ReviewsWater Filters

Sawyer MINI Filter Preview

Sawyer MINI Filter general picture

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review Sawyer’s Squeeze Filter (see: Sawyer Squeeze Filter Review). The summary of that review was that I loved it. It completely revolutionized the way I filter water, because I no longer have to pump. Since then, Sawyer has been working on a new water filter called the Sawyer Mini Filter, and I’m going to review it during the next month. Here’s a note I got in my email the other day:

A 0.1 micron absolute filter, that weighs 2 ounces, is rated up to 100,000 gallons and costs $20???? You might think we’re crazy but we’re not (well maybe just a little bit).

The Sawyer MINI is similar to the Sawyer Squeeze Filter, and it uses the same hollow fiber membrane filter that the Squeeze Filter does, but it somehow crams it into 2 ounces instead of 3.6 ounces and the body includes adapters for Sawyer’s water bladders, soda bottles and adapters to use as an inline filter in a hydration pack. It also connects to a straw.

I’m not sure if I’m being hyperbolic about this, but at $20 to $25 for a filter that filters down to 0.1 micron absolute and weighs 2 ounces is going to revolutionize the water filter market. Once this hits the market, hikers, paddlers and adventurers are going to face a new choice:

  • Do we buy a single group filter that pumps slowly or do we each buy a Sawyer Mini Filter?
Using the Sawyer MINI filter as a straw
Image courtesy Sawyer Products.

As long as the Sawyer Mini Filter has a flow rate similar to the Squeeze Filter, then I think most people are going to buy a Mini instead of pump filter. The primary reasons that I think this is going to happen is because:

  • It’s lighter.
  • It’s filters 0.1 micron absolute instead of the common 0.2 micron
  • Because it’s rated at 100,000 gallons, it’s likely the last filter anyone will need (unless they are able to reduce the weight and increase the flow rate in the future)
  • Multiple people can each carry one, which makes for an effective backup system, so you don’t need to carry purification tablets.
  • It’s inexpensive.
  • The backflush syringe functions as a medical syringe, which means you don’t need to carry one in your first aid kit.

Here’s how I see it going down in a store. There’s a display of filters and the Sawyer Mini Filter goes down to 0.1 micron absolute, weighs practically nothing, lasts for 400,000 liters, can be used on a soda bottle that weighs close to nothing and cost about $1. It’s going to sit next to a filter like MSR’s MiniWorks EX, which weighs a pound, connects to a $10 Nalgene bottle and requires that you pump it for a full minute to get a liter and only lasts for 2,000 liters before you have to buy at $39.99 replacement element (that costs twice as much as a Sawyer MINI). If the customers are still similar to those that bought filters when I was in retail, it’s a nobrainer that he/she will buy the MINI.

So, I think this is going to be sold three ways:

  1. As a backup filter to a pump filter. Some stores are going to take this route and it makes good sense, because the Sawyer MINI filter becomes an add-on sale. This is an easy sale and an increase in gross sales over other backup sales.
  2. As a group gravity filter. This is going to drop the gross sales over current systems.
  3. As a personal water system that everyone on the trip should carry. This route could potentially increase filter sales for retailers. And if I was still in retail, this is the route that I’d be pushing across the corporation.

At any rate, I bet a lot of retail buyers were scratching their heads about how to buy filters after Sawyer sprung this little guy on them.

I’m looking forward to trying this water filter out over the next month, and you can expect an honest review by the end of October.

Update (9/19/2013): My test sample showed up today. The filter weighs a mere 1.6 ounces dry! The flow rate is slightly slower than the squeeze, but it’s still fast! Can’t wait to use this more, but it seems pretty sweet, especially at $20!

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  • This is great. But I have to ask out of ignorance: Will it filter the salt out of sea water????

  • I’m looking forward to reading your review on this little guy. We are currently using a Sayer 2-liter gravity filter and this would make a great back-up if it lives up to the hype. Keep the great reviews coming!

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  • So I’m curious about this, how effective will it be for us west cost paddlers and our “cedar tea” that we seem to always be blessed with in the more remote sites?

    • Works fine in the BWCA, which has similar water. If the silt level is high, then you may end up back flushing more often, but that’s easy. The more I use this, the more impressed I am!

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