Ah, time to review a necessity for all but the riskiest ultralight backpackers. Over the years, water filters are one of the things that changed a lot but they have plateaued in recent years. No longer are the days of heavy pump filters with expensive and difficult to use filters. One of the most popular choices for backpacking is the Sawyer Squeeze. Also the Mini but don’t make that mistake! When you out in the woods for a long time filtering is one of those things that becomes second nature so you want it to be an enjoyable experience.
When I hiked the Appalachian trail I decided on the Sawyer Squeeze as my filter. Now as a past thru hiker, I won’t be using the Sawyer in the future. The filter has a handful of positives and also some negatives which is why I am looking into a different filter in the future. Check out my next pick at the bottom!
Sawyer Squeeze vs Mini
I won’t spend much time on this because personally I think the winner is very clear. If you are set on getting a Sawyer filter for backpacking you have two major options. The Mini weighs about .5 and 1 ounce less depending on the configuration. By saving this weight you give up a decent amount of flow rate, and the screw on top. I found the top to be useless unless you are attaching a quick flow for say a hydration bladder. I’ve heard people say they love the Mini and don’t mind squeezing a bit longer but personally I am not a fan of filtering so I prefer the higher rate.
What’s to love about the Sawyer Squeeze?
Love is a strong word so probably not much. I do like the adapters which make it convenient. You can easily fill your hydration bladder with an adapter (but who uses hydration bladders?). You can also change out the bottles without issue due to the threading. The weight isn’t something to complain about either as it holds its own in this category. The Sawyer Squeeze was once revolutionary and now it just feels lackluster.
What’s the worst part of the Squeeze?
The Sawyer Squeeze definitely has its pitfalls which is why I will be migrating away from it in the upcoming months. For a filter that has 100,000 gallon lifetime I have gone through two. Both times it wasn’t a fault with the filter but instead with the plastic. Maybe I should be more gentle with my filters but sometimes, shit happens. As you can see in the picture the first filter I broke has the threads on the bottom sheared off from over tightening. Completely my fault, due to the gasket being out of position and leaking. So my advice is to be very careful when tightening the filter on your water bottle.
The second filter cracked on the top near the output as shown in the other picture. This was the filter I carried for the entire trail and I dealt with the crack for about 300 miles. The crack occurred after falling 5 feet onto pavement. Like I said, shit happens. Needless to say, the reliability of the filters themselves are great but the plastics are just sub-par. Besides that I haven’t had many issues, the flow rate can be a little low and I found that backwashing doesn’t end up helping much.
So what does it weigh?
The Sawyer Squeeze weighs in at around 2.5 ounces dry. The most popular bottle for the Sawyer is the disposable Smart Water bottle 1L. This weighs 1.4oz meaning you can have a 3.9 ounce water filtering setup. This is a very reasonable weight considering older pump filters weigh over a pound. You can get slightly lighter with the Sawyer Mini but sacrifice the flow rate. The Katadyn BeFree weighs in at 2 ounces with the .6L bottle and has a better flow rate. The only issue is the shorter lifespan of the filter.
You may still be interested in the Squeeze, which is totally fine because at the end of the day it is a good filter. If you are looking to buy one click the link below to get it from Amazon. Since I have successfully broken my Sawyer I am in the market for a new water filter. From looking online, I’m pretty convinced by the Katadyn BeFree. Saving me nearly 2 ounces on my water setup and increasing the flow rate has a lot of appeal to me. It has a .1 micron filter, the same as the Squeeze. Check it out on Amazon here! Hopefully you look forward to my review of the BeFree once I get and test it.