MSR Trail Shot – Fast and Light with No Bags

MSR has been making quality outdoor gear since 1969.  They are known for backpacking stoves, backcountry cookware, water filters and more.  This year, the MSR Trail Shot was introduced, and I was lucky enough to get a test sample.  I‘ve carried this filter on a couple trips, disassembled it and put it back together, and given it a thorough run down.  Testing shows the Trail Shot to be a reliable lightweight filter, so let‘s take a look.

The design of the MSR Trail Shot makes it easy to drink right from the filter and that means right from the source of water.  A rubber spout on the output side directs the water into your mouth, but I used the Trail Shot to fill my water bottles.  With around 60 strokes, the filter provides about 1 liter of water per minute so filtering is quick.  A protective cap snaps onto the end of the spout and keeps it clean.

MSR Trail Shot
MSR Trail Shot

Find it on Amazon!

The Trail Shot doesn‘t have moving parts so the filter will be really reliable.  Water is pumped by squeezing and releasing the main body of the filter.  When the bulb is squeezed, water inside gets forced through the hollow fiber filter and a one way valve just behind the spout.  When pressure is released, the filter body draws water through another one way valve at the intake side of the hose.  Just try and get the body of the filter full of water.  Keep the spout facing upwards until water comes out of the top.  Getting the air out really improves the water flow and makes filtering go faster.

The hollow fiber filter will get anything larger than .2 microns.  That gets bacteria and protozoa which are the main threats here in the United States.  A screen pre-filter at the intake takes care of the larger chunks of crud in dirty water.  The Trail Shot is not designed to take care of chemicals or viruses.  If chemicals and toxins are a concern, an inline charcoal filter is not hard to install in the intake tube.

Mark, testing the MSR Trail Shot
Mark, testing the MSR Trail Shot

MSR says the filter cartridge will last for 2000 liters which is a really long time for me.  Clean the filter in the field by simply shaking the Trail Shot.  I never saw a reduced rate of flow using the Trail Shot, but pretty clear water is always available around here.

On my scales, the MSR Trail Shot weighs a little over 5 ounces but the filter cartridge was a bit wet when I weighed it.  MSR says the Trail Shot weighs 5 ounces.  The filter measures about 6 inches by 2.4 inches so it is easy to find a spot in your pack. USA is listed as the country of origin on the MSR website.

The MSR Trail Shot sells for $49.95.  The price is good, and the filter works great for me.  I have used other small hollow fiber filters and I prefer squeezing the MSR Trail Shot over filling plastic bags and squeezing.  Everyone has their preferences but I‘ll pick the Trail Shot.

Click HERE to browse over to the MSR website and check out all of their backpacking gear.


Thanks to MSR for sending out the Trail Shot for testing and review.  This filter is going to see lots of trail time with me and hopefully everyone finds this review helpful.  We have to budget our cash around here just like everyone else and it is a real privilege to be able to pass along information on our testing.

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