Rating: 8.0 / 10
Value for Money 1.4 / 2.0
Ease of use 1.6 / 2.0
Weight 1.6 / 2.0
Speed 1.7 / 2.0
Durability 1.7 / 2.0
Having had an industrial dose of Giardia in the past I’m very firmly a ‘filter kinda of guy’ and with some of the hikes I’ve done recently, this has been reinforced (think dams that have the consistency of cow saliva). There are just so many filter options on the market these days it’s taken me a while to get around to testing the MSR Trailshot Water Filter.
The MSR Trailshot is a manual pump style filter and is essentially the little sibling to the bigger more industrial versions produced by MSR – the compact size and weight is one of the key features of this product. MSR promotes this filter as ‘Clean water all day—without the weight’. And yes, while this is a water filter it’s not a water purifier like the bigger MSR Guardian but for the size and weight reduction that’s the price you pay, or in this case don’t pay. Although in all honesty filtering for viruses is usually not an issue in western countries.
MSR also promotes this as fitting in stash pocket and while not specified, I assume this means the stash pockets of a pack because it’s just too big to comfortably fit into a pants pocket. The MSR Trailshot is by no mean the lightest option on the market but as a result it has durability and flexibility that other smaller filters lack.
One of the benefits of this filter is the 40 cm siphon hose. Unlike other compact filters such as the LifeStraw and the Sawyer where you can add straw attachments, this siphon hose has additional length that doesn’t require you to be almost face down in the water source.
I must admit to a male stereotype here as didn’t read the instructions before testing this unit out assuming I would be able to work it out reasonably easily. After a false start where I let the fine mesh filter on the end of the hose sit in contact with the fine algae on the river bed, and promptly blocked the unit. Easily fixed and lesson learnt.
Where the instructions become particularly important is with the cleaning and maintenance which requires you to dissemble the pieces and put them back together. While there aren’t that many pieces particularly when compared to the larger more complex pump style units, there are more bits than the majority of filters we have tested in the past.
Durability was for me the only potential downside and I had my concerns. The recommendation is to replace the filter cartridge when the flow rate drops below 1/4 litre per minute as opposed to the normal filtration rate of 1litre per hour. That reduced rate would drive me insane long before then. MSR also recommend to change the filter cartridge at around 2000 litres and when compared to the similar units, this works out to be pretty good. For me where I would use a water filter on trail for around 50-60 days a year even at six litres a day, this filter should last me for around 5-6 years and for most hikers that’s a good lifespan for this type of product.
Will it become my filter of choice? Probably not. You would get the best use on a hike where there are guaranteed regular water sources that you could just stop and sip water as you need or one hikes with a couple of people that negates the need to carry a personal filter each. Having said that you can use this filter to fill up water bladders or bottles from a water source and still maintain a bit of distance from the water so it does have a high degree of versatility.
Trailshot water filter
You can purchase the MSR Trailshot Water Filter online from Wild Earth
Please note that our affiliations do not influence, in any way, the independence of our gear reviews
If you have used the MSR Trailshot Water Filter or if you have questions, we’d like to hear from you. Post your comment or question below
MSR produce a wide range of water filters including:
MSR MiniWorks EX Filter
MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit
MSR Guardian Water Purifier
This review was done with product purchased from a retail store by the reviewer
MSR Trail Shot Water Filter
Filter size in a large male hand
Close up of prefilter head
Prefilter in algae
Drinking directly from the filter
Pumping water. You can use this filter to pump water into a bottle or bladder at a rate of about 1litre per minute. The filter will be a bit slow when first used which is typical of most filter units