Water 101: Clean Water Solutions to Prepare for Any Emergency

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Road flooding caused by a hurricane

Water is our most important resource, but you never know when a disaster could compromise your local water supply. Whether you live in the city or in a more remote area, having a way to get clean water is crucial to keeping you safe from additional harm. In honor of emergency preparedness month, we’ve put together the information you need to ensure you have access to water that’s safe to drink.

Clean water threats

When drinking water is contaminated in municipal or developed areas, the immediate threat to human health is the introduction of waterborne pathogens—microscopic disease-causing bugs. These include bacteria, protozoa, viruses, all of which are normally removed by the city treatment center long before water ever flows out of your tap.

In a disaster situation, contamination of the existing municipal water supply can happen quickly. For example, a sewer line can break, intermixing sewage with your clean water supply, and introducing those pathogenic agents. Read More →

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Gear Archives: Trusted Source—The Evolution of the MiniWorks EX Microfilter

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Photo from the 1991 MSR catalog debuting the WaterWorks Total Filtration System

In 1991, MSR took the plunge into water products to answer the needs of backcountry travelers for more user-friendly and trustworthy solutions to gathering safe drinking water.

One of these initial offerings was the MSR Dromedary™ Beverage Bag, a rugged, collapsible bag to tote your water as you roamed. The other was the now-legendary WaterWorks Total Filtration System—a highly engineered pump filter that was more effective and so easy to use it changed how people filtered water. Today, the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter is its evolutionary descendent and remains the world’s favorite backcountry filter for its plain and simple workhorse reliability. Read More →

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A Commitment to Safety: Inside MSR’s World-Renowned Water Research Lab

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Lab supervisor Zac Gleason enumerates how many viruses are alive in a water sample.

Lab supervisor Zac Gleason enumerates how many viruses are alive in a water sample.

Behind every MSR water treatment and hydration product is a team of scientists dedicated to researching, developing and testing the latest in water treatment solutions. Established in 1997, our on-site microbiology lab is crucial to MSR’s water program and the safety and reliability of our products. Initially founded to ensure quality control, today the lab’s world-renowned efforts stretch into research of new technologies, testing and development for the U.S. military, and contracts with nonprofit organizations working in developing nations.

The lab is located at our Seattle headquarters, in close proximity to our production lines, and is staffed by seven scientists with advanced degrees in chemical engineering, biochemistry, microbiology, environmental science and cellular and molecular biology. The world inside this small space is fascinating, with an incredible amount of scientific knowledge. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look inside.  Read More →

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Gear Archives: Diving Deep—The Evolution of the MSR® Snow Fluke

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Blog_Fluke Catalog pic_April 78 copy

Some people love snow flukes: skiers who want a low-profile anchoring device that fits in their packs; mountaineers traveling in softer or uniform snow conditions; rescue guides or climbing pairs who may need to anchor with only one free hand. As snow protection gear, the fluke definitely has its place, and it’s been part of MSR’s history from nearly the beginning.

It goes back to 1969, soon after Larry Penberthy founded Mountain Safety Research, Inc. to support the work he began with The Mountaineers of independently reviewing climbing equipment and making gear that was safer and easier to use. Penberthy published his findings in the Mountain Safety Research newsletter, which also sold third-party and MSR brand gear. The first two pieces of gear featured in the newsletter were Edmont cold-weather gloves and MSR first-generation snow flukes. Read More →

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Fuels Around the World: Finding Stove Fuel In A Foreign Country

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Planning for an international adventure—whether it’s trekking in the Himalayas, bikepacking the Alps, or hiking through Pakistan—requires extra consideration of gear, especially stove options. While you can fly with your stove, you can’t fly with most common stove fuels. Which may leave you asking:

How do I find the stove fuel I need in a foreign country? And, what other types of fuel can I use?

