First Look @ the Renovo Trio Water Filter

P1030631A couple of weeks ago, Bastian from RenovoWater contacted me via email and asked me if I would be interested in checking out one of their new water filters, the Renovo Trio. After reading through the information provided on the RenovoWater web site, I was a bit intrigued by the water filter, however, to be honest, I was not so sure that I was going to be able to get any sort of review up on my blog about it. Bastian went ahead and sent a filter despite this, and it just so happens that the weather is crap today, so I figured I will try to get something up on it…

Just to be clear, I only received this filter a few days ago, and have only filtered a liter of water through it here at home to try it out. I do not have any field use with the filter though, so this is just an initial impressions “review.”

The first thing that caught my attention about the Renovo Trio filter is that it uses a 0.05 micron UF (Ultra Filtration) hollow fiber membrane filter (seen in photo below). This is the same type of filter that is used in the popular Sawyer (Squeeze & Mini) water filters, however, those are only rated to 0.1 microns. (Keep in mind though that many other popular filters are only rated at 0.2 microns, or even more, so 0.1 microns is awesome anyway.) As well, Bastian verified that the 0.05 micron filter in the Renovo Trio water filter is an “ABSOLUTE” value, as opposed to a “nominal” value (again, like in some of the other popular water filters on the market today, and actually means “at best”).

P1030644As some may guess, the word “Trio” (in Renovo Trio) means that there are actually 3 filtration stages that take place inside the filter. The first stage is through a 5 micron prefilter, which is a small disc located in the bottom of the filter that removes the larger debris from the water before it makes its way to the next stage. Next, the main, hollow fiber filter, removes bacteria and protozoa (such as Giardia & Crypto, among many others). And lastly, the water moves through an activated charcoal filter, which “reduces chemicals, metals, and even some viruses” in the water, and can even improve the taste.

Another nice feature about this filter is that each individual filter can be replaced on its own as needed. In the beginning , the entire unit cost $43.99, and is rated at 1,000L. Once the 1,000L is reached, or if the filter is suspected of not functioning correctly (due to possibly freezing, or just stopped up) a new hollow fiber filter can be purchased for only $12.00, and it is quite easy to replace. The activated carbon filter also has a 1,000L life expectancy, however, it only has a 12 month life expectancy. (This is also why the filter is “packaged in a hermetically sealed bag” which preserves the carbon filter’s life until opened.) According to the RenovoWater site, simply being exposed to air will reduce its effectiveness, so a replacement activated carbon filter is also available for only $10.00, and again, is easily replaced. As for the prefilter, a few extra discs are included with a new filter, however, these can easily be cut from coffee filters when they are all used up.

P1030641The filter can be used in a few different ways. It can simply be screwed onto a soda, or water bottle (with matching threads), and then one can simply drink through the sipping spout on the clean side. Or if a soft bladder is used (such as a Platypus, or an Evernew bag), then one can roll the bag and force the water through the filter into a clean bottle or bag. If you are using a hydration bladder, there is also a nipple on the dirty side of the filter that the hose can be attached to (see photo below), however, since there is not a nipple on both ends, this filter cannot be used inline, but it can be attached at the end of the drinking hose and simply sip water straight from the filter. As well, one can simply attach a hose to the nipple, then place that hose in the water source and drink this way…

As I mentioned, I have filtered 1L of water through the filter just to try it out. I tried an older 2L Platypus soft bottle, a newer 1L Platypus soft bottle and a 1.5L Evernew soft bottle with the filter. IMO, none of them looked exactly right to me (they didn’t appear to screw straight down, but instead, cocked to the side a little), however, none seemed to leak either. It is interesting that the Renovo Trio does not include a gasket, or a rubber washer on the dirty end to seal the connections. Instead, there is a small protruding ring that looks like it should fit inside the mouth/opening of the bottle being attached, which creates a seal. At this point, it seems to work, but I wonder how it will hold up.

P1030639This filter has a listed flow rate of 200 ml/min, however, I assume that this represents gravity flow, and likely with a bottle attached directly to the filter, although, I could be wrong. I filled my 1L Platy soft bottle and then squeezed the water through the filter into a bowl, which took me a minute and a few extra seconds to complete. As well, when drinking straight from the sipping spout with the same Platy bag attached, I found it easy enough to drink through. Although, as with other similar filters, when the bag is nearing empty, or not inverted, sipping becomes progressively harder.

