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on October 23, 2015
The only concern that I have is that the flow rate is a bit slow Considering the size of the unit it is understandable. I did run a bacteria test with raw water from a mountain stream that was pretty clear. After incubation the raw water did show evidence of bacteria growth (photo attached) but that same water through the Sawyer Mini showed no evidence of bacteria. I also used a Steripen Classic 3 on the raw water and saw no bacteria growth. In this limited test both products seemed to work well for bacteria. That gives me confidence using either of these products.
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on September 10, 2015
I am giving only 3 stars for these reasons:
1) The filter is EXTREMELY hard to squeeze when it gets even slightly dirty, making filtering stops very lengthily.
2) Either I was squeezing to hard, or I had a defective bag, became after 4 days of use in the Wind River Rang of Wyoming, my squeeze bag developed a small leak near the screw connector. This plays into the fist issue became I had to squeeze very hard to get even a decent stream of water to filter out. Yes, I back washed the filter several times after every other use. Reason for this was again, the lengthily filtering stops.

A friend used a Katadyn hiker pro on the same trip and after seeing how easy and VERY fast it was to use that filter, I am HIGHLY considering switching filters. Yes, the Hiker Pro is much heaver at ~12 oz vs ~3 oz for the Sawyer with bag and syringe. Yet, the ease of use and quick filtering the Katadyn might be a better option as a primary filter. I think the Sawyer would make a fantastic backup, but as a primary, I am reconsidering.
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on October 9, 2016
I purchased the 4 pack. Each of these 4 sets include a 16 oz reusable squeeze pouch, a drinking straw, and a cleaning plunger. Each filter is rated up to 100,000 gallons which is more than I plan to drink in my life. They work well for filtering out bacteria. With the included straw you can drink directly from your water source. Also, you can fill a disposable water bottle from your water source and then screw the filter directly onto it as the filter will screw onto most disposable drinking bottles. I love being able to do that. I tend to drink directly from the source and before leaving I fill up a couple empty disposable bottles to hold me over until I get to my next water source.

My family and I have used this filter system quite a bit and have encountered no issues with water flow or anything else. It takes little effort to suck the water through the filter. I am always sure to backwash the filters after every use which is quick and easy to do and which is recommended by the manufacturer. If you need to drink from water which appears excessively dirty I would suggest you pre-filter the water as I can imagine you could clog this tiny thing up quickly that way.

This is perfect to take on a backpacking trip. They are very small and each filter only weighs a couple ounces. Not only is it way better than trying to haul a bunch of heavy water bottles around, it is a nice feeling knowing you will not run out of potable water...provided there are water sources in the area. Drinking directly from a pond with this tastes as good if not better than drinking from a bottle of water purchased from the store. For the going prices of this filter I find it to currently be the most economical compact water filter on the market and it functions very well.
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on August 31, 2016
I've used my Mini on 3 trips and it works great. The first trip I used the tiny included "dirty water" pouch and spent way too much time squeezing and spilling.

The second trip I used a second 2L Platypus water bladder as the "dirty water" pouch. I filled that with dirty water, pulled the mouthpiece off my platypus hydration bladder's hose, and hooked that hose directly to the Mini's fresh water tip.

Instead of squeezing I just let it gravity feed by putting the dirty water bag on a rock. No more squeezing! Best of all, I can keep my hydration bladder in my backpack's internal sleeve for the entire trip. It's pretty much impossible to slip a full bladder into that sleeve if the backpack is packed, so that's a real hassle-reducer.

The only downside is Platypus bladders don't use standard threading (WHY!?!), so unless you're super careful (lucky/patient) there will be a small leak where the dirty water bladder screws into the Mini. Not a huge deal, but on my 3rd trip I bought an Evernew bladder because it uses standard threading and doesn't leak.

The thing I don't love is carrying that syringe around. It's light but bulky and feels wrong somehow. I bet I could just squeeze the fresh-water bladder hard to accomplish the same thing, but I'm not confident enough to leave the syringe behind. Are there any other uses for that thing?

Platypus Hoser, 2 Liter
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on January 6, 2015
As usual, I bought a pack of the four different colored Sawyer Mini Water Filtration Systems from Amazon, but it was not apparently registered as a verified purchase (this happens to me very frequently)!

