Sawyer Squeeze – Updated 2013 Version

Greetings Hikers,

2013 Sawyer Squeeze
2013 Sawyer Squeeze

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:

Old bag on the left, new bag on the right.
Old bag on the left, new bag on the right.

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.


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! – $50.00

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.


Final Thoughts:

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!

Thank you,
+John Abela

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.

31 thoughts on “Sawyer Squeeze – Updated 2013 Version

    1. “Stop SQUEEZING and start ROLLING.”

      This was how I got my bags to last 1500 miles last year with no problems. Roll from the bottom and understand that you can only force so much water through a filter. There is no benefit when a person applies 100% of their strength to squeezing as opposed to the 30% that generates the maximum water you can get (straw figures, obviously). Every person I saw who had holes in their bags abused them. Now, a product should be able to handle customers like that (since it’s apparently a very strong majority), but it’s very easy to get the first generation bags to last a long time.

      Adding 5 grams to the bag not only puts them above Platypus but also puts them into contention with Smart Water, two containers whose durability no one complains about. The Smart Water technically even holds 1.8oz more fluid (and fits the Squeeze without modification, unlike the Platypus). I’ve never owned an Evernew, so I don’t have those weights in my database.
      I may have overlooked you stating it in the article, but your measurement and my comparisons are for 32oz containers, in case anyone didn’t notice the size in the picture.
      I’m curious what weight gains the 20oz and 64oz Sawyer bags incur.

  1. Interesting. I didn’t know people were having so many problems with them. So far I haven’t, but I don’t get out a lot. I also use them for a pillow.

    1. Awesome review as always John! I was looking forward to seeing and hearing about the new bags. I tend to drink a lot of water and prefer to be more adaptable than just a 1.5L bag though. I hope they decide to offer the different size bags. If not or until then I am perfectly happy using my Evernew ones. Still the best filter on the market for the weight IMHO.

  2. My Platypus 2L fits perfectly on the Sawyer Squeeze I got from Ron at MLD last week. Not sure, but they may have changed the threads to be platypus-friendly. I’ve filtered 4 liters without spilling a drop, and the platypus bag is dead-straight.

    1. I spoke with Sawyer last week and they did not change the threads. I was told that the threads are compatible with the Platypus bottles. Strange, since many have had issues with leakage. But the guy at Sawyer said he tested it personally and it didn’t leak. Perhaps it was a bad batch that created problems for some owners?

  3. Just curious about those dozens of through hikers who ditched their Sawyer filters… Where’d they leave them ;-) and what did they switch to?

    1. Most of them switched to whatever the local trail town had. Should be fairly easy for you to do a search on the pct-l and the at-l mailing lists and see what they ended up going with.

  4. Why do Ultralight Hikers not use bleach to treat water? It is a seemingly lightweight and easy water treatment common especially in impoverished areas overseas.

    1. I know a lot of hikers that do use bleach. I carry some as backup.

      My issue with bleach, aquamira, other liquids, and tablets, is that they present a rare situation that could greatly threaten ones life. That situation is when you are suffering a case, or are very near, heatstroke. In this situation water intake is vital within the first 3-5 minutes – not within fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, or a few hours that these other methods of water filtration can take.

      It is a rare situation, but I have been there before and have learned first-hand just how important it is to have the right gear for the right situation.

      1. While I agree with the heatstroke I also say it’s still a bit hyperbolic. If you are potentially dying due to heat stroke, just drink the water. Sure you might get some GI infection in 24 hours but you should probably be evac/bailing from your trip anyway. Heat stroke requires a fair bit of time to recover from properly since it takes days to rehydrate after severe dehydration. Drink the dirty water and get out dodge is still safer than suffering heat stroke to prevent any potential diarrhea in a day or two.

        That said I just picked up a sawyer since I hike in a lot of cattle infested regions and need to worry about crypto, and I’m looking forward to including it in my water system.

        BTW, great update on the differences between the new and old bags. Makes it easy to visually inspect which version you’re buying while the old stock still sits on shelves in some places.