Multiple things come into consideration when deciding which stove to take in the first place—region, trip duration and season all factor in. And it’s important to thoroughly research the specific locations you’re headed to (travel forums are a great place to start). But here are the basics to know when planning to take your favorite stove abroad with you. Read More →

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Gear Archives: The Simple Perfection of a Good Bowl

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The new MSR Alpine Nesting Bowl

The new MSR Alpine Nesting Bowl

In the 1970s and 1980s, focused on using the latest technologies, MSR made its early cookware of the lightest modern materials available—titanium, aluminum and non-stick aluminum. While carrying the lightest possible gear was the priority of most backpackers, the MSR product development team recognized the undeniable benefits of stainless steel as well, which was more durable, conducted heat more evenly, and ultimately was more affordable than aluminum or titanium. Read More →

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MSR Kitchen Sets: Behind The Gear

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MSR Alpine Kitchen Set

Product Manager Steve Grind answers a few questions about the design and performance of the various sets of kitchen tools offered by MSR.

What is the process behind deciding which utensils go into each set (Ultralight, Alpine, Alpine Deluxe)?

We’re always working to understand our customers as well as we can, and the customer for one product is often different in some ways from the customer for another product, even within a single product line. In the case of a kitchen set, we know that users are likely to cook differently in a base camp or car-camping scenario than they are in an ultralight backpacking one, and this informs what we design and what is included in each kit. Read More →

Evolution of the MSR XGK EX Stove

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Model 9 Stove

Photo of the original MSR Model 9 stove (simply called the “MSR Stove”) from the April 1973 MSR Newsletter.

Trusted by mountaineers everywhere as the world’s most reliable extreme-condition stove, the MSR XGK EX stove is still remembered by many as the MSR Model 9. Originally introduced in 1973, the Model 9 stove has evolved along with material and manufacturing technologies, and its current incarnation—the MSR XGK EX stove—still remains the number one liquid fuel stove choice on expeditions worldwide.

Remote Fuel Revolution

The Model 9 was the world’s first remote-burner component stove. The remote-burner design was developed in response to MSR’s finding that Acute Mountain Sickness and other altitude-related health problems were related to a climber’s poor hydration level, caused by the inability to melt snow on traditional stoves. Several years of field and in-house stove testing by MSR had demonstrated the increased performance and reliability that remote, pump-pressurized liquid-fuel tanks could deliver, especially at altitude.

While white gas and stove and lantern fuel were recommended, this stove could also burn non-leaded and leaded gasoline if the screen was cleaned every two quarts. Additionally, it could burn alcohol “if the air inlets of the burner are mostly closed with foil.” Lightweight (at 12 ounces), compact, and reliable, the MSR Model 9 stove quickly became the gold standard in mountaineering after its release in 1973. Read More →

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Manufacturing Safety: Snow Tools Made the MSR Way

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MSR products are known for being precision-engineered and thoroughly tested in our lab and in the field for reliable performance. But did you know we also make many of our own products on-site in our Seattle, WA and Cork, Ireland factories? Manufacturing our products in-house gives us quality control over the process, ensuring that the same attention to detail that went into the design goes into the production. Here’s a look at the fabrication process of our lightweight, durable MSR Snow Picket and MSR Snow Fluke in the Seattle factory.

The MSR Snow Picket

MSR Snow Picket (60 cm. size)

MSR Snow Picket (60 cm. size)

Read More →

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Trekking Pole FAQs: Your Questions Answered

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Photo: Hage Photo

Photo: Hage Photo

As many hikers and backpackers will attest, trekking poles offer great benefits—from helping you maintain stability over changing terrain, to minimizing fatigue and reducing joint impact. Adjustable trekking poles are especially useful for navigating steep inclines and descents, letting you shorten or lengthen poles to match the terrain for improved efficiency. Adjustable poles also pack up easily when not in use.

Here are five frequently asked questions (FAQs) of our customer service department along with information to help you select and use MSR® poles that are right for you, for your environment, and for the activities you like to do. Read More →

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