The Life-Straw revolutionized the ability of an individual to obtain clean pathogen-free water infested/infected water sources. This product has thus been used by masses of people in and visiting locations were the water quality is suspect. This system relies on microfibers with pore sizes of 0.2 microns (2 x 10-7 meters). While 0.2 microns pore sizes are used on most water filters, we have found that a proportion of very thin pathogenic water-borne bacteria (enough to then culture: e.g. Leptospira interrogans) can get through 0.2 micron filters (See some of MY published articles). This unit is designed for individual use, costs $ 20.00, contains a useful lanyard, is very light-weight, and is used for purifying water directly from the water source by sucking (i.e. negative pressure only), and is stated to purify up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water.

Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

Subsequently, hollow fibre technology has been used to obtain smaller uniform and absolute pore sizes of 0.1 (all bacteria, parasite eggs, protozoal cysts and trophozoites) and 0.02 (all pathogens including viruses) microns! This technology has been extensively developed by Sawyer (USA) who now provide the best water filters in the world, which are guaranteed to filter up to 1 million gallons of water, are light-weight, and at very reasonable prices.
The smallest of the Sawyer water filter systems is called the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System costs a mere $ 20.00 as an individual ($17.00 each for the 4 (blue, green, orange and pink) colored unit), is supplied with a straw for direct (negative pressure) use from the water source, a small 16 fluid oz. (500 ml) bag which can be filled with water, directly connected to the filter unit (screw threads), and squeezed (positive pressure) through the filter, and a 60 ml syringe which is use to back-flush the filter unit to prolong its life which is stated to be up to 100,000 gallons!

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

IMPORTANTLY, THE SAWYER MINI FILTER UNIT CAN BE COUPLED TO A FAWCET FOR POSITIVE PRESSURE FILTRATION USING A FAWCET/TAP TO TUBE ATTACHMENT (AVAILABLE FROM HARDWARE STORES OR CONTAINED WITHIN THE ALL-IN-ONE SAWYER WATER FILTER SYSTEMS). THUS, YOU COULD USE THIS SYSTEM FOR FIELD FAWCETS, OR FAWCETS IN HOTELS AND HOUSES WHERE THE WATER SUPPLY MAY BE SUSPECT. IN ADDTION, THIS UNIT CAN ALSO BE USED FOR GRAVITY FILTRATION AS ALSO USED IN THE SAWYER 2 AND 4 LITER AND ALL-IN-ONE FILTER SYSTEMS.

Thus, Sawyer Mini Water Filter System can be used with either positive (active fawcet or squeeze-bag force, or gravitational force) or negative pressure (sucking force) unlike the Life Straw which can only be used with negative (sucking) pressure, has a slightly smaller, but important, pore size than the Life Straw (0.1 versus 0.2 microns), costs the same ($ 20.00) as the Life Straw, can filter much (> 380 times) larger volumes of water than the Life Straw (100,000 versus 264 gallons, the Sawyer Mini is supplied with a squeeze bag and you can get more even large capacity bags ($ 9.00 for 3 x 1 liter bags), the Sawyer but not the Life Straw is supplied with a syringe for back-flushing, and (for those who care) the Sawyer Mini Filter comes in five different colors!

Sawyer Products Squeezable Pouches

For those interested, you can even get the Sawyer Mini in 5 different colors so you do not get confused who owns each of the different filters. One is provided in black as a limited edition model, while those of blue, green, orange and pink can either be obtained individually or as a 4 pack ($ 67.51 = < $ 17.00 each). Thus, I bought the latter 4 pack and there will be no confusion regarding who in each expedition/travel party owns each of these water filters!

Thus, I STRONGLY believe that anyone who has compared these two water filters would clearly find that the Life Straw has clearly been surpassed by this Sawyer Mini Water Filter System in absolutely every aspect and therefore I rate the Sawyer Mini Water Filter System as a 5 star product!

Thus, while the Life Straw was a revolutionary product at one time I can only give it a 3 star rating, since it is clearly been surpassed in every aspect by the incredible Sawyer Mini Water Filter System.

The author declares that No Conflicts of Interest Exist in the review of these products or any other products mentioned in this review.

P.S. While the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is designed for 1-2 people, readers who wish to purify water for a much larger group of people should look at the Sawyer 2- and 4- liter bag water filter systems, the Squeeze Water Filter System and the All-In-One (0.1 or 0.02 micron) Squeeze, Fawcet or Gravity Water Filter Systems: e.g. some of the many different Sawyer Water Filter Systems on Amazon:

Sawyer Products SP194 Two Bag Complete Water Purifier System, 2 Liters Each

Sawyer Products Two Bag Complete Water Filtration System

Sawyer PointONE All in One Filter

Sawyer Products SP191 Point Zero Two Bucket Purifier Assembly Kit with Faucet Adapter
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on July 13, 2014
Works exactly as stated, should make water safe (ish) for one person full time. I needed something to make reasonable water safe for me, alone to drink, on an as-needed basis, from a natural water source, and this does the trick and does it well. 4 stars instead of 5 only because some people could get impatient with the speed.