    2. Common household bleach isn’t effective against cysts. Granted those are normally not a risk in most wilderness areas, but that’s for each person to decide. I use bleach. If I felt the source was risky, I’d also use my Frontier Pro (which won’t get the small stuff).

    3. Bleach will not work against cryptosporidium. This is now the 2nd most common infectant in water in many parts of the USA and Canada. I just had a bout with it after visiting Glacier National Park for a month. My ceramic filter cracked and I tried bleach and iodine the rest of the trip. Bleach was on recommendation of 3 people I met who swore by it. I get infections and food poisoning easily and wound up with one, though the other 3 people were fine. Bleach does only take a few minutes to work and is very light, though using it extensively can cause problems, such as ulcers or burns, and the more times you rely on it, the more chances you may meet with a crypto sample, so for a month-long trip like I was on, its not a primary option. Good back up, though I carry iodine tabs as my backup. 60 minute wait for cold water, but effective against all but viruses. The infection, I will say, is mild and takes days or weeks to take effect. Still it is not worth saving a few ounces, even if you do get it at home after the trip. Aqua Mira 2 part drops kill everything, including virus and are also light. But 30 minute wait.

      1. Bleach doesn’t work PERIOD for the many people I have seen using it, whether they come to realize it or not. It’s a crap-shoot (forgive the pun). They wrongly assume disinfectant action takes place immediately, so they drink the water right away. You need 30 minutes of disinfecting time for most stuff and up to 4 hours for Giardia depending on the method used.

        I agree that bleach is ineffective against Cryptosporidium.

        Chlorination of water with organic compounds forms dangerous “disinfection byproducts” such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). The risk is less than that of infected water, but using too much bleach can increase the concentrations of these compounds and increase the risk. Cancer of liver and kidney are possible, as well as heart disease, for example.

        It is recommended by expert backpacking enthusiasts that a drop of bleach per quart be added, shaken in the container, then smelled for bleach after thorough mixing. If the smell of bleach isn’t evident, then add an addition drop as needed, until the smell of bleach is certain. The amount depends on the varying amounts of organic materials absorbing the bleach.

        I use the 0.1 micron Sawyer filter. It’s cheaper than a $3000 emergency room visit, and it gets all the nasties, even potentially all of the viruses believe it or not. People might say, it doesn’t get viruses, which are smaller than the 0.1 micron pores. But viruses tend to have electrical charge and they cling to the sediment in the water, making them effectively larger than the pores in the tubules. In practice, viruses tend to get filtered out too, even so, the likelihood of viral contamination in the backcountry is very small. For city use, I recommend you be 100% certain of viral elimination and use Sawyer’s 0.02 filter or chlorinate after filtration.

        Disclaimer: All advice from uncredentialed sources should be taken with a boulder of salt and thoroughly researched through credentialed sources before following those recommendations. I’m just sharing as an (uncredentialed) backpacker what I have learned through my many thousands of miles of backpacking. My intention is that I can point you in the right direction for your personal research. The reader should accept responsibility for their own health before acting on anyone’s advice, especially mine, lol.

  5. I’ve heard you can back flush the system by reversing the process…squeezing filtered water back through the filter into the Sawyer bag.

    IYO, would this be effective?

    1. Hello,

      In my opinion that is a very stupid thing to do.

      1) The chances of getting the same amount of high pressure from the bag that you can the syringe is highly unlikely.

      2) The whole issue with this 2013 update was to resolve issues with bags – and it is not just sawyer bags hikers are blowing holes in, I have heard of platy, camel, and evernew bags all blowing seams. So why would you want to try to apply so much pressure within/on these bags to try to have enough high-pressure-flow to be able to properly backflush this filter.

      No idea where you heard such a thing, but it is just a really stupid idea.

