MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit Review

The MSR Trailshot was a lifesaver at our high altitude adventure up Mt. Antero in Colorado.

Let’s See What This MSR Gravity + Water Filter Kit Can Do

Removes 99.9999% of Bacteria like E. Coli and Salmonella, and 99.9% of Protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The Protozoa seems to be lacking a few 9’s versus the Bacteria, but those are convincing numbers when it comes to filtering out the bad stuff. I think this is the most important element of this MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit. Hence, I hit it right from the get-go!

Do a simple search for backcountry water filtration systems, and you will find that there are plenty of options. From tablets, drops, gravity systems, UV light, to numerous filtration systems. The price range can be anywhere from the teens to several hundred dollars. What you ultimately decide upon, will be based on your personal needs and what particular adventure you’ll be heading out on.

Breaking Her Down

I’d recommend doing a practice round to make sure all the parts and pieces are accounted for. Plus, it will help you get familiar with the basic drill of getting the MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit functioning properly.

MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit Specifications

I always add the technical product specifications, and in this case, you should definitely sweat all the little details. These are very important in the scheme of things.

  • Weight:    1 lbs 6 oz / .62 kg
  • Width:     8.5 in / 12.7 cm
  • Effective against Bacteria,Particulate, and Protozoa:      Yes, yes, and yes.
  • Filter Media:     Hollow Fiber
  • Filter Pore Size (microns):      0.2
  • Flow (L/min):       1 liter per min
  • Flow (strokes per liter):     60
  • Cartridge Life:     1500 Liters
  • Field cleanable & maintainable:       Yes
  • Cartridge replacement indicator:      Yes

MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit Rocky Mountain Edition

My exploration of Colorado includes many epic hikes including a lot of our incredible 14,000′ peaks. I am now also wheeling my way through these same mountains on my adventure bike. In doing so, there are two truly great things that come from this. I could probably come up with about a dozen more, but I’ll focus on my top two. The first reason is that climbing and descending over these amazing landscapes delivers a fantastic workout! Secondly, it takes me to some very remote places that are unbelievably beautiful. I have numerous water carrying devices, and have also been in the perilous predicament of not having enough water with many miles to go. I am beyond excited to take the MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit along to not have to carry all my water, and possibly extend my excursions.

This is where all the magic happens. The mesh filter part on the left takes out the larger particulates while the small fiber like threads clean out the tiniest of bacteria to keep you safe.

Taking the MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit Out On The Bike

First, I played around with the system at home in Denver. With limited personal scientific knowledge, I couldn’t tell you much of anything about the quality of our water. My wife is in the medical profession and is pretty skeptical of even taking water straight from the tap without it having it at least come through a filter. You can only imagine if it came directly from Mother Nature. I’m not too worried, and am willing to sacrifice and take the risk.

The Trail Shot is small enough to stick in a jacket pocket or cycling jersey. Simply squeeze the pump and you can either drink it or empty into a bottle of pack.

Obviously, with the advertised numbers by MSR of eliminating 99.9999% of Bacteria, and 99.9% of Protozoa, it is highly unlikely that I would be affected in any way. I am familiar with E. Coli, Salmonella, and Giardia, but had to familiarize myself a bit more with Cryptosporidium. It is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Crypto.”  I don’t have a problem with those kinds of percentage odds out on the trails.

My first outing was an adventure/mountain ride in the Buffalo Creek area about an hour West of Denver. It’s a super fun and beautiful area with a lot of rolling terrain. The unique part is that a forest fire devastated this area some 15 years ago, and the landscape is quite dramatic. The term moonscape has been used, but what’s really cool is that nature is starting to restore itself. I get off track, but what that means, is that it is super dry and can be really hot with all the exposure. There are a few creeks that meander through, but we’ve had a bad winter. Meaning, our snowpack is way below average, and the reservoirs and rivers are not flowing like they should be. In this instance, I put two bottles on my bike, and brought my trailshot to make up the difference, if needed.

