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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2012

Editors' Choice 2012: Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

Ultralight, affordable, and idiotproof. What's not to like?

by: The Backpacker Editors

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter (Jonathan Dorn)
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter (Jonathan Dorn)

Here’s proof that outside-of-the-box thinking doesn’t have to be complicated. This ingenious water-treatment device works like a simple toothpaste tube to squeeze water through a hollow-fiber membrane. Result: You get the effectiveness of a filter without the hassle of a pump. “It’s light, compact, fast, and ridiculously easy to use,” rejoices one tester. The soda-bottle-size opening on the Mylar bag (kit comes with 16-, 32-, and 64-ounce capacities) makes it easy to fill from all but the weakest trickles.

Then screw on the cylindrical filter element, which removes bacteria and protozoa, and squeeze or roll the bag to shoot a stream of water into your bottle (or mouth). Bonus: The bag system lets you filter anywhere, not just huddled over a stream as pumps typically require. It’s actually faster than most pumps, and has no complicated mechanism that can break. From California’s Lost Coast to the Andes, we had zero field failures. Packed, the setup is as small as a Red Bull can. And longevity? It’s cleanable, and Sawyer offers a million-gallon guarantee. $50; 4 oz. (with 32-oz. bag); sawyer.com

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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star
Michael
Mar 27, 2013

A little deceptive. Doesn't kill virus just bacteria and protoza. It doesn't seem like it would be very proficient when purifying water for a small group of people. For the size of it and its capabilities I think I would rather go with the H2gO Purifier.

Star Star Star Star Star
Tom
Mar 21, 2013

Tip - you don't actually need to squeeze it at all! which eliminates the blowout problem. I added the optional connector nozzles and a bit of clear tubing from the hardware store. Elevate the dirty water bag 2-3 feet above the filter (with a bit of cord through a hole punched in an upper corner) let the filter hang from the tubing and the hydraulic pressure (1 psi per 2.3 ft)pushes the water through about as quickly as a pump. My Scouts gave up on their pumped filters when they saw how easy it was to let gravity do the work.

Star Star Star Star Star
Vinny
Feb 27, 2013

Without a doubt, thus is the best filter I've ever used! It blows my mind that people return these or give them bad reviews based on disposable bags that are easily replaced by a number of different options. Best filter ever! Period.

Star Star Star Star Star
R.C
Feb 22, 2013

I bought the sawyer one in late summer but still haven't used it yet,I read a lot of comments,articles & watched videos to decide if this was the filter I wanted,I can't wait for warmer weather to start using it.

Star Star
Neil
Jan 04, 2013

My hiking partner and I used this on the John Muir Trail this past summer. We were disappointed. Our experience was the pressure needed to squeeze ultimately damaged the bag. We ran into five other groups using it, four of them had the same experience. And no, to anticipate comments, we weren't over-squeezing it. Won't be using it again.

Holly
Oct 30, 2012

Have used this on three separate trips thus far and LOVE it. There is no disadvantage in my opinion. Even in standing water, if you can scoop water using a Nalgene, you can pour it into the bag. The bag is rigid enough though that you don't typically need to do that. We smashed the filter piece in the bed of the truck on our way out on trip 1 (it slipped from the pack pocket and we didn't see it there) and Sawyer replaced it, no questions asked. Unreal.

3rd Wind
Sep 18, 2012

First off, I do really like a lot of the conveniences of this filtration system such as its small size, weight, and ease of use. However, I had the same issue as Steve G. above that I needed something to scoop water up and pour into the bags. I filled all three bags, screwed the caps on, and walked back to my campsite to complete my filtering.

What is also important to remember is to wipe the outside of your bags dry in order to prevent unfiltered water dripping into your resevoir while using the filter.

Steve G
Aug 26, 2012

I just used this to filter small stagnant puddle in Southern Arizona. I had to use my coffee cup to scoop up the water and pour it in the bag. It worked like a charm! My Steripen would never have worked, but this thing owned that puddle. A simple back flush with the included syringe (it's just a standard medical syringe) and it was good to go. The only gripe is that the bag got a small hole in it at the seam of the bag and cap, but the ingenious design allows you to use any standard plastic water bottle in a pinch. Highly highly recommended.

Steve G
Aug 26, 2012

I just used this to filter small stagnant puddle in Southern Arizona. I had to use my coffee cup to scoop up the water and pour it in the bag. It worked like a charm! My Steripen would never have worked, but this thing owned that puddle. A simple back flush with the included syringe (it's just a standard medical syringe) and it was good to go. The only gripe is that the bag got a small hole in it at the seam of the bag and cap, but the ingenious design allows you to use any standard plastic water bottle in a pinch. Highly highly recommended.

Steve G
Aug 26, 2012

I just used this to filter small stagnant puddle in Southern Arizona. I had to use my coffee cup to scoop up the water and pour it in the bag. It worked like a charm! My Steripen would never have worked, but this thing owned that puddle. A simple back flush with the included syringe (it's just a standard medical suringe

Dennis
Aug 24, 2012

I am also wondering how this might be utilized to retrieve water from small puddles where you cannot submerge the bag? And, is the bag simple enough to submerge in standing water, seems like it might be a little difficult as the bag is not hard like a nalgene bottle?

Jason
Jul 12, 2012

I used this last month on a 5 day trip on the AT. Worked just as described. Lightweight and seems pretty durable. Great product.

Michelle
Jun 08, 2012

Question on this filter - is it able to suction up water from a small water source on the ground as a water pump would?

Jeff
May 30, 2012

Plus it's made in America!

Josh
May 28, 2012

Having used tablets, drops, pumps, and UV, I must say this is, by far, the best filtration system we've tried. Time from source to mouth is seconds, the bags weigh less than Platypus bags, the system takes up almost no space, and it will filter the nastiest water you can find. Won't filter chemicals? So what, if there are chemicals in your backcountry water you're hiking in the wrong place!

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