The Sawyer MINI water filter is my favorite back country filter ever. I can remember the old-style ceramic types, which were usually heavy, slow and a pain to clean and maintain. They were bulky and had easily breakable plastic parts that you couldn’t afford to break in the woods. I clearly remember my achy arms as I sat by the lake pumping away and watching the sun go down. All that to fill up a regular size bottle. Well, times have definitely changed.
The Sawyer MINI is an absolute pleasure to use. At a mere two ounces, it can filter an amazing 100,000 gallons of water (holy Moses!) before you need to replace it. So, it is safe to assume that it could be the last water filter you will ever need to buy. Naturally I would probably want to replace it before it hits that number but how would you even keep track?
In the world of backpack size filters, there are really only a couple to choose from that won’t leave you a hundred bucks lighter in the wallet. And, some of the more expensive ones have moving parts that I know could break in a heartbeat. I narrowed it down to the Sawyer MINI and the LifeStraw.
While the LifeStraw is a good choice as well, the fact that it only gives you about 264 gallons, compared to 100,000 with the Sawyer, well, the choice was a no-brainer for me. I also liked the accessories that came with the Sawyer. As far as actual filtration, they were pretty equally matched and were both around the same price ( $25 for the Sawyer and $20 for the LifeStraw).
Off to the nearest creek I went. The Sawyer people really thought this one out well. In the standard Kit, you get the filter, a squeeze bag, a hose, and a syringe (to back flush the filter) and it’s surprisingly compact. Operation is easy and it can be used several ways. You can fill up the squeeze bag, screw on the filter and squeeze the water into your bottle. The squeeze bag holds 16 ounces. You can also attach the tube to the filter and use it like a straw. Or, you can attach the filter directly to a plastic water bottle and use it that way. I like the options.
I filled up the squeeze bag, screwed on the filter and filled up my bottle. The flow was excellent and the water tasted great. I filtered water out of a standing pool along a creek. The system worked flawlessly and, although I didn’t need to flush the filter, I tried it anyways. All you do is fill up the syringe with clean water and flush it backwards . . . super easy.
Conclusion: Great product, easy to use, few parts to break, and affordable. I always have mine with me and I hardly know it’s there. And, best of all, I lose a lot of weight from not having to carry a bunch of water.