The filter measures right at 7 inches long, which I am fine with considering it’s relatively slim. I always pack my water filters in the front pocket on my pack, so I prefer a slim, taller profile. The filter housing is made from a hard, durable plastic which should stand up to way more abuse than the filter should ever be subjected to. The lid which covers and protects the sipping spout is made of the same plastic, and is held in place by a flexible rubber (or silicone?) band, which also retains the cap when the filter is in use. There is also a lanyard hole located just below the cap, on the activated carbon filter housing, for those that would like to attach a section of cord to the filter for whatever reason.

When assembling/disassembling the filter, the activated carbon filter housing attaches to the main filter housing by aligning 2 different sized notches up with slots on the main filter housing (see photo below), and then locking the 2 pieces together by twisting (similar to connecting a Jetboil stove to the pot). Being that the 2 notches are different sizes, the correct sides need to be lined up. The prefilter housing is simply threaded and screwed into the bottom of the main filter housing. I assume that they used different attachment methods at each end to maintain the correct orientation of the main filter…

P1030653The weight of the Renovo Trio water filter is listed at 3.5 oz, however, when I threw the still-packaged filter on my scale, I saw 3.3 oz! After opening the filter, and weighing it on its own, I saw 3.1 oz, or 87 grams. However, as most folks may know, I don’t really bank on a filters dry weight since the filter will never be the same weight after its first use. Instead, I record a wet weight. So, after forcing a little over a liter of water through the filter, I went outside and flicked the filter to remove most of the remaining water. When I came back inside and set it on the scale again, I saw 3.7 oz, or about 106 grams, which is what I will call the final weight on the Renovo Trio filter.

So, the big question, how does it compare to the other water filters out there? Well, I will not answer that as we all have different needs. But, in my honest opinion, this filter is a very nice filter. The way I see it, this is a near 3.5 oz water filter that removes more than most any other filter out there, and includes an activated charcoal filter which can also improve the overall taste. It’s easy to use, and each filter can be replaced at a fair price. It is easy to pack and seems to be a pretty durable filter.

However, as with many other filters on the market, this type of filter cannot be allowed to freeze. If so, the filter could potentially be damaged, and should be replaced. As well, being that it is a 0.05 micron filter, if proper care is not maintained, it could potentially clog easily (although, the prefilter should prevent this a great deal). Back flushing is recommended on the RenovoWater site, however, at the moment, I am unclear as how to do so with this particular filter.

Either way, I think this filter is easily going to make its way into the water filter market.

P1030670Also, I have done a typical (lengthy) “unboxing” video on the filter, however, it is not up yet. I will be sure to come back and add it once it is done…

Thanks for stopping by!

~Stick~

Disclaimer: The Renovo Trio filter was provided to me for free, from RenovoWater. However, I was not obligated to “review” this item. The thoughts in this post, as well as the forthcoming video, are of my own opinion, which I formed after handling the filter. 

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About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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17 Responses to First Look @ the Renovo Trio Water Filter

  1. milligan308 says:

    Chad, very good “first look”. I will be interested to see the video that you put up. One of my concerns with the modular system is that contaminants could be introduced at any stage.
    I do really like the cost of the filter and the replacement cost for each part, and the fact that it is .05 absolute.
    Thanks.
    Don

    • Stick says:

      Don,

      That is a reasonable concern. The connection between the activated charcoal housing and the main filter housing does not have any rubber gaskets or whatnots to seal it, however, the rubber/silicone “band” that fits outside the filter covers this connection point fairly securely/tight. Also, the plastic housing is recessed, so the rubber/silicone band fits flush against the outside. Considering that very little contaminated water should even be at this point, I don’t think that it is really a concern… but that is my opinion.

      There is actually a thin rubber ring that fits between the prefilter housing and the main filter housing, as well, when screwed together, it is a pretty tight fit. I have no concerns whatsoever about this area.

      Hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

  2. Birch says:

    ”It is interesting that the Renovo Trio does not include a gasket, or a rubber washer on the dirty end to seal the connections. Instead, there is a small protruding ring that looks like it should fit inside the mouth/opening of the bottle being attached, which creates a seal. At this point, it seems to work, but I wonder how it will hold up.”

    From a durability standpoint, the plastic will hold up a lot longer than any seal or gasket.If it’s sealing now, as long as the plastic is kept clean and un abraded, it should continue to seal. (This is closely related to my day job.)

    • Stick says:

      Birch,

      I agree, that plastic ring is likely stronger than gaskets or seals, but, considering how the bottles I screwed onto the filter fit, it made me wonder if it will deform that ring over time, which could cause it not to seal. Sorry, I should have been more clear on that…

      ~Stick~

  3. This really is a like able filter I have to say. “Darn I just bought me a mini” but I think I will use my mini for a long term use or home back up use or vehicle bug out filter and get one of these Renovo. I like the carbon filter option as on the trail there is nothing like dying of thirst and suck up foul tasting water so the carbon filter will be a big plus. Also I really like the .05 micron as that is some serious filtering. Also I sure like the individual filter replacement options. As in the worse scenario I can go without replacing the carbon filter and still keep using the filter or replace the parts that I want when I want. The one thing I would like to know more about before buying is the back flush and how you are able to clean this filter out when needed which the more often the better. So if can get a answer from Bastian let me know.

    P.S. I also left a question on another review about body hygiene subject and how you deal with things or if your a weekend warrior and you do it commando and come home as is for the wife to complain about? Or if you have a routine you do? What are your methods and thoughts on it. As on the trial its a funny issue but still a issue that can not be avoided. I have passed a few guys on the trail in my day that would have never made it in boot camp without the squad giving them a GI scrub down but then again I live in California land of the fruits and nuts and tree hugger hippie types.

    • Rudy says:

      It really comes down to you. Do you want the possibility of someone smelling your BO or not? You can always carry a small stick of deodorant and some Bounty To-Go sheets to freshen up with. I always try to purchase odor-resistant base layers and don’t worry about my BO on weekend trips. When I get over 3 nights I try to wash off in a stream or at least wipe off with some wet-ones.

    • Stick says:

      I go about cleaning up pretty much the same way as Rudy… on shorter trips, I don’t worry about it so much. I will still carry wet wipes to clean up the nether-regions on a daily bases, otherwise, I am good to go. Of course though, depending on the situations, and the water sources I come across, I may wash off in the streams more often. Also, there has been times that I have used a gallon ziploc bag and some Dr B to wash my socks & undies in and then hang up during the night… As far as BO though… I stink… others stink… I am fine with that…

      ~Stick~

    • Stick says:

      I have been pretty lucky in that I have rarely come across foul tasting water. A majority of the time the water sources I come across on the AT are flowing good and the water taste pretty well… however, there have been some times that I have collected water from lakes/ponds, and well, that wasn’t so great…

      Also, according to the site, the hollow fiber filter will still work past the listed life expectancy, however, the charcoal filter will not, but as you say, you don’t have to change it until you are ready to do so…

      As for the backflushing issue, he actually emailed me today and said that he is working on a video that will answer some of our questions on how to backflush. I am curious to see how that should be done myself…

      And I think I do remember your other comment…. I will go back and see if I can find it… Sometimes I read the comments on my phone, but no way am I going to reply on that thing… however, when I get home, the little notification is off since I already saw it… so, I do miss some comments on occasion… sorry…

      ~Stick~

  4. No worries Chad as the same thing happens to me I read the message or accidentally “peek” at the message and then happen to forget about it to look further into the message. Thanks for all the answers to the questions on the filter as well the hygiene questions. So what do you overall think on this filter? to me it sounded like you liked it but still where not going to toss out your Sawyer mini to replace it with this one. Or is that a wrong assumption on my part of what I got from your review?

