MSR TrailShot, A Pocket-Sized Water Filter

MSR TrailShot

MSR TrailShot

There are many options to choose from when you are looking for something to provide clean drinking water when in the outdoors. Options vary in price, size, and ease of use. The MSR TrailShot has found a very nice balance between all of the factors and provides a very usable water filter at a very affordable price.

The Details

The MSR TrailShot is a lightweight, very simple to use filter. The TrailShot consists of a squeezable hand pump, a hollow fiber cartridge, a water spout (with cap), and a submersible pre-filter connected by a 16 inch hose. The removable cartridge has a filter pore size of 0.2 microns and has a rated life of 2000 liters. Water can be filtered at a rate of 1 liter per minute.

No Charcoal Here!MSR TrailShot Cartridge

The MSR TrailShot filters out 99.9999% of bacteria (like E. coli and salmonella), 99.9% of protozoa (like giardia and cryptosporidium), and particulate. It does not filter out viruses. If you are looking for something to filter viruses, check out the MSR Guardian. The TrailShot cartridge is made up of hundreds of hollow fibers that look like tiny little straws. No charcoal in this cartridge. With charcoal filters it can be difficult to determine when the cartridge is no longer filtering. With the hollow fiber cartridge used in the MSR TrailShot you will notice as the cartridge gets older (and dirtier) that filtering slows down. When this time comes you can clean your filter by following the easy instructions in the video below. If after cleaning, you still are unable to filter water at a decent rate then you know it is time to purchase a new cartridge. You will never have to wonder again when a cartridge is ready to be replaced.

Ultralight and Bottle-lessMSR TrailShot Fountain

Weighing in at only 5 ounces, the MSR TrailShot is a very nice option for ultralight outdoors adventures. There is no need to pack a bottle or bladder with this system. Simply drop the pre-filter hose into a water source and start squeezing the pump to get clean water spouting out of the nozzle like a water fountain.I personally prefer the water fountain design of the TrailShot over ultralight filter straw designs because trying to suck water up through a filter straw while being out of breath can be difficult. For adventures that have more distance between water sources, pack a bladder. With a bladder you can remove the bite valve off of your drinking hose, place the hose into the TrailShot nozzle, and pump water directly into your bladder. See the video at the bottom of this article for an example.

Suggested Uses

The MSR TrailShot is a very versatile water filter. It is great for any activity that demands lightweight performance like backpacking, hiking, running, and biking. Since the TrailShot is only 5 ounces, I love to throw it into my day pack any time I go into the mountains, just in case I run out of water. I don’t even notice it is there. It provides quick filtered water perfect for 2 or 3 people, so if you’re looking for something to provide filtered water for a large group, this probably isn’t for you. Thanks to its small form factor it works great in most situations. You can throw it in a car, camera bag, or backpack full time as an emergency water filter. This filter has a relatively low price of $49.95, so it works well with most budgets.


The MSR TrailShot is a great option for anyone looking to get a low cost filter that will perform quickly and without effort. I love the compactness and versatility of this filter. It fits well in any pack that I own. If you are the type of person that is always wondering if you are going to have enough water on a particular outdoor adventure, then pick up one of these to keep in your pack all the time. Learn more about the MSR TrailShot by watching the video below or by visiting 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.