Did you know that maintaining hydration is critical in nerve and muscle function especially during strenuous activities like hiking and backpacking? Many hikers, backpackers and outdoorsmen like to hike long distances during the summer when weather is more favorable.
When the sun is out, it is easier for them to climb since slopes and tracks will be dry. However, the exposure to heat also increases their chances of getting dehydrated. This is why products like the helps them maintain fluid and electrolyte balance as they hike.
- Ideal for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, scouting and more.
- High performance filter fits in the palm of your hand
- 0.1 Micron absolute hollow fiber membrane inline filter
- Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable water bottles, hydration packs, or use the straw to drink directly from your water source
- Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria
- Filter rated up to 100,000 gallons
Contrary to popular belief, it is not just athletes in competitions like the Tour de France or Iron Man that need a good hydration strategy. Backpackers and hikers are exposed to heat and sweating due to the heat of the sun. Outdoorsmen who are suffering from extreme dehydration are at risk of heat stroke and cardiac arrest.
To minimize risk to dehydration, it is important to include a hydration pack to your checklist and ensure that there are regularly scheduled water breaks.
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System: Product Specifications
Sawyer has one of the most technologically advanced solutions developed for point-of-use water filters in the wilderness. According to them, their water filters can filter contaminated water to levels that are cleaner than US bottled water. The Mini Water Filter is one of the lightest, most versatile and affordable personal water filtration system available in the market today.
For approximately $25, it can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. It can be used as a straw-style or attached to the included 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch or most standard water bottles. At just 2 oz, it can easily fit in the palm of your hand. The Mini is a great option not only for outdoorsmen but for international travel and emergency preparedness too.
The packaging of the Mini itself is small. The whole kit comes fully assembled and ready to use. Inside the box are the Sawyer Mini Water Filter, tip cap included; the 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch, 1 7-inch drinking straw, cleaning plunger and a set of instructions.
The product comes in different colors so that you can choose your favorite or assign a color to a particular person if you’re backpacking or camping in groups.
Design & Durability
The creators of the Mini had simplicity and ease of use in mind when they designed the filter. There are no moving parts and no chemicals inside the filtration system so there is no chance of breakdown or leaks when you’re using it.
Guaranteed for 100,000 gallons, it will clog from time to time especially when you’re using it on murky water which is why you need to bring the cleaning plunger along with you to backwash the filter to continue enjoying potable water.
Overall, it is durable and should last many years depending on frequency of use. The manufacturer however, cautions against exposing the mini to freezing temperatures as it could damage the hollow fiber membrane inline filter which is responsible for cleaning dirty water.
Reliability and Effectiveness
This product is a high performance filter that is designed to be easy to carry and versatile. The filter is a 0.1 Micron absolute hollow fiber membrane, making it effective against protozoa, bacteria and hard-shelled Cryptosporidium. The Mini has no moving parts and is used without batteries. This means it is less likely to breakdown when you’re using it in the wilderness.
It is also very reliable because it can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water from streams and rivers. Depending on how often you use the filtration system, you could end up using it for many years before you need to replace it. Backpackers and hikers who spend lots of time outdoors will find this feature beneficial since they don’t need to worry about changing filters.
The filter will clog from time to time. However, an easy to use cleaning plunger is included in the kit so you can clean the filter and it can be ready to use again.
Ease of Use
The Mini was designed to be used 3 ways. First, you can use it as a straw to drink directly to the water source. You can use it with the straw attachment included in the set when you buy the Mini. Just scoop up water from the source with a bottle, glass or container and use the Mini as a straw.
Next, you can screw the filter to any standard small mouthed drinking bottle and drink directly as soon as you can squeeze the bottle. The set also comes with a 16-ounce squeezable pouch so that you don’t need to find a compatible bottle. This is a great feature because it allows the user to fill and refill the pouch or bottle from different water sources.
Lastly, you can use it in your hydration bladder. You will be committing your bladder to be used with the filter for the rest of its usable life because you will be putting in contaminated water to be filtered into the bladder.
