How To Use The Sawyer Mini Water Filter

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Having access to clean drinking water is a major priority for anyone interested in camping, hunting, hiking, or just exploring nature. Some people choose to lug around heavy jugs of water but there is a much more convenient alternative. A portable water filter can weigh less than a phone and it can filter hundreds of gallons of water before it needs to be replaced.

Learn more about the Sawyer Mini Fitler here.

When it comes to portable water filters, the Sawyer Mini water filter is considered one of the best. It weighs less than 2 ounces, can be carried in a single hand, and it can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water in its lifespan. However, some components like the squeeze pouch, straw, or plunger might need to be replaced during that period.

In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at the Sawyer Mini, how it functions, how to properly use it, and FAQs that many new or potential customers ask.

How Does the Sawyer Mini Filter Work?

It can be difficult to imagine that such a small device can produce so much drinking water. Of course, while it might be rated to handle 100,000 gallons of water, you can only expect to filter around 1 liter of water every 6 minutes. It will take even longer when the water has more sediment content and less time when the water is free from physical contaminants.

The technology inside of the Mini filter is slightly based on filters used with kidney dialysis machines. The inside of the filter contains hollow fiber membranes. Each membrane has numerous micro-tubes that allow water to slowly flow through into the filter’s core. The tubes have a 0.1-micron diameter which is small enough to block all sorts of physical and bacterial contaminants without stopping the water.

The filter works slowly because the water has to slowly make its way through these extremely small tubes. In some instances, the filter will become clogged and need to be backwashed. This can happen very frequently with water sources that contain a lot of sediments.

It may not be the fastest water filter on the market, but its size, efficiency, and ease of use make it a smart investment for anyone who wants to be prepared when they’re in the wild. There are a few different ways that the filter can be used depending on what type of gear it is being used with.

Learn more about the Sawyer Mini Fitler here.

How to Use the Sawyer Mini Filter With the Squeeze Bag

The filter is sold in a kit that includes the filter itself, a 7-inch straw, a backwashing syringe, and a 16-ounce reusable pouch. The intended method of usage involves each of these items, though only the filter itself is truly essential. Here’s how to use the Sawyer Mini Filter the simple way with the supplied squeeze pouch.

Step 1: Identify a Water Source

This can be the easiest or the most difficult step depending on the surrounding area. If there are multiple water sources available, then it’s best to choose a source that simply looks the cleanest. The filter can handle extremely dirty water sources but cleaner water gets filtered faster. It also should not be attached to a faucet or spigot because the maximum pressure it can handle is 20 psi.

Step 2: Fill the Squeeze Pouch With Water

The next step requires getting the dirty water into the squeezable pouch. For a larger body of water, it can be as easy as dipping the pouch into the water. Some people prefer to use a second bottle to fill the pouch so that they don’t risk losing their pouch in the lake or river. It can be a little more difficult if it is a small water source like a puddle without much depth. It can be beneficial to carry a scoop used specifically to scoop water from shallow holes into the bag.

Step 3: Attach the Filter

The filter attaches via a standard screw cap at the bottom. Simply screw the filter onto the top of the water bottle and you can begin the filtration process. An interesting note about the filter screw is that it can be attached to most standard water bottles and a variety of other pouches and containers. This allows for some interesting combinations with standard bottles or larger containers.

Step 4: Filter the Water

The dirty water needs to go from the bag and into the filter. The standard way to accomplish this is to slowly squeeze the bag over and over again. The water will push through the microtubes while leaving bacteria and debris behind. The filter core will eventually get full and need to be drunk or emptied into a second container. Some people prefer to carry the Mini filter and bag and drink their water straight from the filter. An alternative is to set a few minutes aside in the morning to filter an entire bottle’s worth.

Learn more about the Sawyer Mini Fitler here.

Alternative Ways to Use the Sawyer Mini

As mentioned, there are a few alternative usage methods that can be advantageous in certain circumstances. They primarily help deal with the component that has the most complaints: the squeeze bag. Unfortunately, many customers have noticed just how easy it is to pop the bag by applying too much pressure. Replacement bags have to be purchased separately and be quite costly. The good news is that the squeeze pouch isn’t needed at all.

Alternative 1: Filter & the Straw

The first option doesn’t require any alternative container to hold the water. The filter can be attached directly to the filter itself. From there, a person can lean over any body of water and drink directly from the source. The water will move through the nanotubes into the filter core and finally into the person’s mouth. The filter and straw combination creates an easy way to drink water on the go without wasting any bottled water.

Alternative 2: Filter & a Bottle

This is the preferred method that many long-time fans seem to implement. They simply remove the squeeze bag from the equation and use a much, much cheaper plastic bottle. Most plastic water bottles used by all of the major brands will have a screw top that works with the Mini Filter. There are even water bottles with flip caps that can be used to backwash the filter instead of the syringe.

Pushing the water from the bottle through the filter can be problematic at times. Squeezing the bottle will cause a vacuum to form. The water bottle will take on an irregular shape that is uncomfortable and difficult to use. There are two possible solutions to this. The first option is to unscrew the filter every so often to allow pressure to equalize in the bottle.

The second solution is to create a small hole near the bottom of the bottle. The hole needs to be covered after you fill the bottle and while filtering. After a vacuum is created and the bottle is deformed you can uncover the hole to equalize the pressure. Some crafty hikers have even created small valves that they can plug or unplug as needed.

Learn more about the Sawyer Mini Fitler here.

Alternative 3: Filter & the Straw in the Bottle

The final alternative combines both of these options mentioned above. It doesn’t require the use of the squeeze pouch but it also doesn’t require squeezing the bottle and creating a vacuum. Instead, the filter with the straw attached is screwed onto the top of the bottle. When they suck on the filter it pulls the water up the straw, through the microtubes, and into the filter core. It’s an easy solution to ensure that you always have drinkable water without the bottle leaking into your bag.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Sawyer Mini Filter

Q: Can the Mini Filter protect against bacteria?

A: Yes. The extremely narrow microtubes are able to filter out around 99.9 percent of all bacteria. In particular, it removes those dangerous bacteria that are known to cause problems to thirsty hikers. This includes salmonella, giardia, and the bacteria that cause cholera.

Q: Can the Mini Filter protect against viruses?

A: No. Viruses are too small to be captured by most filtration systems. It also cannot filter pesticides and other chemicals that may contaminate water sources.

Q: Can the Mini Filter attach to a standard hydration pack?

A: Yes. Many hikers and campers combine their Sawyer Mini Filter with their existing hydration packs. It’s an effective hands-free way to keep clean drinking water nearby.

Q: How often does it require backwashing?

A: The manufacturer recommends backwashing any time the flow rate seems to decline. Reduced flow is typically a sign of blockage that needs to be removed. It’s also advised to backwash the filter before and after a storage period.

This Mini Filter Makes Hiking Safer and Easier

Not having access to clean drinking water can pose a serious risk to any hiker’s health. Drinking dirty water straight from the source can lead to serious problems like diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and even kidney failure. The Sawyer Mini filter is a small, lightweight device that’s incredibly easy to use. It can be attached to pouches, water bottles, and complex hydration systems. Every camper should keep one close by even if they bring their own bottled water.

Learn more about the Sawyer Mini Fitler here.