Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

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Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by moab » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:33 pm

I'm no water filtration expert but...

I'm looking at the specs on the Sawyer Mini and the Sawyer Squeeze. 100,000 gallons and 1,000,000 gallons respectively. $20 and $37. It has a 0.1 micron filter. It takes out: Bacteria, protozoa, E. Coli, giardia, vibrio cholerea, Salmonella typhi at 99.99999%. These specs are so far and away greater than any other water filter. Size, weight, cost, amount filtered, what is filtered - it's all amazing.

How could you beat that in a water filter? Or am I missing something.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Woods Walker » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:56 pm

moab wrote:I'm no water filtration expert but...

I'm looking at the specs on the Sawyer Mini and the Sawyer Squeeze. 100,000 gallons and 1,000,000 gallons respectively. $20 and $37. It has a 0.1 micron filter. It takes out: Bacteria, protozoa, E. Coli, giardia, vibrio cholerea, Salmonella typhi at 99.99999%. These specs are so far and away greater than any other water filter. Size, weight, cost, amount filtered, what is filtered - it's all amazing.

How could you beat that in a water filter? Or am I missing something.
1. If the temps fall below freezing I believe the fibers will fail.

2. Read reports of filters using this technology become hopelessly clogged prematurely with back flushing failing to work.

3. Does anyone believe the cheap plastic components and water bags will actually hold up for a million gallons?

4. I have owned one for 3 months but it is still new. Refer to number 1.

I will know more when the weather warms up. With luck my Sawyer will live up to the hype.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Boondock » Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:11 pm

I own a Sawyer Squeeze and having used it a handful of times, I can attest that there's more user-friendly options on the market. And it's not a miracle device. However, for the cost, size and weight, it suits my personal needs just fine.

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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Murphman » Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:38 pm

A Sawyer .02, with the bucket attachment, is in my preps. It works great on already sand filtered water. Didn't work well at all on straight pond water. I had to backflow it several times to get 8 ounces of water, but I literally diped the bucket in the edge on purpose to get gunk in the bucket. Took me 15 minutes to get it clean after doing so. The 4 ounces I drank form this did not get me sick, but it did have an off taste. I am assuming I got some heavy metals in the local ponds.

As was pointed out to me when I was considering purchasing, it does not filter any contaminants that are smaller than virus size (there are many), so a combination fiter will have to work for me. That means I use a homemade sand filter, followed by the sawyer, followed by the Big Berkey. I am guaranteed essentially 5,000+ gallons of potable water using this set-up. The two public retention ponds in my neighborhood are well over a million gallons (napkin math), so I should be good. That doesn't include the pool, the rain barrels, or the 40+ inches of rain I get every year...
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Dragon80 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:31 pm

I have both the Sawyer Mini and Squeeze but have a LOT more use through the Squeeze. I've filtered probably 200-300 gallons of water with it and most from places where the water was either flowing slowly or not at all (lakes/ponds) and have had no problems with it after flushing. Matter of fact, my friends ran their MSR Sweetwater and Miniworks side by side with the Sawyer in a pond where the water had a lot of leaves in it and the MSR's couldn't get the water anywhere near as clean. Their water still looked yellow and smelled like pond water while the Sawyer was crystal clear and taste/smell free.

For the price, you really can't beat them. I'll probably lose them before I wear out the filters. Oh and as a side note, I've used mine in temps down into the 10's F and kept them warm after backflushing and they still work fine. Just don't let em freeze and you're all good.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by moab » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:01 pm

Dragon80 wrote:I have both the Sawyer Mini and Squeeze but have a LOT more use through the Squeeze. I've filtered probably 200-300 gallons of water with it and most from places where the water was either flowing slowly or not at all (lakes/ponds) and have had no problems with it after flushing. Matter of fact, my friends ran their MSR Sweetwater and Miniworks side by side with the Sawyer in a pond where the water had a lot of leaves in it and the MSR's couldn't get the water anywhere near as clean. Their water still looked yellow and smelled like pond water while the Sawyer was crystal clear and taste/smell free.

For the price, you really can't beat them. I'll probably lose them before I wear out the filters. Oh and as a side note, I've used mine in temps down into the 10's F and kept them warm after backflushing and they still work fine. Just don't let em freeze and you're all good.
Just as a heads up. Reading on there website. It does not seem like you can tell if it's broken after freezing. So you may want to take care with the one you got below freezing.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Flying Lead » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:17 pm

They get so dense they won't filter when cold. It was not wet and frozen, it was just cold and I guess the filter had drawn up. Had to put it in a pot of hot water and it worked fine. No more cold trips for it. But other than the cold weather fail, it has preformed great. Can beat the weight and price. The old sacks would break but the ones made in the last year or so are more durable.
All in all, I'd recommend one for a ghb or bob.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by TacAir » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:16 pm

Murphman wrote:A Sawyer .02, with the bucket attachment, is in my preps. It works great on already sand filtered water. Didn't work well at all on straight pond water. I had to backflow it several times to get 8 ounces of water, but I literally diped the bucket in the edge on purpose to get gunk in the bucket. Took me 15 minutes to get it clean after doing so. The 4 ounces I drank form this did not get me sick, but it did have an off taste. I am assuming I got some heavy metals in the local ponds.

