Sawyer, the company behind the Squeeze water filter (see my initial review, second review, third review of the Squeeze) have announced they will be releasing a new version of their 0.1 Absolute Micron filter sometime in the 2013 Fall season (Sunday, September 22 through Friday, December 20). Note: It was officially released the fourth week of September 2013.
It will be called the “Sawyer MINI Filter”
It will be within the 2 ounce range. They are not providing much further detail on the weight and what that stated weight includes (caps, label, etc). As it is, the existing Sawyer Squeeze Filter is 63.25 grams (2.231 ounces) without the cap or label, so what exact weight they have reached by doing away with the heavy plastic around the entire unit is totally unknown at this point. We would really have to hope that they have not made it heavier by adding all of the little new stuff to it. It appears they have molded what is presently the “adapter kit” right onto the ends of the filter. IF Sawyer has actually made the MINI heavier by doing this, that is just going to be… well, disappointing. Hopefully they will be at the Outdoor Retailer (summer) next week and somebody there can squeeze out some more information about this (ok, that was a really bad pun, sorry).
My Sawyer Squeeze article that I published a little over a year ago has apparently become one of the de facto articles for this product on the internet, which is really cool. It gets a lot of attention from hikers, hunters, adventurers and travelers, from around the world. It is always fun to see an article in a language I am not even able to read (thank you google chrome for having an automatic language translator) and it is the second most popular article I have written.
All this means I get a lot of folks contacting me asking me questions about it, which I am always happy to do.
I wanted to take a few moments and share some of my thoughts regarding this filter, having used it for over a year.
There have been five big issues with this filter by other bloggers and hikers the world over. I am going to address my thoughts on each of these issues.
1) Bag Durability
There is no reason for anybody to keep hashing out this issue. Everybody knows the original bags failed to perform for a lot of people. I suspect that the vast majority of these failures were a result of user error. People squeezing the crap out of the bags with such force that it was causing the seams on the bags to blow up. I even read the account of one AT hiker who blew through all three original bags, an Evernew bag, and two platypus bags. We need no further evidence than that story of the fact that most folks just abused their original squeeze bags to much. I put well over 50 gallons of water through a single bag and never have a failure.
Regarding the Evernew bags: I am pretty sure I was the first hiker to publish documentation saying that the Evernew water bags fit perfectly on the Sawyer Squeeze. Within 48 hours of me publishing that article, every major retailer in the USA was sold out. Literally thousands of Evernew water bags were bought by hikers within a matter of two days. I had companies emailing me and telling me they were sold out within 24 hours and eight months after I posted my article on them I was on a hike with the owners of some of the big name outdoor companies and those who did not know me at least knew that somebody out there had obviously posted something about it, and it was fun getting to hear their stories of having hundreds of orders in their inbox when they arrived the next morning at work. It has been estimated that there were over 25-thousand dollars worth of Evernew bags bought by hikers within 48 hours. Since that happened the companies here in the USA have received two or three additional shipments of the bags (they are made and shipped over from Japan only a few times each year) and every single time the companies here in the USA get shipments of the bags they are either already pre-sold or end up being sold within a few days of being listed as in-stock.
Clearly these Evernew bags are performing at a higher level of quality control than the Sawyer bags, otherwise they would not continue to be selling as fast as they are. As I documented in January of this year, Sawyer released an entirely new bag to try to stem the bleeding bad PR that they were getting because of the bags. It was all too obvious that they had a sure winner on their hands with the filter itself, but failed to bring to market a bag worthy of the filter itself. Or, as I have said in times past, Sawyer should have called it the “Sawyer Roll” – in a quasi-jokingly manner – in that rolling the bags reduces the vast majority of the stress on the bags.
Regarding the new bags… there have been a lot of people who have claimed that the new bags are not different from the old bags, beyond just the pretty picture. If you think that a new picture slapped onto a bag (when there was already a layer of ink on it) results in an additional 5 grams there is not much I can do about that. My contact at Sawyer has never once indicated to me that the bags are the same, beyond the change of artwork, even when I directly asked the question. I just do not have any further response regarding the new bags then this information. If somebody out there wants to, and has the ability, to do some kind of spectral analysis or whatever it would take to validate the claims by Sawyer, I would welcome the whitepaper on your research, beyond that, I can do nothing more than share with all of you what my Sawyer contact has told me.
