There are several water filters on the market. If you’re looking for a good value, lightweight option, look no further than squeeze systems. We have experience with two different models: the Sawyer Mini and the Katadyn BeFree. When dealing with squeeze systems: 1) keep the filter clean (an easy task on both systems) and 2) don’t let it freeze, it will compromise the fibers. Throw it in your sleeping bag on cold nights. None of the models discussed filter viruses, which isn’t a concern for us in BC.
Katadyn makes great products, including Mike’s Hiker Pro pump filter. Although much heavier and bulkier than a squeeze, at least one person in your party should have a pump filter in their pack. It is extremely useful if you need to fill water bladders etc in a short amount of time. In our opinion the Katadyn is much faster and easier to use than the MSR Miniworks pump filter. The Katadyn BeFree 1L only weighs 2oz. You can scrunch up the bag and store easily, and it functions great overall with a fast flow rate. It’s very easy to clean (shake) so you don’t have to plunge it. The bag seems tough even though it’s quite thin. It has a large mouth which is both a pro and a con. You can catch water easily, however it means you can’t attach the cartridge to any other bag/bottle. The Katadyn 1L system costs approx $54 and $30 for additional cartridges.
The Sawyer Mini performs much the same as the Katadyn. It’s compact and also weighs 2oz. The mouth opening is smaller, and the flow rate isn’t quite as fast. You also need to plunge the filter to clean it (plunger included in the system). The major benefit of the Sawyer Mini is it’s adaptability. You can incorporate it into your water bladder system, or attach it to water bottles and platypus bags if the Sawyer bag breaks. It’s also cheaper at $33 for the system.