Pri and I are getting ready for our vacation (very exciting). Yesterday we went to to do see if there was any camping equipment we should get before we go. There was. But one thing I thought of was a new filter for my water filtration system. (The language is confusing… both the high-tech piece of paper and the thing you insert it into are commonly called “filter”. I’ll call the paper “the filter” and the rest of it “the system”.)

Well, from everything I can tell, they no longer manufacture filters that go into my system. Rendering it essentially useless. This is distressing, since I guess I’ll now just throw away this perfectly functional product. At first, though, I thought that it was also unfortunate that I’d need to buy a new system, rather than just the inexpensive filters.

Well, apparently they also no longer make inexpensive filters. Looking at water filters and systems at REI and at Campmor it seems that the systems now cost only slightly more than their filters. For instance, I ended up ordering the Katadyn Hiker for $50. It’s filter is apparently good for about 200 gallons. If I’m worried that that won’t be enough, I can buy a replacement “cartridge” for it for about $40.

It seems, then, that the same thing has happened to these backwoods products as what happened to InkJet printers: the price of the systems has come down, with the manufacturers hoping to make their money on selling the filters. My joke about printers is: “Don’t think of it as buying a printer, think of it as buying an inkjet cartidge subscription”. For me, in the case of the filters, I can’t imagine paying $40 for the filter when I could pay $50 for a whole new unit. But, whatever the case, it seems lame to me. Maybe I don’t understand the economics of it… it’s perfectly possible that the 0.2 micron filters are more expensive to manufacture than the totally macro plastic casing pumps. So, maybe it makes sense. But, I’m more inclined to go with the other idea. If so, they might be pushing it too far. My brand loyalty is not going to be very strong if I can switch to another system for only $10 more than staying with the one I’m buying.

Would love to hear more about this if anyone out there knows anything…