As was pointed out to me when I was considering purchasing, it does not filter any contaminants that are smaller than virus size (there are many), so a combination fiter will have to work for me. That means I use a homemade sand filter, followed by the sawyer, followed by the Big Berkey. I am guaranteed essentially 5,000+ gallons of potable water using this set-up. The two public retention ponds in my neighborhood are well over a million gallons (napkin math), so I should be good. That doesn't include the pool, the rain barrels, or the 40+ inches of rain I get every year...
Got the same bucket kit, my water comes from a glacier tho...
Before I would use the water out of a 'public retention' pond, I would like to know what was in the water to begin with
Pesticides?
Antifreeze?
Petrochemicals?
Sewage?
Lots of stuff even a carbon block filter won't take out....

Still, the rain barrels sound like a good start...
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Fortitudine » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:39 pm

I have probably put close to 100 gallons through my Sawyer squeeze. Only issue I had was with the bags being a pain in the ass. It took forever to fill our camelbaks, nalgenes, and the dog's platypus. So I picked up the Sawyer In-Line attachment for $5, put it on a camelbak bladder, and now it's the perfect gravity filter. We filtered muddy river water for the most part, and the flow didn't decrease much at all. Also, the wide-mouth camelbak bladders are easier to fill than the pouches. If not for the in-line mod, I probably would have replaced the Sawyer for something more user friendly. I would encourage anyone using the Sawyer to do the same.

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I haven't used it in the winter yet, but I would probably store it in a pocket near my core to keep it warm.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by ineffableone » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:53 am

Well the simple answer to the title of the thread.

I have 3 different Katadyn filters. The Pocket (13000 gallons), Mini (2000 gallons), and Camp (5300 gallons). As well as a Lifestraw (1000 liters/264 gallons). Oh and one of those little 20 gallon Frontier emergency straws. Yes all of them are 0.2 micron filters. Never seen a need for 0.1 micron and it sounds like it might have issues with clogging with such.

The Pocket Mini and Camp are ceramic filters, which means easy maintenance and cleaning, as well as easy tell when the filter is worn out. Yes you have to protect them from freezing, like you should with any filter tech.

But with my investment in those filters, I really don't feel the need to buy any more filters, no mater how popular they are. My current filters have a lot of life left in them and I think I have my filter needs covered right now.

*edit to add, oh and the Pocket has a 20 year warranty on it. No other filter offers a 20 yr warranty. You can still find old 1970's and 1980's Pockets in use still working fine. These are tried and true tested filters. No surprises with them. They are known the world over for reliability. I don't think I will trade that in for the newest filter fad on the market.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by moab » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:16 am

Woods Walker wrote:
moab wrote:I'm no water filtration expert but...

I'm looking at the specs on the Sawyer Mini and the Sawyer Squeeze. 100,000 gallons and 1,000,000 gallons respectively. $20 and $37. It has a 0.1 micron filter. It takes out: Bacteria, protozoa, E. Coli, giardia, vibrio cholerea, Salmonella typhi at 99.99999%. These specs are so far and away greater than any other water filter. Size, weight, cost, amount filtered, what is filtered - it's all amazing.

How could you beat that in a water filter? Or am I missing something.
1. If the temps fall below freezing I believe the fibers will fail.

2. Read reports of filters using this technology become hopelessly clogged prematurely with back flushing failing to work.

3. Does anyone believe the cheap plastic components and water bags will actually hold up for a million gallons?

4. I have owned one for 3 months but it is still new. Refer to number 1.

I will know more when the weather warms up. With luck my Sawyer will live up to the hype.
Hey WW. Are other filters not prone to this freezing issue?
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by crypto » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:37 am

I know that the MSR ceramic filters come with very explicit warnings that if they freeze, the filter element can crack and become useless.

And lord knows I've had my share of Katadyn paper filters becomes hopelessly clogged after a few gallons of water that I didnt properly pre-filter.


I guess the question is 'are these filters more prone to freezing/clogging than other technologies that also freeze/clog'
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Woods Walker » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:13 am

moab wrote:
Woods Walker wrote:
moab wrote:I'm no water filtration expert but...

