A few days ago, on January 15, Ron Bell from Mountain Laurel Designs announced on their facebook page that a new 2013 version of the Sawyer Squeeze had been released. (read my review of the original 2012 product)
The announcement included the fact that (a) Sawyer has redesigned the water bladder material, (b) they have reduced the included bags from three bags to a single bag, and (c) they have reduced the price a few dollars.
Ron Bell, like a few of us in the hiking industry, have been in contact with Sawyer since the release of the Squeeze filter, about trying to resolve the high failure rate issues with the original Squeeze bag. Thankfully Ron has a larger voice than some of us and has actually been able to get some direct input on these new bags.
I, and others, have been huge supporters of the Sawyer Squeeze filter. But we have not been able to support the bags that Sawyer produced. The Squeeze filter itself is the absolute best filter presently in the hiking world on a performance to weight ratio. As I try to make a key point of within my review of the Sawyer Sqeeuze it is the only filter out there that provides us with an Absolute One Micron filter – and that word “absolute” is a big issue. Do a search for the word “absolute” on the CDC page concerning water filtration if you do not believe me. If you do not want to believe both the CDC and myself, just do a google search for “absolute vs nominal micron” and research it yourself. Simply put, as a backcountry hiker, what I want in my backpack is an Absolute One Micron filter, and the Sawyer Squeeze is the one filter out there that provides me that level of filtration – and does so at only 93.64 grams (3.303 ounces)
New Bags Comparisons:
When these new bags were announced I ordered one from Mountain Laurel Designs and it showed up yesterday.
Sadly, at this time, the only way to get the new bags is to buy the whole filter kit. From what I understand, Sawyer will be selling the bags individually later this year but no ETA.
Also, at this time, as I understand things, only Mountain Laurel Designs has these new bags. I am guessing they got an early batch for helping out (??)
The first thing that one notices is that these bags look really sweet. They got this awesome little graphic on them this time around. Nicer color scheme and better instructions.
But what really matters, is of course, whether or not the bags are tougher, thicker, meaner… able to handle the abuse that thru-hikers face on a day to day basic while out on the trail.
The information that I have is that Sawyer has changed from a three-ply material to a single wall material. The advantage of this, as I understand it, is that when the bonding takes place the entire single wall of the material is able to be sealed against the other singe wall, or against the plastic material at the cap – where as with the three-ply material, only the inner most (and much much thinner) layer of the material were being bonded.
From a weight perspective, here is what I have been able to gather from my calibrated scale:
Old water bag: 22.49
New Water bag: 27.50
So this is an increase of 5.01 grams (0.176 ounces) between the old bag and the new bag.
Is this going to make a difference in the overall durability of the Sawyer bags? Can one tenth of an ounce keep the stories I heard over the 2012 hiking season (from hikers on the PCT/CDT/AT and beyond) all saying that they blew holes in the Sawyer bags from happening during the 2013 hiking season? Is the answer to the problem still in ditching the Sawyer bags all together and going with the Evernew water bags?
No idea. I just got them yesterday – lol.
But let me just say that myself and others (and I am sure even Ron Bell) will be putting these new bags to the test over the weeks ahead as we wrap up the winter season and start moving into the 2013 summer hiking season.
A Better Solution?
Here is what I do know concerning these bags and this water filter.
Stop SQUEEZING and start ROLLING.
In many ways Sawyer did a dis-service to themselves by calling this product the “Squeeze”.
I think they failed to take into account that people see “squeeze” and just, well, “squeeze” – and to hell with how hard that they squeeze.
It should not take a person much logical thought to realize that the best solution to this problem is to fill the water bag with water, and “roll” the bags from the bottom, thereby pushing the water through the filter at a slower rate, and reducing the amount of pressure caused on the bond/seams of the bags. I have yet to blow a single Sawyer bag by doing it this way. Stop thinking you are the Hulk and take an extra 45 seconds of your life to filter a little slower. Is an extra 30-45 seconds really worth destroying a piece of gear you depend upon for your hike?
Use The Syringe!
Another key to making sure that your bags to not pop a apart at the seams is to make sure you regularly use the included syringe to backflush the filter. This may seem like a menial task but it is a rather vital one to the well being of both the filter AND the bag. The logic on this is simple: the more crap that builds up inside of your filter the harder it will be to squeeze the water through the filter, and thus you have to use more and more pressure on the bag in order to push the water through the filter.
It is true that this creates an additional bit of weight and backpack volume space – a precious commodity for long distance hikers – but you have to ask yourself what is the value of having a water bag not spring a leak because you do not regularly backflush your filter because you are unwilling to carry the syringe. Ponder on that for awhile.
It is my understanding that as of the time of this writing that only Mountain Laurel Designs has these new bags.
When they will be available for sale at other websites is unknown to me – as soon as I get notified by the guys from other companies that sell these filters I will update this article with links to their websites – but for now go show your support of MLD for taking the initiative to get involved with Sawyer on trying to solve the issues with the bag, and order up your filter from them!
Update: April 18, 2013 – Mountain Laurel Designs has gotten access to, and has started to sell, multi-packs of the new Sawyer Bags in both 1L and 2L sizes! They are $15 bucks for three 1L bags, and $15 bucks for two 2L bags. They are a 9-ply bag, compared to a 5-ply bag of the Evernew bags, and they are estimated to be 4 grams less weight than the Evernew bags.
In closing all I can say at this point is that these new bags are hopefully going to resolve the problems that Sawyer/allofus has faced.
The Sawyer Squeeze is the finest hollow fiber membrane filter presently available for hikers. These bags have been giving the entire Sawyer Squeeze line a bad name. Dozens of thru-hikers have told me that they used the Squeeze on their 2012 and because of the bag problems they threw the entire filter/bags away in a trail town and they bought another filter.
From an engineering perspective, the switch away from a three-ply material to a single-ply material should be the way to resolve the issue of the Sawyer bags failing.
I will be reporting back as I put these new bags through some stress-tests, but at this point in time I am fairly confident that they are going to hold up to more abuse than the original generation simply based on the change of material.
Feedback From Others:
If you happen to get your hands on one of these new second-gen bags and have also put the new bags through some use/abuse tests, I would love for you to share your results/thoughts!
January 28, 2013 — Added reminder information about using the syringe – a request from a Sawyer employee who contacted me asking me to remind all the hikers out there to make sure you keep your filter backflushed on a regular basis.
April 18, 2013 — Added note about MLD having multi-packs available for purchase.
In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that the products mentioned within the content of this article were purchased by myself and were not supplied to me free of charge, or in exchange for services. As of the time of publication, any other product(s) mentioned within the content of this review is free of endorsement(s) between myself and the manufacturer(s) and meets all FTC 16 CFR.255 compliance requirements.