The ride distance was a bit up in the air, but we ended up being out for 3 plus hours. That means my two bottles were not enough. So, I used the MSR Trailshot to refill at a creek. Bears, deer, mountain lions, Elk, and numerous other little critters make their home up here, and they rely on these waters. I know it crossed my mind that I am grabbing fluids with potential harmful elements in them. I, however, like to think of it all as pure snow runoff. “How bad it can it be, right?” I was hot and thirsty, and needed the water. No problems at all. Just squeeze and refill the bottles.  One refill was enough for this trip, and I felt confident going back for more if needed.

****UPDATE*****

I had to add this bit in, because we took an epic adventure ride up one of Colorado’s 14ers. Fourteeners are not easy, period! By bike, there’s a whole other level of difficulty.  Needless to say, the Trailshot was a fan favorite for some thirsty boys as we reached treeline. Several of us were low on water, and we traversed the last stream with several hours left on our journey. The MSR Trailshot worked quickly to fill up several bottles, and even provided instant gratification by dipping the filter straight into the stream and quenching my thirst.

So refreshing and good. This is the last bit of Snow melt runoff, so it was nice and cold.

 

MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit while Camping and Hiking

My second trip was up to Buena Vista for some dispersed camping and hiking one of Colorado’s famous 14-ers. There are 54 of these majestic peaks, and Mt. Princeton would be #31 for me at 14,197 feet. I knew going in that this is where my MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit would become a mainstay for my adventures. These hikes are long, and can be quite dangerous. I do these climbs for many reasons, but one is that I get a tremendous workout. Climbing 4-6,000 feet over the course 8-12 miles (merely some averages) will certainly push my body to the limit. Since, I am somewhat competitive, I like to push it and my raised heart rate was a big indicator of that. It’s merely an inside competitive streak or game, but what it does do is limit my time on the mountain.

We camped at a dispersed camp site not too far from the trail head, and got comfortable in front of the fire. The Trail Base system was hung from a tree, and we grabbed some aqua from a creek. It had rained that day, so she was flowing pretty well, and we dipped our 5 gallon canteen in to use to fill the “Dirty Water” bag. In no time at all, it had cleared the filter and we had drinkable water.

Weather can be finicky up there, so hanging out with thunder clouds rolling in is not a bright idea. One thing that many people forget is that getting dehydrated above tree line can happen much quicker, and killer headaches have taken its toll on me in the past. Keep drinking! I did carry a 70L camelbak pack this time, and was not shy with my water intake. I ran out of water coming back down with at least 3-4 miles to go. You may think going downhill is the easy part, but that is not the case. I had to boulder over terrain that could do some serious damage if not careful. Hence, it took me a while, and I definitely needed the refill. The process didn’t take but a few minutes, but the rest break was welcomed.

Cloud inversion made for some spectacular views. The trailshot fit in my pack, and came in super handy when I ran out of water.

Final Thirst Quenching Thoughts on the MSR Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit

I am starting to explore more of our wonderful state to get away from the main tourist sites. Working hard for it puts the experiences and moments in a whole new light. There are no modern conveniences, and having nature actually supply the fuel to reach my goals is one more added element that adds to the experience. The MST Gravity + Trail Water Filter Kit is a must-have piece of gear for any outdoor adventure. It is lightweight, simple to use, and provides a benefit that is critical in survival or simply making it through a day out on the trails. Be it hiking, biking, camping, climbing, fishing, etc., the freedom to roam and explore will only be enhanced with the peace of mind that going thirsty is not an issue. “Keep Calm, And Adventure On.”

MSRP for this filter kit is $139.95. Now, I know that is a price that will at least have you thinking twice about the purchase. In the end, the price of fresh water out in nature is priceless. Hence, I think the value is there, and with each and every use, the value will be realized.

For more information and purchase please visit www.msrgear.com

 

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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