Whenever I travel, I always carry a water bottle -- but even though I like having it, it can be annoying.
It takes up quite a bit of space in my daypack, even before adding a way of purifying the contents. I get especially frustrated when I have to get rid of my liquids at an airport security check, then carry a big bottle around with nothing in it for several hours.
The Vapur range of foldable water bottles provides the convenience without the wasted space. I recently reviewed the Shades model, and the company also sent out a MicroFilter version with an inbuilt filter for me to try out. Here's how it went.
Testing the Vapur MicroFilter
The Vapur MicroFilter consists of a one liter (~34oz) foldable container made from a heavy-duty BPA-free plastic, along with a wide plastic straw filled with hollow fibers to filter out bacteria and protozoa that's rated for 150 gallons (500 liters).
The lid mechanism clicks tightly into place to prevent spillage, but also unscrews to allow fast filling and emptying of the contents. There's also a carabiner for attaching to a backpack.
One important thing to note is that while the MicroFilter will get rid of many of the nasties found in untreated water sources, it won't get rid of viruses. If you want the most comprehensive protection from waterborne illness, bear this in mind.
Unlike the Shades model, the MicroFilter isn't designed to roll up, as the filter mechanism makes that impossible. I found that by squeezing air out of the bag, it was possible to loosely fold in the sides – but you'd need to use a rubber band or similar to keep them in position.
As a result, although the MicroFilter is still much thinner than a normal plastic bottle, it's not as space-efficient as the Shades when empty. You can remove the filter entirely and roll up the bag, but you still need to take the filter with you.
Other than purifying the water, the large filtering mechanism does provide one extra advantage over the Shades, however. Even when full of water, it's much easier to open the lid without spilling the contents everywhere.
I was able to get a firm grip on the filter at the top of the bag, which meant less squeezing of the contents as I popped the lid off. My floorboards definitely appreciated it.
The size, too, was more useful for travel than the 500ml offered by the Shades. A liter of water is enough to get through several hours of exploring in most conditions, which means less need to track down somewhere to refill from in the middle of the day. Of course, having a filter means you need to be less worried about where you're filling up from in any case, but it's still nice not to have to do it so often.
The larger size also means a sturdier base – when placed on the ground, the MicroFilter was less prone to toppling over than the Shades.
Unlike some straw-based water filters, the MicroFilter didn't need huge amounts of suction to draw water through it. With a gentle squeeze, it was even possible to (slowly) pour filtered water out the nozzle, making it useful for washing toothbrushes or irrigating wounds, among other things.
I did notice a distinct taste to the water after it had passed through the filter. It wasn't unpleasant, as such, but I would still have preferred it wasn't there. Whether it disappears over time remains to be seen.
The Vapur MicroFilter is a mixed bag, pun intended. I generally liked the size and design, and within its limitations, the filtering mechanism worked well. Given the taste and lack of protection from viruses, though, it's harder to justify the $50 recommended retail price.
Fortunately, you don't need to pay anything like that amount if you buy from Amazon -- I've seen it under $20 at times, which makes it a much more appealing option.
If you've got slightly more space in your bag, also take a look at the GRAYL Ultralight. It works like a French press, with better convenience and protection than the Vapur Micofilter. It also filters out any unusual taste or particles, which the Steripen doesn't.