You won’t want to put clean water inside it and drink from it since you will be contaminating it. Also, you will need to cut the hose of the Mini to use it in-line with the bladder by attaching it to the middle.
The different ways you can easily use the filtration system makes the Mini a versatile camping or backpacking companion. Checkout the promotional video for more details.
The Mini is a personal filtration system. This means that it is best used by one person. Although it can filter 100,000 gallons of water, it can only filter small amounts at a time. You can try to filter water for your whole group, but your hands will get tired from squeezing water for other people over time.
The only way to carry more water with this system is to carry dirty water on separate bottles or pouches which can be tiring especially if you have a long difficult trek ahead of you.
Speed of Filtration
The Mini is designed to work like a personal straw so filtration is instant. If you’re thirsty and want a drink immediately, you can just suck water through the system and drink directly from the source. This is one of the biggest advantages of the Mini because as long as you have water nearby, you have access to clean potable water anytime.
However, this does not mean to say that the Mini won’t get clogged, because it does. In this instance you need to backflush it and it should work smoothly again.
If you’re trying to fill a big bottle through the Mini it can take time because it only comes with a 16 oz squeeze pouch. So if you’re trying to fill a 2-liter water bottle, it’s going to take time to get it filled. So if you want to fill a big bottle, you need to plan ahead.
Weight and bulk is one of the reasons why backpackers do not bother with a personal filter. However, the Mini counteracts all of these worries. It gives the user access to potable water no matter how you use it without a change in taste.
The filter alone weight 1.6 ounces, with the squeezable pouch, it totals to 2.5 oz. The total weight for the whole system (filter, bottle, straw and cleaning plunger) is approximately 3.5 ounces. This is still surprisingly light compared to other personal filtration systems like the LifeStraw which weighs 2.7 ounces without the bottle. It is also 4 inches longer.
The Mini is lightweight and small you won’t even notice that it’s in your backpack. Its size and weight enables you to access clean water without weighing you down.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The Mini is good to go for up to 100,000 gallons. Along the way you will find that it gets harder to push water out of the filter. This is due to clogging. In this case, you will want to clean your filter by using the cleaning plunger included in the kit to de-clog the filter.
To clean the filter, you just need to fill the plunger with filtered water and attach it to the end of the filter opposite of the flow arrow then push the plunger back to the mini. You will need to repeat the process a couple of times until the water comes out clear.
This maintenance process is less complicated compared to other filters which can be a blessing since you can’t bring more equipment with you when outdoors.
As you can see, the Mini is easy to clean and maintain. Best of all, everything you need is included in the kit you purchased.
Value For Money
The Mini is one of the most affordable personal hydration systems in the market. At approximately $25, you can filter 100,000 gallons of water. Using this system is more affordable than bringing bottled water at the store. LifeStraw is a little bit more affordable but can only filter 1,000 gallons of water.
Aside from the outdoors, it can also be used in situations like international travel where water quality is questionable or in disaster situations. This means that the Mini has good value for money and versatility.
Now let’s check how the Mini stacks up with its competitors.
Main Competitors: Similar Products You May Want To Know About
To find out if the Sawyer Mini is a good choice, we need check out its competition. The Mini’s competitors are also personal filtration systems but are designed differently. All of them are easy to use, affordable and have fast treatment times so that users can access clean water immediately.
Here are the Mini’s closest rivals.
The PointOne Squeeze Water Filter is a personal hydration kit also by Sawyer. Just like the Mini, it has portability in mind and is designed not only for the outdoors but for international travel and disasters too. This personal filtering system exceeds the recommended rates set by the Environmental Protection Agency and can remove 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as Giardia and cryptosporidium.
It is different from other pump personal filters because rather than pumping water through the hose, all you need to do is to screw the PointOne to the small mouth bottle and you’re ready to drink water. Just like the Mini it can give you instant potable water with its fast treatment time. However, it can only filter a limited amount of water at a time. It cannot filter large amounts of water because it is only intended for personal use.
The filter comes with 3 collapsible bottles so that you can bring water along with you to filter in areas where water is scarce. This means that you can access clean water through filtration by using the extra bags and then refilling them again when you come across a water source.
