Before getting the Pocket filter, we used a Katadyn Hiker Pro during hikes in Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park and Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. It performed as advertised.
So, why the switch to the heavier and much more expensive Pocket filter? It’s all about the math for a year-long trip. The Pocket weighs twice as much as the Hiker Pro, and costs four times as much; but it can produce 13,000 gallons on a single filter, as opposed to about 400 gallons with a Hiker Pro filter. It would take over 30 Hiker Pro filter cartridges to do what a single Pocket filter can do. Our packs just didn’t have that kind of room to spare, and we couldn’t count on finding replacement cartridges in rural Laos, Cambodia, India, or Madagascar.
As to cost, 30 Hiker Pro cartridges would run about $1000. That makes the Pocket the long-term winner at about $280 for the system with one ceramic filter.
An added reason for choosing the Pocket is that it has a 0.2 micron filter, versus the Hiker Pro’s 0.3 micron filter. When you’re drawing water from a very dirty source in the middle of nowhere – the same source in which people dump their sewage and wash their cattle – that extra tenth of a micron is real peace of mind. I have had amoebic dysentery. It’s the only thing for which I’ve ever been hospitalized, and I do not care to repeat the experience.
And how did we fare with drinking water filtered by the Pocket? We used it in Australia, Cambodia, and Spain. Some of this water was obviously dirty, some we filtered just as a precaution. We suffered no illnesses from the water it produced, so it did it’s job.
For short, multi-day trips into first-world parks and forests, where the water source is relatively clean, we’ll probably pull out the Hiker Pro and save some weight. But for long-term travels, and trips to really filthy places, it will be the Pocket that we toss into our packs.
One last comment… A water filter is not just a camping thing. Safe drinking water, straight from the tap, is not the norm in most of the world; which means that even a suitcase tourist can make use of a filter. Sure, you can usually get by with bottled water; but we have run into situations where bottled water was hard to find, and at those times having our own way to make potable water was comforting.
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