Review: The Sawyer Mini Water Filter System. Lightweight and Effective.

Sawyer MINI works well with the SmartWater Bottles
Average read time 3 min

We have been using the Sawyer Mini Water Filter System for almost a year now. Like all our reviews, we use the equipment for an extended period of then critique it. It makes no sense to use it for a month and offer an opinion.

The Sawyer Mini Water Filter System is an ultralight, ultraportable, and handy tool. The Mini lives up to its name, weighing in at about 2 oz. this beats other water systems. The Mini is also quite versatile. You can use it with its collapsible 16 oz. Pouch in line with your hydration pack, and it even fits on some plastic water bottles. With its straw attachment, you can fill a container and drink right from the filter via the straw. With no moving parts or batteries, the filter is simple and reliable in the field.

Related post: Rethink your hydration system

We have been able to filter water from running streams, small water deposits, and draining rock walls. The Mini does need to be maintained, and if you use it heavily, even on a long backpacking trip, you may need to flush it, which is simple with its syringe. It only takes a minute and is worth doing. It would be best if you flushed it before storing it with fresh spring or tap water. The pouch should always be cleaned after use as per the manufactures instructions, which are on the bag.

Mini Filter with Flushing Syringe
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Mini Filter with Flushing Syringe

With a 0.1-micron pore size in its hollow fiber membrane filter, the Mini is okay for most backcountry waters. The company states it removes bacteria, Protozoa, E. Coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholera, Salmonella Typhi, and has a cartridge life of up to 100,000 gallons. However, it does not treat viruses.

Even though you can drink instantaneously from the systems pouch, the Mini requires time for pumping into other containers. If you are used to larger gravity filter systems, the time needed to fill your bottle with the mini may feel long—it’s not a big deal given the trade-off for weight and space saved in your pack. The Mini is not best suited for large groups for the reasons stated above (unless you have several). The Mini is best used as a personal filter system.

Mini Filter with Pouch and Straw Attached
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Mini Filter with Pouch and Straw Attached

When I first opened the Mini, I thought that the collapsible container would not last very long. It so far has proved me wrong. Because of the hollow filter design, you’ll want to pay extra attention to it in the winter and protect it from freezing. You can buy replacement pouches and separate larger pouches at 32 oz. and 64 oz. The system is also sold in a pack of 4 for group use.

Sawyer Mini pouches
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Sawyer Mini pouches


  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to drink from
  • Can be used several ways
  • Inexpensive ($20 – $25)


  • Doesn’t treat large quantities well.
  • No virus treatment
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