MSR Guardian Water Purifier Pump

9.8 score
[Editors rating (9.8)] = ( score (9.8)/10

desc top

desc bottom
Editor rating: 9.8 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
1 star
2 star
3 star
4 star
5 star
Add your Rating
Editor’s Conclusion
The MSR Guardian water purifier pump has to be one of the best water filtration models because of its impressive design for purpose.

This pump can be used in any environment on the planet, from freezing waters right up through to sweltering dry torrid deserts. If a source of water exists, this is the system designed to get at that water and purify it.

One of the lacking features among hand pumps is the inability to filter out harmful bacteria and viruses. This pump can do this, and that makes it an obvious top choice.

For filtration speed, it also outperforms the majority of other options with an average of only 37 seconds to produce a liter of clean water. This is incredibly quick and keep in mind that this model is cleaning water in a broader, more efficient concept than standard water filtration systems.

The list of positives is impressive but are there any drawbacks? Take a close look at the capabilities and see why the MSR Guardian water purifier pump has earned a top position for being one of the best water filtration systems.
MSR Guardian Water Purifier Pump Review Facts
Editor's Pros & Cons

Will filter out harmful viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and particulate from contaminated water


Exceptional ease of use

Very quick filtration

0.02-micron setting

Hollow fiber filter system (medical grade)

Self-cleaning filter system

Produces high-quality water

Usable in any environment

Highly durable


Weighs more than basic water systems

Key Features


Removes viruses
Removes bacteria
Removes protozoa and particulate
2.5 liters per minute
Pump self-cleans
Filter is medical-grade fibers
10,000 liters per filter cartridge
Works in any environment


There aren't any working parts to screw or clip together. This is a one-piece unit. Take the pump out of its carry-pouch, place the intake end of the hose into water and pump.

The time you take to read how easy set-up is, reflects the amount of time you would take to get this pump into action.

Ease of Use

The MSR Guardian water purifier pump works really well at getting at difficult water sources. However, as with all hand pumps, you do at times need to be creative. The hose has a good length for getting at water tucked away in what would usually be near inaccessible sources.

Ease of use matches the impressive time taken to set up the pump. In freezing conditions and hot hostile environments, this durable pump will perform perfectly, ease for use will remain consistent.

For those familiar with hand pumps, this system has a good fluid pump action. The handle is large to allow a good grip, and the cartridge design allows for a second-place to grip and hold the system steady for leverage. The intake hose has a float system which does mean you need to keep an eye on the intake to ensure it is well-positioned in order to maximize fluid intake.

The flow rate of water taken up by the pump is large - one pump action per cycle of water volume, this makes pumping water very easy and controlled. The pump action on this model is just one of the features that puts it ahead of other filtration systems for rhythmic easy pumping. It is very user-friendly.

Clean Water Storage

The MSR Guardian pump has an adapter that will fit most known broad-mouth water storage containers. For example, attaching a Nalgene bottle to the base of the filter takes just a few seconds and the seal is secure.

For storing large volumes of water, the MSR Guardian system can pump directly into any type of water container.

Water Treatment

When comparing it to other water filtration models, the MSR Guardian is easily up there as one of the quickest, with a performance that will produce a liter of water in an average of 37-seconds. The filtration speed is super fast and far quicker than the majority of other available systems.

Durability and Design

Each pump action triggers the filter's self-cleaning. You won't be constantly back-washing the pump to keep it performing.

The self-cleaning filter and system design mean you are inadvertently cleaning the filter each time you pump up water. User feedback is impressive in noting the filter continues to perform well even in turbid dirty water and it does not become clogged.

The one-piece design is solid and durable and testing confirms this pump will survive being dropped. It can take strong knocks without cracking. Freezing or very hot temperatures will not cause any durability issues for this solidly constructed pump.

Gravity filters are impressive and they can process huge volumes of water. None of them can currently equal the 10,000 (possibly more) liters which can be purified very quickly by the MSR Guardian pump.

The extended high-performing lifespan of the filter reflects the purpose of design. A military-grade system that can perform to very high user-friendly efficiency in any environment for a very extended filter life-cycle.

Portability and Weight

In return for super performance and very clean water, the trade-off is bulk and weight. Designers are not yet able to create a portable filtration system that is very light and presenting a very small profile. Technically, it cannot yet be done.

Look closely at other filtration systems and note the disclaimers stating that viruses and bacteria cannot be filtered out. This does not distract from the fact those other water filtration systems are very good within the design for purpose context. We are all very cautious of harmful elements in water and we accept, if in doubt, to filter water and then boil it. If boiling the water is not an option, drop in a water purification tablet. These cautions and concerns are swept aside by the MSR Guardian.

A little more weight and a higher bulk profile are an absolutely reasonable trade-off in exchange for higher levels of purification and a higher lifespan of user-friendly, durable performance.

With a size profile slightly larger than a standard Nalgene bottle, a weight of 2.19 Pounds, and a one-piece easy-to-use system, this pump still packs away easily in a hiking backpack.

Functional Features

With a pore size filter set at 0.02 microns, the pump filters out those viruses, protozoa and bacteria which we absolutely must avoid drinking, The MSR Guardian is good for use in any location on the planet and this flexibility increases the risk of harmful elements in water sourced in wild settings.

A user can feel comfortable in knowing that a hollow fiber filtration system set at 0.02 microns is the best available gatekeeper for filtering out harmful bodies from water when out in the wilds.

No Activated Carbon

A downside, which is a constant with filters, is that the MSR Guardian pump has not included activated carbon and the lack of this means heavy metals and chemicals might get through along with water odor. A reassuring point to consider is when in a remote wild location, the probability of harmful metals and chemicals in water has very low probability.

Comparison to Similar Water Filters

For a quick comparison let's take a look at a few other high-quality, good-performing water filtration systems.

The Katadyn BeFree outperforms the Guardian for treatment time by 15%. It is also lighter for weight and packability by 15%. It is a small efficient filtration system designed for lightweight carrying and lightweight use. However, it cannot outperform the MSR Guardian pump for removing bacteria and viruses, treatment time, minimal maintenance, durability and water quality.

Another comparable and good filtration system is the Sawyer Squeeze. The ease of water treatment time is slightly better and it is very light. This model can filter a liter in 40 seconds but it does not filter to a quality level equal to the MSR Guardian pump. Also, it cannot filter out viruses or bacteria.


For those that are willing to shoulder a little more weight in return for performance, MSR has a system that will meet your needs.

For overall performance, impressive features, ease of use and durability, the MSR Guardian water filtration pump outperforms other current models. In exchange for more weight, you get a product that filters out harmful bacteria and viruses and this has to be a big plus.

This model is an obvious choice for expedition groups and any adventurers choosing challenging environments. It is not only an investment in durable high performance, it is also a personal health, safeguarding choice.

The price is higher though the life span gives you a good investment return in the long term.