Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

The best water filtration system so far: Sawyer MINI review

Sawyer Mini filtering vodka So a lot of people are using the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter as their go-to water filtration system, and for good reason – it’s portable, filters well, and isn’t all that expensive (It’s the #1 best selling portable water filter out there). Well I think that’about to change. I think the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is superior, and here’s why…

My Sawyer Mini water filter review

I got a hold of one of the Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration Systems from Sawyer do some testing and see what all the buzz is about this thing. It now sits in my primary go bag. It’s only about 5 inches long and 1 inch thick so it doesn’t take up too much room. First, here’s their sales video. I think I need to find a girl like her:

Here’s another one by Chad Poindexter:

Sawyer Mini specs

Here’s what it includes:

  • Sawyer Mini water filter that only weighs less than 2 ounces
  • one 16 fl. oz. resusable squeeze pouch
  • a filter tip cap
  • a cleaning syringe

A few notes:

  • Hollow-fiber membrane makes it easy to pull the water through the filter as you’re sucking it through the straw or from your Camelbak.
  • Includes a 16 fl. oz. reusable pouch that you can fill at a lake or stream and then use to squeeze water through the filter
  • 0.1-micron filter physically removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium
  • Includes a syringe to backflush the filter to keep it flowing strong
  • Filter will also fit the threads on most bottles of water that you buy at a grocery store; can also be used as an inline filter (adapters and hoses not included)

Here are the weights:

  • Sawyer Mini – 39.32 grams / 1.38 ounces
  • Sawyer Mini Cleaning Plunger – 32.44 grams / 1.14 ounces
  • Sawyer Mini 16oz bag – 21.48 grams / 0.75 ounces
  • Sawyer Mini Straw – 6.24 grams / 0.22 ounces

One of the keys to its success is the syringe that comes with it. This backflushes the system to clear it out. You need to backflush it every few days if you’re using it every day though or it starts getting tough to suck water through. That means that you really need to carry the syringe with the filter just in case you’re out more than a few days. What I really like is that the filter has a threaded end that fits on most water bottles. That’s pretty cool. Even more cool is that you can get adapters to fit it to your Camelbak or other system as an inline filter. You’ll need the Sawyer Inline Hydration Pack Adapter for Screw On Filter if you want to connect it inline though for some reason. What I don’t like is that the backflush syringe for some reason doesn’t connect to the water filter. WTF? You have to carry a hose along to connect the two.  The first video explains how to backflush the system. What I do is connect the hose to the output and the syringe to the other end. Then dip the sawyer mini input in some clean water and pull/push with the syringe until it flows cleanly. That seems to work. Also, the .1 micron filter (as opposed to only .2 micron for the Lifestraw) is much better than filters out there – and you can run 100,000 freaking gallons through it! For comparison, the lifestraw is rated at 264 gallons. The collapsible water bottle in it is something that I needed anyway so it’s awesome that it comes with it.

Sawyer Mini water filter video review

Want to see it in a video? Here’s one from Prepared Mind 101. First time I’ve seen one of his videos but I like this guy:

As he mentions, the Sawyer Mini filter, as with almost all filters out there, doesn’t filter chemicals so you need an extra step to be absolutely positive that the water you’re drinking is safe. The Berkey SPTREP Replacement Filter for GSPRT Sports Bottle is what he’s talking about. Run the Sawyer first and then into the Berkey so it lasts longer. Water is one of the most important keys to survival. I know they say you can only go three days without water but that’s actually kind of misleading. If you go three days in a normal situation; you’re dead. If you’re in a hot environment or using up water more than normal, it’s even worse. The real fact is that after just a few hours, you start getting dehydrated. A few more hours and you start getting dizzy and disoriented. If you get disoriented, you make bad decisions. If you make bad decisions, your dad gets punched in the stomach for a can of soup. Even worse, you are more likely to get lost or make a decision that endangers your life if you’re disoriented. Here are the symptoms of dehydration and severe dehydration, according to the Mayo Clinic:

Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • No wet diapers for three hours for infants
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
  • In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

That’s bad ju ju. You need to make sure you have enough clean water so you can do all the other things in a survival situation like build a fire, build a shelter, set traps, signal for help, or whatever else your situation dictates. You absolutely can’t bank on going 3 days without water. Also, I’m pretty familiar with the symptoms of dehydration from several deployments to jungles and deserts. You not only get a headache and blurry vision pretty quickly, you start getting a god awful headache too. It really sucks. So really, if you have a go bag or a bug out bag, you need to get a Sawyer Mini and a Berkey replacement filter. It’s lighweight, cheap, doesn’t take up too much space, filters to .1 microns, and does 100,000 freaking gallons if you flush it.

