Feb 25, 2016 at 10:05 am #3384518
Well, after having used the filter for some time now, I think I will give up and go back to my old Sawyer black filter (circa 2009). The mini weighs around 1.8 oz wet. The old black version weighs around 2.7 oz wet, lighter than the Sawyer Squeeze I think. I initially used the Sawyer mini as it was intended–squeezing. I quickly found that this was way too much work. I then rigged it in gravity mode with a length of tubing to increase pressure, and the flow rate seemed good at home. On my last trip, though, it really clogged badly. Note that I was filtering water from a sandy creek bottom and the rest of the group didn’t have working filters (both of their heavy pump filters broke!), so I had to help out.
I’m curious if the rest of you have had similar experiences. I did try backflushing using my clean hydration bladder with my drink hose connected to the clean end of the filter. This helped some, but the flow rate was still abysmal (around 20 minutes for 1 L). I’ve also heard thru-hikers ditching the Mini too.
Thoughts?Feb 25, 2016 at 10:17 am #3384522Jon FongBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
I have thought about this a lot and wondered if we should rethink the Sawyer Mini. If you look at it as a single season, consumable product, it may change your view. They are sub $20 and the weight savings is pretty nice. The long term reliability does not seem to be as good as the larger Sawyer filter. For a single season (2 people or less), it may be viable. My 2 centsFeb 25, 2016 at 10:38 am #3384530Eric OsburnBPL Member
Were you using any kind of pre-filter to keep the mini from clogging or just pulling in water straight from the creek? Was the water clear or silty? Just trying to get a better idea of the conditions you were in. From my experience you really need to make sure the water going into the mini is as clear and clean as possible.Feb 25, 2016 at 11:22 am #3384544Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Gave mine away, too slow. Happy with the Squeeze. I like that with care a Squeeze should last a long, long time. Thinking the Mini as a disposable item just doesn’t sit right. Too much landfill fodder already. Wasn’t so long ago that a 12oz. pump filter was seen as light. So an ounce heavier is no burden for the better operation over the Mini.Feb 25, 2016 at 12:20 pm #3384556J RBPL Member
Altitude will also slow the flow rate — mine is always faster at home than in the Sierra.
I pretty much agree with above sentiments, specifically I still use the Mini for solo but if adding just one more person then I’ll go the the Squeeze instead.Feb 25, 2016 at 12:43 pm #3384558
Altitude might interfere, true–but in my case the elevation was roughly 150 ft! Regarding a prefilter–no I didn’t use one. However, the water was fairly clear and flowing. The creek bottom was sandy, so some particulates might have gotten into the filter. But it slowed really fast. Like I said, backflushing it didn’t help much. I never had any of these issues with my all-black Sawyer from circa 2009. Tony Valshar was using the same one–Tony are you still alive after using your filter all these years?
I think the idea of the Sawyer Mini as disposable is somewhat incongruous with the manufacturer claims. I think Sawyer states that it should be able to handle 100,000 gal or something of the sort. This is disingenuous if it can only be used a handful of trips. In my own case, this was only the third trip I’ve used it, if memory serves me correctly.
Reflecting on water filtration selection leads me to a wider point: Sometimes we (as UL backpackers) choose items solely based on base pack weight, without regard to the functionality or other weight (consumable) affected by such choices. For instance, I find it quite humorous that backpackers rave about Aqua Mira drops, claiming that they’ve saved 2 oz over a Sawyer filter, and then go on to shove a full 3L water reservoir into their pack. 3L = 6.61 lbs! Drinking even a small sip of the water while being non-motile (a luxury afforded by a filter, as opposed to chemical treatment) will offset the 2 oz of the filter.
I think there needs to be a more careful criterion of pack weight. Pack weight shouldn’t merely account for base loads but for average weight carried a period of time. A more precise characterization would involve a scale which measures at any time t the weight of one’s pack, then graphs that over time.
