The core of the Katadyn Hiker pro is a removable, 0.2 micron, pleated glass-fibre filter, supplemented by a wrap around pre-filter and a further pre-filter at the collecting end of the hose. Water is pumped through the pre-filter, up the hose and through the main pre-filter and core filter. The filtered water is then pumped through the outlet hose and into a container, having eliminated bacteria, protozoa and cysts. It's important to remember that the Hiker Pro is a filter, however, and not a purifier; It will not eliminate viruses.
Katadyn Hiker Pro fully assembled
On first opening the box you're confronted with what at first appears to be a confusing collection of tubes and attachments with inlet and outlet hoses, quick connect clips, two separate bags, silicone in a tube and even a sponge alongside the main unit. The first task in assembling the filter is to connect the pre-filter and float to the inlet hose, followed by the outlet hose and an appropriate bottle or hydration pouch connection, and although the tube of silicone is included to lubricate the pump assembly as part of the long term maintenance there's enough to apply a little drop to the connections to ease fitting to the hoses.
Float and filter fitted to the inlet hose. Note the float can be moved up and down the hose according to the depth of water.
As with any water filter it's vital that inlet and outlet hoses are kept apart at all times to avoid contaminating the clean water and the Hiker Pro comes with a thick plastic, zipped and labelled, bag for storing the outlet hose and connections.
In use one end of the outlet hose connects to the outlet in the centre of the top of the main assembly, protected by a red cover on shipping and when not in use, with the other end going to the chosen container for storing the clean water. Using the quick connect adaptors the hose can connect directly to Camelback hydration bladders or with the bottle adapter it connects to a range of drinking bottles.
The water bottle adapter fits like a bung on many popular drinks bottles.
In Use Testing:
At 300g and measuring 7.6x16.5x6.1cm the Katadyn Hiker Pro is a substantial unit but in compansation it's durable, easy to maintain in the field and very efficient. Where it really comes into its own is when you start filtering a litre or more of water, with a very smooth and efficient pump action that makes filtering a litre a minute almost effortless. The solid plastic housing will take the inevitable bumps while protecting the activated charcoal core filter and once into a routine the whole unit can be quickly assembled and disassembled for storage in the Hiker Pro's bag.
In use the float on the outlet hose should be moved up or down the hose, as neccessary, to position the inlet mid stream - rather than allowing it to sink to the bottom where silt will clog the pre-filter quicker.
Inlet hose with the float holding the filter off the bottom of the stream
If you're using the Hiker Pro for the first time you'll need to flush the system to remove all traces of carbon dust left behind from manufacturing by pumping a litre of water through the system and discarding it. This first litre can be very visually disconcerting, producing a frothy scum, but once flushed the water produced is both clean and fresh tasting. The 130 micron filter at the collection end of the hose stops large particles entering the system with the wrap around pre-filter further reducing the strain on the main, carbon activated, filter. The result is impressive, both in terms of clarity and taste.
On average it takes around 48 strokes of the pump per litre of water, meaning it can takes longer to set-up and dismantle the system than to fill your water bottle but for multiday use and for filtering both drinking and cooking water for a camp its simplicity and reliability more than compensate for the setup time. To be fair the quick connect adapters, once fitted, also make attaching the hoses fast and simple. Should the filter get clogged it's a simple job to unscrew the main filter and unwrap the pre-filter, which can then be washed in running water and replaced; all in the field and taking less than 2 minutes.
The pre-filter wraps around the main filter and is held in place by a mesh
The prime purpose of a water filter is to provide safe, drinkable, water from an uncertain source and in this the Katadyn Hiker Pro does the essentials as well as any microfilter of its type. While there are smaller diameter filters, some down to 0.1 micron, 0.2 micron filters are the norm on pump action filters and will eliminate the majority of common pathogens. Once in the field a filter should be easy to use, robust enough to handle the inivetiable bangs and knocks over a prolonged period and simple to maintain. In terms of ease of use the most difficult part is the initial, out of the box, assembly - the quick connect system makes assembly quick and simple and the pump slides effortlessly.
You never know when there may be a dead sheep upstream!
With a list price of £80 and a street price 0f around £65 the Hiker Pro is averagely priced for a medium to high volume pump action filter. The 1150 litre capacity for the core filter could be better, but with two pre-filters the quoted capacity should actually reflect the real-life capacity rather than being a "perfect conditions" figure from the laboratory. Gravity fed systems take less physical effort for medium to large quantities, but require a suitable vertical drop and hanging point to use, and in-line filters are smaller and lighter but for a multiday trek or for collecting decent quantities of water for a camp it's hard to see how the Hiker Pro could be improved.