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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System > Owner Review by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes



July 22, 2021

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
Age: 55
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 203 lb (92 kg)


I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I am currently getting into condition to summit some of the higher peaks in Washington, Oregon, and California. I normally use a tarp/tent or hammock for shelter. My current base weight is around 17 lb (8 kg), not including consumables.

Product Information


Sunday Afternoons

Year of Manufacture:


Manufacturer’s Website:




Measured (not listed) 5.5" X 1.5" (14cm X 4cm)
 Weight: Listed: 2 oz (57 g)
Measured: 1.75 oz (51 g)

Product Image

Product Description:

The SAWHYER MINI is a hollow fiber-type water filter rated up to 100,000 filtered gallons of water, advertised as being able to remove 99.99999% of bacteria and protozoa, and 100% of microplastics. It can be used inline or attached directly to some common water containers.


  • 3 days on the Pacific Crest Trail (Washington Cascades, Chinook pass to White pass) Used to filter mostly running stream water and some lake water for 1 person. This was a difficult trip and I drank about 3L of water a day in addition to what I used for cooking/cleaning.
  • 3 days Packwood Lake Washington (~4 mile 6 km hike to the lake) Used to filter lake water for 1 person ~3 L per day
  • 2.5 days Dewey Lake (Washington Cascades) Used to filter mostly running stream water for 1 person ~3 L per day
Note: The product is available from multiple on-line as well as brick and mortar retailers. The SAWYER web site lists some retailers and has a tool to help locate local retailers that carry SAWYER products. I don't recall where I purchased mine from, possibly a local 'big box store'.

hydration setupI dislike how much water weighs so I endeavor to only carry a little more than I think I might need, and refill my water along the way. So my hydration system of choice is a large (2-3 L / 70-100 oz) water bladder for collecting/holding raw water (which I normally carry empty), and two or more smaller (0.5-1 L 16-32 oz) clean drinking containers. The adjacent image shows my normal hydration setup.

The SAWYER MINI has hose barb connections on both ends allowing it to be used in line either to drink directly through it, or as a gravity (or pressure by squeezing the bag) set up. The water in side of the filter has a standard 28mm threaded connection allowing it to be attached directly to common soda bottles (a common bottle is the "Smart Water" product) or even some soft-sided bottles/flasks. The kit I purchased included a 16 oz (0.5 L) pouch, a straw, and a "cleaning plunger" (aka large syringe for back-flushing the filter).

While I have tried drinking directly from a hydration bladder through the filter, it is not my preferred method as it does require some effort to suck the water through the filter. Not a lot of effort, but enough that I would prefer not to have to do it while exerting myself during a hike. So when I am on the trail I will fill one of my bladders, attach the filter to the output and squeeze the bladder to filter the water quickly. I will admit this is not without some risk as I have had the tubing come off the fitting due to the pressure, and I also managed to tear a poorly made pouch (not a SAWYER product) by squeezing too hard. While setting up camp, I will fill my largest water container, and set up a gravity feed system either by hanging it from a tree or placing it on top of some object (rock, tree stump, etc). This allows me to fill my water containers while I am busy doing other tasks (or just relaxing) and help to minimize the number of trips I have to make to my water source. It also gives me a ready supply of drinking water as needed.

While the product came with a syringe for back flushing, and I have verified that it works quite well, I have never found the need. While on the trail I make it a habit of at least once a day run some of my clean water backwards through the filter which achieves the same purpose. I have had occasion when I was filtering water with more than average particulate matter, that the flow of water would slow down due to the filter becoming clogged. But a quick back flush as described has been all that is required to get the filter flowing back to its original rate.

While I found nothing wrong with the water pouch that came with the filter, I found it was not effective for me. The opening is small and so can be difficult to fill at some water sources, and the pouch too small for my needs requiring that I refill it multiple times. Also the shape does not allow it to fit well into my water bottle pockets nor is it convenient to carry. As such, I have only used it at home to verify its functionality (and initial trial of the filter).

One thing I would mention is that like most, if not all, filters that I know of, allowing water to freeze inside the filter will damage the filter membrane making it no longer safe to use. To avoid this I either protect the filter from freezing (e.g. keep it in my shelter with me) and/or ensure to drain all of the water out of the filter if there is any risk of it freezing.


Opportunities for improvement

Lightweight, small, easy to use, easily to back-flush in the field, high flow rate, can be used directly in line or as a gravity filter system, versatile (can be used with various hydration systems).



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Reviews > Water Treatment > Filters > Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System > Owner Review by David Wilkes

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