I got my Sawyer Mini Water Filter filter last week and finally had the time to play around with it. Here are my initial impressions:
I have a few LifeStraw Personal Water Filters in in my BOB and GOTH kits right now but they are not very versatile and once used they are shot out. That is, once they get clogged you are SOL because then the only thing you can do is throw them away. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is fairly long and kind of bulky and you have to keep it sealed until you are ready to use it, which makes packing and handling of it kind of a chore. I am happy with them and will keep the Lifestraw in my vehicle kit but I wanted something more versatile for my ruck based GOTH that I tote around every day.
While doing some research on alternatives I found the Sawyer website and ran across their description of the Sawyer Mini Water Filter. This is a fairly small, all in one water filter that most importantly for me, you can backwash when it gets clogged instead of having to discard it and be shit out of luck for a water filter. They are fairly economical at roughly $20, which is comparable to the price for the LifeStraw per filter and each filter comes as a complete kit with filter, straw, 16 oz. bag, and backwash syringe.
The whole set up takes up no more space than a LifeStraw and seems to be much more versatile. The filter unit itself has nipples at both ends sized so you can make it an inline filter on a camelback or similar hydration system if you wanted to. It also comes with a bag that you can fill with the water to be purified and then attach directly to the filter unit. Supposedly you can just squeeze the bag to force the water through the unit and drink directly from the filer unit similar to how a Lifestraw works.
So far I am impressed but I have not used my unit yet. That testing will come today as I will filter and drink some of the water out of the creek that flows past my backyard. I will make a video and post it as well as writing my thoughts on how easy the Sawyer mini is to use. I am going to stir the water up initially so I get some pretty silty water out and then test the efficiency of backwashing the filter. It seems fairly idiot proof as instructions for both use and backwashing are on the bag that comes with it. The only thing that concerns me right now is a prominent warning on the packaging about nor letting your filter unit freeze because that destroys the filter medium. The unit is so small that I don’t really see that as a problem as you could easily put the unit inside your jacket in the cold months to keep it from freezing.
If this works as advertised I think I have found my new GOTH/BOB water filter as the versatility of the filter is not something I have seen in another packable filter unit. That final determination is yet to come though. I expect to post next week on how my experiment worked out.