This past year, General Ecology, makers of the First Need Water Purifier system, changed their water purifier cartridges. The old cartridge model was called a First Need Deluxe (left) and the new one is called the First Need XL (right, in photo.) As far as I can tell, the Deluxe cartridge has been pulled from distribution. They’re impossible to find and if you do order one, the new XL model arrives instead.
The good news is that the new XL cartridge is completely compatible with the old pump and hose. But the bad news is that you will need to buy a new adapter if you use a platypus water bladder.
It’s hard to say if the XL cartridge is much better than the old Deluxe version. The flow rate has increased slightly from 1.8 liters per minute to 1.9 and the cartridge’s lifetime has increased from 135 gallons to 150 gallons. Otherwise the internals of the two cartridges – the structured glass matrix – remain identical.
If you’ve never used a First Need Water Purifier you don’t know what you are missing. The First Need is the only chemical-free portable water purifier that is certified to meet federal EPA microbiological purification standards against cysts, bacteria, protozoa and viruses. In addition it removes harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, diesel fuel, and chlorine which you will find aplenty if you hike through agricultural and semi-industrial areas.
I swear by mine and I know several Sectionhiker readers share my perspective. Two words sum it up: “instant water.” I’ve tried gravity filter systems, chlorine dioxide tables, and other pump systems and I keep coming back time and again to the First Need.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.