Katadyn Vario Review

Thanks for stopping by to read our Katadyn Vario Review!

This is a review of the Katadyn Vario Water Filter. This is the prize product of Katadyn’s Backcountry Series of filters. The unit is made of black plastic, and the thick handle has a stop which prevents you from smashing your fingers against the body of the filter.

Katadyn Vario Review

Katadyn Vario Review

The handle is connected to a dual action pump. Two pistons exist at the top which push water through the filter portion of the unit. While most filters have a single pump action, which essentially means that it only works on the down stroke, the Vario works in both directions of travel, speeding up filtration.

The water input nub is on the upper area of the unit. It contains a red protective sleeve in order to keep dirt out and inform you of where contaminated water is going. The lower portion is where you grip when you are pumping. The grip is extremely comfortable.

Katadyn Vario – Filter System

The Vario has a one-of-a-kind multi-stage filter system. The main filter is pleated glass fiber while the other filter is ceramic. You are able to switch from using one to the other by just twisting the top portion to one of the two settings – 1. fast or 2. longer life. The longer life setting runs water through both filters and is intended for dirtier water while the fast setting will sidestep the ceramic filter.

For refining the taste of the water – there is a disposable/replaceable activated carbon chamber. As with all activated carbon, it eliminates bad tastes as well as certain pollutants that are capable of getting through normal filters. It is also a great feature for those that have water stored with a water preserver product made of bleach. The activated carbon will eliminate the bleach taste. Katadyn recommends swapping the carbon every 50 gallons or 200 liters, and the refill packets are around $5.00 each.

At the bottom of the unit is an adapter which permits it to attach to Nalgene bottles or other poly carbonate bottles with comparable mouth openings and thread patterns. Additionally, there is a hose barb which permits you to attach the provided silicone tubing so you can fill any water container whatsoever. There is also a plastic cap that will permit for a wide variation of hydration packs to basically plug the tube into the bottom of the filter.

As with most Katadyn products, there is a pre-filter screen which is located at the end of the supply hose. And, there is a closed-cell foam float that glides along the hose so that you can be assured that the filter isn’t sitting on the bottom of the body of water.

Finally, there are a variation of accessories and extra parts that come with the Vario, several O-rings, silicone lubricant, a green scrub pad for cleaning the ceramic filter and a zip-lock type bag for putting the clean hose separate from the bad water hose.

 Katadyn Vario Review – Performance

Truth be told, the Vario is one of the fastest filters we have ever used. The Vario is extremely fast due to its dual action filter and is remarkably easy to pump. Generally, a combination you won’t see together.

Apart from the effortlessness of pumping and the speed the water is filtered, the water taste improved because of the activated carbon. A great thing about the chamber where the carbon goes is that it is not tied to the filter. With other similar products you need to toss your filter six months after using it if you want to profit from the carbon. Filters like that have the carbon part of the filter element. The Vario can have the carbon swapped out without having to throw away a perfectly good filter.

Let me say that due to the various chambers, O-rings, and filtering methods it makes repair a bit more complex. A lot of the negative reviews you may see online are from individuals who had an issue and either didn’t read the manual or understand how to fix it after reading it. It’s not terribly hard, but it super easy either.

Katadyn Vario Review – My Conclusion

The Vario is price in the mid $90s with is competitive. It is a water filter that is faster and easier to pump than everything else I have ever tried. The water tastes great because of the refillable carbon. It is multipurpose in that it can connect to poly carbonate bottles, hydration systems, and other water containers.


  • Fast
  • Easy to pump
  • Great price
  • Versatile
  • Refillable activated carbon


  • Harder to fix

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