After 2 years of use, the Combi has had zero problem in the high country of Sierra Nevada. Since most of my hiking routes are near to lakes and streams, we never stinge on filtered water. For day hikes we use the 100 oz Camelbak and leave the Combi in the tent. Between drinking, dishwashing, shampooing (yes! shampooing), body wiping and towel washing, we've averaged ~4 gallons per day for 2 persons... or basically filtering twice per day into a 2.5 gallon container. That's ~12 gallons for each 3-day trip and only once did I feel the need to clean the ceramic cartridge.
Some observations: 1)Always lubricate all seals with the lip balm or factory-issued lubricant and inspect/filter some water at home before a trip. In fact, this should be done with any type of filter. 2)Wrap pre-filter with paper coffee filter to further slow down silt build-up. 3)Always place filter in the tent overnight to prevent water from freezing up in the cartrige.
Weight: With the sac, spare set of seals and scrub pad, mine weighs in at 26 oz. That's heavy but I knew this in advance of purchasing the filter. Those who whine about its weight should have done their homework. There're a couple models from MSR that are lighter.
Customer Service: No need since purchase.
Similar Products Used: First Need - about the same weight, bad ergonomics and casing; back-flushing isn't not a sure way of cleaning the filter. MSR Miniworks - good ceramic filter in the same league as Katadyn Pocket and Combi but with a shorter cartridge life. It's ~1/2 lb lighter than the Combi due to plastic piston shaft. If and when I go "light weight" backpacking, the Miniworks would definitely a consideration.
Review Date February 23, 2003
Overall Rating 1 of 5
Value Rating 2 of 5
Visitors rate this review 3.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: rkylepalmer(Unregistered User)
, from Cranbury, NJ, USA
Summary: I bought this because of its flow capacity, the dual filtering through carbon and ceramic elements, and its rugged appearance. I have taken it on three heavy-duty backpacking trips into the Adirondaks and the Laurentians of Quebec. The filter was quickly clogged by the dark waters in these regions. I was constantly scrubbing the ceramic element. Replacement elements are quite expensive. On the trail, its weight becomes noticeable. The casing of mine eventually broke. Maybe it works well on the kitchen tap, but it's too expensive, too heavy, too much work, and not tough enough for the wilderness. I believe there are better values available.
Summary: I've had for a year now with moderate use in shallow streams of the Vantana Wilderness, northern Cal.
Reasons I like the Combi:
- rugged housing
- 13,000 gals ceramic filteration
- separate 2nd stage A/C filter
- field serviceable
- pump-shaft made of stainless steel
- smooth pump action
- fits narrow & wide-mouth Nalgenes
- non-chemical, good tasting water
Cover the intake nozzle with a paper coffee filter to keep out silt and minimize cleaning. No clogging issue!
REI price: $140. Mine was on a special package sale that included an extra filter and complete set of seals & O-rings for $141 (S/H included). I probably don't need to get another filter for life. :-)
Customer Service: Prompt response to my questions via email. No direct repair experience needed so far.
Similar Products Used: First Need, MSR - both are good but not as rugged as the Combi, and shorter filter life (max 200 gallons)
Review Date January 27, 2003
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Value Rating 4 of 5
Visitors rate this review 3.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Lawrence Hill(Unregistered User)
, from New Zealand
Summary: Yeah, these filters are not light, but get hard! I have had this filter for over three years backpacking in New Zealand, Asia & Europe. Firm poo's all the way. I have it plumbed into the house supply to take out the taste of iron so it gets used every day. A great product by any standard.
Customer Service: Very limited in New Zealand, the damn Swiss think we're part of Australia. Any Canadians got a view on that?!
Review Date January 19, 2001
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Value Rating 3 of 5
Visitors rate this review 1.50 of 5,
Reviewed by: Brandon(Unregistered User)
, from Salt Lake City, Utah
Summary: I agree with Brian below. I have taken it on many a backpakcing trip and it was far too heavy. The ceramic filter works well and pumps at a good rate but it clogs up easily, especially in the shallow streams of Southern Utah where silt is abudant. The cleaning of the filter is easy though with the scrubbing pad that is povided. Also the filter will pump up to 13,000 gallons. One problem is the price whic is very high. I have switched to a First Need, which is half the price, and works as well. My suggestion would be to get a Combi for rafting trips or large expeditions. If you are like me and go out with your buddies for a week at time this would not be the best filter to have.