Aside from walking, hydrating is the second most consuming task while backpacking. In the past I would dread taking off my pack and hand pumping water through a traditional form of treatment.
Then trying treatment drops was more efficient, but one still had to wait 15 minutes for the water to treat. If I wanted to put in trail miles, I would have to carry water in my pack in order to keep moving. When I was asked to test this product it got me excited. At first I was skeptical, but with use, I started to fall in love.
After a few trips in the wilderness this spring, I decided it would be my primary water treatment system for future Olympic National Park backpacking adventures. Not once did it let me down and was able to field back-flush without carrying the manufactures syringe, which I chose not to carry because it served no other purpose.
Note: This is for the first generation filter.
|My first trip with the Sawyer Squeeze Filter System - shortly after I started having trouble with leaking bags|
This Filter is Very Lightweight
Water weighs just over 2lbs per liter. The advantages to keep that off your back are endless. Improving balance, posture, rate of fatigue and caloric needs for the day, just to name a few.
That is something that has never set well with me in traditional backpacker practices. Carrying water for miles, up and down mountains seems tedious.
In 3 months of constant use, I carried water 4 times in-between dry spells. Granted, in the Olympics water is not hard to find as in other parts of the world.
Hand carrying water also proved to be more efficient to me. Having weight at a low center of gravity made sure my balance wasn't as effected vs. putting it in my pack. Having water in-hand ensured that I was consuming it more frequently.
|Benefits of hand-carrying water - take more frequent drinks, does't effect balance as much and the feel of the weight on your back|
Staying Hydrated on the Trail
One of my biggest pet peeves when trying to put in miles is stopping and taking off my backpack. It is such a little thing in your mind, but is a chore-like task one must face multiple times a day on the trail.
The number one rule when covering ground is to keep walking, no matter what speed. At the least, keep that time very minimal.
Stopping, taking off pack, pulling stuff out, treating water and reversing the process can really suck time out of your day.
15 minutes x 5 times a day = 75 minutes
One can cover 3 more miles to the day without any extra time to the day. That is huge in my book.
With the Sawyer Filter I am able to leave my pack on, unscrew filter before arriving at water, fill my bottle and be walking again in around 30 seconds.
Need water in camp? Try my hydration system!
|Tried a few days with Platypus Bags - threads do not match up; so got extremely frustrated from always fighting with it|
|Taking in the views - this day climbed 3 peaks and 3 passes - trusty water system always by my side|
Sawyer Bags That Come in Kit
It is my opinion that the factory bags that come with the filter DO NOT belong in the woods. Myself and various trail partners have all had leaks in our bags; some within just a few uses.
This is how I stumbled onto the bottle system that actually works.
The company will tell you it is how you squeeze or roll the bags, but it is false. I tried every way and system; all bags failed.
Upcycled Aquafina Water Bottle
Not all bottled water thread patterns will work with this filter system. I'm sure after time there will be more resources online that will help users choose the right one.
It was by accident that I even noticed that the standard soda bottle will even work; since not all bottled water thread patterns are equal.
The bottles that work best for me are the Aquafina 1L and Sprite 1L.
Unscrewing the filter to let air return inside after each drink helps prolong the life of the bottle. This also insures consistent outflow pressure with each drink. Doing this may seem like a pain to some, but quickly becomes second nature with repetitiveness.
The 1L bottle size also fits perfect in the side pocket of my backpack. Keep the filter attached to the bottle, using the shock cord lacing to keep it secure on the pack.
|1 liter Sprite Bottle - My theory - funneled shape from bottom to top makes for consistent output pressure|
|Filling my 1L Aquafina bottle at a stream|
Back-flushing the Filter in the Backcountry
I choose to back-flush my filter with my mouth so I can save space in my pack. The syringe provided works well when not on the trail, but as an ultralight backpacker. I see no point in carrying something with just one purpose when there are other ways around it.
Take a huge drink of clean water, fill your mouth as full as possible to your comfort zone. After unscrewing the white drinking cap, blow as much of that water through the filter as possible. Repeat as needed.
I have personally used this system for 4 months of constant use. It worked for me on a dirty pond, river, lake and even for multiple coastal treatments.
I purged the filter like this at least once a day to keep up optimal flow.
- Ultralight at 2.5 oz
- Easy to use
- Fast Treatment
- Saves time
- No PUMPING!!!
- Needs double snap mouthpiece - read my Sawyer Cap Replacement
- Sawyer Water Bags
Sawyer Water Filter Thoughts
Only time will tell if this product holds up to it’s million gallons warranty claim. I will also be curious to see how it holds up in the winter months. I plan on sleeping with it inside my sleeping bag when the temperatures dip below freezing at night.
Related: Sawyer Mini Review
Updated in March 2016 by Barefoot Jake
Note/Disclaimer: edited by Nancy S. - I recieved this product free for this article.