Sawyer Water Filter: Taking A Look at the Features it Has to Offer

Bottled water - a product review of the Sawyer Water Filter

Whether you’re a hardcore back country hiker or a weekend warrior who enjoys jaunts through the local park, carrying water is a necessity. The problem is that water is heavy and carrying enough for a hike will weigh you down. This is why water filters have become so popular. They allow you to use water you find on your trail as a portable water source. In this article we take a look at the Sawyer MINI Water Filter and let you know if it's worth buying for your next trip to the wilderness.

Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue
  • Ideal for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, scouting, domestic and International travel, and emergency preparedness
  • High-performance 0.1 Micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just 2 ounces; 100% of MINI...
  • Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable water bottles, hydration packs, or use the straw to drink...

The Sawyer Mini is a personal water filtration system that fits in your pocket. It provides 0.1 micron absolute filtration to remove salmonella, E. coli, cholera, and other bacteria from your drinking water. It also removes protozoa such as cryptosporidium and giardia. You can attach it to a water bottle or reusable pouch or use the straw to drink directly from your water source.

How the Sawyer MINI Works

Hollow fiber micro-tubes trap contaminants, allowing clean water to flow through the filter freely. The 0.1 micron filtration means the pore sizes are small than 0.1 microns. Bacteria and protozoa are larger than this and therefore cannot pass through the filter.

A woman who uses sawyer mini water filter

Image source via Amazon

Sawyer MINI Water Filter Specs

  • Lasts for up to 100,000 gallons
  • Weighs 2 ounces
  • Filter material is hollow fiber
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    Removes protozoa and bacteria including leptospirosis, typhi, salmonella, vibrio cholerae, E. coli, and giardia
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    Includes MINI filter, 16-ounce pouch, drinking straw, and cleaning plunger
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    Available in six colors: black, blue, camo, green, orange, and pink

One of the nicest features of the Sawyer MINI is the inclusion of the pouch and straw. This gives you greater versatility. Other brands use one or the other, but not both. Also, the longevity of this filter is impressive. With competitors lasting for 1,000 liters, the Sawyer MINI's ability to filter 100,000 gallons sets a new bench mark.

How the Sawyer MINI Water Filter Compares

There are many personal water filters on the market. We will compare the Sawyer MINI to others that have similar features and functions to see how they stack up and determine which one delivers the biggest bang for the buck.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and...
  • Removes bacteria & parasites: The microfiltration membrane removes 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria (including E. coli...
  • Removes microplastics: Removes the smallest microplastics found in the environment (down to 1 micron), and reduces...
  • Rigorous Testing: All claims are verified with laboratories using standard testing protocols set by the US EPA, NSF,...

Lifestraw was an early entry in the personal water filtration market. It's been the darling of campers, backpackers, and doomsdayers for a few years. Its popularity has naturally brought on the competition. One of the biggest drawbacks is that you have to provide very strong suction with your mouth to pull the water through the straw, and this is difficult for some people. It's easier to pull the water through the Sawyer MINI filter. It also lacks the versatility of the MINI as it cannot attach to a bottle to filter water from a container.

  • Ease of Use – As mentioned above, sucking water through the straw can be tough going. In addition, if your water source has high banks, the short length of the straw can make drinking very tricky. You have to really get down close to the surface of the water to get the straw in.
  • Assembly Time – There is no assembly required. You simply open the package, stick the straw in the water, and drink. It doesn't get any easier than that.
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    Build Quality – This is a solid little product that can take a beating. The main shortcoming is that the filter lasts for about 1,000 liters, which is about 264 gallons. That is quite a bit less than the amount the MINI can treat.
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    Warranty – The Lifestraw can be returned within 30 days of purchase if it is in the original manufacturer's packaging. If it is damaged or defected they tell you to contact the company.
Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean...
  • 0.1 micron water filter removes harmful organisms like bacteria 99.9999% and protozoa like Giardia & Cryptosporidium...
  • Collapsible 1.0L hydrapak soft bottle flask packs down small to fit in tight spaces (jacket pockets, purses, backpack,...
  • Ez-clean Membrane is simple and easy to clean by simply shaking or swishing the filter to clean debris, no backflushing...

The Katadyn filtration system consists of a hollow-fiber water filter and a collapsible bottle. Unlike the MINI, the Katadyn filter can only fit on specific bottles made by another company. They are not compatible with generic water bottles. The filter life is 1,000 liters, the same as the Lifestraw above. It has a very fast filtration rate, one of the fastest of all water filters at 1 liter per 30 seconds. However, its lack of versatility is a drawback if you're in the backcountry.

  • Ease of Use – This filters water so fast you won't know what hit you. Just put the contaminated water in the bottle, screw on the filter top, and drink.
  • Assembly Time – There is no assembly required.
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    Build Quality – The filter is only good for 1,000 liters. Also, it can only attach to very specific bottles. If you're on a hike and your Hydrapak breaks, you're out of luck. You can't attach your filter to anything else. This is unnecessarily limiting. In addition, there's no way to backflush this filter to clean out particles when it begins to run slowly. All you can do is swish it around in clean water, which may or may not prove very effective.
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    Warranty – Katadyn offers a great warranty on its filters, but only if the product was purchased in the European Union, the signatory states to the Agreement of the European Economic Area, and Switzerland. That leaves out a giant chunk of the world.
MSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel,...
  • Pocket-sized lightweight water filter cleans water on-the-go for hiking, camping, traveling, and emergency preparedness
  • Drink directly from the source or fill a water bottle or hydration pack; easy one-handed operation filters one liter in...
  • Ultralight (5 ounces) and compact (6x2.4 inches), it fits in a stash pocket for trail runners, hikers, and mountain...

