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- Gender: Female
These come standard issue at one of the conservation corps that I've worked for, and I've trouble understanding why. We pre-filtered our water with bandanas while using these in Colorado, and it would still take eight+ hours to filter four liters. We tried to field-clean them, which didn't seem to help anything. Frustrated, we opened the filters to see if there was anything obvious preventing them from working. There wasn't, and we ended up having to hand-pump all of our water (for nine days, a crew of eight people) as our fuel supply was dwindling and we were given no tablets.
These were a horrible experience and I'm glad to see that others haven't had the problems that my crew did. For our next project, we were given the Katadyn version of a gravity filter and that worked much better.
I am not usually that worried about pumping water for myself. When I end up pumping water for those in the group or for dinner time I then find myself less than amused.
This filter system is too easy. Fill the bag, hang the bag and let gravity do the rest. "What? You want some filtered water? Fill it yourself."
So here's a follow up at the two year mark....Well, I've ditched every other filter system I have, including my on-the-fly standards. I now carry only this and a few Katadyn tablets for emergencies. Let's face it, when you take a break on the trail you want to relax, not pump water. Screw that! This system is faster and easier, even when we only have a few minutes, it works and it works for me. I don't spend any more time than I used to getting drinking water, and now I do it with a fraction of the effort. It might weigh a bit more, but performance is the word, not constant, pain in the ass, pump till it hurts effort and maintenance on another filter at the price of a shaving a few ounces. In camp it's a gift. One trip to the water source...fill a few Nalgenes while you hang out and enjoy your free time, then fill the bag again and head back to camp....today's and most of tomorrow's cooking and drinking water for 2-3 people, DONE!!! I have no idea how many gallons I've pumped, but it's a lot. Still on the same cartridge, easy to flush, still flows as fast as day one. This is still a piece of gear that shines as a favorite! This might be a little redundant in terms of my earlier review, but jeez, it's still going strong and doing what it's always done well. How often can you say that anymore? It might sound sort of fanatical, but getting an Autoflow was sort of life-altering when I look back on the last 30 years of trying not to get Giardia.
Does this simply filter the water, or does it also kill or remove bacteria to such an extent as to make water potable?
The filter element has 0.2 micron pores. The smallest bacteria are 0.2 microns wide and 1 micron long. The filter will get rid of them. It will NOT, however, filter viruses or chemicals.
Our group of nine spent a week in the Boundry Waters in Canada. Besides my MSR we had chemical treatment and a pump filter. After the second day everyone had me filter their water. It was just so much easier. Since we moved camp everyday, I would back flush the filter when we packed up to move. The filter never ran slow, but it only took a couple minutes to flush so I thought it couldn't hurt. No problems at all with the filter.
I did a fair amount of research on the various gravity-based systems (Platypus, etc.). Landed on MSR as it had similar features, but with the MSR name, which I trust.
Thus far it's exceeded my expectations. the flow is fast and convenient and the unit packs up relatively small/light. I've used it in snow-fed high-altitude creeks and the extremely silty Colorado river near the Colorado/Utah border. It's done well in both situations, as long as regular/thorough backflushing is done.
The only difficult part in backflushing was realizing not to use the supplied attachment. As others have stated, when attached to a bottle, it creates a suction that does not allow the backflush to work. The easiest way is to start the stream filtering as regular. Then, simply place the tube into an open bottle full of water, snap off the attachment from the bag and ensure it's lower than the water bottle. Backflushing then works quickly and like a dream!
I highly recommend the autoflow. Reliable, simple and made by MSR. Tough to go wrong with this one.
Used the Autoflow on a recent trip down the Colorado river near the Colorado/Moab border. No trees to hang it from - a trio of paddles did the trick!
The very silty water wasn't ideal (and probably not good for the filter if that's all it filtered), but things still flowed like a champ with regular backflushing (every 4 liters, when time allows).
MSR, I love you.
No more pumping, easy to backflow. Lots of water while I go do other things. Save your arm and be the savior of your friends. Everyone you camp with will want one of these puppies after their trip with you. Not recommended for very silty/dusty water as it is going to take you a long time to backflush and *may* cost you the price of a new filter (haven't tried this, but the microfilaments are just too tiny for silt).
I just got back from 10 days in the boundary waters, and this filter was amazing! We had 8 people in our group and it was SO nice not to have to pump water individually for each of us. We just put up the bag and let it do its thing. This filter was durable, super simple, and reliable! I would definitely recommend it to anyone! Just make sure that you reverse flow the filter or it will get sluggish and clog up.
This is a great base camp filter, especially if you are traveling in a group
I HATE to pump water to filter it. In fact, there have been times where I have neglected to filter water before drinking it for this very reason - choosing instead to toss the coin on sickness than to grab that misery-inducing machine and wear my arms out to get enough water to quench my thirst.
So... MSR invented this gem. I cannot adequately describe how happy I am with the Autoflow filter. It is like having running water in your camp. If you need water for any reason, you needn't have it all ready filtered in your Nalgene bottle, you can get it directly from the filter itself. Priceless.