I used local river water, filtered through and performed blood cultures with no significant growth of any major pathogen (keep in mind this is my experience and opinion only). It is a bit slow, so I suggest if you are looking for something really fast/multiple people, get something else as this isn’t what this is for.

If you know your water source is contaminated with something nasty, you should A) avoid drinking it altogether or B) combine with a STERIpen or similar device if you are really paranoid.

Also, FYI, if you keep coffee filters handy and run the water through them first, it goes a lot faster and doesn’t need backwashed as often. And no, you don’t have to replace the filter (in fact you can’t, its designed as a clean-able system), not sure about how to sterilize though as product sheet doesn’t have recommendations.

For the price, for casual camping/hiking, get it. Also as a natural disaster emergency backup.
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on April 20, 2015
Its good as a safety measure.

I personally do not believe I need a filter for drinking water from flowing streams in the areas I go hiking/backpacking. But, I got scared because of all the warnings, and decided to play it safe. This unit is inexpensive and light, and hence decided to give it a chance instead of dealing with the rare situation of falling sick from drinking unfiltered water from flowing streams. I will probably have to remember to regularly clean and replace the filter after certain intervals - maybe, unclean/rarely used/old filters are worse than drinking from flowing streams. Who knows :-)

I used this filter twice and it has worked well, and it is light weight - wish the bag was larger and could accommodate more water. Overall, I am happy with it...
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on August 11, 2014
The Sawyer Mini is a great product; it's a great fit for the majority of people and the majority of outdoor activities. It's very small, very light, compact. It works exactly as it's supposed to, it's cheap, and the filter supposedly last a pretty long time. I recently went on a 3-day canoe trip, and recommended beforehand that everyone in my group buy one of these, since they're only $20 or so. Glad I did - No more sharing water filters. I used to be the only one of my friends w/ a water filter on a backpacking trip, and after sharing with a few guys for half of a week, the filter would be shot and would require replacement (at $50ea) by the end of the trip. This sawyer is a perfect solution to that problem of mine.

I will say, though, that there are cases where I'd prefer my previous Katadyn Hiker Pro over the Sawyer Mini. The bladder/bag/reservoir that comes with the mini is very small (don't remember exactly how many ounces), so even to fill a medium-sized water bottle requires at least two rounds of fill-and-filter. This discouraged me from filling my 3L Camelbak bladder, because it would have taken me 10+ minutes and several rounds of filtering. In comparison, although it is more cumbersome to use, the Katadyn Hiker Pro will fill my bladder in 90 seconds of pumping, and my water bottle in another 20sec. Another challenge with the Sawyer is capturing enough water in a shallow water source like a small stream. It's tough to get that bag full of water when you dont have 6-10" of water to completely submerge it.

It's really kind of a trade-off, because the Sawyer is so small, light, simple, and inexpensive - but multiple rounds of fill-and-filter gets old FAST, and can really take up a lot of your time if you're really consuming a lot of water throughout the day. On the other hand, the Katadyn Hiker Pro is 5x more expensive, with replaceable filters that are by themselves 2.5x more expensive then the Sawyer. But you can filter more volume in less time.

