best water filter

Best Survival/Hiking Water Filter

In Gear Reviews by M.D. Creekmore

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Review of the Katadyn Vario Water Filter

by Dean C

A few months back, I had sold a few things of value and used that money to buy a Katadyn Vario water filter (click here to check availability and the current price at  Since water is so important, and the items I sold had no real value to prepping, it was an easy decision.

I had been wanting a portable water filter for some time.  The Vario meets industry standards for reducing bacteria at 99.9999% efficiency, and protozoan cysts at 99.9%.  Now I’m not going to pretend I know much about these little buggies, I just know we don’t want em’.  I wanted to end up with a Katadyn due to company reputation, and that of Swiss-made products in general.  Thus far, I am quite pleased with the purchase.

Review of the Katadyn Vario Water Filter

The Vario is very lightweight and very easy to use.  Disassembly and reassembly for cleaning and filter cartridge replacement are very simple.  The main body of the filter breaks down into six main parts, and there are also the intake and output hoses.  At all critical breakdown points, there are o ring gaskets to help maintain the integrity of the filter.

Katadyn was also kind enough to include an extra set of o rings for replacement purposes, as well as a small tube of lubricant, and a small scouring pad for cleaning.

The Vario is the first microfilter with two different filtering modes, “longer life” and “faster flow”.  In longer life mode, water flows through a ceramic pre-filter disc before passing through the carbon core filter cartridge.  Faster flow mode bypasses the ceramic pre-filter and flows straight to the carbon cartridge, allowing a higher output rate.

It is recommended that faster flow mode only be used when water is already relatively clear.

Review of the Katadyn Vario Water Filter

Switching from one mode to another is as easy as taking the top housing off, turning the ceramic disc to line up with clearly indicated points, and replacing the top housing.  As with most filters, the ceramic pre-filter disc, the filter cartridge, and the carbon within the cartridge are all independently replaceable.  This will allow you to extend the life of the overall filter system.

At the end of the two feet of intake hose, there is a small strainer to keep large debris from getting into the pump assembly.  There is also a small weight to keep the hose in the water, and a small float to keep the strainer off the bottom of the pond/stream etc.. In murky or heavy sediment water, to extend cartridge life, it is recommended to wrap a coffee filter around the intake strainer and weight.

When possible, you could also put murky water in a bucket and wait for the sediment to settle before filtering.  The output hose will feed into whatever, or you can remove the bottom cap and the Vario will fit onto the tops of most standard sized water bottles.

Review of the Katadyn Vario Water Filter

The Vario retails for $89-$99 depending on where you get it.  The cartridges are good for 500 gallons, easily replaceable and retail for about $40.  Also, when water taste starts to decline, the carbon inside the cartridge can be easily replaced, and those pouches of carbon run about $12.

Now we all know that when TSHTF, water is going to be one of the most crucial factors to our survival, and we can only store so much.  Portability and affordability were my two deciding factors.  Yeah, it would be great to have a Big Berky, but in a bug out, it isn’t going to fit in a backpack.  The Vario, being two inches larger than a full can of beer, and weighing slightly less, leaves plenty of room in the backpack.

I’m very happy with the Vario, so cheers to clean water,(and the beer if you’re so inclined.)

M.D. Creekmore

Owner / Editor at
Hello, I’m M.D. Creekmore. I’ve been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find at as well as Barnes and Noble. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
M.D. Creekmore