Anyway, I digress! Back to the mini!Feb 25, 2016 at 2:52 pm #3384596
I have returned to the Squeeze as the 1oz difference is worth the added flow and reliability to me. I shan’t be purchasing another Mini when this one is kaput.Feb 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm #3384614Billy RaySpectator
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
Had the same issue with the Mini clogging pretty easy. Seemed like too much work… went back to my Steripen but in the Utah canyons where the water can have a significant amount of silt I go with the heavy, clunky but reliable and cleanable prefilter Katadyn Vario. When it clogs, just scrub the prefilter… also has activated charcoal element that takes out the bad taste often found in stagnant pools of water. Well worth the weight.
billyFeb 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm #3384620KRSBPL Member
@krshomeLocale: Virginia USA
Yes! The mini is a passing fad. I went back to the squeeze late last year and not looking back. The squeeze is soooooo much better.Feb 25, 2016 at 5:28 pm #3384623
Turns out you CAN make something smaller and lighter yet not improve it :)Feb 25, 2016 at 7:12 pm #3384651Jennifer MitolBPL Member
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Those of you who went back to the squeeze – do any of you guys use it inline? I use my mini inline to drink on the go – and it works like a champ (platy to hose, hose to filter, filter to grey drinking tube, bite valve attached to said grey drinking straw). Then I can hang a full bag to filter in camp while I set up. Yes, it’s painfully slow to squeeze a liter all at once, but as an inline drinking system it’s fantastic.
That was what I DIDN’T like about the original squeeze…no simple way to hook it up inline or as a gravity filter in camp.Feb 25, 2016 at 7:18 pm #3384653
Jen, nope. Don’t use a drinking hose, use bottles instead and have converted to a gravity filter setup. I suspect the mini has its niche, as you can attest, it just didn’t fit in into my system.Feb 25, 2016 at 7:35 pm #3384657Ryan SmithBPL Member
@violentgreenLocale: East TN
Well, I guess I’m one of the lucky ones that has had success with the Mini, but sounds like I should consider going back to the Squeeze on long trips. The additional ounce doesn’t bother me, but I’d like to avoid the bulk of the Squeeze if possible. Yes – I understand how ludicrous that sounds considering 7-8 years ago I was hauling a Katadyn pump that was the size of a toaster.
RyanFeb 25, 2016 at 8:17 pm #3384663W I S N E R !BPL Member
I love the mini. I’ve used it for about 20 nights of backpacking as well as at least another 2 weeks of canyoneering and hiking day trips.
I barely backflush (maybe once every few trips). I have no issues with speed or flow rate; it is what it is and I’m OK with it. I never use it in gravity mode, just squeezing. I make sure to fill from the cleanest water I can find to reduce clogging potential. My flow rate slowed after 6 straight days/nights in the Sierra but that was because I was too lazy to backflush. The only issue I had was poor thread mating with platypus bottles. My current system is a sawyer 32 oz. bladder for dirty/squeezing and a gatorade wide mouth for drinking. Simple.
So far it’s been nothing but good to me.Feb 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm #3384966.BPL Member
I have the Squeeze, Mini, and a couple Steripens. I currently favor my Steripen Ultra but would be happy enough to go back to the Squeeze. I’ve permanently retired the Mini due to how slow it is. I was originally happy with the small size and saving an ounce, but it felt like I was giving up more than what I was gaining in return.
To each their own.Feb 26, 2016 at 8:58 pm #3384983Brian BBPL Member
I’ve had good experience using a Sawyer filter in the Cascade/Sierra. Terrible experience using a Sawyer filter in the Rockies.
Clay, user error, gremlins…?Feb 27, 2016 at 10:45 am #3385047Mitchell EbbottSpectator
My preferred method for using the Mini is to drink directly through it, attached to a Smartwater bottle. I agree, squeezing from a dirty container into a clean one takes too much time. But the option to “dip and go” is nice.Feb 27, 2016 at 12:02 pm #3385062Jacob DBPL Member
@jacobdLocale: North Bay
I’ve got mixed feelings about the Mini too.
