Last Updated on 07/03/2022
In this Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review, I give my honest opinion about why I think the SP128 is such a winning piece of kit.
Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review
First of all, I would like to start by making a bold statement and say that I think the Sawyer Mini Water Filter is one of the best pieces of kit you can buy for under $30. It is small, lightweight, reusable and provides clean, filtered, life-giving water for a very long time. In this Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review, I give my honest opinion about why I think the SP128 is such a winning piece of kit and the reasons why there is always one in my backpack.
Water is often taken for granted when you have all your home comforts at hand, but when you are far out in the wilderness or abroad in a foreign country, it can be tricky to find a clean drinking source. With a simple water bottle and Sawyer Mini Water Filter you can easily collect, transport and drink water from streams, rivers, lakes and taps abroad, making it instantly safe to drink.
Related: This Water Filter is Ranked Number 1 on our Top 10 List
The Sawyer Mini is rated to a filtration level of 0.1 microns absolute, weighs just 56 grams (2 ounces), and will process over and above 100,000 gallons of water into pure, clean and safe to drink H2O! The filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria such as Salmonella, 99.9999% of all protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium, as well as other harmful pathogens which can cause E. coli and cholera.
What’s Included When You Buy the Sawyer Mini Water Filter?
What is included with the standard Sawyer Mini SP128 model pack?
- 16 Oz Pouch
- 7″ Drinking Straw
The 16 oz Sawyer water pouch with a screw lid can be used to squeeze water through the device is small but able to process water quickly enough for one person. To keep the end you drink from clean, there is a handy flip cap that is loosely attached and should be looked after carefully if you don’t want to contaminate your clean drinking nozzle. You also get a short length of durable tubing to be used as a straw to help extend your reach when you find water in hard-to-reach places. The syringe is to plunge clean water back through the device (in reverse) and flush out any blocked micro-pores.
Sawyer Mini SP128 Features
Here are some of the features that make the Sawyer Mini Water Filter such a great piece of outdoor gear;
- Weighs just 2 ounces
- Filters over 100,00 gallons of water without the need for replacement
- Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria
- Rated to a filtration level of 0.1 microns absolute
- Can be attached to a regular water bottle
- No chemicals, no bad taste
- Costs less than $25
How Does the Sawyer Mini Water Filter Work?
The proprietary feature of the Sawyer water filter is the hollow fiber membrane tube design, these ‘U’ shaped tubes allow it to process massive volumes of water without the need to change filters or buy any extra parts. The tiny tubes within are lined with thousands of tiny micropores that are just 0.1 microns wide (almost invisible to the human eye) and filter out 99.99999% of all bacteria from freshwater.
The water flows in and through the core of the micro tubes and seeps through the micro-pores, providing a steady feed of clean drinking water out of the other end. If like me you see a stream and instantly want to drink from it, then you can simply get down on the ground and use the filter like a straw allowing you to get a good drink without having to take your pack off. The most practical way to use the Sawyer Mini for hiking is to fill your bottles from the source and filter as you go, from the bottle and through the filter.
The rate at which the water flows can be increased by using a Sawyer Water Pouch or standard water bottle to apply pressure and force the water through, instead of using suction or a gravity feed. Simply screw the filter onto the bottle or pouch as you would a regular bottle top and either squeeze the water into your mouth or squeeze the water into clean containers until they are all full.
How Effective Is the Sawyer Mini Water Filter?
The main concern that most people have with drinking from an unknown water source is not what the water looks or tastes like, but instead whether there are any harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses lurking in it. It doesn’t take much for a freshwater source to become contaminated – dead animals and fecal matter easily find their way into waterways and stagnant pools.
Waterborne bacteria like Salmonella can make you very sick and can sometimes be fatal, often being contracted during bathing, washing, drinking, in the preparation of food as well as eating that food. The Sawyer Mini removes 99.9999% of all bacteria, protozoa, and cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidium, as well as other harmful bacteria which cause E. coli and cholera. Getting sick often involves throwing up and diarrhea which only makes you more dehydrated, this is why it is so important to always filter your water.
Universal Water Bottle Filter Attachment
I have found that by using 2 x 1 Liter Sawyer Water Pouch, you can keep one container for unprocessed water to use as a “squeeze pouch”, and the other one can be kept clean for carrying pure filtered water. I do also buy a 2-liter bottle of mineral water whenever I get the opportunity, as they can often become damaged if you are constantly squeezing the plastic down to filter water quickly. Using plastic bottles with a universal screw top to process water quickly saves wear and tear on your Sawyer Pouch and they are inexpensive and easily replaceable.
I keep an SP128 Mini in every rucksack I use so that I never have to worry about running out of drinking water when I am out and about on the trails. Using a regular (28mm thread) water or soft drinks plastic bottle (which most people carry anyway and can, unfortunately, be found as litter in many parts of the world) you can easily fill a bottle in deep or fresh running water.
If you can’t fully submerge the top of a bottle, cut off the bottom to give you a wider opening with a lower center of gravity, and then hold it up straight and let gravity do the work. If you use a hydration pack, you can easily adapt it to hold the filter in line with the drinking tube.
Lightweight and Compact
Weighing just 2 ounces or 56 grams and fitting in the palm of your hand, there is no other water filter capable of running more than 100,000 gallons of water, that is more portable than the Sawyer Mini. At 5.5 inches long and a diameter of 4 inches wide, this is one of the smallest outdoor water filters on the market.
For this Sawyer Mini Water Filter Review, we did not receive any storage pouch in the accessories however we did find that a small fabric sunglasses case with drawstring provided the perfect carry case for the filter, straw, and syringe. Using the Sawyer foldable water pouch instead of a common water bottle means that you also save space when you aren’t carrying a full load of water.
The beauty of using a portable water filter is that so long as you stay close to a water source like a river, you don’t have to carry hardly any water, and thus keep your pack lightweight.
Long-Lasting Water Filter
The life expectancy of the Sawyer Mini SP128 is guaranteed for 100,000 gallons or 378,540 liters of water. To put that in perspective, the average person in a moderate climate will drink 5 liters of water a day – that’s 1,825 liters per year or to round it up, around 2,000 liters. That’s 189 years of water!
The truth is that the tubes are likely to deteriorate over time and never reach their full potential, but it has yet to happen to any of the ones I own. Made from tough plastic and with a foolproof design (big arrow to show the direction), it is hard to find a single fault with it.
Because there are no chemicals or filter components that ever need replacing it is important to look after the ones you have. To maintain a fully functional purification system, you should regularly flush clean water backward through the system to keep a high flow rate and unblock any pores after use.
The Sawyer Mini Water Filter comes supplied with a backwash system (a large syringe) that clears the pipes in 2 – 3 full plunges. I have used a single filter on a 4-week cross-country trek without taking a plunger and while the flow rate does slow, it never became an issue.
The usefulness and versatility of the Sawyer Mini is impressive, to say the least. There is no denying what this water filter is capable of and when you compare it to all its closest rivals, it really is in a league of its own. Lightweight, portable, and potentially life-saving – even if you aren’t into the whole survival/prepper thing, it wouldn’t hurt to have the means to filter water without gas or electricity in an emergency situation or natural disaster would it?
Not having the chemical taste that most other filters have is a big factor for me but also being able to outlast them all as well is the icing on the cake. I recommend everyone get at least one Sawyer Mini Water Filter for themselves and if you already have one, why not get one for a friend as a gift? A wilderness adventurer’s best friend that will come in very handy one day for sure, and typically sold for under $30, how can you say no?!
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