I would say that I wonder what people did before this, but I remember with the painful kind of clarity that pumping water next to a freezing stream high in the mountains can provide.
I like it so much that rather than risk the chance that something will happen to the filter and be left without one I have preemptively gotten a replacement.
MSR, you rock!
Has anyone used this filter in conjunction with iodine? When I am abroad or in really sketchy areas I currently use polar pure to kill the viruses and then use my MSR water works filter to remove the particulates and the iodine taste. I'm just wondering if this filter removes the chemical taste?
The best thing to do is to add five drops of MSR Sweetwater Purifier Solution per liter (MSR AutoFLow's bag is 4L so if full, it will need 20 drops of the solution) for 99.9999% purification of the water. These drops should be added AFTER the filtering is completed. By doing this, you will not be able to taste the solution nor worry about viruses in the water. The filter will take out Giardia, Chrypto, and Bacteria, and the Sweetwater Solution will easily take care of the viruses. No need to worry about taste or bugs!
The problem with the sweetwater is that it only treats about 75 gallons and I think it still imparts a chlorine flavor when I have used it in the past.
Best filter ever. Just got back from a backpacking trip in southeastern Utah. Not much water around, have to plan your camps near various springs. Normally I would pump using the MSR MiniWorks with a reliable field serviceable ceramic filter cartridge due to potentially nasty water I would have to use deep in the desert. I took the MiniWorks along (1 lb) since I had not used the Autoflow Gravity Filter (14 oz) yet and wasn't sure about the filter clogging up. I thought it may last for a few days and then I would be pumping ...and pumping. But NO! I filled the red bag up with approx 5L of life giving "water" and started filling up my 1L Nalgene which took only 2 mins 10 secs. My buddy was psyched now that we basically had a water faucet, totally convenient. We would filter approx 8 liters a day and the flow rate was maintained until about the 25 liter point, when it took 2 mins 30 secs ....bummer! We felt like we were cheating! It was so easy we would just guzzle and cook with the 0.2 micron filtered gold whenever we wanted, no more pumping! No shoulder muscle pain after 5 days! It worked the entire trip (6 days) with no filter clog issues! Almost made me wonder if it was really filtering. Sure, I had to figure out the removal of bubbles around the filter, the backflow process too. No stress mon. Get it ...best gear upgrade I have had in years. And don't bring your MiniWorks as a backup ....ya don't need it.
Hi, II plan to travel to Asia. Is this filter suitable for such extreme conditions+ everyday use ? I mean, is this filter all bacteria resistant?
Don't want to try trial +error style.
Thank you !
There are many pros and cons to the AutoFlow system. Hollow Fiber, the media used in the filter element, is relatively new and is best suited for clean water that doesn't have a lot of sediment or other types of clogging agents (ie. Humic Acid, Blue/Green Algae, Glacial Silt, sewage, etc.). As you use this filter, it is also imperative that you consistently and with regularity back flush which requires regular maintenance. You need to make sure this filter isn't thrown around or abused. It is susceptible to damage if handled roughly.
The best part about this filter though is there is no work. You simply fill up the bag and watch the water filter at almost 2 liters per minute (incredibly fast). Of course this is when the filter's brand new and will inevitably slow down over time. If you are thinking about purchasing the AutoFlow, I would also recommend getting an additional Filter Element just in case. The filter element will take out any bacteria, protozoa, or pathogenic particle that you will run into (anything larger than 0.2 microns will be filtered out which includes dirt, bacteria, protozoa). Viruses are not mechanically removed, but must be treated with a chemical. Because your are going to a 3rd world country, I would recommend taking a bottle of the Sweetwater Purification Solution as this will eliminate all viruses. Remember to only add the solution AFTER you've filtered the water...
If you want a reliable, proven filter who's reputation has been built upon it's reliability, I would go with the MSR MiniWorks EX Filter. It's also 0.2 micron capable, lasts much longer than the AutoFlow, is cleanable (you actually take the element out and scrub it with a Scotchbrite pad that's included with the filter), can be field-maintained, and any chemicals (not heavy metals however) will be removed due to the carbon component located at the core of the filter element. It does require you to pump which equates to work, but if you want to be 100% absolutely sure, with no worries, of clean water, this is the pump to get.
Either filter will get the water clean. The main issue is how sure do you want to be that in any situation in whatever circumstance you find yourself in you will have clean water. The AutoFlow is a great filter, but the MiniWorks EX is ultra-reliable in extreme conditions and everyday use.
You may also want to consider the MSR MIOX Purifier. This is a tool used to create a chemical solution that will purify the water in about 30 minutes. It won't take anything out of the water, but will make it suitable to drink. It even takes most of the bad tastes from the water. All you need is salt and CR123 (lithium camera batteries) and will work flawlessly. It will purify large quantities of water and can also be used to sterilize fruits and vegetables, as well as clean minor cuts and scratches. It's only 3.5 ounces (w/ batteries) and is something you can totally rely on. One of it's best features is the fact that it will do large quantities of water much better than most filters. Because you are adding a purifying solution to the water, you aren't require to filter every drop which takes time and adds maintenance to the filter. If you think you'll need many gallons throughout the day, this is the best choice in my opinion.
