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Aquamira Frontier Pro Tactical Water Filter

Water purification and filtration methods continue to improve and companies are providing more options every day. Aquamira has been around since the late 90s when they first introduced Aquamira Water Treatment Drops. For this reason when Aquamira released their Aquamira Frontier Pro Tactical Water filter, we knew it was only a matter of time before we would review it. During the past few months we have been taking the Aquamira Frontier Pro during backpacking and hiking trips for water filtration. Testing filters can be a tricky matter because failure would likely mean an unpleasant experience will follow. For this reason we always recommend using more than one method to ensure the water is pure.

Disclaimer: It is up to the readers to take the time to read up on their filter of choice and ensure it meets their needs. Steps taken to establish safe decontamination should be based on the source of the water. Simple filtration methods would be satisfactory in a lot of situations but taking a few extra steps can help avoid a hospital visit or worse. Follow up steps such as boiling or chemical treatment might be required to ensure the purity of the water. In our emergency water purification we discuss additional options such as boiling, distillation and chemical purification.

Using tablets to treat the water as well as filtering is recommended to avoid chances of becoming ill from smaller contaminants

Why the Aquamira Frontier Pro?

As outdoor enthusiasts we are always trying to find ways to simplify camp chores such as water procurement and purification. Furthermore, backpackers and emergency preparedness aficionados have a common interest, lightweight gear. It did not take long for people to figure out that the less weight you carry, the more likely you are to enjoy your adventure. The small size of the Aquamira Frontier Pro line of filters caught our eye and we decided to take it for a spin.

First things first, there is an internet wide debate about the micron rating of the Aquamira Frontier Pro and other filters in its class. Aquamira does a good job of explaining that a filter's capability to properly filter contaminants is not purely based on the size of the pores. Immediately we have to realize that there could be 1 hole in the material of a million, there are different paths the fluid can take through the filter and pore size may differ throughout the membrane.

You can read details from Aquamira on this page:

So other than pore size what are other things to consider while searching for the right filter:

  • Removal Rating
  • Nominal Rating
  • Absolute Rating

  • Note: There is a substantial difference between filters that are rated as “absolute” and “nominal”. An “absolute” rated filter removes 99.95 percent of particles for the filters rated micron size. A “nominal” rated filter removes around 85 percent of that rated micron size, or in other words, allows 15 percent of the particles of that rated micron size through the filter.

    What is water filtration?

    Water or liquid filtration involves the removal of contaminant particles in a fluid system. Filtration is a physical process that occurs when liquids, gases, dissolved or suspended matter adhere to the surface of, or in the pores of, an absorbent medium. source The grade of filter chosen for a specific application is usually determined by the size of the particle to be removed. Contaminant particles are measured using the "micron" unit of measurement. Filtration does not guarantee the removal of smaller contaminants such as viruses.

    What is a micron?

    A micron is a metric unit of measurement where one micron is equivalent to one one-thousandth of a millimeter [1 micron (1μ) = 1/1000 mm] or 1 micron (micrometer) = 1/1,000,000 of a meter. To give you an idea the diameter of a human hair is 100 microns.

    Why do we care? Some of the filters filtrate the water solely based on pore size. We can quickly see where in this type of filter, the smaller the pore size, the lower the likelihood of nasty bugs getting through. You will see this term thrown around a lot in forums and articles. Again, this is NOT the only way filtration is achieved.

    Some contaminants and their size in microns:

    Contaminant size
    Contaminant Size
    Giardia lamblia
    8 to 12 microns
    Cryptosporidium parvum
    4 to 6 microns
    Bacteria (salmonella - E.coli
    0.2 to 4 microns
    0.004 to 0.1 microns

    CDC Water Treatment Methods for the Backcountry and Travel

    Ok so down to business. What about this compact filter you are jabbering about? Our area is typically a marsh/swamp area. A lot of the water sources will have high sediment and tannin content. We took the filter out on several trips and are glad to say nothing strange is growing out of our ears or stomach. As we mentioned earlier we used it with a water bladder by Platypus and a Nalgene bottle. Anyone near crocodiles, alligators or even a high snake population would benefit from tethering their bottle to parachute cord. This would help avoid having to bend down over the water to drink.

    What comes with the kit?

  • Filter
  • Draw Tube
  • Pre-filter adapters
  • Three circular replacement pre-filters

  • Specification

  • Measurements: lenght= 5.5 inches (13.97 centimeters) diameter = 1.25 inches (3.175 centimeters)
  • Weight: 2 ounces (56.7 grams)
  • Cartridge life: 50 gallons
  • Filter micron rating: 3 microns

  • The Frontier Pro Tactical can be attached to a water bladder pictured below.

    To attach the bladder or bottles you can simply remove one of the adapters from the filter and twist the bladder on.

    Although our preference would be to use a nalgene bottle (tethered by parachute cord in case of critters), the water bladders are easily stored in a small kit and can be used for filtration or chemical purification. Whenever possible we use a bandana or shemagh as a pre-filter. Any sediment we can remove from the water should extend the life of the filter and reduce harmful particles from the water. Yes the kit comes with three pre-filters. Have not looked into how much they cost to replace.

    Pre-filtering with a shemagh


    We like the smaller size of the Frontier Pro. It can be used in a small emergency kit or just slipped into a Nalegene canteen bottle. (We typically carry the steel models so we can boil water if needed). The rubber cap can keep the mouth piece from becoming contaminated with dirt particles.


    Cartridge life. 50 gallons seems low number when compared to other filters. Is the smaller size worth the limited cartridge life? Note: We have not tested the Sawyer Mini at this time to compare. During our research we found some people claiming it can go further and some started having issues with suction resistance at lower numbers. Although the water we tested had some sediment and high tannin content, we cannot verify this claim. Not sure if having the ability to backwash the filter would help? Purchasing more pre-filters would be a con as well, however if it only lasts 50 gallons this point may be moot.

    Hopefully we can test the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System soon.

    Please see related Articles:

    Lifestraw Water Filter

    Click title or picture for full article.

    Emergency Water Filtration

    Click title or picture for full article.

    Some sources of information on the subject are:

  • The United States Forest Service

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