Sawyer Mini Filter Review: Lightweight, On-Trail Water Filtration

The Sawyer Mini Filter is a compact, lightweight and simple water filter for backpacking, hiking and camping in the backcountry.

Backcountry water sources are plentiful on most of my favorite backpacking trails, and I’ve been packing pump-style water filters on Georgia backpacking trips for years. To save weight on longer adventures, I’ve long been a fan of water purification on the trail instead of carrying multi-day supplies of heavy, sloshing water in my pack.

But pump-style water filters are bulky and relatively heavy. Looking to trim some additional weight, I’ve been trail testing the Sawyer Mini Filter. And after months of use, I’m loving the simplicity and light weight of this mini filter.

Sawyer Mini Filter Review - lightweight backcountry water filtration

The Sawyer Mini comes packaged with the filter, a lightweight water pouch, a straw, and a syringe for back-flushing the filter. The filter kit is compact and light: the Sawyer Mini offers considerable weight savings versus a pump filter, weighing only 2oz.

New to water filters on the trail? Backcountry water sources should be treated before drinking. Despite that crystalline stream looking as pure as bottled water, it might contain microscopic pathogens that can do some nasty damage to your body.

The Sawyer Mini Filter comes packaged with a lightweight pouch

Sawyer Mini filtering options

The Sawyer Mini Filter offers several options for treating water:

  1. Fill the Sawyer pouch with water to be treated, attach the Sawyer Mini and straw, and drink from the straw
  2. Fill the Sawyer pouch with water to be treated, attach the Sawyer Mini, and squeeze the filtered water into a bottle or hydration pack
  3. Fill a standard-supermarket-size bottled water bottle with water to be treated, and use either method above
  4. Skip the bottles and pouch, and use the Sawyer Mini filter and straw to drink directly from the stream (My favorite – it’s so simple, it seems like cheating)
 

The Sawyer Mini Filter attaches to most standard bottled water bottles

Easy to use and economical

The cost of the Sawyer Mini Filter is around 1/3 of traditional pump filters, and according to Sawyer, the filter lasts considerably longer, too: it filters up to 100,000 gallons, 30 times more than comparable filters.

And that’s where the included syringe becomes useful: backflushing the Sawyer Mini extends its effective life. Occasionally using the syringe to force treated water backwards through the filter discharges particulate buildup and maximizes flow rates.

Backflush the Sawyer Mini Filter to maximize flow rates and reduce clogging

Effective performance

The Sawyer Mini filters more effectively than most other backpacking water filters – according to Sawyer, the MINI removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli, and removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.

Sawyer Mini Filter Review: Bottom Line

The Sawyer Mini is the easiest, lightest and most effective water filter we’ve tested. It lasts longer and outperforms most other backpacking water filters available. And it’s priced at a fraction of the competitor’s costs. It’ll be trekking with us on many backcountry hikes to come.

So Where Can I Get One?

 

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Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.