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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > SweetWater Guardian Filter > Owner Review by Mike Curry

May 16, 2007


NAME: Mike Curry
EMAIL: thefishguyAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 37
LOCATION: Aberdeen, Washington
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (93.00 kg)

I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.


Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
Year of Manufacture: 1992
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US$64.95
Listed Weight: 11 oz (320 g)
Measured Weight: 12.2 oz (346 g)
Other details: Filter reviewed was a Pre-MSR model, but no significant design changes have occurred.


This filter was used in all seasons throughout Oregon and Washington. Water conditions have ranged from clear mountain streams in the cascades to silt-filled creeks near the coast to high mountain lakes and swamps. Trips have ranged from day trips to those over two weeks. Temperatures have ranged from well below freezing (after chipping some ice from the lake) to 100 F (38 C). It has never failed despite over a decade of abuse, including having dropped it dozens of times on rocky stream banks.


Overall, this filter is my first choice on any trip. It has never failed to provide me with good water, and is of reasonable size and weight for my pack. When I first purchased it, I selected it primarily for ease of use. Its design provided the least effort of any filter available at the time. I have to admit this is a feature I still cherish. I can filter gallons of water without tiring in the least, and since it pumps in both directions, it can keep up with most other filters.

Regarding media life, I have never replaced the element on this filter. The unit comes with a brush that can be used to clean the filter media when the flow slows, at least until a grid indicator appears. After filtering hundreds of gallons of water with this filter, I've only had to brush it out three times, all after use in particularly silty water. There is a pressure-relief valve that squirts water if it needs cleaning, and with the stream of water it ejects, there is no questioning it. I do usually wrap a bandanna or something similar around the pre-filter when I'm filtering particularly ugly stuff. The inside of the filter media still looks good, and I've no reason to believe it's any less effective today than it was when I bought it.

The filter came with a stuff sack, the filter/pump assembly, the brush, an in-line viral filter attachment (that I've never used, and I believe is now available as an accessory), intake and output hoses, a float (which I've long-since lost), a pre-filter screen, and a bottle adapter. The bottle adapter looks like it will fit a variety of different sized openings, but has only worked for me on wide-mouth Nalgene-style bottles and most hydration bladders. I usually leave the adapter at home. The hoses usually do double duty for me when I go to get a campfire going (where it is legal, safe, and unobtrusive to do so, of course). I use them as a tube to blow through on the fire, saving my breath gaining a lot of control over where I am blowing.

A number of small stress fractures have appeared on the element right where the pump assembly screws in. The are very small, and I'm not sure if they are the result of age, over tightening, or past freezing (it's frozen several times), but they have not seemed to impact its use. They appeared about 5 years ago. It does drip water out of one of them as I pump, but I keep it on the same side as the pressure relief hole (that I keep turned away from me) so the dripping isn't a problem. I've never lubricated the gasket so perhaps that would resolve the issue.

Stress Fractures (don't seem to impact use)

My routine maintenance on this item is to take it out of my pack at the end of the trip, and throw it in one of my bins of backpacking goodies until the next trip.

I've examined the current manifestation of this filter (mine is the pre-MSR version), and there don't appear to be any design changes beyond color and a few minor cosmetic changes. The only improvement I can see is color-coded intake and output hoses. This was a great move on MSR's part, as it helps prevent accidentally putting the nasty old contaminated hose on the output side.


*Ease of use
*Quality of workmanship


*nothing . . . I like everything about this filter


Mike Curry

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > SweetWater Guardian Filter > Owner Review by Mike Curry

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