AND, rumor has it – vodka tastes pretty damn good if you filter it through this thing. 😉

About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. socmarine87 says

    This is a great unit and we run it inline with our hydration bladders. Something to consider. A lot of your water sources will be contaminated with petro, pesticides, etc. Use a carbon attachment to aid in the removal of these. Platypus makes a nice one.

    Keep your head on a swivle people.

  2. This is much better than most of the filters on the market, however, there still needs to be something or some kind of water filter that is able to remove the viruses from the water. You can never be too careful when drinking from an untreated source, and I still boil my water after I have filtered it.

    • superbombastik says

      you could boil the water to kill viruses or even carry some cheap vodka to mix a little with it. also, the vodka can be used to cleanse or feed a small fire or consume as a stress management / sleep aid for those in trauma. get it in a plastic bottle and it wont break and you can re-use the bottle. Not worried about leeching BPA for short term post catastrophe survival.

    • Sawyer makes a .02 filter that removes virsus

  3. Thanks for posting this about the Sawyer mini water filter. Last summer I went to Kenya on a mission trip and took the Steripen. But is uses batteries and is heavier. Do you think that the Sawyer mini is safe to use on a mission trip to Peru? I am taking our church’s youth group there this summer and this filter would be lighter and more cost effective for each group member to get one.

  4. Terry Vanderpuke says

    I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know how to make an intelligent comment without accusing people and calling them names.

  5. Thinking I may pick some up from Amazon. 100,000 gallons vs 1000 liters…..big difference in my book.

    In the mean time, in addition to Lifestraw and some calcium hypochlorite, I also have a General Ecology First Need XL Water Purifier with an extra canister. As a purifer, it removes pathogens AND chemical containments. My canisters say good up to 180 gallons each, but I have heard people say they use the same canister for years and it still filters out the blue test dye sent with the pump.

  6. Renovo Trio. Have you looked at this one?

  7. Robert Wm Thompson says

    It looks like you can filter your own water to backflush the filter with. Is that right? What an amazing little system they’ve come up with! I will be getting one. (Or more)

  8. I see folks here worried about the inability to remove viruses. Carry a Steripen Ultra with a Goal Zero solar charger. Or just kill two birds with one stone and purchase the grand-daddy of the Sawyer Mini, the Sawyer Zero Point Two (about $120), which can mechanically remove most viruses as well.

  9. FAIL. You MUST carry clean, filtered, and microbe/parasite-free water in order to backflush this unit so what’s the point?

    • You at least have the option once you’re back in an area to have that or can find some. With the other units, once you’ve gone past the point where this would need backflushing, you can only throw them away. That’s the point.

    • but surely you would just backflush it with water you just filtered? you wouldn’t let it get clogged

  10. The comical thing about worrying about chemicals, is that a huge amount of the “city” water many of you drink isn’t filtered in any way, It’s simply treated with chlorine and fluoride, pumped into a water tower from a ground source that could easily be contaminated. That said, I’m not worried about SHTF situations long term I always live near a large wilderness area and am ready to survive indefinitely. That said, the real use for these is backpacking, which is awesome. It’s unlikely you’re going to run into a virus or chemical contamination in a free running stream deep inside a national park. There’s only so much you can carry. You can’t negate ALL risk.

    • Exactly. Like someone said, if you’re that worried, filter it, and add a purification tablet, or boil afterwards. I’m not going to be using it in some drainage ditch outside a pesticide plant… Can’t wait to pick one up for next summer’s backpacking trips.

  11. Herbert O. Wardell Jr. says

    What is the clean water delivery rate it the process. gal/hr. Even if the process is through a 5 gallon water bucket kit, what is the delivery rate for that 5 gallons to be processed

  12. I wonder if instead of the back flushing with water would it be possible to blow through the straw and clear the filter? Air works in other filters when they are blinded. You are correct about dehydration, I worked in the California desert for a few years, we could work outside for 1/2 hour and inside for 3/4 hour when the temps exceeded 110 F. Gallons and gallons of water were consumed, with very little waste. Fly’s die at 125 degrees F.

  13. I have been persuaded in using SAWYER mini water filter through this! I have learned further about water filters. It is beneficial for my whole family. Thanks a lot!

  14. Does this filter remove microplastics?

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