      1. Ok. Thanks for the heads up. Was considering purchasing the system. Appreciate the details!

        Have a wonderful start to the 2013 hiking season!! :)

      2. You are right, John, that Sawyer recommends a vigorous backflush via the syringe. I have done a couple of the simple mods. 1) I fastened a narrow mouth beverage bottle top on a wide mouth Nalgene Cantene, so it can mate directly with the Squeeze. 2) I joined two narrow mouth beverage lids and drilled a hole through them, so I can filter directly into a water bag.

        With this setup it is possible to backflush simply by squeezing the clean bag, which you say is just a really stupid idea, because the bag will fail and because you can’t get as much pressure as with the syringe. I’ve been experimenting to see whether what you say is so. Using hand pressure, I can develop about half the water pressure as with the syringe. Using foot pressure, I get about the same pressure as with the syringe. Pressures were estimated by the distance water spurted out of the Squeeze’s dirty side. I also used a manometer to directly measure the pressure developed by the syringe. It’s about 20 psi. The bags are still intact after many trials.

        However, there is another argument in favor of the syringe. It can be used to blow almost all the water out of the Squeeze, which is good if you need to put it in your pocket or to sleep with it to prevent damage from freezing. Sawyer is coy about freezing. They say there is no proof that it harms or doesn’t harm a moist filter, but you better not take chances since there is no way to field test the thing.

        1. Another good reason to use the syringe is, if you meander from the procedures outlined in Sawyer’s use instructions, you void your warranty; although, from what I’ve heard from customers, getting Sawyer to honor their warranty is a hassle. In this case, flushing with half the pressure of the syringe will result in “paths of least resistance” developing in the tubules. Such damage from improper backflushing is telltale, as the outer tubules will clog and the center ones will tend to remain open, substantially reducing flow rate.

  6. Thanks for this post but I’m perplexed why you stated only Mountain Laurel is carrying the new Squeeze filter when I posted a link on January 18th (above) that we carry the SP129. Also, according to my source at Sawyer, only the binding at the neck has been improved. My contact told me there is incorrect information on this post.

    1. First, given this is my website, I suppose it is fair to say that I am the one that is able to say what companies I allow to link to their products and websites. Continued attempts to spam this website will only result in further restrictions and eventually me just blocking you all together.

      As for your “contact” and mis information on this post claim…

      Hmm, giving the fact that Sawyer has directly contacted me to mention to me a few things, which I made appendages to this article as a result of, I am fairly confident that if there actually was misinformation within this article my direct contact at Sawyer would have told me.

  7. I just purchased a sawyer squeeze through REI. It came with three of the new bags and the inline adapter that goes on the dirty water side of the filter but not the clean side adapter. I went back and looked at the description on REI and it didn’t say anything about it coming with either piece of the inline adapter or the new bags. I don’t know if that’s how that are all being shipped or if I was just lucky. Have you heard anything about this?

    1. I must have bought the same kit as you. I bought the Sawyer “Plus” kit from REI. It has 3 of the new bags in 16, 32, and 64oz sizes. It also came with an inline adapter kit. I’m thinking this new “plus” kit is the prime offering to pick up from Sawyer but so far only REI seems to offer the kit. $50 for 3 sizes of pouch and inline adapter is pretty hard to ignore. Just go in store to make sure it has the the new blue bags and not the old.

  8. I bought the Sawyer Squeeze water filter for a recent trip to the Appalachian Trail. I liked it right out of the box. It was light and easy to use. I read all of the directions and paid special attention to the notes about how much pressure to squeeze with. But after only a couple of days the 32 oz pouch had developed a pinhole leak near the nozzle. After returning home I contacted Sawyer and the offered little hope. The said to send it in, and if it was defective, they would replace it. If it wasn’t they wouldn’t. So I sent it back a received an extremely short e-mail from them saying the product wasn’t defective and had “stretch marks” by the nozzle indicating too much force had been applied. Really??? Well after a short round of emails with customer service, they still didn’t want to take care of their customer. So now, this former customer is here to let you know that I will not be using or recommending Sawyer in the future. Time to go back to a real water filter from a reputable company that will take responsibility for their products design flaws.

