Katadyn Vario takes the mud out of Muddy Creek

By: Kent Walton
Katadyn Vario

While gearing up for a late September archery elk hunt that would take place in rugged high terrain of Colorado's Uncompahgre Mountains, I picked up a Katadyn Vario Microfilter on the recommendation of a co-worker. It didn't take long for it to become one of the most appreciated items in camp.

The morning my hunting partners and I set out on the 4.5-mile uphill trek to our campsite started sunny with temperatures in the 70s. As we climbed with 60-lb. packs on our backs, so did the temperatures. So by the time we reached our destination, there was little remaining of the original supply of freshwater we had started the journey with.

We weren't in camp 10 minutes and it was already time to put the Vario to the test. The water that trickled at the bottom of the streambed which ran just 20 ft. outside our tent was stained a deep rust red and nowhere near potable. With several water containers in hand I headed down to the stream and began pumping.

The Vario itself is a simple contraption. A hose and prefilter that separates large sediment are lowered into the water. A few almost effortless strokes of the simple hand pump is all it takes to start the flow of water up through the filter and out the other side. In just a few minutes, I had not only topped off my own depleted bota bottles, I also had filled a few of my partners' containers and a large pan with crystal clear, bacteria-free, ice-cold water that was a welcome treat.

Kent using the Katadyn Vario in the field.

The secret to this high-speed wonder is its dual-piston pump that increases output at a rate of 2 quarts per minute. The cleanable ceramic disks and a 0.3-micron glass-fiber, pleated microfilter removes all contaminants and bacteria; so any pond, stream or lake becomes a safe source of clean, potable water.

Because the cartridge will decontaminate up to 500 gallons before it needs to be replaced, you can count on the Vario for many hunting and hiking trips to come. After six days in the high country, I know I'll be packing mine every time I plan to overnight at a remote location. And because it weighs a scant 15 oz., it's no problem even for a flatlander like myself to pack.