The Sawyer Mini is a light weight, pocket-sized water filtration system with, frankly, a ridiculous lifetime. Weighing in at only 2 ounces the Sawyer Mini can produce up to 100,000 gallons of drinkable water. Yes, you read that right – 100,000 gallons. It dwarfs the lifespan of comparable products such as the LifeStraw, which has roughly the same weight but is only good for 264 gallons. And at around $20 on Amazon, it’s only $5.00 more than the Lifestraw – that’s 99,736 gallons more of clean water for only five more dollars. Talk about bang for your buck.
Now, after hearing that I was already dying to put the Sawyer Mini through the wringer and see if its quality matches its advertised output quantity. But, seeing as it’s a selling point, let’s get the lifespan information out of the way first before we delve deeper into the Mini.
The Sawyer Mini Water Filter – The Outdoor Man’s Best Friend?
100,000 gallons?! I keep repeating it’s advertised filtration lifetime because of how absurdly high it is, but to really emphasize just how long this device will last you let’s break down the numbers a little more. If you were to use a Sawyer Mini to filter 5 gallons of water a day every day for a year, it would supposedly last you just shy of 55 years. So, they are basically informing you that, if properly maintained, the Sawyer Mini could be giving you clean, drinkable water for just about your entire life. Now consider the fact that the Sawyer Mini manages to do all of that with a price-tag of just about $20, literally a mere 10% of the cost of its much more expensive competitor the Katadyn.
How is this possible? This filter is practically immortal due to it’s included back flushing cleaning plunger. If the filter’s flow begins to noticeably slow then it is recommended to fill the plunger with clean water, which if in a pinch, you can gather using the filter itself, then attach the plunger to the filter’s nozzle (the ‘top’) and push. This quickly and easily sends anything clogging the filter out the bottom end and should be repeated until the exiting water appears clean, usually only taking one or two flushes.
I have found that back flushing the Mini is pretty easy and intuitive design-wise, though if you are on a long camping trip with no clean water available, the process of filtering dirty water just to back flush it feels tedious and sometimes time consuming. But, all in all, it is well worth it to maintain the quality and keep the Mini pumping at 100%. However, on hikes and even an over night camping trip, I had been using the Sawyer Mini as my source of clean water and only noticed the flow beginning to slow near the end – making it home just in time to flush it out.
What You Get: Portable Water Filtration Versatility
While the long lasting lifetime of the Sawyer Mini is clearly a highlight, my favorite thing about it has to be its versatility. Aside from the filter itself, the complete kit includes a 16 oz reusable squeeze pouch to either store clean drinking water or fill up with contaminated water and squeeze through the filter, a 7 inch drinking straw that attaches to the Mini to allow drinking directly from a contaminated water source, and cleaning plunger to ensure the quality lasts and your filter stays in mint condition.
The Sawyer Mini has a 28 mm threading along the bottom, the standard for disposable bottles and drinking pouches, meaning it screws right on to most bottles and hydration equipment! This allows for you to use it almost any way you would like to or need to. Whether you are drinking directly from a stream, filling up a hydration bladder, or even installing the Sawyer Mini as an in-line solution to filter water as you drink it from a hydration pack or bladder!
The versatility the Mini brings to the table is fantastic – I often simply dipped an emptied bottle into a stream, screwed the mini right on top and used it as a filtration straw on the go, but the option to get water into or out of practically anything really puts your mind at ease. It is also pretty impressive how well-thought out and inclusive the kit is, especially for such a low-priced item.
Water worries are a thing of the past!
A Cheap, Simple To Use, Portable Filter You Can Fit In Your Pocket: Too Good To Be True?
Now that we know how the Sawyer Mini operates, and for how long, let’s look into what exactly it does and it’s limits. The Mini has an impressive 0.1 micron filter (for comparison, the popular LifeStraw has a 0.2 micron filter – meaning the filter on the LifeStraw has larger pores, potentially allowing larger things through), which will prevent you from consuming >99.99% of any bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or sediments that may be lurking in contaminated waters. However, it will not be able to filter out chemicals or heavy metals. While this makes it ideal for camping/hiking and getting rid of undesirables from a natural water source, it may not be as effective in the city if your tap water is contaminated with oil, gas, or pesticides.
Another thing to remember: Due to the Mini’s hollow fiber filters, it needs to have special care in freezing conditions. It is recommended to allow the Mini to dry completely before taking it into a cold climate, and/or to keep it close to your body for warmth to keep it from freezing. If the filter is wet and the hollow fibers within become frozen, it will be ruined and no longer function properly. I tested mine in a forgiving climate, so I didn’t have to worry about this, but I still kept it close to my body in a jacket pocket anyway. You can never be too safe, and you never know when you might need a drink!
Also, while the Sawyer Mini performs its function admirably, it is important to remember that it is a relatively low-priced option. The Sawyer team have done a really remarkable job at making the technology extremely affordable and portable, and also surprisingly durable given the Mini’s plastic construction. While I don’t feel too worried about destroying my Mini, I try not to subject it to too much abuse.
Final Opinion and Review Summary
Overall, I think that the Sawyer Mini is a great tool that any outdoor enthusiast would want to keep around. It’s size and weight make it auto-include item in my camping/hiking kit, and with it’s handy back flushing cleaning system that allows it to filter up to 100,00 gallons, it’s sure to stay there for the foreseeable future.
In my opinion, the Sawyer Mini’s lifespan and versatility, as well as it’s easy to swallow price of roughly $20 on Amazon, puts it above and beyond the competition at 5/5 stars. Just be sure to keep it clean and out of the cold!
Learn More About the Sawyer Mini Water Filter
To learn more details and specifics about the Sawyer Mini, check current prices, or order one for yourself, visit the Amazon listing.
Want to see the Sawyer Mini in action? Check out this brief YouTube review from user HarryCo4 to get a look at what the Sawyer can do.
Huge Filter Lifetime
- Editor Rating
- Rated 5 stars
- Sawyer Mini Portable Water Filter
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The Sawyer Mini is a tiny portable water filter which packs an amazing amount of filtration potential.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.