Sawyer MINI Filter review

Sustainable drinking water: Sawyer MINI Filter review

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.

Sawyer MINI Filter

Sawyer MINI Filter


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.

Sawyer MINI Filter parts

Sawyer MINI Filter parts


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.

Drinking water from a lake in Patagonia, filtered with the Sawyer MINI Filter

Drinking water from a lake in Patagonia, filtered with the Sawyer MINI Filter


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!

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  • Esto es genial! Había oído sobre este proyecto en la universidad pero no sabía que ya es un realidad, ¡me encanta!. Con un poco de optimismo, creo que el mundo empieza a volverse un lugar más amigable con la ecología (es la única forma de progresar). ¡Por más proyectos así!

    • Zara Says

      El sistema es genial! Desde que el agua disponible sea medio decente, eso si… Pero para caminatas y lugares con lagos, etc, es ideal! :)

  • The water has been a big issue while traveling, I started suffering everytime I buy a bottle of water, it’s so bad for environment, especially when you travel central or south america and you see them in the river, in the parks and everywhere around, pretty much. Will try this!

    • Zara Says

      I know the feeling, Marta. It sucks to visit a naturally beautiful place, only to find it spoiled by plastic bottles, packages and cans of drinks… As visitors of places around the world, we sure need to try to minimize out impact. And this is a pretty good way to go about it! :)

  • Thank you for sharing this – I had always wondered just how practical one of these would be on the road, and now I know! Might pack one for next time I’m in the mountains :)

    • Zara Says

      It is practical as long as you’re in a “natural setting” with access to fairly clean water. I wouldn’t use it in cities where I wouldn’t dare to drink straight from the tap… but in the right context, it is usesul and very environmental friendly indeed!

  • Pingback: 70 million Nigerians lack access to safe water – UNICEF | Penthauze HeadLines

  • Andrew Patrick Says

    I am a regular visitor of your blog and I really like your post. I want to ask you guys a question that “how do you guys manage all the expenses of your travelling, as you mentioned that you quit your job in 2011?”

    • Zara Says

      Hi Andrew!

      We quit out previous jobs back in 2011 but that doesn’t mean that we do not work anymore! Ashray works as a programmer from anywhere we happen to be. He has written a couple of posts about this working lifestyle, you can check one of them here:

      As for myself, I left a job in TV advertising and became a freelance travel writer (apart from blogger right here at Backpack ME). You can see more here:


      • Andrew Patrick Says

        Thank you so much Zara for replying. I also want to travel and see this beautiful world but the main barrier in doing it is my job. I also want to do stuff like Ashray and want to quit my job.

  • It sounds a great idea. the cost is affordable and the weight is pretty minimal, certainly an advantage when backpacking. Nice to have the feedback from someone who has experienced it in use first hand. thanks for the info.

    • Zara Says

      Hi! I haven’t used other filters of this sort before, so I don’t have anything to compare the Sawyer to. But I did find it useful and, of course, much more sustainable than buying and disposing plastic bottles all the time. Thanks for reading us!

  • Thanks for sharing beneficial information! That helps travel persons who face water purifier problems. I also suggested all of you a company “Vibrant Water” which is offer all types of water application. The Vibrant Water’engineers manufacture and sell a wide variety of chemical-free water treatment products.

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