    1. I’ve been reading around, and many of the complaints I’ve read involve Sawyer Squeeze filters that are right out of the box, not having yet had the time nor service to clog, yet the bag still developed a leak or tear. I don’t even know why they asked you to send the bag in as they say they don’t warranty the bag (why would they–it was c–p) although, they can’t wave a magic wand and dissolve all the state & federal warranty laws that protect consumers from underhanded practices like this. It’s a safe bet your bag is still protected. How much time would you invest recovering a cheap bag, though? This convenience is a testament to Sawyer’s character.

      I’m really disappointed that such a great idea adapting dialysis technology to the hiker filter could get the deep six with hikers because of the character of the those marketing it. They’re bags were clearly flawed–that’s why they were replaced. It would serve Sawyer well to replace old bags they sold with new ones through outfitters who could do it en-mass over a period of a year.

      They could also do themselves another service and place a durable 250 micron stainless steel mesh inline strainer (conical type that deflects debris to the gasket) at the inlet to keep the big stuff out of the filter’s ~500 micron inside diameter tubules–just to protect themselves from people who aren’t following their procedures. An 80 mesh garden hose inline strainer might work.

      I’ve never heard of anyone successfully making a warranty claim with Sawyer on the Squeeze. I don’t see how anyone could prove the difference between a manufacturing defect and improper use. The stretch marks on this particular bag could have developed during air testing at Sawyer’s facility, then later developed a leak from normal pressures.

      I think Sawyer if fixated with theory about how their device should work and they are overlooking the reality of what is actually happening in the field. Sediment can be detrimental to the filter if the filter isn’t back flushed properly. It’s a no-brainer that keeping as much sediment out of the filter as possible is a good idea to prevent poor maintenance, but Sawyer’s “theory” makes it impossible to convince them otherwise.

      Operating the syringe takes some skill. It doesn’t seem Sawyer put much thought into this part, just as they did the original bags. You would think the syringe would mate easily and develop a tight seal for the pressures they say are necessary to keep the filter clean and working optimally. All they had to do was design the exit nozzle so it could receive the twist on syringe, or include an inch of hose that could mate over the syringe and a properly sized exit nozzle.

      The more I look at the history of this product, the more I’m convinced it was foolishly rushed to market without giving it proper thought or testing. Too many assumptions–especially the million gallon/ten year claim. I’d really like to see how they tested that. Even using perfectly clean water, it would take almost 5 years of continuous operation to prove that claim–has it even been around that long? The claim can only be based on theory of operation.

      I think Sawyer is right when they say their device is being field tested by tens of thousands of their customers, lol. I don’t think they are easily persuaded by the results, however.

      Despite the people behind the product, the concept is a great idea and the filter component is a great product. Before I use mine, I’m going to do all I can to protect myself from Sawyer’s staff and designers. I’m definitely getting an 80 mesh strainer (without neglecting back flushing) and I’m gravity feeding my water with 2-3 ft of 1/4″ Platy hose between the bag and the filter inlet. No squeezing. A tornado tube cut 3/16″ at both ends with a band saw can mate a receiving bag with a good seal even without gaskets. Or you can use food grade aquarium silicone to mate two bottle tops, tape them with garden hose tape and drill a hole. (The Tornado Tube is $3 at places like Hobby Lobby and the silicone is $4.50 at Home Depot). Use only a bladder for the receiving bag and make sure the air is evacuated when mated. Using a water bottle to receive is a bad idea as the incoming water increases the bottle’s air pressure and hisses out around the seal.

  9. Hi, I’m currently travelling around Peru using the Sawyer filter daily. The new bag seems to last about 2 months with daily use-again, roll don’t squeeze. Interestingly, the mini filter fits many brands of bottled water containers. I now use a 1/2 liter bottle as my “squeeze bag”. Use s pin to poke a hole in the bottom to let the air in after you squeeze the bottle. Also, you can set the bottle with dirty water and filter attached directly on top of a clean empty 1/2 liter water bottle and gravity will do the rest-no squeezing required.

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