Sawyer Mini vs Sawyer Squeeze:  Which Filter Is Greatest for Via-Mountain climbing?

The Sawyer Squeeze has been the thru-hiker’s most popular water filter for a few years. It’s light-weight, environment friendly, and inexpensive. The Sawyer Mini is a fair smaller, lighter, and cheaper model of the full-size Squeeze, so it have to be a fair better option for weight-conscious hikers, proper? Proper?

Perhaps not.

For as soon as, the lightest, smallest choice might be not the only option for hardcore backpackers. The total-size Sawyer Squeeze is a more sensible choice for thru-hiking than the Sawyer Mini regardless that it’s an oz. heavier as a result of it’s a extra dependable product. Let’s evaluate the 2 filters in additional element to find out why.

Sawyer Squeeze

Tech Specs

  • MSRP: $41
  • Weight: 3 oz
  • Output: 1.7 L/min


Broadly obtainable: Most outfitters carry the Sawyer Squeeze—heck, you’ll be able to even discover them at Walmart within the tenting division. Meaning a substitute is sort of at all times straightforward to seek out. It’s value noting that the Squeeze is usually marked up above MSRP in small cities, so don’t be stunned if you find yourself spending a bit extra on a substitute than you anticipated.

Dependable circulation price: Although not the quickest filter available on the market (extra on that under), the Squeeze can fill a one-liter Smartwater bottle in effectively beneath a minute. The circulation price will lower with time, however I’ve discovered that backflushing the filter each week retains it flowing robust.

Simple to backflush: Talking of which, backflushing the filter is simple to do. Many individuals ditch the cleansing syringe offered by Sawyer and as an alternative use a Smartwater bottle with a sports activities cap to backflush within the discipline. The hot button is to do it commonly and get loads of water stress whenever you do it. This turns into even simpler should you use Sawyer’s cleansing coupling.

Could be transformed to a hands-free gravity filtration system: Sawyer’s cleansing coupling permits you to screw a water container to each ends of the filter, which suggests you’ll be able to grasp the entire setup from a tree and let gravity do the arduous work of filtering your water whilst you dedicate your consideration to different duties. I like to recommend Cnoc Vecto assortment baggage for this objective: they’re robust, the extensive opening makes it straightforward to scoop water, and you may simply connect some wire to the plastic slider to make it hangable.

Cnoc Vecto soiled water container hooked up to Sawyer Squeeze hooked up to Evernew container through blue Sawyer cleansing coupling.


Filter will be broken by freezing temperatures: In case your filter freezes, it could now not work correctly. There’s no definitive technique to inform if this harm has occurred. Water will circulation by way of the filter as ordinary however might not get filtered correctly. When mountaineering within the shoulder season, bringing your Sawyer into your sleeping bag at night time is crucial to make sure it doesn’t freeze. Likewise, maintain it in a next-to-skin pocket throughout the day when temperatures are low.

Not the quickest circulation price: 1.7 liters per minute could be very respectable. But when pace is your high precedence, the Katadyn BeFree and Platypus QuickDraw are speedier choices.

Bought with many further equipment that is probably not helpful: Most thru-hikers don’t use the inline hydration adapter equipment, mesh storage sack, or flimsy assortment baggage that include the filter. This stuff find yourself in hiker bins or the landfill. It could be good should you may purchase simply the filter with out all of the equipment.

Gasket can come off or leak: The gasket on the influx facet of the filter isn’t probably the most dependable. You should purchase substitute gaskets from Sawyer, and normal hose gaskets offered in most {hardware} shops additionally do the job.

Sawyer Mini

Tech Specs

  • MSRP: $25
  • Weight: 2 oz
  • Output: not reported


Even cheaper than Sawyer Squeeze: At $25, the Mini is a steal in comparison with the $40 full-size Sawyer.

One ounce lighter: This is the reason folks choose the Mini over the total Squeeze. Ounces add up shortly, and backpackers get excited each time they will shave even one.

Not as many equipment: The Mini nonetheless comes with a internet bag, syringe, and one assortment bag, however it doesn’t have almost as many equipment as its full-size counterpart. This helps maintain the worth down and means much less stuff cluttering your gear closet or heading to the landfill.


Sluggish and clogs simply: Sawyer ominously doesn’t report the circulation price of the Mini. Even out of the field, the Mini is noticeably slower than the large Squeeze, and the circulation price appears to deteriorate extra shortly with use. Backflushing helps, however Minis are extra vulnerable to outright clogging than full-size Sawyers.

