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I just picked up a Katadyne Vario filter and was wondering if anyone else has a lot of expecirnce with them. I am wondering about any problems that have been experienced.
 

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How long have you had it? No problems with the ceramic pre filter? I was told later that they are delicate and can crack easily if the unit is banged around
 

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I've had it around a year now. In July it went to Glacier for 10 days and got packed around and used a whole lot. No problems of any kind. Besides that it goes camping once a month or so, rides around in my rig about half the time or just resides on the back of my patrol pack. No torture tests or anything here.

I do know it pumps faster than my old Sweet Water did by a fair bit. Also nice that it attaches right to various jugs so I don't have to fiddle with an outlet hose all the time.
 

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Took a group to BWCA in 2007. We had 3 Varios and 1 Hiker. All 3 of the Varios went south on us after about 10 gallons. Very disappointed. The water is crystal clear so that wasn't an issue. When we got back we exchanged them for the Hiker Pro and have had no problems since. Maybe it was a bad batch, don't know. Imagine pumping water for 27 people with one Hiker. Since you can only have 9 people in a campsite, I did a lot of paddling from camp to camp just to keep them stocked with reliable water. Also, the Varios were BRAND NEW when we left for our trip. Just my 2 cents
 

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I have a Vario and have used it on both a 3 day 20 mile hiking trip and a 12 mile day hike.

On the 3 day hike, we filtered our water directly from a river heavy with tannic acid. The filtered water looked like iced tea! And the ceramic prefilter clogged after about the first day and a half. So I bypassed the prefilter so that we could finish filtering our water and kept it that way till I got home and could scrub it down and clean and sanitize the filter for storage.

One thing I noticed about the Vario is that if you buy all the replacement parts such as a new filter cartridge, new ceramic prefilter and new carbon replacement, that you are very close to the price of buying a whole new filter.

It's a nice filter, but I don't think I would buy it again.
 

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Took a group to BWCA in 2007. We had 3 Varios and 1 Hiker. All 3 of the Varios went south on us after about 10 gallons. Very disappointed. The water is crystal clear so that wasn't an issue.
The lake water in the BWCA looks clear, but that doesn't mean that there is nothing there to be filtered out. The ceramic filter cartridge (vario) pore size is smaller than the hiker's paper filter and will catch a lot of stuff (invisible, and nearly so, like some algaes) that the hiker will miss. There is nothing wrong with the varios in this respect.

If you want to keep the filter from clogging, especially later in the season when the organic matter concentration is higher, then you'll have to use a pre-filter. Best thing is to make you own from a section of a house water filter cartridge, some scrap acrylic sheet and a threaded barb fitting and put in on the intake tube of the filter. This will work for any water filter and will greatly extend the life of your main cartridge if you use a cartridge with a nominal pore size of 1 micron, like a CB2.

All that said, using a hiker with the paper cartridge or the vario on the high flow setting (i.e. going around the ceramic filter) should be good enough to avoid the beaver fever--which is not a huge problem in most of the lakes anyhow.

Just get your water well away from shore and preferably in a deep part of the lake avoiding areas with significant current. Giardia cysts are heavier than water and will settle to the bottom. If you are getting water from the shore, don't disturb the sediment on the bottom, it will have a relatively higher cyst concentration--if indeed the lake is contaminated. If you can collect the water from a foot or more below the surface, the better off you'll be; the farther down you go, the less algae there is.

I've been on over 25 extended trips to the BWCA and Canada and haven't been sick once including all the times when we used iodine and did not let it sit long enough before we drank the water...
 

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I agree with your assessment on the water looking clear. I have drank from the middle of the lake numerous times and never had a problem. Indeed there is a lot of algae and on the west side of BWCA the water is stained. The east side is very clear. Still, I was surprised by the Vario failures, my original Katadyn w/ the silver impregnated ceramic filter did just fine. Nice to see someone on here with lots of paddle time in the BWCA/Quetico. May the wind be at your back.
 

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I think the stained water is more from the trees (tannin staining) than from algae; it is like a soluble dye vs. a filterable particulate. Good activated charcoal will lessen or remove it, but I don't think it causes much of a taste problem.

It could be that the ceramic section on the vario has a smaller absolute pore size and clogs faster. It probably has a lower surface area. Algae also varies from year to year and season to season. This year was some of the heaviest that I have ever seen--it has been getting warmer sooner and lasting later into the season.

I just got my hands on a Vario that someone did not want, but it will have to wait for next summer before I'm back on the water. I also got some 1 micron bag filters that I am going to cut up and make pre-filters out of. Hopefully, they will not be too tight and the pump can suck through them; my PUR/Katadyn Guide filter does ok with a cartridge section of the same pore size.
 
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