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Sawyer Water Filter Review | Average Hiker

Sawyer Squeeze Filter

This Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter Review describes an easy-to-use, reliable, and durable filter. I have used this water filter for years, most recently on my Arizona Trail hike and Superior Trail hike. There are many filters on the market now, and I’ve tried many of them, but for dependability and ease of use, I always return to the Sawyer Squeeze filter.

Sawyer makes the Sawyer Squeeze and the Sawyer Mini. The Sawyer Mini is a smaller filter, but I need a durable filter that is not prone to clogging like the Sawyer Mini Filter. The Sawyer Squeeze is only one ounce more than the Mini and is what I like carrying.

Table of Contents

Different Types of Backpacking Water Filters & Treatments

Be Free filter
Aqua Mira Water Treatment
Steripen for water purification
Sawyer Squeeze Water filter
Platypus gravity feed filter system
Katahdyn pump filter

I have used most backpacking water filters or treatments over the years, always searching for a lighter, better option. Most of them have worked well enough but have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Pump Filters (Katahdin & MSR Mini Filters) – When I first began hiking on the east coast and the Appalachian Trail, these were the most common filters. With the canisters and hoses, mine had its own section in my backpack. These are good filters that pump water fast and often have active carbon that improves water taste, but they are heavy and bulky.
  • Ultraviolet Filters (Steripen) – The Steripen filters are lightweight and easy to use, but mine is quirky. Battery life is inconsistent, and it does not perform well in cold weather. Nevertheless, these are good filters if I’m going on short hikes and not carrying much water.
  • Gravity Filters (Platypus Gravity Works, Katadyn Gravity Camp) – Gravity filters allow you to hang a bag of water and take care of other things around camp while the water filters through a single filter and hose. It is excellent for group camping or when you have time to hang out and wait for the water to filter. I used one on the CDT and liked it a lot. I hike more than camp and find the Sawyer Squeeze is better for my current hiking style.
  • Chemicals (Aqua Mira, Micropur) – Aqua Mira used to be my treatment choice when moving fast. I am getting older and more conscious of putting unnecessary chemicals in my body. Note that Chlorine Dioxide also treats viruses.

Sawyer Water Filter Review – My Requirements

  • Bacteria & Protozoa Removal – I am not concerned about virus removal since I mostly backpack and hike in the US. However, I will look at alternatives like pump filters or chemical treatments if this changes.
  • Ease of Use – When I filter, I do not want many moving parts, like hoses, batteries, canisters, etc., that can easily break. I also want a filter that does not clog easily and can filter water quickly.
  • Light Weight – Weight is important. Filters and treatments are not heavy, but a few extra ounces here and there eventually add up to a few extra pounds.

Sawyer Water Filter Review – Quick Specifications

  • Filter Material – Hollow Fiber
  • Weight – 3 oz
  • Removes – Bacteria, Protozoa, E. Coli, Giardia, Vibrio Cholera, Salmonella typhi, Microplastics

Sawyer Water Filter Review – First Glance

The Sawyer Water Filter comes in a compact package, and initially, I was a little taken aback by what seemed like many components. However, as I unpacked the filter and reviewed the elements, I realized that many were optional – drinking straws, adapters, etc.

I liked that the filter was durable hard plastic and that a syringe was provided for back flushing. Unfortunately, not all filters offer these, and you end up having to throw away the filter when it clogs.

Sawyer Squeeze Filter Components (S129)

  • Squeeze Filter with Push/Pull Cap
  • (2) 32-ounce Collapsible Pouches
  • Backwashing Plunger
  • Inline Adapters
  • Drinking Straw or Gravity Tube
  • Mesh Carrying Pouch (also used for gravity water filtration system)

Sawyer Water Filter Review – Overall Performance

My current Sawyer Water Filter (Squeeze Version) has about 300 miles on it, and I have had no issues with it. The filter provides about 2-3 cups of water per minute, and I typically backflush it about once every 3-5 days. Clogging has not been a problem, but I have also not used it often with water with high particulate matter. Even the Arizona Trail water did not clog the filter, and this trail has a lot of cattle.

If there is a high amount of particulate matter, I will sometimes prefilter the water with a coffee filter I carry. On hikes where I have not carried a coffee filter, I have also used a bandanna for particularly dirty water.


Side image of the Sawyer Squeeze.
Sawyer filter gasket is required.
Cap cover on the Sawyer Squeeze

The Sawyer Water Filter is hard, durable plastic. The inflow end screws onto a bottle or other compatible connection. The outflow end has a sports top that screws onto the filter, and there is a small plastic cap that goes over the sports top. This small cap is easy to lose, so be careful with it.

Collapsible Pouches

Two 32 ounces pouches can be used to squeeze water and carry extra capacity.   Some people use one for dirty water and one for filtered water.

Unfortunately, the pouches are not very durable, so I don’t use them. Instead, I use either a CNOC bag or Platypus pouches. I like the Platypus 2L pouches because they are rigid and don’t stretch as I roll them to squeeze out water. I also like the CNOC bags; they are more compact than the Platypus pouches and roll up slightly tighter.

Currently, I use the Platypus pouches. The ones I have, have outlasted the CNOC bags. The plastic is more durable, and unfortunately or fortunately, they may outlive me!

I currently use Smart Water bottles to carry my water. They are a perfect size for the side pockets on my backpacks, and my Sawyer Squeeze connects fit them well. They are also easy to find while hiking, so I can easily switch them out when they get dirty. I carry two of these and one 2L Platypus bag.

Backwash Plunger

Syringe to backflush the Sawyer Squeeze filter.

The backwash plunger cleans out the filter and prevents it from clogging. Sawyer states you should backwash the filter when the water flow slows, but I do it every 3-5 days or when I am in town. If I am only going out for a few days, I backwash before leaving and when I return home before putting it away.

You can backwash in the field, but I prefer backwashing the filter with hot, clean water.

Inline Adapters

Sawyer Squeeze adapter for gravity bag
Sawyer Squeeze blue adapter.

The inline adapters are great if you use a hydration sleeve. Since I no longer use a sleeve, I cannot comment on their performance. I can tell you that they appear well-made and durable.

Drinking Straw or Gravity Tube

Gravity tube for the Sawyer Squeeze filter.

The Sawyer Water Filter comes with a drinking tube, which you can either drink from or use to convert the filter to a gravity filter. The gravity filter is the best use of this tube, and using the filter for a gravity feed system is convenient for groups or when you are in camp. In addition, it is nice to be able to have the water filter while you are doing other camp chores.

Sawyer Water Filter Review – Final Thoughts

I have used many different types of water filters and chemical treatments. However, the Sawyer Water Filter (Squeeze) is my best filter. The Sawyer Water Filter is lightweight, easy to use, and filters out 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoa.  There are many options on the market, but this is my go-to filter.

The Sawyer Mini is a good option if you are looking for a lightweight filter for backup or emergencies. It is not as durable as the Sawyer Squeeze but is a good option for day or short overnight hikes.


Will the Sawyer Squeeze freeze in cold weather?

Yes. I always put mine inside a Ziploc bag and sleep with it at the foot of my quilt or sleeping bag with my electronics.

Does the Sawyer Squeeze filter viruses?

It does not. The Squeeze filter bacteria, protozoa, and particulate matter.

Does the Sawyer Squeeze filter water faster than a Sawyer Mini?

The Squeeze filters faster than a Mini and is more durable.

What does a Sawyer Squeeze not filter?

It does not filter viruses, heavy metals, and chemicals.

This page has affiliate links for products and gear I purchase and use. If you click on one of these links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. There may also be Amazon links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read more about my thoughts on affiliate marketing.

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