I'm looking at the specs on the Sawyer Mini and the Sawyer Squeeze. 100,000 gallons and 1,000,000 gallons respectively. $20 and $37. It has a 0.1 micron filter. It takes out: Bacteria, protozoa, E. Coli, giardia, vibrio cholerea, Salmonella typhi at 99.99999%. These specs are so far and away greater than any other water filter. Size, weight, cost, amount filtered, what is filtered - it's all amazing.

How could you beat that in a water filter? Or am I missing something.
1. If the temps fall below freezing I believe the fibers will fail.

2. Read reports of filters using this technology become hopelessly clogged prematurely with back flushing failing to work.

3. Does anyone believe the cheap plastic components and water bags will actually hold up for a million gallons?

4. I have owned one for 3 months but it is still new. Refer to number 1.

I will know more when the weather warms up. With luck my Sawyer will live up to the hype.
Hey WW. Are other filters not prone to this freezing issue?
I suppose but for me those other filter types are a known quantity. What can go wrong with a Aquamira Frontier straw? Standard or Pro? I have sucked the water out from them in winter and was ok? There is activated carbon but no funky mirco tubes or ceramic to the best of my knowledge. I could be wrong but for me so far so good. My pump filters can be disassembled to be dried and checked. I don't know how to access the inside of my Sawyer mini without breaking it. All of this said most of the time I boil water or use tabs in winter.

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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Mikeyboy » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:18 am

Boondock wrote:I own a Sawyer Squeeze and having used it a handful of times, I can attest that there's more user-friendly options on the market. And it's not a miracle device. However, for the cost, size and weight, it suits my personal needs just fine.
+1 to this.

I have been using the older Sawyer Squeeze original for a while now, and all in all its good. My only complaint was the original mylar bags are not to be trusted, because they are known to break. They have made better ones since, however I just use a plastic bottle or a Platypus soft bottle knockoff I bought for $2. Its not a miracle device, and it has other flaws that Woods Walker mention, but all in all, compared to the pump filters and setups we used 5 to 10 years ago, its a pretty good system. For the money, weight and size factor, you can't beat the Mini Sawyer and some chemical treatment option as a backup.

Spring must be in the air, this is the 2nd Water Filter thread today :awesome:

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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by itzybitzyspyder » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:54 pm

I have the squeeze filter. I've had and used this filter for over a year. I don't squeeze it though, I let it drip. I back wash it every time I use it and store it clean. The threading on it fits most soda bottles, too.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Wraith6761 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:07 pm

Why would I not buy a Sawyer water filter? Easy....I already own a SteriPen, which came with it's own brand of pre-filter. The SteriPen filter fits my MSR Dromedary bag as well as my nalgene bottles, and I haven't seen any issues yet with it clogging or freezing, or really having to do much maintenance of any kind. It's not broken, so why fix it?
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by crypto » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:20 pm

I just bought 2 of the mini-sawyers with the inline kits to splice into my camelbaks in my and my wife's EDC bags.

What sold it for me was the easy manner in which the filter can be removed from the line, and the inline adapters screwed together to not use the filter when I know I have clean water.

I'll report out how well they work in this application.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Dragon80 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:14 pm

moab wrote:
Dragon80 wrote:I have both the Sawyer Mini and Squeeze but have a LOT more use through the Squeeze. I've filtered probably 200-300 gallons of water with it and most from places where the water was either flowing slowly or not at all (lakes/ponds) and have had no problems with it after flushing. Matter of fact, my friends ran their MSR Sweetwater and Miniworks side by side with the Sawyer in a pond where the water had a lot of leaves in it and the MSR's couldn't get the water anywhere near as clean. Their water still looked yellow and smelled like pond water while the Sawyer was crystal clear and taste/smell free.

For the price, you really can't beat them. I'll probably lose them before I wear out the filters. Oh and as a side note, I've used mine in temps down into the 10's F and kept them warm after backflushing and they still work fine. Just don't let em freeze and you're all good.
Just as a heads up. Reading on there website. It does not seem like you can tell if it's broken after freezing. So you may want to take care with the one you got below freezing.
Yeah I already checked that out but I didn't let it freeze. I kept it inside of my jacket and inside of my sleeping bag after using it and now I carry some hand warmers just for it in case of extreme cold.
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viewtopic.php?f=14&t=114606

GHB dedicated thread in need of serious updating!!!
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=112108

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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by JRR » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:39 pm

Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?
Because I have a steripen when I'm packing light, and a First Need Deluxe, the best purifier on the planet, for longer trips.

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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by RonnyRonin » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:54 pm

I have two steripens but I've been trying to phase out cr123s and while I trust steripen tech for backpacking or camping I don't feel like tempting Murphy on a BO so I have a sawyer mini in the mail. My current backup is aquamira drops which I also trust but seems limited in the volume of water you can treat. I also have the little frontier straws in a GHB or two.

