Gear Review – Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Posted on June 03 2015

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When it comes survival, there are few things you can’t live without, good clean drinking water is one of them. Whether you are out on a day hike or a longer trip, you need a water filter, no way around it, unless you feel like boiling all your water, which I personally try to avoid unless absolutely necessary. I’ve gone through more than a few filters over the years, mainly the pump style filters since that’s what I knew from backpacking with my parents as a child.
Getting a good filter is the first step, the next step is learning how to identity the best water to filter. For example, let’s say you are out hiking and come across a stream. It looks clear, but if you don’t take the time to check for the source of the stream, you probably won’t notice that the stream is actually sitting right next to a pasture. This means that without a doubt, the stream contains pesticides and animal waste. Sure in a pinch, go ahead and stick your filter in there and get your canteen filled up. But you are much better off moving to another water source that doesn’t contain such contaminants.

Read more about choosing a good water at the link below:
http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/water-risks.html

It was only recently that I started thinking outside of the world of pump filters and started looking at different ways to filter water, more specifically the straw filters such as the Lifestraw. I purchased one a while back to replace an old broken filter and it served me well on day hikes and overnight trips. But, I knew I needed something that gave me more options than just drinking straight from the source. Being the frugal bastard that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to drop $80 or more on a pump style filter so I kept using the Lifestraw. That was until I started seeing reviews for the Sawyer line up of filters. Based on what I read, the Sawyer Mini seemed like it would be a good fit for my needs.

The first chance I got, I purchased one from Amazon and a few days later, headed to the field for a trial run. After a few hours of testing and using the filter, I knew it was a good fit for me and therefore it was more than worthy of a video review and a detailed writeup.

Overview & Specs

This filter is just one of many in the Sawyer water filtration product lineup. I chose this one based on price, versatility, weight and a few other factors. First off let’s talk specs. The Sawyer Mini weighs in at just 2 ounces, is rated down to .01 micron absolute and can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. That’s pretty damn impressive for a filter of this size. Sawyer is able to hit that mark due to the use of the hollow fiber membrane filter, but take note that the 100,000 gallons claim is reliant on proper care of the filter. Either way those are great specs and even better, the filter retails for about $20 on Amazon. When it comes bacteria, the Sawyer removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.

So for a low price point you get a system that can filter massive amounts of water, removes pretty much all bacteria unless you are drinking from an open sewer drain and fits in the palm of your hand.

Usage

Now let’s talk real world use. This is really where the filter comes into it’s own. Unlike other ultra light filters, the Sawyer Mini can be used in different ways. If you want to drink directly from the water source, just attach the tubing to the filter and use it as a straw. If that doesn’t fit your needs, you can fill up the 16oz filter bag with water, attach that to the filter and get a cool drink of water in that fashion. But wait, what about filling up that hydro pouch or canteen with water? That’s not a problem either, just fill up the 16oz pouch and instead of drinking the water from the pouch, just squeeze it directly in your canteen or hydro pouch. That’s three options for filtering water, not bad for a filter of this size!

Sawyer Mini Sawyer Mini Sawyer Mini

The business end of the filter is a universal size that can fit directly on pretty much any standard soda or water bottle (standard 28mm thread), giving you the ability to fill up multiple containers for future use. Now of course if you don’t take care of the filter, overtime the flow rate will slow as the filter itself becomes clogged. But Sawyer was thoughtful enough to include a cleaning plunger to flush out the filter and restore the flow rate.

If I had to think of any downsides to this filter it would only be that there is a little bit of leakage at the point of attachment of the filter to the drinking pouch or water bottle. Make sure to have a tight seal or you’ll end up losing some water. Aside from that, I have not encountered any negatives, the filter works as advertised and I think the most attractive feature of this system aside from the price is the versatility.

When compared to the Lifestraw, there’s no competition. The Lifestraw is twice as big, weighs more and filters about 264 gallons of water, as compared to the 100,000 gallons from a Sawyer. It’s a no brainer as to which one you would chose to purchase.

I will say that for large scale filtering, the Sawyer Mini wouldn’t be nearly as effective as a pump style filter, the Katadyn Hiker Pro is a good example for comparison. But for one or two people interested in going lightweight for a day or even more, the Sawyer Mini is a perfect match.

Summary

Overall, Sawyer has really hit the mark with this filter system. I can’t think of any comparable product on the market right now, if you can, please let me know since I like to always have more options than less when it comes to water filters. You can find this awesome system on Amazon, the link is below and for you guys overseas, you’ll be happy to know that Sawyer does ship international!

Purchase Sawyer Mini: http://amzn.to/1cxUz5p

I’ve included a short video review of the Mini in action so you can see the multiple options for filtering water as we discussed previously.What type of filter do you use? Drop me a comment below!

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