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.
2) Freezing Temperatures
There has also been a LOT of discussions and arguments about whether or not the Sawyer Squeeze can survive freezing temperatures. I have long held with the fact that any freezing of the filter should result in you throwing away your filter. I have zero evidence to prove such a drastic action, but to me the facts are simple: the squeeze is a Hollow Fiber Membrane filter. What this means is that there are a whole bunch of very very small tubes inside of the filter (read more on wikipedia regarding membrane filtering) and this is really good in that it allows for significant amount of more water<->surface contact thereby allowing the water a higher chance of being filtered. But the downside to this is that the tubes are significantly smaller than non hollow fiber membrane filters, like most other backpacking water filters. These smaller tubes mean that any water trapped inside of them results in a drastically higher chance of that water freezing and as we all know, when water freezes it expands in size, and therein is the problem. When the water freezes it a very high likelihood of blowing a hole (rupturing) one of these very small tubes. When that happens it means there is a very high chance of allowing water through the filter without being filtered.
Here is the official position of Sawyer via their FAQ page:
While we have no proof that freezing will harm the filter, we do not have enough proof to say it will not harm the filter, therefore we must say that if you suspect the filter has been frozen, to replace it — this is especially true with a hard freeze.
Only you can decide if the risk is worth it, personally, I do not. Puking my guts out four 2-4 days, than being constipated for 4-7 days is simply not worth it to me. $50 bucks is not worth a week or two of suffering.
This past winter when I was on sub-freezing hikes I carried with me extra handwarmers and made sure that at least one handwarmer was hot and inside of the bag that my Squeeze was in, to help make sure that it did not freeze. It meant carrying an extra 3 ounces per day, but again, what is safe water worth to you?
3) Tips & Tricks
It has been fun to see others sharing their tips of what they have done to make their life using the Sawyer Squeeze easier. For all the people out there hating on the Squeeze, there are a lot more people out there talking about how the Squeeze has become a part of their life and sharing ideas and such regarding their interactions with the filter. I think it is always a sign of a winning product when you see folks talking about how they are modifying it, or other things to work with it, and the internet is filled with hikers, hunters, and world travelers talking about how they have modified other gear to work with their Squeeze.
About the only thing I have done is to buy the Sawyer SP110 Inline Adapter Kit which allows you to attach the Squeeze to hydration tubing. There were a LOT of people out there making these on their own, so it was a brilliant move on Sawyers part to push out this adapter kit. It works really well for gravity filter systems, and it works ok, but not great, for drinking dirty water straight from a hydration bag through the filter and a bite valve.
One of the neat tricks of the SP100 is the ability to use just one part, the outbound part, and attach a short piece of hydration to into it, thus making it waaaay easier to fill up water bottles on the go.
One of the more unique and ideas I really want to try has come from this article in which you take a wire coffee filter and cut out the wire filter from the plastic and cut the filter part into circles and place one of them in the dirty water entrance of the filter (note: probably will have to buy a thinner washer in order to make a proper seal). There have been a lot of articles on the internet where people are adding pre-filters to their Squeeze, but I think this idea has one of the best long-term solutions that I have encountered.
Lets face it… that syringe that is included with the Squeeze is huge. When my very first Squeeze showed up and I pulled out that huge syringe I started laughing and scared the cat sleeping on a couch. It is comical. But, it has a very real purpose and should not just be dismissed.
One of the major selling points of the Squeeze is its claim to do “1 million gallons”. Of course the real selling point is the fact that it is an Absolute One Micron filter – read my original article on why that is important and why you should only be using an Absolute One Micron filter.
Part of their ability to claim such a high usage rate is because it is a hollowed membrane filter. The other part is because of its ability to be backflushed.
I have heard stories of AT/PCT thru-hikers bouncing the syringe from town to town so they did not have to carry it. I admire these hikers and think they are doing the right thing. If you are pre-filtering your water you should easily be able to make it three or four, maybe five days before you really need to backflush the Squeeze. It is called preventive maintenance – something we hikers hate thinking about, more or less doing, but it is just a reality when it comes to the Squeeze.
