This is a review of the MSR Guardian Purifier Pump which I have been using it for over five years.
Page updated January 2022. The MSR Guardian Gravity Purifier is now available.
I’ve used a number of different water filters over the years but since purchasing this one, it’s been with me on every long distance hike and most overnight trips: the TGO Challenge, Cape Wrath Trail, LEJOG and Dover to Cape Wrath to name a few.
The MSR Guardian Purifier Pump is a water purifier rather than a water filter. The difference is that water purifiers can remove viruses from the water as well as bacteria, protozoa and dirt. Most water filters aren’t fine enough to trap viruses. You can purify water chemically using tablets, but this takes a lot longer and they can make the water taste funny. I also don’t like adding unnecessary chemicals to my body.
The MSR Guardian was originally designed for military use, so it is really well made, easy to use, maintenance free and even cleans itself. This is extremely reassuring on long walks.
This is probably the safest water purifier for travelling anywhere in the world. It removes all the stress of getting ill from the water. You might think that this level of purifying is only really needed when trekking in developing countries, but it is just as important when hiking in really popular (and highly populated) areas of the UK.
The MSR Guardian is probably overkill for high remote hikes in the mountains of Scotland, but I’m often walking in lowlands where there’s a lot of cattle and sheep. This means more chance of bacteria in the water and this is the best purifier I know of for removing them from the water.
The MSR Guardian Purifier Pump meets the NSF Protocol P248, which is the testing standard used by the US military.
Yes, the pump is heavy. Lightweight hikers may flinch, as it weighs 490g, which is considerably more than other systems.
However, because I’m able to get water from a wide variety of sources, even dirty water, I don’t need to carry as much water with me. It’s so quick and easy to filter water as I need it. Carrying less water saves weight, which mitigates the pump’s weight.
The MSR Guardian Purifier Pump is expensive – clicking on the link will take you to the latest price on Amazon.
However, the cartridge allows you to filter up to 10,000 litres of water. This means that in the long run it is quite cost-effective. Most other popular water filters allow up to 1,500 litres per cartridge.
You have to balance the cost of the MSR Guardian against the reassurance of always getting safe, clean water no matter what. I’ve found that it helps enormously when choosing wild camping spots, especially in lowland areas.
There is now the MSR Guardian Gravity Purifier which is cheaper to buy and works by gravity.
Ease of use
The threads in the bottom of the MSR Guardian fit a Nalgene bottle as shown in the picture above.
These flexible bottles don’t screw on to the pump so they’re a little harder to fill. I have to hold the bottle in place to fill it, but it’s not too difficult because the outlet for the clean water is small as shown in the picture below.
The purifier pipe wraps nicely around the pump keeping everything tidy. It protects the pipe from kinking. It all fits in its own tough bag, protecting it from damage. This is very important when you’ve paid so much money for it!
Servicing and repair
The MSR Guardian Purifier Pump is designed to be serviced and repaired in the field. It is very well made with good quality materials and designed to last, even with hard use.
MSR recommends servicing the pump annually but this depends on how much you use it. They make a service kit that includes all the bits needed. I went 4 years before I serviced mine and it all came to pieces easily and the seals were still in good condition.
The flow rate had slowed so I needed to replace the filter, so I serviced it as well. The Annual Service Kit came with good instructions and it was an easy job to do.
The pre filter and pipe can also be replaced if they get damaged, but mine were still in good condition.
I think the MSR Guardian Purifier Pump is worth every penny. It’s so quick and easy to use, the filter cleans itself and its longevity helps justifies the weight and cost. I often hike with my family so I need to filter a lot of water and need to know it’s safe. The fact it only takes me a few minutes to filter enough for all of us is worth a lot to me.
Check the price of the MSR Guardian Purifier Pump on Amazon and if you buy one, we would receive a small commission that will go towards the cost of running this site.
The MSR Guardian Gravity Purifier is lighter weight and cheaper than the MSR Guardian Pump.
Check out the price of the Amazon.
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