I watch a lot of TED talks online. As a traveler, one of the presentations that caught my attention the most a while ago, was one explaining “how to make filthy water drinkable“. Michael Pritchard, the engineer behind the Lifesaver filter, explained how his creation could be used to purify water in countries where people have no access to potable water.
As somone always moving location, I wondered if there would be a way for people like me to treat water on the go too. Something easy to use and, of course, affordable – not exactly like the option above, which is several years old anyway.
In India, we drink water made potable by an RO system. This reverse osmosis plants are often installed in individual’s houses and increase the quality of the regular tap water. In the West, though, I increasingly see more and more people relying on bottled water, with the financial and environmental implications that this obviously involves.
When the guys at SILVERFOX Travel Outdoors suggested I give the Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System a go, I couldn’t be more interested. I was eager to find an alternative to bottled water, especially when traveling in countries where garbage disposal and treatment is primitive or, even better, when out in nature where you can’t really purchase water.
The Sawyer MINI is ultra light (under 2OZ / 60grams) and compact. That, in itself, makes it practical to carry on a backpack on the go. It is said to remove 99.9% of harmful bacteria found in water, and recommended for use with fresh water from lakes, rivers and streams. Costing around USD30 (much cheaper than most comparable filtration systems), it almost sounds like a “too good to be true” deal. But the truth is that IT WORKS, and it works well.
To filter fresh water, you can attach the filter to the reusable squeeze pouch included in the kit, or to any standard drinking bottle of your own. Using the included straw, you can also take water from the source and sip it as it goes through the filter.
You can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water – that is, 380,000 liters. If you’re interested in the technical details, you can read more about how the water is actually filtered on Sawyer’s website. Once the water flow slows down, it means that the filter is getting clogged, but it can still be used. The plunger included in the kit serves to clean up the filter, back-washing it with pressure to extract sediments that are a proof of how much dirt the filter is preventing you to intake.
After trying it out, I found the filter useful for traveling outdoors, more than in an urban context. It is indeed ideal in nature – I tried it out in the Chilean Patagonia – as long as we’re talking about fresh running water in non polluted areas. The filter is not safe to use with water which might be chemically contaminated or carrying viruses (like on stale ponds, for example). But in any case, that is not what the Sawyer is all about. It is all made clear on the instructions and on this video too:
This product doesn’t only offer very good value for money. It offers a sustainable alternative to bottled water [even if geographically limited according to the quality of the water available], that us travelers have the responsibility to embrace when making ourselves at home in the great outdoors.
Get your Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System here!