Intended for trail runners, mountain bikers, and fast-packers who need to cover many miles in a hurry, the MST TrailShot is a very small, light water filter designed to fit in stash pockets. You can use it to drink directly from your water source or to fill water bottles. The convenience of the TrailShot lies in the squeeze bulb that draws water up the hose and allows you to kneel and drink from a pond or stream rather than having to lie down on the bank. It's comfortable and quick for that reason.

  • Ease of Use – This filtration system is beloved by competitive athletes for a reason. It's easy and fast. Stop at any body of water, insert the hose, and start pumping. Water will rise to your level and you can drink it just like from a water fountain. The hose and filter then fit back neatly into a pocket and you're on the road again. It is that simple.
  • Assembly Time – Like most other water filtration systems of this kind, there is no assembly needed.
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    Build Quality – This filter is good for 2,000 liters of water, which is twice as long as the Katadyn and the Lifestraw, but still not as long as the Sawyer MINI. The components are made of high-quality BPA-free silicone that last for years if properly taken care of.
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    Warranty – MSR offers a three-year limited warranty on all their products, which is one of the best in the water filtration business.
Aquamira Frontier Max (Worldwide)
  • NOTICE - Before ordering, please make sure you are purchasing from the Seller β€œAquamira” to ensure you are getting...
  • RED Line Virus Filter with up to 500 ml/minute flow rate and Certified filtration for 120 gallons (over 450 L)
  • Filter made in the USA and Certified lead free to NSF/ANSI 372

This filter is more expensive than the Sawyer MINI, but it filters not only bacteria and protozoa but also viruses. If you need virus protection, this is a good product. It attaches to your bladder to provide filtered water on the go. It is a slow filter, partly due to the filter being small enough to block viruses. You need a lot of patience to get enough water from this system.

  • Ease of Use – This filter is easy to set up, just attach it to your bladder hose. However, the actual filtering process can be a little finicky and time consuming. It is difficult to suck the clean water through the filtration hose.
  • Assembly Time – All you need to do is attach the Frontier Max to your bladder hose. It couldn’t be simpler.
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    Build Quality – The filter capacity is only 454 liters, which is quite low. It's a fraction of what the Sawyer MINI can do. The filter housing is well-built and should last a lifetime. You'll just be replacing the filter frequently.
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    Warranty – Aquamira provides a one-year warranty for defects.

Comparison Table



Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System, Single, Blue

Weight2 ounces

Filter material: hollow fiber

Product Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 8 inches

Filters: 100,000 gallon

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and...

Weight2.08 ounces

Filter material: -

Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches

The microbiological filter will provide: 4,000 liters (1,000 gallons) of clean and safe drinking water

Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean...

Weight2.24 ounces

Filter material: -

Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 3 x 10 inches

Filters: 1,000 liters

MSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel,...

Weight5.4 ounces

Filter material: -

Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 2.4 inches

Filters: 2,000 liters of water

Aquamira Frontier Max (Worldwide)

Shipping Weight5.9 ounces

Filter material: -

Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches

Filters: 120 gallons

Pros and Cons of the Sawyer MINI Water Filter

This water filter certainly has a lot of fans. Because it can be used as a straw, with a water bottle, or even spliced into another hydration system, it can be adapted to all kinds of outdoor activities and situations. There are many reviews and articles touting its strengths and shortcomings as it has been put through real-life trail test. Here are the findings.


  • lightweight and easy 
  • It comes with an optional collapsible bottle
  • For a personal straw-type filter, it's very fast
  • It's cheap 


  • It does not treat large quantities of water effectively. 
  • The filter is damaged if it freezes. 
  • It's great for removing protozoa and bacteria, but it does not remove viruses or chemicals. 
  • The filter can clog pretty fast, especially if you're drinking cloudy water. 

The Final Verdict

When choosing a water filter, its crucial to know how you intend to use it. The first thing to consider is the amount of water you want to filter. Do you need to provide large quantities of filtered water, or is 16 ounces at a time enough? The Sawyer MINI is great at filtering small amounts. It is designed to be a personal system. If you are looking for filters that will provide gallons of water when you set up camp for the night, there are gravity filters that can do this for you.

Another important aspect of water filtration that must not be overlooked is where you will use your water filter. If you a hiking in North America, a Sawyer MINI is a great choice. The hollow fiber filter will prevent most water-borne diseases in this part of the world. However, if you are traveling to do humanitarian work in the heart of Africa or many other parts of the world, this filter will not protect you sufficiently. You will need a filter that blocks viruses, metals, and other contaminants to be truly safe.

Overall, the Sawyer MINI Water Filter is an excellent product that does what it is designed to do very well. It is affordable, durable, and important for health and safety while in the back country. It is also easier to use than many or its competitors.

Last update on 2021-10-19 at 22:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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