$20, 2.2oz, 100,000 gallons of water treatment-How can you go wrong?
Since the ‘80’s I have played around with various different water treatments. I started out as a kid in scouts drinking straight from the springs and streams of New England, than when I went out west we used iodine in the form of Polar Pure. After that I graduated to my first full blown water filter a Katadyn Expedition that I used on my AT Thru-hike in 1996 until it broke, than I was back to the old dip & sip and Polar Pure. In 1997 I tested out the PuR Hiker before I hit the market; it’s a very reliable water filter and one that would be the standard of most hikers for a better part of the decade.
Fast forward to 2000 and present, I moved to the PNW, I started to treat my water less and drink more and more straight from the source however after a few bouts of giardia, I decided that I needed to start treating some if not all my water going forward. I picked up Aqua Mira which I like, it treats water effectively without an aftertaste, but it takes 15 minutes or more and I hate to wait when I’m thirsty.
This spring I picked up the Sawyer Squeeze Filter, a lot of my hiking friends had been swearing by these as a light, effective filter. I hike with my dog a lot and have never liked given him treated water with the squeeze filter; I was able to treat water for both of us easily. I have enjoyed the full size Squeeze filter, but it is a little bulky and heavy, especially with how I run it in line on my hydration pack. The filter though has worked well, even after a few trips of filtering glacier run off.
The Mini Arrives
In September I was asked by Sawyer to test one of the new MINI Filters, I jumped at the chance especially after learning it only weighed 2.2 oz., that’s lighter than most people’s chemical treatments they carry and definitely lighter than any filter out there. The first thing I noticed when it showed up was how small and compact it is, I pulled it out of the box and it literally fit in the palm of my hand. It also fit right onto my hydration pack’s hose with no adapter necessary. As an added bonus I had cut and added the Sawyer Squeeze filters inline system to a spare hose, this screwed right onto that one too.
I set about getting ready to try it out. I planned on having it with me on the Tahoe Rim Trail; however it didn’t show up before I left so instead I got to use it in my homeland of Oregon. After a few different days in the field I can say this thing is my new go to water treatment, I’m not sure I’ll ever dip and sip again, well maybe but it will have to be the right situation to not want to use this little nugget.
I generally use a hydration system, and carry a store bought water bottle, this allows me to drink easily while hiking from the hydration system, have extra capacity with the water bottle, and also have a way to fill from those hard to reach springs, etc….the Universal screw on design of the Sawyer Mini works now with my hydration system and my water bottle.
The first thing I noticed when using the MINI was how easy it was to suck the water through the system. With other inline filters in the past I often felt like I had to suck with a great deal of pressure to get the water to go through, well not any more. This not only makes life more enjoyable by not straining to get my needed water, it also means I will drink more and stay better hydrated-a major plus when hiking 20-30 mile days.
One thing I like about these filters is their ability to work as a gravity filter. This is a great way for me to filter Karluk’s, my dogs, water during a break or in the evening for the next day. The first time I used this filter in this manner I kind didn’t realize how well it was going to work. Before I knew it my hydration bladder was empty and Karluk’s bowl was flowing over, efficient is an understatement of this filer when used in the gravity method.
Other things to note is the lack of moving parts, or anything else for that matter that can break or need to be repaired in the field. The filter comes with a large flush syringe, all you have to do to unclog it, is back wash water through the system with the syringe. I know this will work as my Sawyer Squeeze filter started to get progressively slower on a trip due to the glacial silt, when I got home, I back flushed the system and what do you know as good as new.
The small size, light weight, ease of use and super cheap price $20 for 100,000 gallons of water make this filter in my opinion a no brainer. The lack of things to break is essential when you are deep in the wilderness. The simple design and adaptability to go form a hydration system, to the included squeeze bag or a store bought bottle make it a jack of all trades. The gravity filter feature is great for processing water for more than you when needed. Overall I can’t really find anything not to love this filter. I for one am sold and cannot think of a backpacking trip in my future where the Mini won’t be along top keep me well hydrated and giardia free.
Sawyer MINI Water Filter Review
Sawyer Squeeze Filter & MINI Filter
Side by side shot of the two Sawyer filters. You'll notice how much smaller and streamlined the new Sawyer MINI Filter is.
Flush System and Straw
This is the provided flush syringe and drinking straw, the flush works great to keep the filter flowing properly
MINI Filter bag on top
This shows how much smaller the MINI's bladder is, this not only is a great size to fit in smaller hands, it also saves weight form your pack
Sawyer MINI vs Sawyer Squeeze Filter
Here is a good side by side close up showing just how much smaller the new MINI is compared to it's big brother the Squeeze Filter. Note that the mini is screwed into the same adapter that the Squeeze filter uses, this is optional and not neccessary for the MINI
Here I show how the filter works in relation to the hydration bladder. You don't need it above your head though the easy flow ilets you drink like you would without the filter inline.
Inline filter system
Here you can see the MINI Filter inline on my hydration bag, it works great and stays out of the way while hiking
Filter on the day pack
Here is a good shot of how the filter works seamlessly with my hydration system on my day pack, this same system is also used on longer backpacking trips and thru-hikes.
Here is I am using my Sawyer MINI Filter as a gravity filter to provide clean drinking water for my dog