Sawyer puts out some of the top-choice water filtration systems that backpackers, hikers, and survival experts all choose as their go-to system. All of their products are compact, easy to use, and effective for a massive amount of water over the years. There’s no going wrong in choosing to use a Sawyer system, the difficulty arises when choosing between two products that they put out of similar caliber.
The Sawyer Squeeze is an incredibly reliable, lightweight, and long-lasting filtration system that makes it easy when out on the trail. The versatility of this filter is what makes it the best on the market, and comes along with a lifetime guarantee. It packs down easily and is simple to maintain. This is the top of the market that you’ll see in almost every hiker’s pack out there.
The Mini is the Squeeze, compacted and made…well, mini. This is designed for the single solo-hiker that wants to save space and doesn’t mind having to refill the bag a few times to get a full liter of water treated. It comes at a fraction of the size and weight, but still performs for 100,000 gallons of water.
There’s not too much of a difference between these two products, but there are reasons to buy each of them over the other. To get a closer look, we’ve broken them down to look at each specification of the filters, hoping to give you a clearer view of what is best to buy. In the end, we can put all of the different specs together and give a recommendation for which fits who best. Let’s jump right in!
|Specification||Sawyer Squeeze||Sawyer Mini|
|Weight||3 ounces||2 ounces|
|Capacity||32 ounces||16 ounces|
|Flow Rate||1.7 L/min||0.6 L/min|
|Value||Best Value||Best Value|
Size and Packability
The Sawyer Squeeze, as the original model, weighs in at only 3 ounces. The system comes along with two reusable 32 ounces bags, a syringe for backflushing, the filter itself, a straw, a straw adapter, and a mesh bag to keep it all together. There are a lot of little parts involved that bring the total weight to around 5.7 ounces. It’s relatively lightweight, but all the little bits and pieces need to be kept track of inside of your pack to keep it working well.
The Sawyer Mini is just about the same but only comes with one 16 ounce bag, the filter, a straw, and the syringe for backflushing. The filter weighs in at 2 ounces and everything all together is only about 3.7 ounces. Here, there are fewer parts to keep track of and lighter weight to carry. It does well performing at the same high-quality standard, but not bringing as much of a heavy load.
Winner: The Sawyer Mini was designed exactly for the purpose of being small and easy to carry. It packs down and will fit in any small gap in your pack. There are fewer things to keep track of when managing a complicated organization system of your bag, which is a huge plus. So, the Mini does win this category, but the Squeeze would win if put up against almost any other filter on the market.
Filter System and Life
The Sawyer Squeeze utilizes a 0.1-micron filtration system that doesn’t allow any harmful bacteria, protozoa, or other dangerous organisms to pass through. It is cleared by the FDA to safely treat water to potable quality. Not only does the Squeeze effectively treat water, but is backed with a lifetime guarantee and filter life of 1,000,000 gallons of water. Now, you’re meant to drink a half-gallon of water, on average, per day. That means this will treat water for you up to 2 million days. That’s a grand total of 5,479 years. So this should be enough to last you a lifetime or two.
The same 0.1-micron filtration system is used in the Mini, just compacted down to a smaller size. The smaller size filter is only rated to treat 100,000 gallons of water. “Only” meaning it will last 547 years of average water drinking. So unless you plan on living longer than that, this should suffice to provide enough drinking water.
Winner: Both of these are going to last you forever unless they break. They will filter out anything that is possibly going to be harmful to your health and keep on doing so if well-maintained. We do have to state the winner as the Sawyer Squeeze in this instance for its lifetime warranty that comes along with it. Plus, who doesn’t like the challenge of drinking a million gallons of water?
Ease of Use
The Sawyer Squeeze uses a 32-ounce reusable pouch that fills with “dirty” water, attaches to the filter, and is squeezed to put out fresh, clean water. There is some assembly required as well as physical work that you need to do to get the water you want, but it doesn’t ask too much. With one fill of the pouch, you can have an average-sized water bottle filled and be on your way again. Some people even keep the filter threaded to a plastic water bottle and squeeze it directly into their mouths for an even easier and accessible method.
Just like the Squeeze, the Mini only requires assembly and physical strength to get clean water. The Mini only comes with a 16-ounce pouch that will require you to fill it twice in order to get a full liter of clean water. This can be a bit more work, especially depending on the water source, but isn’t too much more.
Winner: In this category, there isn’t much difference. Both of these systems are super simple and easy to use, but it’s the size of the pouch that makes the Squeeze the winner. This way you only need to fill the pouch once and attach the filter once. It’s more of a one-and-done stop that can get you on your way faster.
The plastic syringe that comes along with the Squeeze makes maintaining the filter a cinch. Whenever the flow becomes more difficult to produce, backflushing the system will quickly clear the filter out and have the rate back to normal. Other than this, the only other maintenance is making sure to keep track of all the parts. The bags themselves can also tear or gain punctures on the trail, so there is value in bringing a plastic water bottle out with you in case of emergencies.
The Mini is the same deal. The syringe back flushes the filter quickly and effectively for easy maintenance. The only difference is that the purchase of the Mini only gets you one reusable pouch, meaning you will want to get more to prepare for any emergency punctures.
Winner: The maintenance of any Sawyer filtration system is the same. It’s easy to do and quick at the same time. When you keep the filter well-maintained, you will have the same one for life. It’s only when the filter gets clogged that it becomes prone to breaking and needing a full replacement.
The Sawyer Squeeze puts out a flow rate of 1.7 liters per minute, which is pretty dang fast up against any other filtration system available. This will have almost two Nalgenes filled in a single minute. The biggest time sucker is the assembly and finding all of the parts in your pack once stopped at the watering hole. When the filter is clear, water flows quickly and the pouch is easy to squeeze. When you feel it getting more difficult, the treatment time will go up, but you can fix that simply.
The flow rate of the Sawyer Mini is only 0.6 liters per minute. This is mainly due to the size of the system. For one, the smaller pouch means you have to stop and refill it to get more water than the 16 ounces it offers. Secondly, the filter itself is smaller so you are trying to push the same amount of water through a smaller space. To effectively treat the water, you need to be more patient with this setup.
Winner: The size of the Sawyer Squeeze makes it a whole lot easier and faster to use than the Mini. It will make your water stops shorter and get you back to hiking faster to maximize your time while trying to make miles for the day.
The Sawyer Squeeze comes with all the accessories you need to make sure this filter lasts forever. It is an incredible value for a one-time purchase for your entire life. With other filtration systems, you are going to invest the money sporadically over time and it will add up. With this, you get everything with a single purchase. We believe this makes it the best value for water filters out there.
The Sawyer Mini comes in at a lower price than the Squeeze and offers a great value as well. You get fewer pouches that come along with it but are paying less money. This is also likely to last you a lifetime if you treat it well and make sure you clean it out. When looking at a price against performance, the Mini excels in its class.
Winner: In the arena of value, there is no clear winner for Sawyer products. They offer filters that will last a lifetime but don’t charge you a fortune for them. While the Squeeze costs more, you get more out of it. Each of these filters gives you some of the best value in the industry for those looking for effective filtration systems to take on the trail.
There’s really no way to go wrong with either of these systems. The Squeeze and the Mini are built to last you a lifetime and give clean water quickly without much hassle. If you are looking for something that is going to push you closer to ultralight backpacking, the Mini is the choice for you. The Squeeze is the best choice for those that don’t mind carrying a couple of extra ounces and want to save on time. Truly, we couldn’t recommend either of these filters more. Grab one of these, get out on the trail, and stay hydrated and healthy while doing it.