Bottom line: For mechanical water filters there are many options. The MSR AutoFlow is the most convenient and easy to use, but may not be the most reliable. The MSR Miniworks EX is ultra-reliable, but takes more work to get the water. The MSR MIOX is easy to use, very reliable, purifies the water but doesn't actually filter anything out. Perhaps the best thing to do is to get a combination of the MIOX and Filter. It's always good to have a backup...
when using the MSR autoflow do i hvae to use Water Purification Tablet?
No, not unless you need to remove viruses which are smaller than .2 microns, and that shouldn't be a problem in North America or Europe. The in-line filter on the Autoflow will remove protozoans, particulates and bacteria.
After two trail hitches in the mountains of Northern New Mexico our MSR autoflow filter was beat. The filter dripped like an IV line on minimum flow. And the $50 replacement filter is unfeasibly priced for outdoor professionals who need to use their filtration for weeks at a time. And to top off the whole thing I strained all the water that went into the filter through a bandana. Great for recreational backpackers with deep pockets unfeasible for professional trail workers.
We just returned from a week in Yosemite, where the Autoflow was the star of the gear show. Collecting and filtering 4-6 liters of water at a time was the easiest I've ever know it to be. Not only did we have plenty of water for the evening's needs, the next day's first few liters for breakfast and the trail were a done deal, with no more effort than swapping out Nalgenes. Flow rates were pretty close to specs, backflushing was simple, and not only did it take an enormous burden off of me and my Hyperflow from the standpoint of pumping and maintenance, it was perfectly compatible operationally. I expected and wanted some sort of problem so that I could figure out how to deal with it for future reference...it just never came. After a couple days, it got to the point where just looking at the damn thing hanging there doing nothing became a tremendous source of comfort, knowing that our clean water needs were well in-hand, and that I didn't have to do anything but enjoy my extra free time. My only complaint is with myself... I can't imagine why I didn't pick up one of these a long time ago.
I just got my MSR gravity filter and during my first trial at home came across two issues. The first was fixed by reading the comment about not screwing it on too tight to the nalgene bottle. The second concern is that there is water leakage at the middle seam of the filter. It's not too excessive but didn't know if it was normal. Any thoughts?
Sounds like too much back pressure or an air-lock. Since it's new, it's not a case of the cartridge being clogged, so make sure the cartridge is seated properly, and the two sides of the valve housing are tight. Also make sure the shut off clamp on the tube is fully open. Loosen the Nalgene adapter a bit more and run it through a few more times before you give it a good backflushing. Hollow fiber ceramic cartridges can be a bit temperamental at first. Hope that helps.
The state parks had just reopened, but the water was not turned on yet. Great opportunity to test out the autoflow!
This is a great filter system. Used it for 4 people in the High Sierras in October and it was fantastic. Just let it hang and attach it to your bladder while you set up camp. That easy. Back flush every once in awhile for maintenance, which is turning the filter around and reversing the process to clean it out. The ONLY concern is that the hollow fiber technology used by MSR for this and the Mini-works are not suppose to freeze. It got down to 25 on the trip so put the filter part inside at the bottom of my sleeping bag and it was fine. Best filter I have used.
Has anybody experienced trouble cleaning this filter?
I have had some trouble on a couple of occasions. Sometimes when I try to backflush the filter it won't flow, but if you simply let a half liter or so flow through the filter correctly it then will then backflush. This only happens at home after a trip to the backcountry, and has never let me down in the field.
After relying on this filter all weekend I have found the answer to the backflusing problem. Though I cannot explain WHY it happens, I found that everytime flow halted and backflushing became impossible, there was an airbubble in the tube on either side of the filter. As I said, I have not idea WHY it air locks. However I can get it to work everytime by "priming" the filter. The easiest solution I have found is to plan for your next backflush. Say you come to the last liter in the red bag, at that time I filter it through normally (being certain not to let the bag empty) and with my hose submerged inside my nalgene (the adapater is useless unless using a bladder, I'll explain during my review) and when I have about a liter in the bottle I raise it to the level of the red bag. This now ensures the lines are full of water and free of air. Now pop the quick disconnect off of the red bag and lower that end of the hose below the Nalgene, this will cause the water to syphon and with the lack of air your backflush should go smoothly.
I hope this helps! I know I was glad to find the answer cause I was beginning to question the field maintainability of this unit and thus it's usefulness. Of course if your filter plugs earlier, then apply a liberal amount of creativity to keep the lines air free ;-)
Hey Sean(s) and Tim,
What I found works the fastest and best is to start the flow during the backflush process without the filter in place. Let it drain without interruption for a couple seconds on it's own with a couple liters in the bag, then insert the inverted filter into place while it continues to flow, and don't even bother to install the longer tube or shut-off clamp. When the airlock (bubble) happens before the filter is what seems to screw it up, and this technique seems to prevent it completely. Five or six backflushings so far on mine, and it's been no problem- flow starts out a bit murky, then clears up and delivers at about the same rate as when filtering.