MSR Trailshot Review

MSR Trailshot Review




Quick Overview

  • Product: MSR Trailshot Microfilter
  • Price: $49.95
  • Dimensions: 6 x 2.4 inches
  • Weight: 5.2 ounces
  • Filter Medium: Advanced hollow fibers
  • Housing Material: Silicone, BPA Free
  • Removes/Destroys: Protozoa (99.9%) and Bacteria (99.9999%)
  • Warranty: Limited
  • Made in the USA

The MSR Trailshot Microfilter, Product Overview

If you are looking for a lightweight, 1-2 person filter that is easy to use, then the MSR Trailshot might be just what you need.  I can’t help but think that the Trailshot is MSR’s response to the popular Sawyer Squeeze.  The two are comparable in size and weight, but many people prefer the Trailshot because it is easier to filter from shallow water sources.  Plus, there are also no extra bags or pieces to deal with.  This filter is about the size of a soda can and can be operated with only one hand.  You simply place the end of the 16 inch hose directly into your water source, then squeeze the bulb which pushes water through the filter and out the outlet port.  This micro filter can filter 1 liter of water per minute, which is comparable to most other filters on the market.  The hollow fiber filter removes 99.9999% of all bacteria and 99.9% of all protozoa.  It does not filter out viruses, but these are usually not an issue in the backcountry.  If you will be travelling internationally or in areas contaminated by human waste, I recommend getting a water purifier, such as the MSR Guardian Purifier.

Ease of Use, Where the Trailshot Shines

With no bags, no attachments, no cleaning syringe or accessories, the Trailshot is very user friendly.  One advantage this filter has over the Sawyer is that it is easier to filter directly from shallow, slow-flowing water sources.  You simply put the hose directly in your water source and pump, allowing you to access water even from a puddle.  With the Sawyer, it can be difficult to get the water into the bag if you have to use a small water source.

Another convenient feature I like is that you can drink directly from the outlet port if you are in a hurry or hiking somewhere with plentiful water.MSR Trailshot Spigot

To clean your filter, simply remove the hose and put a finger on the hose port, close the outlet spigot, shake vigorously, remove your finger from the hose port and then forcefully squeeze water o

ut of the hose port. If you have used it in very silty water, you may need to repeat this process several times.  Also note, you need to shake the filter vigorously as this loosens up the particles stuck in the filter.  The flow rate will improve when you clean it, but will still not be as good as when it first came out of the box.

Drawbacks to the Trailshot

As with most water filters, you want to be careful you do not expose the Trailshot Filter to freezing temperatures because this can damage the microfiber walls.  If you plan on using it during a time that might dip into freezing temps, make sure to store it near your body while hiking and sleep with it in your sleeping bag to prevent freezing.

Some people have reported having problems with a rubbery taste left behind in their filtered water.  This happens without carbon filters.  The taste doesn’t really bother me because I’m used to drinking from a hydration bladder, but if this is a huge issue for you, then maybe check out some other water filters that have a carbon filter.  The bad taste does seem to lessen the more you use the filter.

This filter is best for 1-2 people and not ideal for filtering large amounts of water at one time.  It cannot be used as a gravity fed filter.  I don’t really consider this a drawback, especially since I mostly backpack alone, but I know others might.

The flow rate is noticeably diminished after several uses, even when properly cleaned.  I expect this to a degree with any filter because it reassures me that the filter is doing its job.  I mostly hike near clear mountain streams so I haven’t had a problem with clogging, but if you use this filter repeatedly in sediment filled water, it will probably clog up on you.  The Trailshot filter has an estimated cartridge life of 2000 liters, which is pretty good for such a compact and lightweight filter.  If your unit does clog, the filter cartridges are replaceable and cost around $35 on Amazon.

MSR Trailshot Filter

Wrap Up

Key Benefits

  • reasonably priced
  • compact size
  • lightweight
  • reliable
  • ability to pump and store water for later (unlike the Lifestraw)
  • easy to drink directly from spigot
  • easy access to shallow, slow flowing water
  • easy to clean
  • no extra bags or accessories


  • Cannot use in freezing temps
  • Rubber taste, no carbon filter
  • No gravity feed
  • Not good for filtering large quantities of water
  • Flow rate slows after use

Overall, I think this is a really great little filter for the $50 price.  Its really user-friendly and doesn’t contain too many parts, so its great for beginners and hard core hikers alike.  Most people can take it right out of the box and figure out how it works pretty quickly without reading the instructions.  Considering its weight and size, I recommend the MSR Trailshot for fast paced adventures, such as trailrunning, ultralight backpacking, cycling, and mountain biking.  It best to use the Trailshot where water runs fairly clear, since it has the likelihood to clog if used in heavy sentiment.  I’ve not seen many of these being used out in the field, but I think that’s because its a new type of filter that has only been on the market since 2017.  You can purchase an MSR Trailshot at stores like REI, Cabela’s, or Bass Pro Shop.  The most competitive prices online are on Amazon.


Starting at $49.95 on Amazon



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2 thoughts on “MSR Trailshot Review”

  • That’s a great little water filter! I use a Sawyer Mini now but, it gets clogged so easily and so often that I have started carrying Aquamira Water Treatment Drops as a backup.

    But, I like this MSR Trailshot Microfilter! Even though it’s a bit pricier than my Sawyer, I think it will last a lot longer and not clog quite as much. So, it’s worth a try!

    Great review! I have been looking for a water filter change and it looks like I have finally found one!


    • Glad to hear you found the review helpful.  I think you will really like the simplicity of the Trailshot.  Sawyer makes a great product too, although I haven’t used the Sawyer Mini.  I do love the regular sized Sawyer so you could look into that one as well.  


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