Gear Closet: MSR Trail Shot Water Filter Review

Whether you’re going on an extended expedition to remote corners of the globe, or simply backpacking along your favorite trail, finding clean and safe drinking water is an important part of the process.

In this day and age, there are a lot of methods available for treating water in the backcountry, ranging from the tried-and-true iodine tablets to UV light to simply boiling all of the water you need.

But, over the past few years, there have been some significant improvement in water filters as well, giving hikers, backpackers, and adventure travelers yet another great option for creating clean drinking water. One of the best that I’ve used so far is MSR’s TrailShot, which nicely blends efficiency and size.

Weighing in at a mere 5 oz. (142 grams), the TrailShot is capable of filtering up to 1 liter of water per minute. Considering its size, thats a pretty impressive accomplishment. All you have to do is drop the end of the tube into the water and squeeze on the TrailShot itself.

The suction action that his create draws the water into the filter, removing harmful protozoa and bacteria in the process. You can actually operate the filter using one hand, and at the end you can clean it just by giving it a couple of shakes. MSR even says that the TrailShot is good for up 2000 liters before its filter cartridge needs to be replaced.

My experience with the TrailShot is that it lives up to the hype. It is incredibly easy to use and it is effective at removing harmful elements from the water. I didn’t find that it could quite produce a liter per minute, although that number probably comes from optimal conditions and with someone really working hard to go as fast as possible.

That said, my test unit produced a steady stream of water that quickly filled bottles and hydration reservoirs. It is even possible to drink directly from the stream for those who need water quickly.

The best thing about this filter is its size. It is incredibly small and lightweight, making it easy to drop into a stash pocket on a backpack and forget its there until you need it. This has made the TrailShot extremely popular with the fast and light crowd, although it is also a great option for trail runners and bikepackers too.

Essentially, anyone who needs clean drinking water on the trail will find this very handy to have along with them, although for larger groups and expeditions I’d recommend jumping up to MSR’s Guardian instead. It is larger, but it is also faster and highly effective, which makes it a better choice for filtering high capacities of water.

But for the rest of us, the TrailShot is simply awesome. And at $49.95, it is priced right too. If you’re looking for a simple, lightweight, and compact solution to meet your hydration needs on the trail, this is a solid choice.

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Kraig Becker