First Need Water Purifier – General Ecology

First Need Water Purifier
First Need Water Purifier

The First Need Water Purifier is one of the few filters on the market today that filters out all viruses, crypto, and protozoa without the need for additional purification tablets like Chlorine Dioxide. The only downside to this filter is that it weighs 15 oz, which is heavy for you ultralight backpackers. Besides that, this filter is just exceptional. The filter itself is a glass matrix and will last for 200 gallons or more. I own this filter and often take it on trips: it produces water which tastes fantastic. I love it.

Check the specs on your existing filter to see whether it removes viruses. If not, you may need to rethink your filtering strategy and add a purification step using Chlorine. While drinkable, chlorinated water tastes chlorinated and kind of ruins that backcountry experience.

Comparable Pump Water Filters

Make / ModelWeightPore SizeFilter MediaFilter LifePriceReplacement Filter
MSR MiniWorks EX17 oz0.2 micronCeramic2000L$85$40
MSR Guardian17.3 oz0.02 micronsHollow fiber10000L$350$180
MSR HyperFlow7.8 oz0.2 micronHollow fiber1000L$100$40
Katadyn Hiker11 oz0.2 micronGlass Fiber750L$75$50
Katadyn Hiker Pro11 oz0.2 micronGlass Fiber750L$85$50
Katadyn Vario16 oz0.2 micronCeramic, Glass Fiber2000L$95$45
Katadyn Pocket19 oz0.2 micronCeramic50000L$370NA
General Ecology First Need16 oz0.4 micronGlass fiber680L$109$50

The First Need has a very long hose as you can see in the picture above. This makes it easy to pump from streams that have rocky banks. The tip contains a fine mesh screen, called a pre-filter, that screens out suspended solids. A first need pouch can be used to carry the filter or as a water bag for gravity-based filtering. Normally, I leave this bag at home and just carry the filter in one of the mesh pockets on the outside of my pack where it can drip dry.

Water is pushed through the filter by pumping the handle. It is possible to backwash the filter in order to clear the glass matrix if it becomes clogged. There are a variety of extra attachments that you can add to the outflow point of the filter that let you marry it to CamelBak and Platypus hydration reservoirs, or Nalgene bottles. I use the Platypus attachment myself. There also is a self-sealing cap that covers the outflow point of the filter making it virtually impossible to cross-contaminate your input tube and output flow. I haven’t seen anything this clever on any other filter.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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2 comments

  1. I’ve owned two of these “Purifiers” now since I bought my first one some where around 1975, that is 38 years ago, wow how time flies. I broke the handle on the first one somewhere around the 15th year and had gone through about a dozen filters all without a problem. I make a scratch mark on the Filter to keep track and found that 120 quarts or liters was a good number to replace it at even though it is supposed to be good up to 180 gallons. I like the new style handle on the current model better than the old style. I have never had any digestive, stomach, or intestinal problems since I started using the Filter. For awhile when I did the “light weight thing” I did not carry it and used various other Purificiation Methods until I had a frightening reaction to Iodine tablets which put me in the Hospital over night. A big thank you to the Border Patrol of So. Cal for helping me out on that one. I had just arrived at Kitchen Creek just off the PCT and up from Morena when dipped the Nalgene into the creek and then added the tablets waited 45 minutes and took a big drink about 30 minutes later I broke out into a cold sweat, chills, racing heart (150 bpm) and a bit of A fright. Just so happened a BP vehicle came down Kitchen Creek Road and I flagged him down. On the drive to the Hospital he told me they picked up a Lady a few weeks prior with the same sympthoms and apparently from Iodine. Since then I only use the Deluxe or Chlorine Dioxide. I have used other “Filters” but as far as I know this unit is the only one that “Purifies” the Water and is so rated by the EPA as such. One item that needs to be added to the review, and that is this “Purifier” also removes a large number of Chemicals found in farm run off that has become a problem here and there across the Country where HIkers are getting “Bovine Fever” instead of “Beaver Fever” whereas the “Filters” do not..General Ecology has one of the best Internet pages for information on the Unit that I have see anywhere…

  2. I've been carrying and using this product on backpacking outings since 2002. This year I replaced it for the new XL model (sold through REI) which is slightly easier to pump, has a longer life cartridge, and has an integrated rubber cap to snap over the output opening. Weight is an issue but you can purify and drink immediately. My wife has food allergies and was recovering from an immune-sytem related illness so we chose the First Need. We have purified from some very questionable sources such as a slimy beaver pond and have never had a problem. We also use it during car trips to purify out of motel sinks for drinking water. For us this has been a very durable and excellent product.

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