MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit

MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit

MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit

Multiple uses is often not the case with many of the products on the market today. Everything is very specialized and works very efficiently at doing a very particular task. This is nice when you want to be ultralight and compact, but sometimes I find it better to have a jack-of-all-trades tool in my belt. This is exactly where the MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit fits into the market. It can be easily adapted for use in a variety of scenarios. I love this because I no longer have to buy a filter that is intended for my solo running trips and another filter for bigger group camping trips. One ring, err… filter to rule them all?

UsesMSR TrailShot Cartridge

#1 In the most simplest and lightweight form the MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit can be used as a filter while on a run or any other lightweight activity by using the MSR TrailShot alone. The TrailShot is the filter component of the entire system, consisting of a squeezable hand pump with an attached hose. Dip the end of the hose into a water source, squeeze the hand pump, and enjoy clean natural water. You can read more about this method in my review of the MSR TrailShot.

MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit ©Earl Harper

#2 When on a trip with a larger group it can be a bit of a forearm workout to try to use the MSR TrailShot as a filter for everyone. The included dirty and clean bladders step in to fill this need. For this setup, start by filling up the dirty bladder from a water source. Next plug the extension hose into the dirty bladder, the TrailShot to the extension hose, then the clean bladder to the TrailShot. Now position the dirty and clean bladders so that the dirty bladder is hanging above the clean bladder so that gravity can force the dirty water through the TrailShot into the clean bladder. To get clean water you can now use any of the 3 opening options on the clean bladder depending on how much water flow you want. If you would like to speed up the filtration process at any point in time you can do so simply by pumping the TrailShot while it is connected to the clean bladder. This is a very easy to setup filtration system and works great. Between the 2 bladders you can store about 4 liters of water and at any point in time you can disconnect the dirty bag to refill it while still making use of the clean water in the clean bladder. You can also disconnect the clean bladder to take with you on excursions as a flexible water bottle using the included screw-top nozzle or by connecting a bite valve as I suggest in #4 below.

#3 While hiking in areas with infrequent water sources, one way that this system could be used is by filling the dirty bag from a water source then carrying the dirty bag with the TrailShot connected to it. The dirty bladder has quick connect straps on the end of it that can be used to hang the dirty bladder from just about anywhere on a backpack. However, in my experience the seal is not always perfect so I would not recommend placing the dirty bladder on the inside of a pack. With the dirty bladder suspended from the outside of my backpack I can provide clean water to myself or anyone else in my group by pumping the TrailShot. This is very similar to option #1 above, except that I no longer have to dip the end of the TrailShot into a water source. Pretty slick. However, I prefer option #4.

Bite Valves#4 Another option for the MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit when hiking in areas with infrequent water sources is to use the clean bladder as you would use any other water bladder in a hydration pack. Unfortunately, MSR did not include any kind of bite valve with this system. This is definitely disappointing, but thankfully the quick disconnect receiver is a standard size. I found that the quick disconnect silicon hose included with both my Osprey and Platypus bladders are able to connect to the MSR clean bladder perfectly. With this problem resolved, now the only thing left to do is get clean water into the bladder. This can easily be achieved by pumping water into the bladder using the TrailShot. This is definitely my preferred method of use on hikes. It is nice to be able to just drink water without having to pump anything.


The MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit is made using attention to detail. Just like any other MSR product, I have no doubt that this one will last for a very long time. Both the clean and dirty bladders are made using BPA free materials with rugged RF welded seams. The hoses included with the system are made using silicon which allows for frequent folding without creasing. Perfect for a stow-and-go system.

The Filter

The included TrailShot filter has a removable cartridge filter with a pore size of 0.2 microns. The filter is rated for a 2000L lifespan, depending on the conditions of the water. This filter allows water to be processed at a rate of 1 liter per minute. With a pore size of 0.2 microns this means that 99.9999% of bacteria (like E. coli and salmonella), 99.9% protozoa (like giardia and cryptosporidium), and particulates will be removed from water. In most scenarios, I trust this amount of filtration. With water sources where I want to be extra safe I pump my water into a bladder or bottle then add a filtration tablet.


The MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit is a very versatile system. It is perfect for all occasions ranging from solo trips to group trips thanks to its many options for use. Checkout the video below for additional details. Get yours today from MSR.

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About The Author

Jeff Wenzbauer loves to get into the outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. He enjoys yoga, snowboarding, mountain biking, dirt biking, backpacking and hiking, snowshoeing, and occasional river rafting. When in the outdoors it is vital to have the correct gear, Jeff loves to share his opinion of all his gear so that others can be well prepared.