However, the PointOne can only be used in conjunction with a water bottle. It cannot be used like a straw or in-line with a hydration pack and is a bit more expensive than the Mini at approximately $28-$50. However, it does weigh only 2.7 ounces without the bottles, so this filtration system is still one of the lightest and most portable varieties in the market today.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is perhaps one of the most popular personal water filters available today. It is lightweight, affordable and easy to use. For approximately $19.95 to $24.95, the LifeStraw can filter 1,000 gallons of water. This falls short of the treatment capacity of the Mini but it will do very well for camping and extended backpacking trips.
Just like the Mini, it can be used directly to the water source so that you can drink water that is 99.9999% free from waterborne bacteria and parasites. It does not use any chemicals, batteries, chlorine or iodine and can also be used in emergency situations.
The LifeStraw was originally designed to work in third world countries where access to potable water is hard. However, it works just as well when used in backcountry activities like hiking, backpacking and camping. While it can give instantaneous access to clean water, it cannot treat large quantities of water. Just like the Mini, the LifeStraw is designed for personal use only.
The filter is easy to use. Simply dip the straw in the water and suck. However, there can be a delay in the actual drinking part especially if the water is a bit murky since it still has to go through the filter. Once the water starts flowing to your mouth, the delay disappears and you can drink to your heart’s content.
The kit does not come with bottles or pouches so if you want to bring along water with you, you need to bring your own container. It is designed to be used as a straw so it is not very versatile.
This system can effectively filter bacteria and protozoa, including Cryptosporidium through a hollow-fiber membrane. It is designed to filter 1,000 liters but there is no way to clean or de-clog the filter.
Personal Water Bottle Filter from Sawyer is a BPA-free water bottle that can deliver clean water as fast as you can drink it. The bottle is designed to have a fast flow rate so that you can access safe clean water quickly. Just fill up the bottle from a lake or water source, screw back the cap and drink instantly without fear of bacteria, residue or chemical taste.
The Personal Bottle comes with Sawyers 1,000,000 gallon guarantee so this will last more than a few backpacking or hiking trips. The bottle is squeezable so you can get every drop of clean water from the 34oz bottle.
This filtration system is designed for personal use so it would take a really long time to fill the needs of a group of people. The filtration system is also designed only for use with the intended bottle so it is not very versatile. The kit does include 2 extra straws and a backwash syringe so you can replace the straw or clean the filter easily since it can get clogged when filtering dirty or murky water.
The Personal Water Bottle Filter is also not versatile like the Mini since it can only be used with its bottle. Sawyer does not include extra water bottles in the kit so you might need to buy collapsible bottles or squeezable pouches if you need to store water in scarce areas.
This filtration system is more bulky compared to the others reviewed since the bottle does not collapse. It is best used by campers and backpackers although it can also be used for overseas travel. It is also a bit pricier at $34-$49.99.
Sawyer Mini: A Good Backpacking and Camping buddy
For backpackers, campers and travelers looking for something lightweight, affordable and easy to use, The Sawyer Mini is a good choice. It can be used 3 different ways so that you have more options in accessing potable water. As a personal use filtration system, this is one of the most affordable especially considering its price point and filtering capacity.
At 100,000 gallons, it is a good choice for camping trips, extended backpacking trips and prolonged excursions overseas. Learn more about advantages and disadvantages of the filtration system:
- 0.1 Micron absolute hollow fiber membrane which is very effective to filter out protozoa, bacteria and hard-shelled Cryptosporidium
- Can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water from streams and rivers
- Includes ready-to-use kit
- Perfectly fits the palm
- Comes with cleaning plunger
- Only comes with 16-ounce squeezable pouch
- Personal filtration system
- May clog if used frequently
Overall, the Mini is a good choice for people who want quick access to water but without the bulk of having to carry a heavy water bottle. The backwashing syringe is also a good feature in the kit so the users can easily clean the system without having to purchase additional equipment or bring along bulky cleaners.Do you think the Sawyer Mini is a good match for your backpacking or hiking lifestyle? Leave us a comment below to let us know what you think about this product.