Please folks, do not just throw away that syringe, and when you get back home from your weekend hike, take the 10 seconds it will take to backflush your filter.
5) Drying / Storage
As I mentioned above, a hollow fiber membrane filter is an awesome thing to have because of the higher water<->filter contact time, which results in a higher level of filtration. But like water freezing inside of the tubes is a serious downsize, so too is improperly drying and storage of the filter.
When you get back home, you really need to do everything you can to dry out your filter. There has been an insane amount of people online sharing how they do this. Some of them downright comical, but most of them are really great ideas.
Personally what I would love to see would be Sawyer releasing a new product (SP118 maybe?) that would allow you to attach something like the SP100 to the inflow side of the filter, and have a small hole like the outflow side, which would be the same size as what the syringe fits onto. This would allow us the ability to attach this little device to the inflow side and use the syringe to blast a bunch of air through the filter to flush out the membrane tubes – much the same method of backflushing. It just makes sense and I am flabbergasted nobody has come up with a way to do this, nor that Sawyer has not thought of it themselves.
A lot of talk on the internet is how to carry the filter when you are hiking… some people put theirs in zip lock bags to keep the water inside of the filter from getting their get yet (solved by my idea above, hmmm). Some hikers just throw it into one of the pockets on the outside of their backpack. In the winter time I carried mine inside of a ziplock bag. This allowed me to keep it right next to handwarmers in sub-freezing conditions, as well as have it inside of my sleeping bag at night without getting my bag/feet wet. During the summer time I just threw it into an outside pocket and oh well if it drips because I only use outside pockets for water bottles and wet gear (groundcloth, shelter, rain jacket, etc.)
Anyway, those are my thoughts on all things related to the very awesome Sawyer Squeeze water filter. In the year+ that the Squeeze has been on the market it has take a huge percentage of the water filter market within the hiking community. I get messages on an almost weekly basis from old timers telling me they have been using the same water filter for years, yet have made the switch to the Squeeze because of its 0.1 Absolute Micron filter, its easy of use, and its weight compared to pretty much everything else of worth out there.
As I said in my original article:
Until something lighter comes along that provides Absolute 0.10 Micron level filtering that does not involve waiting hours and hours to have drinkable water, and is under the 2 ounce mark, the Sawyer PointOne Squeeze Water Filter System is going to be the only filter making it into my backpack.
That absolutely continues to be the case and the Squeeze will continue to be the only filter in my backpack until such is no longer true. In worst case situations, I can also use a few drops of bleach that I keep in a micro-dropper for washing my clothes with. And I understand there are still going to be a lot of hikers out there who will continue to use Aquamira. There is no doubt aquamira weighs less than the Squeeze – nobody can make that argument, especially if you carry them it within 3ml containers. Only thing I can say to that, and that I have been saying for over a year now, is to share a story about a 70 year old hiker who sent me an email the other day saying that after 50+ years of hiking, he finally realized that having the ability to drink water as soon as it goes inside of your water bag is a really nice thing, versus having to wait 15-30 minutes. This is so especially true if you are hiking somewhere that water is very scarce. You… well *I*… do not want to be hiking for hours and hours without a water source and finally get to one, then have to wait another half hour before I can drink the water. All of us have to make our own choice on whether an extra ounce is worth that or not. This year I am going to be in some pretty remote locations and I might only have the chance to get one once a day. Carrying that much extra water to make it through the rest of the day and into the next day, is going to result in water alone weighing more than my entire backpack, so the extra two ounces for the Squeeze is just not even going to be noticed.
I would love to hear from all of you what kind of modifications to your gear you have done to make using the Squeeze be better integrated with your hiking setup!!
+ John Abela
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 not supplied to me in exchange for services. All products mentioned within the content of this review are free of endorsements between myself and the manufacturers and meets all FTC 16 CFR.255 compliance requirements.
April 18, 2013 – added update about MLD now selling multi-packs of the new bags – and further confirmation that these new bags are indeed stronger.
