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Review: MSR TrailShot Water Filter

This pocket-sized water filter packs a punch, and is a great lightweight filter to bring on a range of activities.

I don't do much backpacking these days, having shifted my activities more towards trail running and 15-30 mile days. I don't need to bring much beyond a couple snacks and water -- but hydration is a key issue when trail running. I've been testing the MSR Trailshot Filter for the past month, and I'm a big fan.

The Pros

The filter weighs in at only 5.2 oz, and takes up hardly any room in my running vest (a Salomon Adv Skin 12). It deploys quickly, and the single-hand operation makes it a breeze to use. I usually carry two 500ml soft flasks, and it takes just a few minutes to fill them both. In a pinch, or if you're *really* thirsty you can drink straight from the bottle.

I think it's a more useful design that comparable lightweight filters offered by Sawyer -- the short hose and squirt design is more flexible to differing water conditions and bottle styles.

The Cons

If speed or volume is a priority for you, the Trailshot probably isn't what you're looking for. It's great for running, solo overnights, day hikes or filling a few L of water at a time, but if I was backpacking with a group or long-term, I'd might go with something more efficient. It's perfect for my trail running needs, where I'm confident about water sources and am typically never filling more than 1L at a time.

Some owners have reported frustration with the one-handed pump, as well as some clogging issues. I'll have to grant that the squeezing can get tiring after a while -- but I think this also ties back to the situations I would use this filter (only when I know I don't need to filter that much at once). Clogging hasn't surfaced so far in my use.

The verdict

I think the MSR Trailshot Water Filter is a great, lightweight filter that excels in specific usage conditions. It's great for day-hikes, running, or outings where you don't need to fill a huge volume of water. The 'hardly there' size and weight make it easy to bring along anywhere.

The MSR Trailshot Water Filter is 49.95 at REI.

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Kyle FrostAdmin

Wearer of many hats at The Outbound Collective. I'm @kylefrost pretty much everywhere.