Editors' Choice

MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit Review

When it comes to water filtration systems there are a myriad of different ways to get your water clean. By clean, I mean the actual filtering of dirt and debris as well as filtering water on a microbial level. I’m here to announce I have found the most effective gravity and portable trail water filter I have ever used. We know MSR makes top notch products, but we wanted to put their Trail Base Water Filter Kit to the test.

MSR 2L Trail Base Water Filter kit in river

A little of the technical stuff:

  • Filters 99.9999% Bacteria
  • Filters 99.9% Protozoa including Giardia and Cryptosporidia
  • Filters Particulate
  • Hollow fiber filter meets U.S. EPA drinking water standards* and NSF protocol P231 testing standard.
  • Not a Purifier – Doesn’t filter all viruses


Weight: 1lb

Filter: Hollow Fiber

Flow L/min: 1liter per min claimed

Flow Strokes per liter: 60 pumps

Field Maintainable: Yes

Field Cleanable: Yes

Cartridge Replacement Indicator: Yes

The portable Trail Filter shoots water about 8ft when new, it has serious water pressure!

MSR 2L Trail Base Water Filter kit on ground by river
MSR 2L Trail Base Water Filter kit filling bottle

Dirt & Sol Test Stats

  • Time – 00:02:46 – Filtered 2L of water using the gravity filter
  • Time – 00:01:13 – 50 pumps using the handheld pump filled a 32oz Nalgene bottle
  • Time – 00:00:37 – 27 pumps to fill 27oz cycling bottle

MSR 2L Trail Base Water Filter kit hanging from tree

How -To

Gravity Mode:

  • Remove Male Disconnect from the Female Disconnect on the Dirty Water Reservoir
  • Place Dirty Water Reservoir in water source or fill reservoir with dirty water
  • Fold top of reservoir 4+ times once full
  • Hang reservoir high above the ground without putting tension on the hose
  • Close Shut Off Clamp on hose
  • Screw Trail Filter to long hose coming from Dirty Water Reservoir
  • Connect Trail Filter with male end into clean water reservoir with female end
  • Place Clean Water Reservoir flat on ground with Trail Filter on top
  • Open Shut Off Valve
  • Prime pump 5x to get water flowing
  • Enjoy! 

Trail Filter Mode:

  • Place red screw end of hose into water
  • Hold Trail Filter at 45 degrees
  • Squeeze the bulb
  • Let the bulb fill completely between each squeeze
  • Yea, it’s that easy

MSR 2L Trail Base Water Filter kit on table
How Was it Tested?

  • Monarch Crest Trail – Mountain Biking
  • Buffalo Creek – Mountain Biking
  • Oregon Coast Vacation
  • Daily Camera Carry

I have used a myriad of different water filters from some the industries top companies. This system is by far the fastest gravity AND handheld system I have ever used. At one point during the testing process while mountain biking far in the backcountry, I could feel myself starting to bonk due to dehydration. I know my body well enough to know that I needed water in abundance and quickly! I pulled the bike over and found a stream, stuck the portable TrailShot end into the water and started to fill my bottles. In a matter minutes I had chugged 2 – 21oz bottles and refilled them again to keep on the bike for later.

When your body starts to bonk the use of a filtering system can seem a bit daunting, this system took out all the guesswork and just simply did its job. What more can you ask for?

Comments or questions about the MSR Trail Base Water Filter Kit? Please drop us a line below, we would love to hear from you.

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Dirt & Sol