Not as broadly obtainable: Extra shops promote the full-size Squeeze than the Mini. The Mini isn’t arduous to seek out, per se. However you’re much less prone to stroll right into a random path city and have the ability to purchase one off the shelf.

Twin threads not broadly obtainable: Sawyer not too long ago launched a dual-threaded model of the Mini. Nevertheless, most shops nonetheless inventory the standard Mini that solely has threads on the enter finish. Meaning useful equipment just like the Sawyer cleansing coupling and various kinds of caps received’t work. There are not any threads on the outflow finish to screw them onto. We hope the dual-thread Mini will develop into extra broadly obtainable within the coming months, however the usual Mini with out the outflow threads has much less operate and flexibility than the total Squeeze.

Why The Sawyer Squeeze Is a Higher Selection for Via-Mountain climbing

The Sawyer Mini is aptly named. It’s only a smaller model of the Sawyer Squeeze, differing solely in dimension and the outflow design. It makes use of the identical hole fiber filter expertise and is as efficient at filtering micro organism and protozoa.

Though it’s $15 cheaper and an oz. lighter, the Mini is much less appropriate for thru-hiking for a number of causes.

First, the Mini is sluggish. Whereas a vigorous weekly backflush of the total Sawyer Squeeze ought to maintain it flowing quick all through your trek, Mini customers usually report diminished circulation inside per week or two of heavy use. Ultimately, the filter can clog and cease working.

The total Squeeze doesn’t typically have this drawback.

Additionally, the Mini isn’t as broadly obtainable because the Squeeze. Most outfitters, and even Walmarts, carry the Sawyer Squeeze. In case your filter jams up otherwise you want substitute components, you could find one in lots of path cities. You would possibly have the ability to discover a substitute Mini, however it’s much less of a certain factor.

Is there anywhere for the Sawyer Mini in my gear closet?

In fact! It’s wonderful as a backup for safety-conscious hikers or a major filter for infrequent backpackers who received’t put many miles on a filter. It’s additionally an affordable addition to your provide of loaner gear for family and friends.

And it’s value noting that that is very a lot a “your mileage might fluctuate” scenario. Some folks have nice experiences with the Mini. Trek blogger Richard did an in depth evaluation of Sawyer Squeeze vs. Mini circulation price with totally different strategies of backflushing. He discovered that the circulation price of his full Squeeze and Mini ended up about the identical after in depth use. Most folks discover the Sawyer Squeeze quicker and extra dependable than the Mini. Do with that data what you’ll.

What concerning the Sawyer Micro?

Sawyer additionally got here out with one other ultralight filter choice a couple of years in the past referred to as the Sawyer Micro. The Micro has the identical diameter because the Squeeze however is way shorter and squatter. Many hikers hoped this is able to be the filter of their desires—one with the dependable circulation price of the total Squeeze however half an oz. lighter.

Sadly, the Micro appears to have the identical issues because the Mini. It’s vulnerable to clogging, and also you’re much less prone to discover it in a small clothes shop than the total Squeeze or the Mini.

Backflushing the Sawyer

Whichever sort of Sawyer you select, it’s essential to backflush it commonly. Sawyer gives a 50mL cleansing syringe for this objective with each filter it sells, however many backpackers ditch the syringe in favor of an ultralight Smartwater sports activities cap. I want to make use of Sawyer’s cleansing coupling for a leak-free backflush.

No matter methodology you employ, be sure to run at the least a liter by way of the filter at excessive stress. Tapping the filter on a rock, a log, or the sting of the sink may also help to dislodge cussed particles for a more practical cleaning, although Sawyer warns in opposition to knocking the filter too arduous and damaging the fragile filter membrane.

In case you’re on the lookout for a deeper clear, soaking a clogged filter in sizzling water or vinegar earlier than backflushing may also help get issues flowing once more. I generally discover that my filters lock up after being in storage for an prolonged time. When this occurs, I soak the filter in a heat water and vinegar answer, then connect it to a bag of unpolluted water and grasp it for a couple of hours. It’s a sluggish course of, however the filter will normally loosen up and begin working once more after some time.

Is the Sawyer Squeeze the Greatest Via-Mountain climbing Water Filter Total?

I just like the Sawyer Squeeze as a result of it’s simple and dependable. Why reinvent the wheel? However different choices may be value contemplating relying in your wants and priorities.

