Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review

sawyer mini water filter

This is my unbiased Sawyer Mini water filter review.  The total filter including water bag, drinking straw, and 16 ounce squeeze bags weighs around 3 ounces.  I used everything on my last backpacking trip including the drinking straw.

Fill the squeeze bag at clear flowing streams or dip the bag into sediment free areas in lakes.  The filter screws into the bag.  Once filled, squeeze the bag into a clean water reservoir or hydration pack.   Or simple insert the drinking straw into the filter and suck on it in the same way you drink from a hydration pack.

I first heard of the Sawyer Mini while back packing the Lost Coast in Northern California.  Our group carried 2 battery operated Steripen water purifiers that stopped working due to battery failure.


A fellow camper let us use his Sawyer Mini filter to fill up our hydration packs and water storage bottles..  It performed flawlessly.  I purchased 2 Sawyer Mini water filters from Amazon when I returned home.

Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review & Summary

As a small, light and inexpensive option, the squeeze bag Sawyer Mini Water Filter system weighs about 2 ounces and costs about $20 for a filter that the manufacture says is good for 100,000 gallons.  In other words, it's the last water filter for back packing that you should have to buy.

sawyer mini water filter

Comparatively, my 25 year old old MSR pump filter weighed 1 lb and died on the trail due to a failed pump diaphram. Similar products like LifeStraw water filter weighs a bit more, is four inches longer, has a shorter life expectancy, and is less versatile than the Mini.

The Mini has universal threads that be screwed into standard water bottles and other brands of water squeeze bags like the Platypus.

I found the Sawyer Mini to be the best filter for solo use in the backcountry.   I don't recommend it for multiple users unless you are day hiking.  It's light enough to carry 2 units per camper.

How To Use The Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Sawyer Mini Water Filter from Sawyer Products on Vimeo.

Sawyer Mini Water Filter Effectiveness

With a 0.1 micron pore size in its hollow fiber membrane filter, the Sawyer Mini is effective against protozoa, bacteria, and the hard-shelled Cryptosporidium. I bought it to treat Giardia.

I am tired of pump filters and units with batteries that are not supposed to die. This unit is less likely to break or not work when you are out in the wilderness and need it most unless you leave it outside of your tent in below freezing weather. We froze 1 sawyer the second night out. Good thing I carried 2 Sawyer Mini’s.

Don't Let The Sawyer Mini Water Filter Freeze

I brought 2 Sawyer Mini’s to use for myself and 2 boys to use on a 5 day back packing trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Sierras.

We left a Sawyer Mini out over night and it froze leaving us with 1 Sawyer Mini for 9 people to use for another 4 days!  Bring 1 filter per person as the Sawyer Mini filters are lightweight.

Like the instructions say, don’t let this unit freeze. The Sawyer was left out in below freezer temperature was rendered useless.

How Well Did The Sawyer Mini Perform?

Considering that 9 people were using and abusing the Sawyer Mini, it worked well. They young boys managed to put a leak in the 16 ounce squeeze bag. The filter starts getting slow after filtering 2-3 liters. It’s not meant for large groups, so it performed as expected.  It's a perfect mini survival water filter that can be stored in a bug out bag or glove box of your vehicle.

How Easy Is the Sawyer Mini Water Filter To Use?

For 1-2 people, the filter is easy to use with little maintenance. I think it’s best used for one person. At $20 per filter, and weighing only 1.5 ounces, there is no reason to share it. Even if one unit fails, you will have still have more capable water filters as back ups.  For large groups, this filter is too difficult as it take about 2 minutes per liter.  The more you use it, the more it has to be cleaned.

The Sawyer Mini Water Filter Can Be Installed Inline To Camel Back Hydration Bladder

We thought of connecting one filter inline to our camel backs for ease of use as filling the hydration backs takes some effort. If we ever do this, I suggest leaving the Sawyer Mini inline and not taking it out. Keep one Sawyer Mini filter for drinking on the trail out of small streams and filling up your pots and pans for cooking. The convenience will be worth the extra weight.

How To Clean  The Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Sawyer includes a reusable syringe to back flush the Mini Water filter.  Simple fill the syringe with clean water and and insert into the tube with the arrow pointing out and squeeze the syringe.

Back flushing the filter takes less than a minute. I suggest back flushing ever 2-3 squeeze bags to keep it flowing.

The included syringe does not fit directly into the Mini water filter.  Water leaks out of the connection point.  Sawyer needs to address this.  I heard of some people inserting a piece of plastic tubing into the syringe and connecting this to the water filter.

Best Application For Sawyer Mini Water Filterp

This filter works best as a one person water filter for backpacking, and is not suitable for groups of 3 or more people. This is an excellent choice for hiking, back packing in the wilderness, bicycle touring, and European style back packing where one spends the night in hostels and small hotels.



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