When it’s clean and working well, it’s great. However it seems to require more upkeep than any other Sawyer filter (or any filter I’ve used for that matter). I started using it as an inline filter, but it became too laborious to drink from, so I switched over to using it as a squeeze filter, and that’s becoming a slow and difficult process.
I haven’t filtered from any exceptionally dirty sources, although a trip to the Colorado river last spring definitely had an effect on the filter I took along. I’m considering switching back to my Sawyer 3-way which has been tucked away in some dark corner of the gear closet.
It’s hard *not* to want to take the mini though, or even recommend it still… just because it’s so small, light, and inexpensive (in the short term). A filter conundrum.Feb 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm #3385065
Can you offer your thoughts on the 3-Way? (I just posted a new related thread on this topic, so maybe post there). How much does it weigh and what’s the flow rate like?Feb 27, 2016 at 12:31 pm #3385071Jacob DBPL Member
@jacobdLocale: North Bay
Sure. The 3-Way I have is model Sp122 – I’ve had it since something like 2010, maybe even before that. I’m not sure if there’s a newer version available (I could look, but my kids are tugging at me to get out of the house)… The filter itself weighs about 3 ounces, and there are a couple of quick connect fittings it uses to attach to hoses, which add a little more.
I used it mostly in gravity mode, and once it gets started the flow rate is pretty good (sorry, that’s not very quantitative). I can’t count the number of times I ended up with water running on the ground because it filled the bottle/bladder faster than I expected.
Here is an old post (sorry about any funny sized images, just updated my site to a new format… still tidying up) http://hikeitlikeit.com/2011/lightweight-water-filtration/
At the bottom of that post there is a link to a newer one featuring the Mini.Feb 28, 2016 at 8:51 am #3385256
Anyone know the weight of Sawyer Squeeze in grams when wet? I’m curious how it compares to the Mini.Feb 28, 2016 at 10:37 am #3385288
David, here are my weights with each filter freshly back-flushed and sucked/shaken as dry as possible.
- Mini: 52.1g, 1.83oz
- Squeeze: 87.7g, 3.09oz
I also decided to quantify the flow rate differences in a gravity setup. Test control info and methodology:
- Both the Mini and Squeeze tested have filtered an approximately equal number of liters and are in seemingly perfect working order.
- Architecture: 2L dirty bag -> 28″ hose -> filter
- Timing was started as soon as the system was primed, eg. when air was purged from the hose and a steady stream of water started flowing from the filter
- Timing was stopped when flow from the filter was no longer a steady stream, i.e, reduced to drops.
Times to filter 2L:
- Mini: 00:03:32 or 3.53 min
- Squeeze: 00:02:56 or 2.93 min
In this test, the Squeeze was approximately 20% faster than the Mini. My feeling is that the Squeeze is closer to 50% faster when used in “squeeze” mode, but I cannot devise a test methodology that is reliable, repeatable and fair.
If speed in a gravity setup were the only difference between the 2 filters, I would likely opt for the Mini as speed is not really the point with this setup.
That said, given the increased possibility for the Mini to clog, coupled with it’s significantly greater effort when used in “squeeze” mode, I prefer the Squeeze for most trips. I still might select the Mini, but only if weight were the overriding factor and I was fairly certain of having clear water sources. A penalty of 35.6g/1.26oz is one I am usually willing to pay for safety and ease of use.Feb 28, 2016 at 10:53 am #3385293Feb 28, 2016 at 11:27 am #3385299Rusty GatesBPL Member
Does the mini work well out of the box and then decline? I ask because I’m planning to use a brand new Sawyer mini on an upcoming ~10 day trip.
I haven’t tested/ practiced with it yet and I didn’t know there were complaints about the flow rate.Feb 28, 2016 at 11:39 am #3385301James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Generally, ALL filters have a reduced flow rate with time in use. Natural water has all sorts of minerals, biota and debris in it.
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