WATER FILTER

Review: Sawyer Squeeze | Water Filter

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From desert cow troughs filled with chunky green water to roadside ditches on a long highway walk, our Sawyer Squeeze has not met a dirty water source it couldn’t handle. Due to its light weight and reliability, this filter is a favorite among long distance hikers and world travelers alike. 

The Specs

  • Weight (Filter only): 3oz
  • Filter Type: Squeeze, Gravity, or In-line
  • Filtration Material: Hollow Fiber Membrane (0.1 micron)
  • Filters: Bacteria, Protozoa, and Sediment (No Viruses)
  • Longevity: Lifetime Warranty
  • Included: Squeeze Filter with Push/Pull Cap, 2 – 32 ounce Collapsible Pouches, Backwashing Plunger, Inline Adapters, Drinking Straw or Gravity Tube, Mesh Carrying Pouch.
  • MSRP: $50
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HOW IT WORKS

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The Sawyer Squeeze works through squeezing unfiltered water through a large number of tiny ‘U’ shaped tubes. These hollow tubes allow the clean water to pass through freely and the dirty water, bacteria, protozoa and other harmful particles to be trapped in the filtration tubules. According to Sawyer, this filter is certified for 0.1 micron filtration. This means that it will filter everything larger than than the 0.1 micron pores. In addition to the dangerous illness inducing particles, this will filter out dirt and organic matter that may cause a foul taste or odor to the water. The added benefit to the hollow fiber tubes is that it keeps the contaminants on one side of the filters allowing for them to easily be flushed. Back flushing the filter returns to the flow rate close to its original state with no need to ever buy replacement filter elements. While the squeeze is perfect for filtering in the backcountry, it might not remove harmful contaminants like viruses, heavy metals or pesticides. 

WHAT WE LOVE

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Compact Size| Weighing in at three ounces, the Squeeze is perfect for ultralight backpacking. While the Sawyer Mini cuts the weight by an ounce, it is hard to beat the convenience and filtering power of the Squeeze.  

Reliable Filtration| As stated by Sawyer, the Squeeze is rated to 0.1 micron absolute filtration, removing 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, leptospirosis, cholera and E.coli, and 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as Giardia and cryptosporidium. It also is able to filter out sediment (aka floaties), too. This filter does not remove viruses, however, bacteria and protozoa are the most common issues that are encountered in the backcountry of the United States.  

Easy to Clean| The Sawyer Squeeze requires occasional back-flushing in order to maintain an efficient flow. While this can seem like a burden at first, it really can be quit easy, plus it makes filtering so much more enjoyable. It is exciting to back-flush your filter and see what was filtered out of your drinking water! 

Pro Tip: A cleaning plunger comes with the kit, but we would recommend just going ahead and leaving that at home. All you will need is the sports cap from a SmartWater bottle. Simply screw the top off of the bottle, break off the top and bam! The sports cap makes the best, lightest weight tool for back-flushing your filter on-the-go, making it as easy to clean in the backcountry as it is in the front country. 

Sawyer Tip: It is best to back-flush when the flow rate begins to slow down, before the filter is stored or when it is used again after being stored. Cleaning your filter restores up to 98.5% of its flow rate. It is recommended that a good amount of force is applied when back-flushing in order to clear out all of the fibers rather than just a few. Filter until the water runs clear. Don’t forget to use filtered water to back-flush! 

Compatibility|  There is more than one way to attach a Sawyer, and that is why we choose this filter over other filters on the market. You can attach it straight to your water bottle or with the Squeeze bags, use it inline with a hydration bladder or even use the gravity tube and mesh bag that comes in the kit to set it up in a gravity system. 

Long Lasting| As long as it is cleaned, never frozen and used properly, this filter will last a lifetime. It certainly lasted our entire thru-hike of the CDT and will keep on filtering on. 

Fast| From our personal experience, we can filter a liter in around thirty seconds to one minute, depending on the quality of the water source and altitude. Higher altitude slows the rate of filtration.

WHAT WE DO NOT LIKE

Susceptible to Freezing| Unlike carbon or charcoal filters, the small micro tubes will burst if exposed to sub-freezing conditions. It is also impossible to tell if the filter has been compromised due to freezing, so it is best to replace the filter if there is any doubt. A small price to pay to keep your body Giardia free.

Pro Tip: Avoiding a frozen filter is relatively easy. Any night that there is a potential for sub-freezing temperatures, place the filter somewhere inside your sleeping bag. We preferred to carry a small plastic bag to store the filter in so it would not leak inside our sleeping bags. 

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Collectability| When using the provided bags, it can be difficult to collect water from a variety of water sources. Larger running bodies of water make it relatively easy to collect. Trickles, small flows and slow moving water make it difficult to fill the bag up. 

Pro Tip: The best way to combat this limitation is by carrying a scoop. We cut the bottom off of a plastic water (or Gatorade) bottle and used that for slower flows and small pools of water. 

Single-Person Use|  The Sawyer Squeeze when not set up to the gravity system is truly a one-person system. Not that the filter cannot handle double the work, but in terms of time…it is a bit of a hassle filtering for multiple people. 

Pro Tip: Carry your own filter. You will thank us later. 

The Squeeze Bags| The bags that come in the Squeeze kit are fragile. By not using the bag properly, it is easy to split a seam and cause your bag to leak. Once a bag starts to leak, it can jeopardize your entire filtration system. Fortunately, they are easy to replace! 

Pro Tip: Don’t squeeze or wring the bag too hard. We figured out that the best way to protect the bag from splitting is rolling the bag from the bottom to the top slowly squeezing the clean water into your bottle. 

The Thread| Over-tightening the filter to the bag can result in breaking or damaging the o-ring (gasket). This becomes problematic if the filter begins to leak at the base. M.E. had trouble with her filter after over-tightening the filter to the bag. The o-ring ended up falling out frequently and there was a very sensitive spot where the filter would begin to leak.

Pro Tip: If you happen to jeopardize your o-ring, reach out to Sawyer! They were very helpful in getting us a new o-ring. They were quick to respond, and we found out that complimentary gaskets are available to US based customers.  

Conclusion

For filtering in the United States backcountry, this filter will keep you hydrated, healthy, and happy. Also as long as you back flush your filter and never let it freeze, it will stand up against the intensive use that gear takes on a long distance hike. Plus- it makes for a perfect snack break during those long miles. 

To learn more about the Sawyer Squeeze: https://sawyer.com/

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