On a recent trip along the Ås till Åsleden I carried both the Aquagear Water Filter and the Aquamira Frontier Pro Filter. Why? Well it seemed like an ideal opportunity to compare these filters when hiking on lowland trails where the water is more likely to be affected by chemicals than bugs.
Some basic facts
The Aquagear is a bottle and filtration system weighing 160 gm (when the filter is wet), the bottle, according to the label holds 18 fl. ozs. but delivers a little less than 500 ml. I use the bottle along with a 500 ml Platypus bottle. Thereby carrying not more than 1 litre (1 kg) of water at any time. The amount of water carried depends on the location and one day on the Ås till Åsleden I crossed very few streams and consequently had very little water left at the end of the day.
The Aquamira Frontier Pro is a filtration system and weighs 68 gm with wet filter, an added 1 litre Platypus would take the weight to about 95 gm, a weight saving on the Aquagear.
The primary differences between the 2 systems apart from their physical weight are;
(i) Aquagear has a filter pore size of 2 microns, whilst the Aquamira has filter pore size of 3 microns.
(ii) The Aquamira has a Pre filter of porous plastic micro filter, the Aquagear has a mesh filter for removing large particles such as leaves.
When I arrived at the campsite on the second night on the Ås till Åsleden I found that the well was almost dry and required a lot of pumping to get water up from the bottom of the well to fill the Platypus bottles, but I also noticed that the water was very red probably from rust so I immediately seized the opportunity to test out both filters. Very quickly the Frontier Pro stopped flowing, the pre filter had “clogged” with the very fine rust sediment however, the Aquagear continued to flow albeit slowly. Both filters did provide crystal clear water the Aquagear required less effort and time to provide sufficient for the evening and the following morning. Admittedly if I had more pre filters for the Frontier Pro then I would have had sufficient clean water but I would probably have “clogged” up these as well. To me though the final test came the next day when I had access to crystal clear water.
With a couple of rinses I was able to remove most of the colour from the water in the Aquagear bottle whilst cleaning the pre filter of the Frontier Pro was less successful, but it did improve the flow rate.
In summary, could I have done things differently, possibly but it is apparent to me that whilst both options may filter out most of the stuff in the water, it is my opinion that the Aquagear provides not only the filtration capacity (within the prescribed limits) but also allows for field cleaning which does not require me carrying extra pre filters when the first one is no longer useable.
From now on I will be carrying the Aquagear and if necessary Aquamira tablets for use when I am concerned about the real nasties which are not removed by either filter.