Friday, May 6, 2016

Pack and Go! or Hell NO! Sawyer Mini Gear Review

I think water treatment is one of the more important things we deal with in the back country, and it is one of the things that most people have misconceptions about. I wrote about it in great detail here.

But today, I want to talk about the Sawyer Mini. I have now been using the Sawyer mini for a couple of years, I used the sawyer squeeze before that (the squeeze is the mini's slightly larger cousin) and I used a sawyer gravity system even before that. I have a lot of experience with this filter and this review is way overdue. It may even be late, as the sawyer mini is one of the most popular filters on the market.

Weighing in at a mere 2 ounces, and with a lifespan of 100,000 gallons (that is around 275 years of use if you were wondering) The sawyer mini is a game changer. Filtering to .1 micron it gets all the nasties out of the water, and is simple to use.

Okay, you are on a hiking trip, your reservoir runs dry and up ahead there is a stream. You stop, take off your pack and retrieve your filter, and a small 16 ounce bag. Holding the bag under water, with the mouth facing up stream, it will quickly fill. Then screw the bag onto the bottom of the sawyer mini, and squeeze. Squeezing the bag forces the contents through the hollow fiber membrane and into what ever receptacle you choose. That's it. Your done.

It generally takes me about 45 seconds to squeeze out a liter. which is the traditional way to use the device. But if you don't want to stick with tradition, the sawyer mini is extremely versatile. It comes with a small straw so you could use directly in a water bottle (like a life straw with much longer lifespan) You can cut your hydration reservoir hose and put the sawyer mini inline and filter as you drink.

Don't want to use the bag that came with the mini, you can screw most non-reusable water bottles onto it, and squeeze that - I have been told that it is compatible with Pepsi brand bottles, and not coke brand. Apparently the thread pitch is different. With a little ingenuity you can even turn this into a gravity system, which is what I did with a pair of MSR dromedary's on our last Alaska trip. 

They sell a small box of adapter parts essentially turning this into the lego of filter systems, build what you want. 

But, it isn't without faults. In non moving water the bags can be hard to fill. There is no charcoal or carbon aspect which means the filter doesn't get out odors and flavors. But that is really about it. 

Pluses - Lightweight, long life span, adaptable

Minuses - Doesn't get out odors and flavors, the bags can be hard to fill. 

But at $24.95 this is a PACK AND GO! all the way.