Clean Water Quickly Katadyn Vario Microfilter Product Review

For hiking, backpacking, camping or bugging-out, the Katadyn Vario Microfilter water filtration system allows you to adjust its two different filtering methods for various sources of water. By a simple turn of the ceramic prefilter disc, you can choose either “fast flow” or “longer life.” The longer life option preserves your glass fiber filter so it lasts longer, while the fast flow option will bypass the ceramic filter and filter one liter of water in under 30 seconds. Switching between filtering types is easy and quick.

The Katadyn Vario microfilter uses a two-way pump to filter water quickly and effectively. It uses three different methods of filtering. First, a mesh prefilter gets rid of bigger sediments that are larger than 130 microns. Second, if you chose “longer life,” the water filters through a ceramic disc before entering the fanned, glass fiber with activated carbon core filter. On faster flow mode, the water flows straight through the glass fiber filter. Fast flow is safest when you use clearer water, because it only uses one method of filtration. Filtering dirtier or murky water on fast flow means your glass fiber filter will not last as long.

I found initial assembling the weight, foam float and prefilter strainer to be difficult. In my opinion, the provided diagrams and instructions were not entirely clear. However, I am also notorious for having difficulty assembling things. After playing with the pieces for a few minutes, I managed to assemble the intake prefilter. The foam float is first, then you’ll need to slide the prefilter into the plastic weight. The prefilter’s tip should stick out of the top of the weight. The tip goes into the opening of the tube. It is difficult to put the prefilter’s weight onto the tube, however using the provided lubricant helps it slide on easier.

When you put the tube into your water source, make sure the prefilter does not hit or sit at the bottom of the waterbed. This will clog the prefilter and stop filtration.

The Katadyn Vario microfilter is adaptable to different water storage items. Two different tubes come standard with the unit. A neat feature of the system is the specifically designed bottom, which fits on to a wide-mouthed, Nalgene or Camelbak water bottle. Simply unscrew the bottom of the unit and place your water bottle underneath. The microfilter sits securely on top of the bottle while you pump.

I’ve lived in a third world country and have traveled extensively. Local water really freaks me out — even in the United States. In the past, I have been sick from questionable water, therefore I pick the cleanest, fastest-flowing water to filter. Generally, I use the fast flow setting. It filters water very quickly — two liters per minute. Inside the glass fiber filter is the replaceable activated carbon that helps make the water taste better. Filtered water from the Katadyn Vario tastes no different than tap water. It is important to note that the filter does not purify the water, only filters it. It does not remove any viruses. If the water is extremely questionable, use disinfection tablets for back up.

The entire system breaks apart to thoroughly clean all the filters and hoses. A rough scouring pad is included to clean the ceramic disc. Even after one use, you may notice slight staining on the ceramic disc and glass fiber inner filter. I carry the scouring pad with me in case I need to scrub the disc in the field, when necessary.

My primary concern with the Katadyn Vario is its size. The unit packs into the provided black nylon bag, but due to the size takes up quite a bit of space in my pack. The pump handle also makes it an awkward shape. I’m always careful how it’s packed to avoid the possibility of breaking the handle.

The Katadyn Vario works for one person or four and weighs much less than lugging around an entire water supply. It will filter 500 gallons of water before the glass fiber inner filter requires replacement.

Pros: adjustable, clear water, easy to pump Cons: bulky, difficult initial set up

Specifications and Features

  • 2,000-liter capacity (glass fiber)
  • 400-liter capacity (carbon)
  • 530-gallon capacity (glass fiber)
  • 106-gallon capacity (carbon)
  • Anti-clog technology with 0.3-micron glass fiber
  • Activated carbon granulate
  • Adjustable ceramic pre filter
  • Ergonomic pump handle
  • Eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores and sediments
  • Reduces chemicals
  • Improves taste and odor
  • Longer Life and Faster Flow modes
  • Rubber base for a secure stand
  • Integrated bottle thread to fit most drinking bottles
  • Outlet tube with bottle clip for filling various containers
  • For one to four people
  • Dual piston for continuous water flow
  • Passes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Test standard
  • 7.5″ high, 4″ diameter
  • Weight: 15 ounces

You can also buy replacement parts by clicking here.

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Comments (4)

  1. I have heard a few good things about these systems from hiking forums and such, however, I myself do not feel this would be reliable enough, and use a portable reverse osmosis system, as I know what is in the water from doing research, and radiation is in the rain water from the Japan disaster, and a reverse osmosis system is the only system known to remove this.

  2. I’ve tried several of the Katadyn filters in the past and finally settled for the Katadyn Mini. It uses a single replaceable ceramic filter that with cleaning is good for 2000 gallons supposedly. Its smaller than the vario and still pumps at a reasonable rate. However, since then I’ve purchased several of the bag type gravity feed filters(CAMP-356) which do a great job without all the pumping. They give you the same micron rating, are lightweight, and make it really easy to supply a small group of people with clean drinking water. I also use the separate refillable Katadyn inline carbon filters to improve taste. Together they make a clean good tasting water from most any source. Depends on the water source, but I generally use some type of chem treatment or Steripen type UV treatment if close to a city because none of these filters catch virus.

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