If variability, adaptability, versatility, and high-performance, could all be rolled into one, it would look just like the Katadyn Vario Microfilter.
This pump-style microfilter works per your need. A fast flow of water when you are on the go with little time to filter. A slow filtration rate when the water is murkier than usual. An outlet each for hydration bladder, wide-mouth bottles, and disposable soda bottles. Together these features and many others make this a top-scorer on versatility.
To know more about the filter, take a look at this Katadyn Vario Microfilter Review and see how it scores at different fronts.
Katadyn Vario Overview
The Swiss-made Katadyn Vario Microfilter is a product from the Switzerland-based Katadyn Group. Established in 1928, the company is a market leader in portable, personal water treatment systems and products for the outdoor and marine industries.
The Katadyn Vario is a pump-style filter with a difference.
Though it is different on many counts, the most striking difference that grabbed our attention was the smooth, effortless pumping.
Staying true to its name – Vario, this pump-based microfilter provides variable settings for flow rate. The variability extends to the outlet as well. It connects to a hydration bladder, or a wide-mouthed bottle, or a disposable soda bottle with the same ease.
The variability in flow rate comes from the multi-step filtration process, which starts with the ceramic pre-filter that keeps out dirt and sediments. The main filtration chamber contains a Pleated Glass Fiber Filter with an Activated Carbon Core.
The 0.2-micron glass filter ensures that all microbes stay out of the water you drink while the activated carbon keeps the water free from nasty smells.
The flow rate is not only adjustable between Fast-Flow and Longer-Life but also sufficiently high in either case to fulfill the water needs of a group. While the fast-flow can pump 2.0 l/min, the latter can guarantee 1.0 l/min of clean water. Even at its slowest, it is as good as any other backpacking pump out there.
With a guarantee to serve you for at least two years, the filter can pump up to 2,000 liters of water depending on the water quality.
A sturdy, made-to-last, versatile, and reliable microfilter, the Katadyn Vario is a powerful companion to have on your trip to the basecamp.
But here are a few points that you want to consider before you purchase this powerhouse of a water filter.
But don’t despair yet. Just because the Vario microfilter packs a few shortcomings doesn’t make it less worthy of a consideration or purchase.
Despite these flaws, it successfully packs a punch far above its weight. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the features, and you will know what Vario is all about.
Katadyn Vario is one of those few pump-style microfilters that has an ergonomic pump design.
What this essentially means is that you spend lesser energy pumping water and have more time for enjoying the outdoors.
This basecamp filter achieves this feat through its innovative dual-stroke lever pump which sends water gushing out in each of the upward and downward strokes. Using the pump is effortlessly smooth, and no other pump filter in the market can match that.
And that brings us to the next feature on our list.
Fast Flow Rate
Since the lever pump can filter water in both of its strokes, it has a fast flow rate. The flow rate is fast enough to serve a large load in either of the modes.
In the fast mode, the Vario pumps water at a rate of up to 2.0 l/min while in the slower one it filters at 1.0 l/minute. It is this fast filtration that makes it ideal for groups traveling to the backcountry.
But, remember the fast mode bypasses the ceramic filter to make the filtration fast. So, if the water source is too cloudy, the slow-mode is what you should turn to.
Katadyn Vario employs a three-step filtration process with a ceramic filter to keep out dirt, a pleated glass filter with a pore size of 0.2 micron to filter out bacteria and protozoa, and an activated carbon core to keep bad smells out.
With the strong filtration process, all you can expect is crisp freshwater from the outlet hose and nothing less.
Ease of Use
The Vario pump is quite simple to use. We know we mentioned that it is a multi-component system, and that’s what makes it a tad bit more difficult than other filters to assemble for the first time. But once set-up, it is one of the easiest to operate.
The inlet hose has a small filter to keep large particles from entering the system and a float that ensures that the hose does not dip to the bottom where the silt load is high.
The outlet hose can be connected in three different ways depending on the receiving container.
A filter that pumps out a liter of water in less than a min, fitted with a pump handle that can be operated by even a five-year-old, and a super-efficient filtration, is a lot instead of the initial assembling trouble if any.
You have to possess this filter to know what sturdiness means. The filter is built to last for many years before you go looking for a new one.
Vario is called so for a reason.
- It has a variable speed of water flow depending on the quality of the water source.
- The water outlet can be connected to different containers. The bottom cap of the filter has a hole. The outlet hose can be attached to this hole. It then runs into the hydration reservoir that sits in your bag.
- Alternatively, if you screw open the bottom cap, it fits nicely on to a wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle.
- And if you have neither of these, and all you can manage is a disposable soda bottle, then worry not. The spring-clip that comes with the filter clips the pipe to the bottle and leaves your hands free to pump water into it.
Now, that’s what impressed us the most. Very few backpacking filters can claim to be as versatile as that or even come close to it.
Bulky for Backpackers
Now, we don’t mean to put a damp towel on your purchase plans, but the filter’s weight is a must-consider factor.
At nearly 425 g, this is one of the heaviest pump-style filters for the outdoors. Despite the advantage that it serves even groups, the weight could be a point of concern for those who prefer to travel light.
But imagine having to carry bottles and bottles of water to a trek to stay safe. The filter is a much lighter option compared to that.
This pump-style filter from Katadyn is somewhat unsophisticated. Before you imagine anything else, let’s tell you that this does not mean that it is not efficient enough. But, it has too many parts to assemble and to dissemble again for cleaning.
Quite a task to handle in the wilderness. Isn’t it?
As much as you hate it, the fact is that the Katadyn Vario comes with multiple components and O-rings. This means that you have plenty of seams to lubricate and plenty of parts to clean and maintain.
Also, remember that you will have to carry the maintenance accessories every time you travel into the wild just so that you don’t end up breaking the gaskets as you twist them open and close.
Pros and Cons
So here are some pros and cons listed by users across the web.
+ Reliable filtration.
+ Easy to pump.
+ Fast filtration.
– Too many O-rings to lubricate.
And now finally the technical specs of the Katadyn Vario Microfilter.
- Weight: 14.99 ounces (approx. 425 g)
- Treatment Type: Pump
- Filter Material: Ceramic pre-filter with pleated Glass Fiber and an Activated Carbon Core in the main filtration chamber
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 4 inches (10 x 19 cm)
- Each purchase includes
- Bottle clip
- Carry bag
- Cleaning pad
- Input and output hose
- Filters: Sediments, bacteria, protozoa, keeps out nasty odors
Our Verdict: Recommended
This pump-style filter from Katadyn’s backcountry series filter line is an all-rounder. Made to last, it is one of the best performing microfilters under variable conditions.
The ergonomic design, coupled with an efficient filtration process makes it a sturdy companion for the outdoors. Despite its weight, which could bother those who prefer to carry gallons of water while traveling, it is a filter that many raves about.
So it’s not just us, but a stream of endless testimonials that prove the true worth of this time-tested microfilmed.