A hiker using the PurTrek water filter trekking pole to drink from a mountain stream.

Do We Need a Trekking Pole Water Filter?


If you read Issue 1, you probably read my review of the PakJak. Something I've thought for my entire career (which has involved a LOT of gear reviewing) is that we need to give space to criticism, rather than just praise. That's how we improve on what's in the marketplace now. And I don't just mean adding a "ding" to an otherwise positive review. We need more negative reviews. I'm thinking this newsletter might be a good place for them.

I'm going to start with the Purtrek trekking pole, which I've been testing for the last few weeks. Here's the thing: I really wanted this to be good. I've been a Sawyer user for years, mostly because of the filter's tiny size and weight, but filling those bags is a real pain. I've always liked the idea of pumps, but they're bulky, and still aren't the easiest to use. The Purtrek promised the size of a Sawyer with the ease of a pump, but you could stay way back from the water's edge to use it. What's not to like?

But issues were apparent right off the bat. This trekking pole is heavy—about 21 ounces heavier than my regular trekking poles (also keep in mind, one pole—the one with the filter—is heavier than the other). After a couple days of using them, my biceps we're getting a real workout. I'm not the strongest guy, but the added weight was noticeable lifting the poles, as well as swinging them in front of me as I walked.

On top of that, the design just felt...amateurish. The upper sections of the two poles are different lengths, so if you extend the bottom sections to the same centimeter measurement, you actually end up with two different-length poles. The grip on the non-filter pole also has a little flap where you would connect the hose on the filter pole, as if they just decided to use the same grip to save cost. Does that actually impact anything? No. But it feels lazy.

The filter itself actually worked OK, except that the prefilter at the intake end slid off the aluminum pole before I even took it hiking and when I put it back on, I didn't know it needed to be lined up a specific way (it's not supposed to be removed). So the first few minutes of pumping revealed no water, until I pulled the prefilter off and lined it back up. Again, amateurish.

Before using these, I kind of thought the idea of combining a trekking pole with a water filter felt useful. After using these, I know better. Could someone do it better than Purtrek? Unless they can figure out how to make it weigh as little as a regular trekking pole, I don't think so. This product may have convinced me to give regular pump filters another try, though, so thats cool.

Back to blog

Leave a comment