Behind the Scenes Video: MSR’s Water Research Lab

Behind every MSR water treatment product is a team of scientists dedicated to researching, developing and testing the latest in water treatment solutions. In this video, we take a look at how their work is key to the reliability of our products, and how their efforts stretch into R&D for the U.S. military and nonprofit organizations. Here’s a glimpse inside MSR’s world-class water research lab, located at our factory headquarters in Seattle.

MSR Water Research Lab: Behind the Scenes

At MSR, we don’t just manufacture the majority of our gear here in Seattle, we also do the engineering and scientific research behind our products right here in-house.

Our on-site water research lab plays an important role in the safety and reliability of MSR’s water treatment products.

“One of the things that makes MSR efficient and good at designing and producing high-quality water treatment devices is the fact that we’re all localized. So, the water lab is here in Seattle, our design engineers are here in Seattle, our manufacturing engineers are here in Seattle, and so we can work on the science, and with very rough technology, to figure out how it works, what it doesn’t do, what it does do, and then we can share that information with the engineers.

My name is Zac Gleason. I manage the water treatment lab for MSR and that’s where we are now. Welcome to the microbiology lab. This is where the magic happens behind our products in water treatment.

Combined with the other scientists that work here, we’re looking at just under about a hundred years of water treatment research experience.”

– Zac Gleason, Microbiologist & Lab Manager

The Front Line of Quality Control

The lab’s main job is to ensure quality control of MSR’s current products. Every week the team pulls a batch off the line to make sure they’re working properly before they go out the door and into outdoor shops.

“When a customer buys something off the shelf to treat their water, they’re relying on it to keep them healthy so they can enjoy their time away from work out in the backcountry. And we want to be a part of that experience, or at least a perfect water treatment device goes unnoticed.

– Zac Gleason, Microbiologist & Lab Manager

Research and Innovation

MSR can remain at the forefront of water treatment innovation because the lab is also an ongoing research center. It grows its own bacteria and viruses for testing and to help with future product development. And the team has hands-on experience with nearly every type of water treatment technology available to modern science.

“We keep a database of the different water treatment technologies that we’ve worked with and that can range from somebody had an idea to a finished product. We have over 70 different water treatment technologies in that database now and I personally have had hands-on experience with all of those.”

– Zac Gleason, Microbiologist & Lab Manager

Beyond the Outdoors

In addition to research, testing is one of the lab’s core capabilities. We design every product to meet the scientific standards for safe drinking water. To ensure it, the lab puts each new product through rigorous multi-day tests using what’s called worst-case water to test the product’s effectiveness. Because of its expertise, the lab is often contracted by the US military and by philanthropic organizations working with citizens and developing nations.

“We don’t just do stuff for outdoor, but we also do stuff for the US military and we do stuff for the poorest of the poor. We work with groups like The Gates Foundation and PATH and Larry Norton Foundation to really find the best solutions for whatever problem they’re trying to confront.”

– Zac Gleason, Microbiologist & Lab Manager

The MSR water lab is a special place with an incredible amount of scientific knowledge. It’s how we stay true to our goal of being your trusted source for safe water on every adventure.


Updated. Originally published April 7, 2020.