READ NEXT – Platypus QuickDraw vs. Katadyn BeFree vs. Sawyer Squeeze

Katadyn BeFree: Many hikers love the BeFree due to its circulation price. It filters at an marketed two liters per minute, 18 p.c quicker than the Squeeze’s 1.7 liters per minute. The distinction might sound trivial, however accumulating water is tedious and time-consuming, particularly should you’re filtering many liters or the water is chilly. Something to hurry this course of up is a win. The draw back with the BeFree is that the replaceable filter cartridges clog simply and have to be swapped steadily.

Platypus Quickdraw: The QuickDraw is just like the Squeeze however weighs much less and allegedly filters quicker. The QuickDraw is a comparatively new product and should still be figuring out high quality management points. Customers report a number of variability in circulation price, with many reporting that the claimed three-liter-per-minute circulation is inaccurate.

Steripen: The Steripen makes use of UV gentle to purify your consuming water. The water purification course of is extra concerned than with a squeeze filter, and it requires batteries, which need to be monitored and altered sometimes.

Nevertheless, the Steripen isn’t weak to freezing temperatures. In distinction, hole fiber filters will be completely broken by freezing, and chemical techniques work slowly in chilly water. UV additionally eliminates extra creepy crawlies than many different purification/filtration applied sciences, focusing on viruses along with micro organism and protozoa.

The Steripen solely purifies your water; it doesn’t filter out sediment or goo. It’s possible you’ll need to get the FitsAll sediment prefilter to go along with it.

Chemical Purification

AquaMira: AquaMira is a two-part chemical purification system that works on micro organism, protozoa, and viruses. It weighs little or no and doesn’t go away humorous tastes in your purified water. Nevertheless, you have to fastidiously comply with the (considerably concerned) directions for the response to work. And it doesn’t bodily filter the water, solely purifies it, so any sediment floating within the water supply will nonetheless be current whenever you drink it.

Iodine: Iodine tablets are lighter than AquaMira and simpler to make use of. Sadly, iodine tastes horrendous and stains your water (and water containers) an upsetting reddish brown. It’s OK as a backup, however we don’t suggest it for on a regular basis use when extra nice choices can be found.

In case you use iodine, you’ll hate your life much less when you’ve got a powdered drink combine to masks the style. For a bit extra weight and battle, Potable Aqua sells “taste-neutralizer” tablets to make the iodine expertise extra palatable.

Bleach: The dirtbag methodology of chemical purification is an eye fixed drop bottle stuffed with bleach. Two drops of bleach in a liter of water and half-hour to let it work its magic ought to do the trick.

What about pump filters?

Pump filters was once the backpacker’s normal. However nowadays, they’re overly heavy and clunky in comparison with extra streamlined fashionable techniques. Pump filters are nonetheless useful for getting water out of low, sluggish sources the place dipping a group bottle is impractical. As an illustration, pumps are nice for snowy winter hikes as a result of you’ll be able to drop the filter dampen a steep snow financial institution or right into a small gap lower within the icy floor of a lake and pump the water into your bottles, which is way simpler than dipping the bottles straight.

Nonetheless, pump filters weigh quite a bit and have extra breakable components than most choices above. Most thru-hikers not often, if ever, want a pump, even on comparatively water-scarce trails. Except you anticipate difficult-to-access water sources, you’ll in all probability be OK with a lighter (and extra inexpensive) filtration system.

What have we realized?

In case you’re attempting to decide on between the Sawyer Squeeze, Mini, and Micro, go along with the Sawyer Squeeze. Discover someplace else in your pack to shave an oz. if that’s essential to you. The total Squeeze is a extra dependable and useful choice throughout the board.

It performs effectively when in comparison with different filtration/purification techniques. Nevertheless, relying in your wants and priorities, it’s possible you’ll need to think about choices just like the Katadyn BeFree, Platypus Quickdraw, Steripen, or AquaMira drops.

The primary factor is that you just filter all of your water within the backcountry. None of those choices is so heavy or costly that you need to really feel the necessity to forgo them and threat giardia and different waterborne diseases. Many backcountry water sources are as pristine as they appear. Some aren’t. Filtering can really feel like a ache, however it solely takes a couple of minutes. It is going to shortly develop into a backcountry ritual as pure as respiration.

Featured picture: Picture and graphic design by Zack Goldmann.

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