One of the most important ingredients of a good backcountry kit is a water filtering system. I'll admit that prior to my Sawyer Mini, I had no experience with water filters of any kind. There are so many designs out there to choose from such as pumps, squeeze styles, and gravity fed systems, that it can be a little overwhelming at times. Though I haven't owned them all, I can at least speak intelligently about how my Sawyer Mini works and show you why it is I love it so much.
When shopping for a filter, I knew I wanted one that was small, lightweight, uncomplicated, and could save my butt if I happen to find myself in a sticky situation. The Sawyer Mini easily met all of those requirements and from the reviews that I had read online, it sounded like it was a pretty incredible product. I purchased my Mini through a discount website and after a summer of using it, I couldn't be happier with my purchase.
· If kept clean, it will last a long, long time
· Comes from a well-known company
· The filter of choice by many Thru Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail.
· Small spout. The filter doesn't gush water out the opening. By no means is it a slow going process unless your filter is dirty, but it's not going to be super fast like a water faucet at home. But what filter is? If you want more flow, spring for the next size up.
· If you twist a bottle on too tight, you might damage the seal on the inside. Just be gentle
The Sawyer seems to have a sturdy build. I've dropped it and smashed it into my pack and haven't thought twice about it. The only thing you'll need to be aware of is not over tightening it when you attached it to a bottle. If you do you might find water leaking out the sides when you're filtering water which can be really annoying. Just twist it on the threads of the bottle until you feel it stop. No need to go much further. Before you go handing this product to a friend, make sure you tell them this nugget of wisdom.
The filter works as advertised and is fully capable of filtering water from a stream or lake. But what about dirty water? Well, funny you should ask. On an overnight trip in 2015, I found myself having to dig through top soil to where I knew a spring was in order to find water for my hiking group. I figured this would be a good time to test the filter out to see if it could hold up to filtering muddy water. Turns out the Sawyer Mini is a champ. Sure, it clogged up after filtering a liter or so, but considering how dirty that water was, I was impressed. Once it was too dirty to keep going, I simply backwashed the filter until it was clear again and was back to making drinking water. After that experience, I was sold. The size of the filter is so small that I can take it with me on day hikes and not notice it's there at all. For that reason alone, I love this product. Knowing I can always have clean water wherever I go puts my mind at ease.
One of the best features of the Sawyer Mini is that you can attach it to any common water bottle you might purchase at the local corner store. Think about this when you travel abroad! Just thread the Mini onto the opening of the bottle and you can have safe drinking water. This function also comes in handy if you're on the trail with no time to spend a few minutes filtering water. Just fill up a water bottle or water bag with a threaded top and you can drink/filter as you go.
I have a tendency to purchase products and find at least something I don't like about them. I'm always rethinking my purchases over and over again, but that isn't the case with the Sawyer Mini. I seriously love it. I've looked around at other options on the market and just don't see anything that is worth switching to at this time. Considering the price point of the mini, the size, and the function of it, you'd be hard up to find something better. Filter into a bottle, bag, or just drink right from the filter. It all works the same and is so easy to do. I never leave home on an adventure without the filter with me.
If you're looking for an awesome, no brainer filter and don't want to spend a fortune, go with the Sawyer Mini. You'll be happy you spent the $25.
Stay safe out there!