticing the HyperFlow at all really. This means that I can stash the HyperFlow where it is more easily accessible, which is convenient for me.
It isn't just the packed size and weight that I like though. The HyperFlow is very comfortable to hold and pump with. The action on the pump is smooth and steady, and it does not require an absurd amount of force to operate. I haven't ever found myself getting physically tired or fatigued while pumping which is very nice because I get awful cranky when that happens. The pumping motion feels very familiar and natural, unlike several other pumps I have used.
I also really like how easy it is to fill all my different hydration systems. The image to the left is of the HyperFlow hooked up to a Nalgene bottle with the connection cap. One of the things I liked the most about my old MSR MiniWorks is how my Nalgenes screwed right into the base so there was no holding a bottle between my knees while trying to squirt water into the opening with an outlet tube which made the whole process look like some awkward dance. I remain very pleased and dance-free since the HyperFlow offers the same convenience. One of the things that I've done with the HyperFlow that I never did with my other filters, however, is fill my hydration bladder without ever having to take it out of my backpack. Sure the HyperFlow isn't the only filter that does this, but it is a new experience for me just the same. I love not having to wrestle my reservoir out of my pack, fill it, and then wrestle it back in all while the bag is half packed. The long inlet tube between the prefilter and the filter pump, plus the tubing from the hydration bladder to the outlet port on the filter pump, allow me to pump easily from my hanging water bags while keeping the pack on the ground which once again avoids the crazy dance.
As for the actual performance of the filter, I have been very impressed. Compared to other filters I have used, this sucker really cranks out the clean water much quicker. To date I would estimate that I have pumped approximately 15L of water in the field. I have back flushed the HyperFlow twice while in the field, but this was for testing purposes both times not for performance issues. I have also back flushed the filter each time I returned home after treks as part of my routine maintenance. With just the basic back flushing recommended by MSR, I haven't noticed any real slowdown on the output of the filter.
One thing that is important to note, as one may gather from the photo at the beginning of my Field Report, is that on all but one occasion I pumped the unfiltered water from my water bag as opposed to directly from the water source. Generally speaking, I always pump from a bag primarily because in my opinion and experience I generally get better longevity out of my filters before they need cleaned or maintained by allowing the sediment and silt in the water to settle to the bottom of the bag. This saves a lot of strain on the prefilter and filter element, so I've stuck with it.
The only real performance issue I've had to date is with the prefilter. The difficulty I've been having is in keeping the intake/filter side pointed down both in my water bag and when pumping directly from a source. For whatever reason, the prefilter is constantly flipping itself intake side up. Sometimes this will cause the filter to take in a gulp of air. While this doesn't damage the filter and doesn't appear to have any ill effects on anything, it does slow the pumping process down. I'm working on a few ideas for a solution, which I should have available in my Long Term Report.
Down the Trail
This thing is great and I'm really loving it so far. The lightweight and compact design makes it very easy to pack, it is comfortable and easy to use, pumps a whole lot of water very quickly, and is easy to care for and troubleshoot. I don't know what more I could ask out of my filter. If only I could figure out how to keep the prefilter face down in the water...
Testing Conditions and Locations
The final two months of my testing brought me up into Massachusetts and Maine which provided me a bit of relief from the oppressive Florida heat. The HyperFlow filtered my and my group's water on trips to Folly Pond in Maine, a dayhike in Southern Maine, and a short overnighter in Florida.
Long Term Observations
The MSR HyperFlow has continued to perform very well over the last few months of my testing. My findings since my Field Report have been consistent with what I have already reported. There are, however, a few things that I'd like to expand on.
The Last Word
I think it's pretty obvious from my entire test report here that I really, really, really like this filter. The compact size, low weight, compatibility with all of my hydration systems, high flow rate, and ease of care and use are all major factors that have lead to my satisfaction. The only thing that ever disappointed me about it was the trouble I've had throughout the test with the pre-filter flipping up. At this point, my old filter has been retired. The MSR HyperFlow will be taking care of my water for the foreseeable future.
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