TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

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By Earl
I love to paddle and hike to remote places and spend some quality time in the wilderness. I have been doing this for many years now and have had my share of events and trials. I base my life path on 4Fs Faith, Family, Friends, and Fun. I base my wilderness survival confidence on 3Fs+1S, Fire, (Food/Fish), Freshwater and Shelter. I can strike a fire under most all conditions, catch fish most of the time and locate and purify freshwater in most locations. I thought I would share my experience with a piece of equipment I purchased last December and have used now on 4 trips. If you read my Brazos river trip report posted in Jan 2021 you may have noticed my reference to the MSR Guardian water purifier that I used in the silt laden waters of the Brazos. It kept me supplied with freshwater without the use of a settling bucket for my 7-day 395-mile trip. For many years I have used the Platypus Gravity Works water filter and have never been ill from drinking water from this method of purification. This system has never failed me but can be slow and requires hanging or holding the bag over the filter and also occasional back flushing depending how dirty the water is. I used the Platypus on a Green River trip back in 2018 and it filtered that silt laden water for 9 days with the use of a settling bucket prior to filtering.

Link to Brazos River Trip Report
https://sites.google.com/site/earlatnip ... azos-river

This May I made another trip down the Green river and took along my MSR Guardian and the Platypus as a backup. The MSR Guardian was described as a “Military” grade piece of equipment with high reliability for all freshwater sources, including silty water as it uses ~15% of the water filtered to continuously back flush the filter to prevent clogging. It did that quite well on my Brazos trip. However, on the Green River trip I encountered multiple issues with this piece of critical equipment even when using a settling bucket. It clogged and became difficult to pump, slowing and it also began to leak. I had to use my Platypus backup after the first day on the river. Fortunately, I had it along and it worked great with a settling bucket.

After I returned from my trip I contacted the manufacturer regarding my issues was told I would have to ship it to them and pay the shipping and any parts that would be needed even though it was easily within the one-year warranty. The filter costs more than half the new unit so I shared a not so pleasant comment on their equipment. I did read reviews prior to my purchase and all seemed great. Well, I did not dig deep enough on the reviews and later found plenty of similar failure experiences from those who actually used them under similar circumstances, after my purchase.

I have managed to get the filter cartridge flushed and cleaned to its original state but it required a process that could not be done in the field. I purchased a new O-ring set for the pump but it has not fully corrected the leaking. I will continue to use the MSR Guardian on paddling trips but not on hiking trips and on the paddling trips will always carry my Platypus as a backup. I thought it important for me to share my experience, as it is critical to have freshwater on a wilderness trip. Any piece of equipment can fail over time and being prepared for such failure is important. I carry a ditch bag with some basic survival gear and for fire I carry 4 means of lighting and for water carry Iodine tablets when absolutely necessary when boiling is not possible. Below are my pros and cons on the MSR Guardian.
• Very fast filter rate of 1 liter/minute when the filter is clean
• Will filter silty water without settling bucket but would recommend using one
• Filters out viruses too

• Weight and size are greater than other options like the Platypus
• Prone to leaks
• Greater mechanization thereby greater opportunity for failure
• Once the cartridge is clogged it cannot be cleaned in the field
• Price is higher than almost all others

User avatar
By JW FunGuy
Well, your not really comparing apples to apples. One is a “purifier” it filters down to .02 m the other is a “filter” it filters down to .2 m. Naturally the purifier will clog more in silt laden water and should be pre filtered for use. But it will protect you from viruses etc that a filter will not. A filter will be effective agains giardiasis, cryptosporidium and most pathogens found in water.
I have used the older MSR filters on mountaineering trips in South America, where virus was a concern, for years with no problems. (I still own them with replacement filters) so I am not familiar with the new ones but it seems like the same basic technology.
But the main premise here is they are different pieces of equipment used for different purposes and require different methods of use and care.
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