Katadyn Vario Microfilter Review
The Katadyn Vario Microfilter is a midsized option from a company long renowned for quality water filtration systems. This filter will give you great flow rates and decent lifespan without breaking the bank. Expect some of the best tasting water that just looks immaculate every time you use this filter. It does not disappoint!
Katadyn Vario Dual Technology Microfilter
- Good for a group of people.
- Robust construction.
- Can filter 2,000 liters before the filter elements need to be replaced.
- Charcoal secondary filter to remove chemicals.
- The handle feels somewhat weak.
- Needs to be disassembled and cleaned periodically.
- At 1.5 lbs, the weight could be a concern for some.
Weighing in at just over a pound and around the size of a Yeti cup, this is quite a bulky filter and may not be the best choice for a lightweight backpack option. The performance does make this filter a quality choice for times when carry weight and size are not key factors.
When setting up a base camp or for use around the home, this is a great filter choice.
Most of the features of the Vario are on par with similarly priced pump style filters. Flow rates are around a half gallon a minute which is plenty fast to keep even a large group in water. This flow rate is for the “Fast Flow” configuration. If you opt for the “Better Filtration” setup, expect flows to be about half that amount which is still pretty fast.
The pore size of the Vario is .2 micron which is good enough to keep out all of the bad bacteria and protozoa that may be in a water source. The Vario’s optional secondary filter will also trim down chemicals in the water and leave it perfectly clear and fresh.
Pump style filters are notoriously easy to use and the pump on the Vario is no exception. It is comfortable and well-placed making what can otherwise be a frustrating task quite easy. Like other pump style filters, the input hose can pull water from just about any source whether a tiny rivulet or deep in a rock fissure.
If you’re not sure how to choose the best water filter for you, read How to Choose the Best Survival Water Filtration System for more info.
For a midsized group, Katadyn Vario Microfilter is a great option for addressing water needs. Just a few minutes can process plenty enough for drinking, cooking and other tasks that may come up. The pore size with a charcoal secondary element gives you some sense of comfort that your water is going to be clean and free of all the usual concerns.
For the most part, the pump feels solid and sturdy. Even the filter elements (which are replaceable) seem robust. This is the type of filer you can throw in your pack and feel confident that it will come out working no matter what you drag it through.
The filter capacity of around 2000 liters or a bit over a thousand days of water is pretty impressive for a filter of this type. You should have no concerns that your water needs will be met for the duration of most trips or emergencies. In order to get proper performance and lifespan, you will have to keep the filter cleaned and maintained. Most filters will break long before they reach the capacity, but I think the Vario could probably stand up to nearly three years of solid use.
Though the Vario water filter I used had no issues whatsoever, I do feel that pumping particularly turbid or sediment-filled water could cause a lot of wear and tear. This filter does have moving parts unlike a gravity, straw, or squeeze type filter. If there is a point of failure on this filter, it would be the handle.
For most situations, a pound and a half is pretty light. For backpacking or a bug out bag, I think the size and weight of this filter is a deterrent. There are plenty of smaller filters that can do the job quite well and weigh a fraction of this amount. Using a pump style filter is also an active task. I prefer a filter I can set up and leave to do its thing while I go about other duties around camp.
Cleaning the filter is not a job for the field. There are a lot of parts and a process to go through to keep your filter top notch. Not being able to field service a tool is a definite setback. For anything short term, you can depend on this filter, but I would not want to take it for weeks or months without having access to a place to do proper maintenance.
Setting the Katadyn Vario Microfilter up with the charcoal secondary element provides a filter unlike any other in its price range of around $70.00. That coupled with a relatively robust design, great flow rates, and a good lifespan provide a solid choice for a water filter system.
I think there is a niche that this filter fills. As long as you are in a position to keep it clean, maintained, and use it with the appropriate caution and care, this filter could secure potable water for long enough to get through most any situation. Water that is not just potable but fresh tasting and crystal clear. The type of water you actually want to drink.
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