I was about to buy a frontier pro but the sawyer did claim to have impressively better total volume and micron rating for only a few extra bucks. probably pick one up anyway and compare with the sawyer mini.

I've always wanted a katadyn pocket but even 20 year old ones on eBay still go for $150. Couldn't convince myself since most of the water in my area is probably safe from the start.


I have to say though, I am pretty suspicious of sawyers claims. as the OP pointed out on paper it seems like one of the best filters for the price of some of the worst, economics says either they are exaggerating or there will be a flood of sawyer-style filters on the market before long.
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Wraith6761 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:14 am

RonnyRonin wrote:I have two steripens but I've been trying to phase out cr123s and while I trust steripen tech for backpacking or camping I don't feel like tempting Murphy on a BO so I have a sawyer mini in the mail. My current backup is aquamira drops which I also trust but seems limited in the volume of water you can treat. I also have the little frontier straws in a GHB or two.
Most Steripens nowadays use AA batteries...I don't think the cr123 version is even still made, or if it is it's limited to only one model...if they were all still using cr123s, I wouldn't have one (I can't stand non-standard battery sizes).
Woods Walker wrote:...I don't think it matters if a backpack has Dora the Explorer on it. Based on my observations from years of hunting and fishing if something looks and acts like prey it will draw in predators.

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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Mikeyboy » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:06 am

Wraith6761 wrote:
RonnyRonin wrote:I have two steripens but I've been trying to phase out cr123s and while I trust steripen tech for backpacking or camping I don't feel like tempting Murphy on a BO so I have a sawyer mini in the mail. My current backup is aquamira drops which I also trust but seems limited in the volume of water you can treat. I also have the little frontier straws in a GHB or two.
Most Steripens nowadays use AA batteries...I don't think the cr123 version is even still made, or if it is it's limited to only one model...if they were all still using cr123s, I wouldn't have one (I can't stand non-standard battery sizes).
+1 the Steripen I have takes 4 AA batteries, but they have to be lithium according to the instructions. I love it for traveling. Its great for when you are drinking water from that little sink in your cabin while on a cruise (I don't want Noro) or when you get that glass of water overseas and you just don't trust it, but you don't want to be rude (you stir the steripen in there zapping it for 30 seconds, it kills the bugs and no one is the wiser).

I used the Steripen once or twice for camping/hiking but having something to purify water in the woods that is electronic, that takes batteries, with a light bulb that I could break, never sat well with me. Not that there is anything wrong with it, Trust me if I had a choice between the old pumps filters, chemical drops/tabs, or a steripen, I would take the Steripen in a heartbeat. Its just for me, right now I like the Sawyer better for hiking/camping and BOB use, and the steripen for run of the mill vacation, business travel use.

By the way, I just noticed the while looking for ammo Walmart is selling the Sawyer Mini, in their camping / sporting goods section. $20 in an out, not a bad deal.

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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Denis J. » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:44 am

I see the Sawyer / SteriPen combo as a nice way to get clean, pure tasting water that is nice & safe from less than pristine sources.

I use a SteriPen with prefilter as my primary water purification method for the backcountry, but I am looking at adding a Sawyer Mini too. While I have no qualms about the safety of the water processed with the SteriPen, it doesn't do anything about the aesthetic quality of the water in those cases when the water source is not the best. That said, I usually end up pulling water from pretty good sources so I'm not really willing to pay much (in either actual money or in weight/size cost) for a filter. The Mini seems to be the perfect solution for my needs.

As an aside, I have a CR123 model and like the fact that nothing else I have uses that battery; it ensures the extra batteries are only for water processing & won't be used for anything else.

And, of course, I've always got some purification tablets for back up :).
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Re: Why would you NOT buy a Sawyer water filter?

Post by Dragon80 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:56 am

Denis J. wrote:I see the Sawyer / SteriPen combo as a nice way to get clean, pure tasting water that is nice & safe from less than pristine sources.

I use a SteriPen with prefilter as my primary water purification method for the backcountry, but I am looking at adding a Sawyer Mini too. While I have no qualms about the safety of the water processed with the SteriPen, it doesn't do anything about the aesthetic quality of the water in those cases when the water source is not the best. That said, I usually end up pulling water from pretty good sources so I'm not really willing to pay much (in either actual money or in weight/size cost) for a filter. The Mini seems to be the perfect solution for my needs.

As an aside, I have a CR123 model and like the fact that nothing else I have uses that battery; it ensures the extra batteries are only for water processing & won't be used for anything else.

And, of course, I've always got some purification tablets for back up :).
You're using the same reasoning I did. I love my Steripen but it does nothing to the taste or smell of the water and sometimes, I have to take what I can get which means pond or lake water. Doubling up is never a bad idea.
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viewtopic.php?f=14&t=114606

GHB dedicated thread in need of serious updating!!!
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=112108

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