Aquamira Frontier Max water filter

Review: Aquamira Frontier Max Water Filter

The Aquamira Frontier Max is a one-size-fits-all water filter that caters for all your backcountry filtration needs in a neat, super lightweight highly usable sytem.

If you’re looking for a reliable, multi-functional water filter system for your backcountry adventures, then look no further than the Aquamira Frontier Max. It is the only certified filtration system in the outdoor industry to date, protecting against viruses, bacteria and cysts. It’s also one of the most lightweight water filters out there and small enough to pop in your backpack, bikepack, trail running vest or hunting bag. The unique connector system makes it super easy to change between functions providing a highly versatile water filter that you just can’t help but love!

Aquamira Frontier Max: The stats

Virus removal:≥99.99%
Bacteria removal:≥99.9999%
Cyst removal:≥99.95%
Weight:28g (1oz)
Size:22 x 4 x 4cm (8.7 x 1.6 x 1.6in)
Flow rate:500ml/minute
Filter life:546 litres (120 gallons)

Design features of the Frontier Max

Use it like a straw

Frontier Max filter used straight from riverThe easiest and most simple way of using the Frontier Max is to get down on your knees and drink water straight from the source. It takes a bit of work to get the water flowing but once it’s going, it becomes easier with each sip.

Set up a gravity filter

Gravity water filterIf you need to filter water for a group to decant into bottles or to cook with, you can attach the Frontier to the end of your water bladder hose with the UQC connectors, hang the bladder up, and let it start working its magic. Like the straw, it takes a little while to get going, but after a little persuasion by squeezing the bladder clean water soon starts to flow out of the filter.

Inline water bladder

Filter on a hydration hoseIf you don’t have time to wait for the gravity filter to work then take the dirty water with you to sip while you walk. Simply attach the whole filter to the end of the bladder hose, as you would with the gravity filter, and then click on the bite valve for fresh water to go!

Bite Me valve

Using the Frontier Max Bite Me ValveIf you start out your trek with clean water, or you end up decanting clean water into your hydration bladder, then you can leave your usual bite valve at home so as not to bring unnecessary extras. Instead attach the valved UQC body connector to the end of your bladder hose and attach the Frontier Bite Me valve to that.

Weight and size

Aquamira Frontier Max water filterDepending on which connections are in use, the filter is up to 22cm (8.7in) long and 4cm (1.6in) wide, fitting fine into the pocket of your jacket but better in a waterproof bag in the top pocket of your backpack. And at 28g (1oz) you might as well bring it with you even if you’re not sure you’ll need it!

Filter

Internal filter of the Frontier MaxThe filter itself is really easy to remove from the main body of the Frontier. This is really handy to allow the whole thing to dry out properly between uses. It also means that it is super easy to replace once you’ve gotten through all those 120 gallons of water that you probably won’t ever manage to filter!

Certified water filter

Aquamira are the first and only filtration company in the outdoor industry that produces certified water filters. The Red Line virus filter of the Frontier Max provides protection against giardia, cryptosporidium, viruses and bacteria that is certified for up to 120 gallons. This may not seem like loads, so take a look at their reasoning behind the relatively low filter volume and what it means to be certified.


Review of the Aquamira Frontier Max water filter

I love having gear that is multi-functional. Aside from the saving on things you have to carry, store and spend on, the environmental implications of unnecessary extra gear really gets to me. So as you can imagine, I have been delighted with the numerous ways in which you can get clean water out on the trail using the Aquamira frontier Max.

Having previously used the Lifestraw, I enjoyed its simplicity as a low priced, lightweight filter. But the Lifestraw has many limitations and most backcountry trekkers need something that can be used for more than just sipping as you go.

What backpackers need is something that few other filters are able to deliver: a multi-functional water filter that does it all. Queue the Frontier Max. It covers all your filtration needs from on the go top ups to filtering large volumes of water for cooking or decanting. And better still it is one of the lightest water filters available. Even the Lifestraw is almost double its weight!

What I love the most about the Frontier Max

Well aside from its unrivalled protection against viruses, and of course its low weight, what really stands out for me is the ease in which you can change between the different functions of the filter. It takes a bit of time to get your head around which bits do what(!) but once you’ve sussed that out, things really couldn’t be more simple. The UQC (universal quick connect) connectors click together with ease, leaving no doubt that the connection is secure. And they come apart by squeezing the two buttons on either side of the ‘female’ connector.
Connecting the Frontier Max filter parts

Things I don’t love much about the Frontier Max

I struggle a tiny bit with the number of parts. A small gripe as they are all totally necessary for all the different filter functions. But they don’t all fit together at the same time leaving one piece always left on its own just hanging out in a pocket somewhere! I’ve started storing the whole lot it in a little waterproof bag which helps with this and has so far prevented me from losing a component altogether. Storing it in a waterproof bag also stops your other stuff getting wet if you have to pack it away without it being fully dry.

Also, as it is not a hand pump style water filter, it can be difficult to extract water from still pools or tiny puddles if you want to get any water to store or cook with. But in that scenario you can just get down in the dirt and drink straight from the water source through the straw so at least you won’t go thirsty!
Frontier Max with hose

Verdict

The Frontier Max is multi-functional water filtration at its very best. It covers almost all of your filtration needs in one and at a price that is incredibly good value. Its low weight and ease of use make this a superbly versatile water filter that should go with you on every backcountry expedition whether you think you’ll need it or not.

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Need to know more about what water purification options are available? Then check out our guide to the best backpacking water filters and purifiers  that will clear up plenty of questions you might have.

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About Joey

Woman wearing wooly hat

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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