  5. jacob says:

    Hi Chad
    Loving the blog!
    Just wanted to ask a few things about the renovo.
    Will you be taking it on your next hike? – I’d really love to see it pit through its paces!
    What is your opinion over the saywer mini?
    I live in the UK and here the charcoal filter is important because there can be chemicals lower down the hills in the water.
    Thanks
    Jacob

    • Stick says:

      Jacob,

      Honestly, it will likely be a little while before I use it. I have some other trips planned, however, I already planned to take my Mini on those. As far as I personally am concerned, the Renovo will win out on hikes that I will be collecting water from stagnant sources, such as ponds or lakes. Reason being, that water generally tastes bad from these sources, and the activated charcoal in the Renovo should counter that and make it taste at least a little better. As well, I am more concerned with stuff in the water from those sources than I am from the sources I come across on the AT, which are generally clear, flowing streams, and the water also taste good straight from the stream.

      Both filters are great filters (at least on paper), however, I don’t see them as apples to apples… If the activated charcoal is something you are after, I recommend going with a filter that has activated charcoal, such as the Renovo.

      Hope this helps some, and good luck with your decision.

      ~Stick~

  6. tony says:

    Hey Stick, Loving the blog!
    Q, The renovo website claims that the filter is 0.05 microns absolute. Viruses are smaller than that right? But there is a chart that compares the renovo to other filters on there. (The Sawyer MINI is not on the chart, which is strange since they keep saying “better than the Sawyer MINI”). The chart suggests that the renovo will remove viruses. How can that be at 0.05? Could you ask the manufacturer to clarify?
    Q. The Sawyer MINI claims to remove 99.99999% of bacteria at 0.1 micron absolute. The Renovo claims to remove 99.99% of bacteria at 0.05 micron absolute. That doesn’t make any sense to me? Do you have any idea’s why at a better rating, the renovo has a poorer removal rate? (The EPA recomends a minimum of 99.9999% by the way).
    Q. Is there any way to tell when the Carbon element has come to the end of its effective life? Does it shut off? Do you need to keep count of how many litres have been through there? Or, is there a time limit?
    Like i said, loving the blog! Keep up the good work :-)

    • Stick says:

      Tony,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for commenting. Ultimately, for these questions, I would suggest contacting Renovo for their official word, however, I think I may be able to help a little…

      Q1: According to the Renovo site, the Renovo will filter out “some viruses”, but not all. I would assume that by this, there may be some viruses that are as large as 0.05 microns, or maybe even a little bigger. Of course, these larger viruses will not be allowed to cross the hollow fiber membrane the same way that the larger bacteria cannot cross.

      Also, I am not sure why they do not put the Sawyer filters on the chart, however, there is a write up on the site that also directly compares the two filters, which actually reads fairly.

      Q2: I cannot answer this, but I would assume that they simple did not want to keep repeating the number 9. However, I feel like it is safe to assume that since the membrane is rated to a smaller micron size, then it is obvious that the smaller of the two will remove more, despite how many 9’s are on the package.

      Q3: According to the Renovo site, the activated charcoal filter has a lifetime of 1,000 liters (or 264 gallons), or 1 year, whichever comes first. This is also the reason that the filter comes packaged in an air tight wrapper since once the filter is exposed to air, the charcoal will begin to deactivate then, and is only good for 1 year. After this time frame it is suggested to replace the filter.

      As well, unless someone is using this filter to filter water at home, I feel it is safe to say that most backpackers do not come close to filtering this amount of water over a year’s time span, so rather than keeping up with how many liters it has been used for, I would say to just remember to replace it about every year or so.

      Anyway, I hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

  7. tony says:

    Thanks, and yes that helps some. Still not sure of the posted rating of 0.05 though. I will probably give it a try anyhow :-)

  8. tony says:

    Hey Stick, i found the exact same product, but branded as “Miniwell L600″. Packaging and everything is EXACTLY the same, but it is manufactured by “GuangZhou LanQuan Household Electric Appliance Company” in the East. It is now available for almost half the price that Renovo are selling at. (Assuming that Renovo is just a re-brand).
    I still can’t find out how to back flush, Did they give you details on how to do that?

    • Stick says:

      Tony,

      That is an interesting find… I don’t know what to say about that…

      An as far as backflushing, I am still not aware of how that should be done exactly…

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help on this one…

      ~Stick~

  9. very interesting, amazing stick. I think i have to buy one. Very ideal to use on one of my camping trips

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