Gear Wizard, what's the best backpacking water filter on the market these days? If reliability, ease of use, speed, and size trump price, what's the best? Josh Denver, Colorado
The SweetWater Microfilter ($59) is also a can't-miss filter. Like the MiniWorks, it's now made by MSR (which purchased SweetWater a few years back) so it has the same basic filter, just a slightly different design. It's being marketed as the "light and fast" filter, while the MiniWorks is for someone who's willing to carry a few more ounces and gain some durability.
Neither the MiniWorks nor the Microfilter is a water purifier, however. That means they'll catch giardiasis, protozoa, and that sort of thing, but not viruses. For that you'll need to carry along a chemical treatment. SweetWater Purifier ($9 a bottle) does the trick, without adding any aftertaste.
Everything you need to know about pumps, filters, and chemical purifiers in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide .