The fateful purchase of the MSR HyperFlow and where it fits as a water filter

Let me tell you a story about a man just short of middle age that had a long alpine traverse planned. In this story, he’s excited because he has kids and most of his trips take forever to cover any ground and involve whining. Sure the kids are all excited and ask to go the day after every trip, but most days of the trip are lots of work.

He’s doing this traverse solo and looking to save some weight so while he’s at his local outdoor store he sees the MSR HyperFlow MicroFilter. A quick excited evaluation gives him the information that it’s about half the weight of his older MSR WaterWorks EX filter and it’s smaller packed. So he gets the MSR HyperFlow with more excited thoughts about a fast trip through the mountains.

It sounds great so far, but it doesn’t end well. See he takes the filter out for a few test hikes carrying all his gear for his traverse and finds a few problems with it. Nothing major, it’s just that the pre-filter flips over very easily in the pond and it’s a bit hard to hook up to his hydration bladder. He’s still loves how small it is and knows is lighter than what he has. The thing is that these problems get him to do some more research and he finds out that there are more issues with the MSR HyperFlow.

First, you need to back flush it every 8L of water pumped, maybe more if you have particulate. When he looks up how to back flush the filter he realizes it’s a byzantine process involving unscrewing things, flipping small parts, screwing things back together, multiple bolded warnings about not pumping air in to the filter by accident, then reverse the whole process. Here check out the video from MSR.

Oh don’t drop any of those little pieces either. So make sure you have a pretty much flat, clean, calm environment at hand. Not the type of environment you ever have with children on a trip. Heck heading across a mountain range means that you don’t have flat non-windy spots pretty much anywhere.

With a family that means every time the family of five pumps water for the day and then for the evening he has to go through this silly process. So a 5 day trip would mean that he has to do this twice a day pretty much every day. He knows from guiding with his WaterWorks for years that he had to scrub the filter maybe once a day for a group of 30 (with 3 filters in the group). So that was 3 scrubs a day for, way more water pumped with kids that were never paying attention to how much grit they sucked up when they pumped.

In his research he also realizes that he has to baby the filter if it gets cold. The mountains get cold…he’s going to have to baby the filter. Unlike his WaterWorks which can handle freezing (just warm the ceramic to thaw it) the MSR HyperFlow will break and then you’ve got to do some weird test to make sure it’s holding vacuum and still works properly.

This leaves him feeling stupid at making a hasty expensive purchase because he’s now looked at the Sawyer Mini filters and they’re way lighter, have no moving parts, are way cheaper, can be used inline in a hydration system, and can be rigged as a gravity system. While the claims Sawyer makes about the longevity may be inflated, they’re still way cheaper so purchasing a few Sawyer Mini’s will mean years before you reach the same cost as the HyperFlow.

Note: I’ll talk more about the Sawyer longevity issues when I review my Sawyer.

Not only does this leave him feeling stupid, he’s got to tell his wife about it and while she loves him, she hates when he gets excited and spends money on gear. This is not the first time he’s spent money on gear, and while it won’t be the last at least when he’s made a good decision she’s less annoyed by it.

Yup this is my review of the MSR HyperFlow MicroFilter.

Who should purchase the MSR HyperFlow?

This is ideal for the hiker that encounters cold…nope.

If you’re looking for a light filter…nope.

If you need a filter that’s not fiddly…nope.

I have no idea who should purchase this. If you’re looking for a light weight filter, then look at the offerings from Sawyer specifically the Sawyer Mini (which I’ll review soon).

If you’re looking for the ability to turn any water source without random chemicals in it to drinking water then you want the MSR Guardian. The Guardian is also a great choice if the temperatures you’re going to encounter will drop below freezing.

The only person who this filter seems good for is the person that is excited about a trip and wants to get something new that will reduce the weight of packing, but hasn’t done their homework first. If they did, they’d purchase something lighter like the Sawyer. It’s entirely possible that when this first came out it fit a great hole in the market since a bunch of other reviews love it, but I don’t see how it’s still a worthwhile product in the water filter landscape we have today.

I’m going to sell mine taking a big loss and stick with my WaterWorks which has worked faithfully for years and isn’t a huge pain to service (not that it has ever needed it past cleaning).

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