**Update: Since writing this post, I’ve found that one drawback of MINI is that the small cap that covers the tip and is attached so it doesn’t get lost breaks off very easily so people have made their own caps or found other ways to attach it. I’m sure that will be something that Sawyer will improve upon in future upgrades of the filter.
**Another tip I’ve learned is that weight can be saved by leaving the syringe at home if you carry a SmartWater water bottle that has a flip top. It seals perfectly to the filter for backflushing using the water bottle!
I want to post a review for one of the newest ultralight pieces of gear that’s getting a lot of buzz, the Sawyer MINI Water Filter.
|The Sawyer MINI along with included 16oz pouch, drinking straw, and a cleaning syringe for backflushing.|
Most of you know I used the reliable and award winning Sawyer Squeeze for the 5 months I was on trail this summer and I would recommend it to everyone. The idea of the Sawyer MINI is that it is pretty much a “mini” version of the Sawyer Squeeze. I know most backpackers use the Sawyer Squeeze and that most reading this will want to hear how the two compare, so that is the angle by which I am doing this review. Here is a side by side visual of the two.
|Side-by-side comparison of the Sawyer MINI (2oz) and Sawyer Squeeze (3oz).|
There are a few features that have been given to the Sawyer MINI to make it more versatile than the Sawyer Squeeze. I immediately liked the change in the spouts at each end. The smaller threads on each end allow for the MINI to be used in many ways.
|Drink directly from a bottle, filter into a bottle, and drinking from a scoop or directly from a source. (as an inline filter not pictured)|
*To drink directly from most disposable water bottles. Using disposable bottles are ideal for lightweight backpackers. Having the ability to “scoop and go” is a great incentive to using both the Squeeze and the MINI. Just attach the filter and hike with it in the side pocket of your pack. There is slight resistance compared to guzzling from an open mouthed bottle, but that is a matter of preference.
*To filter directly into any sized bottle. With the Sawyer Squeeze, the white output is too large to fit the mouth of smaller bottles or bladders causing some frustration with certain containers. Not a problem with the Sawyer MINI. The smaller output allows you to filter into any sized mouth of a container easily.)
*To drink using a straw directly from a source, scoop, or bottle. This option is nice because many hikers will save weight by preferring to carry less water and just drink directly at the source when they cross it. It’s also a backup if a water bottle is lost or bladder is punctured. Both of which, I’ve had happen numerous times.
*As an inline filter with a bladder. I don’t have this option pictured above because I would have had to cut the tubing on my bladder, but the MINI has adapters on each end that would fit tubing perfectly to use it as an inline filter. Many like to use their Squeeze in this manner and have had to buy the hydration adapters to do that. With the MINI, that’s one less thing to worry about.
|Backflushing using the cleaning syringe.|
Both products use Sawyer’s Hollow Fiber Membrane Filters
if you are interested in reading details on how the filters work. Basically, they are the highest quality filters you’re going to find out there today that remove 99.9999% of all bacteria and protozoa including salmonella, cholera and
E.coli, giardia and
cryptosporidium. They do not fend against chemicals and viruses which are rarely found in natural sources in N America. As
for their performance, the Squeeze is guaranteed of a life up to 1
million gallons whereas the smaller MINI has a life of 100,000 gallons,
which is still incredible! Both can be backflushed in the field using
the included syringe if the filter becomes clogged or has a reduced
I did notice that the washer on the input side of the MINI is constructed differently than the Squeeze and it’s an improvement. The way the adapter is placed, the washer does not interfere with the back flushing and small debris does not get stuck in the casing, which would happen from time to time with the Squeeze and I would have to fully remove the washer. Another pro for the MINI is that there is a small attached cap on the end of the MINI to avoid needing the clear top that is easy to misplace on the Squeeze.
As a long distance backpacker, I was interested in the comparison of flow rates in the two. As a backpacker, there are times when might need to filter multiple liters a day. It becomes time consuming with any filter and I found the Squeeze to be faster than other filters used along the trail. When I tested the two myself, I actually found the MINI to be faster because it was brand new and my Squeeze was so used on the CDT that it’s slower now…so that wasn’t a true comparison. I asked Pat over at Sawyer and he said that in their tests, the mini did take about double the time to filter a liter of water than the Sawyer, which makes sense since it is half the size. The other thing to be aware of with the MINI is that it will need to be backflushed more often than the Squeeze because it is smaller.
I do want to make a note about the pouches that come with the Sawyer filters. Due to the process of repeatedly squeezing and applying pressure toward the mouth of the pouches, they do break over time…especially for thru hikers…and even more so for CDTers. Sawyer recommends keeping the filter backflushed and to be aware of how much pressure users apply to the pouches. I went through many pouches and bladders over my CDT trip, but I’d still say the benefits of the lighter, more reliable filter made it worth keeping.
Given all these factors, I think it’s up to the individual to decide which of the filters they would use on which types of trips. What I can say is that both the Squeeze and MINI are great lightweight options that I highly recommend!
*Thanks to Pat over at Sawyer for giving me the opportunity to do this review and thanks to my friend Laurel who helped with the photos!