Ultimately, the huge difference is price is going to win out on this, so the $100+ that you'll wind up saving in the short term and long run make the Sawyer worth the extra effort. It gets the job done for a fraction of the cost, and everyone in your group can afford to pick one up. Glad I found this product.
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on April 22, 2015
This beauty is fantastic!
- Lightweight
- screws onto most waterbottles (not Ozarka which has a smaller mouth)
- It is so lightweight and small that it makes a fantastic backup filter to a primary backpacking treatment system. It can also be used as a primary filter system, though I feel that as it all self contained, it is harder to clean if it malfunctions. (I would advice taking 2 if this is your plan)
- As pointed out by others, buy a 'SmartWater' brand bottle (about $2 anywhere). The drinking hole of the bottle is the same size as the nib on the filter. So, you can backflush TREATED water from the bottle through the filter to clean the system. Bonus is you won't have to take the syringe with you. The smartwater bottle threading matches this filter so it can be easily used with the filter.
- pressure is required for this filter to work. Either through sucking the water through the filter (which makes tiny bubbles in your mouth) or by pushing the water through the filter into a clean water bottle. I don't think it works too well as a gravity filtration system.
- I am very impressed with how quickly water passes through the filter.
- I would suggest this filter to anyone debating on getting this or an emergency drinking straw (life filter). Filtering straws require you to drink at the source of water, or dip it into a water bottle. The Sawyer allows you to take water with you and treat on the go OR treat the water as you put it into a clean drinking bottle/bladder. With the included tube straw, you can drink water immediately at a stream, making this system far superior to any filter straw.
- It does come in different colors to make it easy to distinguish yours from your neighbors. That said, some electrical tape or a permanent marker does an equally good job.
- waterbladder is strong, but care must be given when flushing water through or it could rupture. So please don't listen to the idiots who posted bad reviews when squeezing the mylar bag too hard. Sheesh, care people... care.
- As with any filter, only push clean water through the system. Mud and silt will clog this filter (as any). To prevent this, put a bandana, shirt, coffee filter at the end that is dipped into the water. That will help keep tiny dirt particles out of the filtering mesh. But if their is a problem, do try backflushing as this can drive out the dirt.
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on September 22, 2014
I was going on a week-long backpacking trip in Kings Canyon National Park and I needed to get something to keep my drinking water free of bacteria and parasites. I settled on Sawyer's because it is inexpensive and there are a lot of people who seem happy with it judging by Amazon reviews.

Since the main reason to get a filter is to have clean drinkable water I gave it a bit of thought as to how good the filter really is (the manufacturer advertises that “certified 0.1 micron absolute filter” removes bacteria and protozoa at extremely high rate) but I quickly realized that great majority of reviewers, myself including, are not in a position to run controlled lab tests where they would feed contaminated water on one end and test the water coming out at the other end to ensure it is pure. I guess until someone, or some independent lab does these tests we just have to trust Sawyer that their claims reflect true effectiveness of their filters and their production quality control processes are good enough to capture any problems that could result in loss of filter efficiency. By the way, I am not picking on Sawyer here, the same applies to any water filtration system you might decide to choose. The fact that you don't get sick after you drink filtered water could mean that either the filter was really effective or the water was not contaminated to begin with (or both.) I have drunk water from streams or swam in lakes before and never got sick and I am sure that countless hikers and pioneers did the same, yet I don't really want to take my chances anymore.

In that context my review is is really about convenience of use. The filter arrived promptly and I tested it at home before going on a weekend practice run in Catskills. For storing my drinking water I got Nalgene 32 oz collapsible wide-mouth bottle. During the practice run I discovered that the 16-oz pouch that came with the filter has a tendency to stay collapsed, so it is really hard to fill if you just have a small puddle of water available. Hence, I designated one of my empty plastic bottles as “dirty water bottle” and used it to fill up the pouch before attaching it to the filter. The filter comes with a straw which I used on the “clean end” of the filter to make it easier to pour the water into the Nalgene bottle. Sawyer suggests that you attach it to the “dirty end” and sip from the other. Being able to attach the straw at either end makes it convenient but it also introduces a bit of risk for cross-contamination – at one time I was rushing and I attached the straw to the dirty end instead of clean end. Since the filter was already wet I began wondering if I could cross-contaminate my water this way. Another thing is that I wanted to fill up my bottle up to the brim and it actually takes more than 32 oz when full, so it took me three rounds with 16 oz pouch until my bottle was really full. Once my bottle was full I then followed up with my friend's SteriPen to kill remaining viruses (if any) or any other microorganisms that the filter might have missed.

Several weeks after my trip I think I can safely say that I did not get sick with Giardia or any other water-borne infectious disease. Hopefully, that means that the filter was effective. In retrospect, I just wish the whole process was faster and I'm sure I could speed it up if I bought a bigger pouch. The filter is not heavy, so it might be a plus if you care about you backpack weight but it is a bit bulky if you also take a syringe for flushing it - I did not have to do any flushes during my week-long trip but the water we used was generally pretty clear to begin with.

The instructions warn you about allowing water to freeze in the filter and it really makes sense – water expands when freezing generating enormous forces, so I can see how it could easily destroy any micro-pores. Obviously, the same is true for any type of water-retaining filter.

Finally, a small improvement suggestion to Sawyer – I wish there was an optional slow-draining nozzle for the pouch that would turn it into a portable shower while on the trail. If I could only have water trickling for a couple of minutes that would already be really great!
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