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A Good Look At The Sawyer Mini Filter

Posted by Tom Miller on 7/21/2015 to Ghillie's Corner
Right after air, water is considered to be the most important need for survival. Aside from the fact that you could die, not having water can also make it very difficult to perform the other tasks necessary to survive like gathering food, staying warm, or doing routine chores. This danger is even more amplified when environmental conditions are considered; especially warm temperatures that threaten to cause injuries like heat cramps or dehydration with even minimal amounts of work.


With water being of such importance, it is a resource that cannot be taken for granted. Of course, regardless of the measures taken to store clean water, there is always the chance that it will run out, become tainted, or even be taken from you. Just like other preparations, you should have a plan to procure water if your primary plan or means is removed.


My primary plan has always been to store water on hand to meet this need but recognizing that water is so important and my supply could be compromised, my secondary plan is to have small, individual water filters that are capable of purifying at least a few hundred gallons.


Like many, I was a Lifestraw fan for a long time but I drank the Kool-Aid and now would choose to put my life in the hands of the Sawyer MINI. At first I was not sure what to expect from Sawyer but it quickly proved itself. My reasoning for jumping ship and joining the Sawyer fan club is fourfold:


  1. Size - The size of the Sawyer MINI is significantly smaller in length than the Lifestraw (by about half). This obviously provides you either more space in your bag or the ability to have two filters instead of one. Jackpot!

  2. Filter Capability - Sawyer’s filter is capable of filtering down to 0.1 microns where the Lifestraw will only remove down to 0.2 microns, allowing much more to get through the filter.

  3. Flexibility – The Lifestraw does not offer nearly the flexibility that the Sawyer filter does. Lifestraw only works one way, stick the filter in your water source and draw it through the straw. The Sawyer comes with the filter, straw extension, and water pouch; it can also be used as an inline filter with a hydration reservoir or connected directly to a common 20 ounce or 2 liter plastic bottle with a screw top lid.

  4. Capacity - The Lifestraw is capable of filtering up to 264 gallons of water for a cost of 7 cents/gallon while the Sawyer MINI is capable of filtering up to 100,000 gallons at a cost of 0.02 cents/gallon. That is a 350:1 ratio!


My first impression of the Sawyer MINI water filter is that it was small, lightweight, and offers a great deal of value for the money based on the previously mentioned attributes. When it comes to prepping, anything that is small, lightweight, and provides a great deal of value for the money is usually on the top of the list for any given category. Considering the fact that there are water filters that cost a lot more and will not really do anything more than the Sawyer water filter, I would say that it should be on the top of your list.


Other highlights about the Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System include:


  • Includes a syringe to backflush the filter, a function that has to be done with your mouth on most filters.

  • 0.1 micron filter (half the size of the Lifestraw) capable of filtering out 99.99999% of all bacteria and protozoa (the EPA allows for there to be 10x more protozoa remaining in the water than what is left behind by the Sawyer MINI)

  • Easy to use – no need for pumps, batteries or charging, special solutions that have to be mixed together, drops, or tablets


The Sawyer MINI also offers great flexibility. There are four ways that it can be employed:


  • Attached to the 16 oz. pouch provided or other aftermarket water pouches like those made by Platypus

  • Using the provided straw to drink from a cup or water source

  • By attaching it as an inline filter with a water bladder system

  • Screwed on to the top of a plastic bottle


It’s nice to be able to get clean water without having to stick your face down into some random lake or river!


My Overall Impression


My overall impression is that the Sawyer MINI packs a ton of function into a small package, it’s lightweight, versatile, simple to use, and very affordable. I was also very impressed by the fact that the water tasted great. There are a lot of water filters and purification methods that sometimes leave an aftertaste. This was not the case with the Sawyer MINI. Even when sucking water directly through the filter, the water flowed smoothly and did not require a great amount of effort.


Important Considerations


While the Sawyer Mini is the best choice for getting naturally occurring contaminants out of water, it is not capable of filtering chemicals, nuclear material, dissolved solids, or viruses (extremely rare in water sources in North America).


When filtering water to make it safe for drinking, it is never a bad idea to double your efforts to make sure that the water is as safe as possible. This could be as simple as straining water through cheesecloth to remove large impurities before using the Sawyer MINI or boiling the water and then using the Sawyer MINI.


That said, minus chemicals, nuclear material, dissolved solids, or viruses, the Sawyer can just about handle anything you can throw at it by itself.


The bottom line…


I have not tried every water filter there is out there but I do know this, I have tried several of the affordable models and Sawyer MINI is the best filter available on the market today for preppers, conspiracy theorists, hikers, backpackers, world travelers, campers, and just about anything you might ever need a water filter for. At such a low cost and so much flexibility, you cannot afford to not have one for at least every person in your family.


For those who are fashion conscious with their preparedness items, the Sawyer filter comes in blue, green, orange, and even pink. If you are in the market for multiple water filters, you can save a few dollars by purchasing the 4-pack that has one of each of the colors of the Sawyer MINI water filter.

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