Field test and review
Sawyer have completely revolutionised back-country water filtration over the past few years. It wasn’t long ago that your choice was between bulky pump filters, harsh chemical treatments, or fussy UV light pens. Now you don’t have to worry about any of that because Sawyer just made the choice for you, and it’s called the Sawyer Mini.
The Sawyer Mini weighs only 57 grams, will filter 378,540 litres of water, and cost a lot less than most water filters. It’s easy to use, extremely versatile, and highly effective (99.99999% protection against bacteria and protozoa). So there’s no need to worry about Giardia, no need to carry any extra weight, and no need to wait 30 minutes to drink horrible tasting water. The Mini is nearly the perfect back-country water filter, and if you pick one up, you’ll quickly see why.
The MINI can be attached to the included collapsible drinking pouch, inline on a hydration pack (that’s how I use mine), on a standard soft-drink bottle, or simply use the included drinking straw to drink directly from the water source. How is that for versatility? Like all Sawyer filters, a proper back-washing can restore up to 98.5% of the filter’s flow rate. That means no expensive cartridges to replace, ever.
In my opinion, the Sawyer Mini is a a must have for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s cheap, light, and effective compared to its competition, it will quickly become one of your favorite pieces of gear and I use it on every hike where i know my water supplies will need a top-up.
- The MINI removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium
- Cost Effective – About as cheap as water purifiers get.
- 57 grams – About as light as water purifiers get.
- 1 x 5 in – About as small as water purifiers get.
- 378,540 Litres Guarantee – Not too shabby either. (30 times more than comparable filters)
- Versatility – Use it with a straw, splice it into your hydration pack, attach it to a bottle, or use the squeeze bag to fill your containers. The adaptability of this product is one of its greatest strengths.
- Back-flushing – Like all filters, a little maintenance is required. Back-flushing will keep your Mini flowing strong and it’s is easy to do. Back-flush at home between your trips and you’ll be good to go.
- Squeeze Pouch – When you buy the Mini, it will come with one 16 oz pouch, which will be large enough for your trail runs, but not large enough for your backpacking trips. So definitely pick up some spare pouches. I prefer the 64 oz bags.
- Squeeze – If you use this product with a squeeze bag (most common), you’ll have to squeeze water through the filter. This can get tedious on long trips with big groups, just like a pump filter can. It’s really not that bad at all. Bring one Mini for every two people and you’ll be set.
- Freeze – Don’t let your Mini filter freeze in sub-zero temps because that could damage its insides, and nobody wants that. If you’re in a pinch, put the Mini in a Ziploc in your sleeping bag at night.
- Lakes – Filling the squeeze bag from a lake will seem tricky the first few times you try it. Hold the bag by the top opening and swoop it through the water. After 8-10 scoops you’ll have a full bag.
The ability to drink clean water directly from the source without having to carry a bulky filter or harsh chemicals is ideal for back-country hikers. The Mini is an effective, small, lightweight, and versatile water filter that won’t break the bank.
Update December 2020
The flow rate was great when I first started using them but over time it reduces to the point where the filters become unusable. Even cleaning them doesn’t seem to improve the flow. Almost got a blister on my tongue from trying to suck water through our filters. They seem to have a shot life.
Buy from Backpacking Light for $49.95
- Filter Material: Hollow Fiber
- Removes: Bacteria, Protozoa, E. Coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholerea, Salmonella Typhi
- Cartridge Life: up to 100,000 gallons. 378,540 Litres
- Weight: 57 grams
- Product #: Blue [SP128], Black [SP105], Green [SP101] Pink [SP 102], Orange [SP103], 4-Pack [SP124]
- MADE IN THE U.S.A
My reviews are based on my own on-trail field tests and I provide an unbiased account of the gear I use. Often, reviewers won’t take gear into the field but search online for existing reviews and collate them to form a conclusion. If you’re a retailer or manufacturer, I’d love to field-test your gear. If you are keen to hear how your gear performs, please get in touch.