Viability of filtering water in freezing (MSR Guardian)
Oct 30, 2022 at 8:00 pm #3763260
This filter claims to withstanding freezing. The instructions say you need to thaw it before you use it, but do you think this would be a viable option for filtering water if doing backpacking in the winter? I’m going in areas that have a lot of streams and lakes, I believe I can find some accessible water. It would be nice and handy to be able to just pump it with the guardian instead of using other methods.
Most threads on here mention the risk of the filter freezing and breaking, but if there is minimum risk to the filter freezing (it can just be thawed inside my jacket if it ever does freeze, or I can just thaw it for an hour or two before I need to use it. Temps could range down to -10F or so.
I feel like it could work, or do you think it’s a mistake?Oct 31, 2022 at 1:17 am #3763266Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Hummm . . .
It seems to me that you can NOT pump water through a frozen filter.
Me, I use a Steripen UV wand.
CheersOct 31, 2022 at 5:55 am #3763271
If frozen, it wouldn’t be too hard to thaw by keeping it inside your jacket I think. But maybe it’s not worth the hassle. I was thinking it would be nice to have clean/clear water without any dirt/debris floating in it.Oct 31, 2022 at 1:52 pm #3763281Ben H.BPL Member
@bzhayesLocale: No. Alabama
That would certainly take away the fear of accidently freezing your filter. As noted it would need to be thawed in order to use, so you can use any filter (but other filters would need to be always kept thawed). HYOH, if that is an important feature for you and you don’t mind lugging around the 3 pounds go for it. If the water sources are relatively clear, I’d personally go with a steripen and bandana. This beast seems well set up for muddy dirty water as it keep flushing itself clean. I remember a rainy desert that would have been nice.Oct 31, 2022 at 2:52 pm #3763286
steripen has lithium battery which doesn’t work well or at all, below freezing. But you can put it in your jacket to warm up.
They say not to let a Sawyer Squeeze freeze. But I always shake all the water out after use so there’s only water in the tubes. And I’m sure it’s frozen. Still seems to work the same. It’s too bad they don’t test this. Hmmm… I have some cerium oxide powder that I used to remove a scratch in glass, that has a particle size somewhat greater than the pore size of the Squeeze, I could test that…Oct 31, 2022 at 3:03 pm #3763287
HYOH, if that is an important feature for you and you don’t mind lugging around the 3 pounds go for it.
I think the Guardian purifier is more like 1 pound. But yeah, it’s extra weight for sure. In the winter though could be convenient I was thinking. It seems Steripen is the more popular choice however.Oct 31, 2022 at 5:27 pm #3763294Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@ Jerry I had thought that if water is inside the hollow fiber filters like Sawyer and Platypus, in cold weather, the water can freeze and break the hollow fibers. Water can still pass through the filter afterward but there is no purification/filtration occuring.
@ Giles. It is just you or are you in a group? Are you base camping or changing campsites day to day. I have been out with groups snow camping in the Sierra Nevada and when a lake is accessible, filtering water is much easier than melting snow. Our weather is a bit warmer that the temperatures you indicate. I would just take the method you are most familiar with.
BTW Ryan Jordan wrote an article last winter or the winter before here at BPL and described how he used his MSR filter in winter in temperatures much like you describe. I recall he was using ice screws to get access to the flowing water in streams.Oct 31, 2022 at 5:42 pm #3763295
I think the problem with the Squeeze freezing is when there’s water inside the case, outside the tubes. (and water inside the tubes). Then the case cracks.
The tubes are designed to expand. When you backflush they expand a little which helps dislodge particles from the pores. It seems like if they froze it shouldn’t be a problem.
But Sawyer is not interested in this. It’s easier to just tell people to not let it freeze.
I don’t have really have a problem with this. It’s more reliable to just not let it freeze. Don’t rely on people to shake the water out of the filter. Most people don’t backpack in freezing conditions.
And I’m not recommending that anyone do this.
I tried to keep it from freezing, but a couple times it got quite cold that I didn’t anticipate. Now, I’m just too lazy to replace it. It requires about the same pressure to squeeze. It filters out tannins about the same as always – the output water is somewhat less brown than the input. And when I backflush, there’s a lot of brown that comes out.Oct 31, 2022 at 9:22 pm #3763302John “Jay” MennaBPL Member
I was under the impression that the problem with freezing was a problem with hollow fibre filters such as the Sawer Etc. The fibers of the hollow filter become damaged if the water they are in expands/freezes.
I has a MSR many years ago that looks very similar to the guardian. Im don’t recall the model. It might have been a guardian. or its predecessor.
IIR, the filer is a solid ceramic element, way tougher than hollow fibers.
my .02Nov 1, 2022 at 7:47 am #3763309
My old PUR filter has a membrane. It withstands freezing just fine. I think they still sell them.
I just looked at REI. It’s called Katadyn now. They say it’s 11 ounces.Nov 1, 2022 at 10:47 am #3763319dirtbagBPL Member
Steripen. I use mine all winter with no issues below freezing temperatures. If its -10°F you may have a hard time finding water.. So realistically in those conditions I/You would be melting snow or ice for water.. Then no need for heavy filter anyway.Dec 2, 2022 at 2:57 pm #3766739Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I use Katadyn chlorine dioxide tablets and/or a Steripen for all seasons. No more heavy water filters for me. If the water source has floating or suspended stuff in it I use a #2 coffee filter for my bike bottle.
I use that bottle to fill my Camelbak hydration bladder and to carry electrolyte drink.Dec 3, 2022 at 7:21 am #3766766James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Steripen has nothing to freeze. I use an Adventuror. Even the batteries can be replaced. IFF the tubules in a filter freeze, the ice can expand and split them,..like a frozen pipe in your house. IFF they are plastic and withstand the internal movement from the expansion, they will still work.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.