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) Continue reading “Sawyer Squeeze – Updated 2013 Version”→
As the year comes to an end I felt it was time to look back and highlight my favorite pieces of hiking gear over the 2012 hiking season. Last year I did the same thing and I really enjoyed how it made me stop and really consider the truly exceptional pieces of gear that I had used over the year – and I have done a lot of refinement to my gear lists over the last few years and for the most part have them where I want them. This year I am going to list 12 items rather then ten, because this is 20″12″, and I just have more items I want to highlight.
The below items are going to be listed in no specific order, so please do not think that I feel that the first item in the list is any more or any less a favorite piece of gear.
#1 – Six Moon Designs Skyscape X – You can read my review of this shelter or head right over to their website. As is documented within my SUL/XUL Fully Enclosed Solo Shelter Comparison, the Skyscape X is “the worlds lightest Total Shelter Weight one-piece fully enclosed shelter“. I first saw this shelter when I was on a hike with the owner of Six Moon Designs and almost instantly feel in love with it. I have bought two of them in the last year or so and would buy another one without thought or hesitation if I needed another shelter. I have never found any one piece shelter at this weight (425 grams / 15 oz) that provides as much protection from the weather.
#2 – ZPacks Waterproof Breathable Cuben Fiber Rain Jacket – You can read my review of this jacket and my follow-up article on it or head right over to their website. There are rain jackets and then there are rain jackets. Some rain jackets are truly exceptional when it comes to breathablity. Some rain jackets are truly exceptional when it comes to weight. Other rain jackets are popular because of their price. This jacket from ZPacks is by far not the most breathable rain jacket in the world. It is nowhere near as breathable as the latest gore-tex nor the latest eVENT. This jacket is also not the most durable rain jacket in the world, and it falls in the middle of the price range for top end rain jackets. What this jacket has going for it is that it is the world lightest three layer rain jacket that is presently on the market. I have used this jacket for hundreds of miles in the rain, a couple of hours in the snow, in hail for twenty or so minutes, and on a day to day basis around town for months. I have bought two of them over the last year or so and some of the changes to the most recent versions have made this my defacto wind and rain jacket.
#3 – Icebreaker Men’s Bodyfit 260 Tech Top & Icebreaker Men’s Tech T Lite Short Sleeve Shirt – My long time readers will know I just moved into the world of Icebreakers this year. I use to be a die-hard Patagonia Capilene 3 user – and was for many years. The price-point of Icebreakers kept me away from them for many years. A sale on them early in the year was good enough that I picked up both the Tech T Lite shirt and the 260 Bodyfit. Together these two pieces of clothing have resulted in the best layer one and layer two setup I have ever used. By themselves they both have their weaknesses (and more weaknesses than positives) but when put together I have absolutely fallen in love with them.
#4 – Inov-8 Trailroc 245 – These shoes, only on the market for a short part of this year, have become an absolute mainstay in my hiking life. For a number of years I have used the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 shoes. I loved their weight, I loved their traction, I loved their support. What I did not love about them was their (for me) narrow toe-box. With the introduction of the Trailroc 2012 series Inov-8 has introduced a larger (anatomical) toe box. As I have said for years, there are times when performance and functionality matter more then weight. In this case I have added 33 grams (1.16 ounces) of additional weight to my shoes in order to have a shoe that can handle my toes swelling as I am pounding out the long mileage days. Absolutely worth the additional weight. I went with the 245’s over the 235’s because as a long distance hiker I felt the need for a rock plate was of higher importance than ten grams. I am glad that I did. The X-Talon 212’s had two shock zones and to have gone from two to none would have just not been fun.
#5 – TrailDesigns Sidewinder & Evernew Titanium Non-Stick 900ml Pot – Just going to be honest, adding twice the amount of weight to my setup in order to have a more versatile cooking setup was both a hard one, but an amazingly rewarding one. What I have discovered, as a long distance backwoods hiker, is that I have come to value food the more that I hike. I use to be somebody who could feel I was happy with eating idaho potatoes and top romin for days on end. Both of these could be made very easily with just hot water – and honestly, most of the time I did not even heat up the water. But over the last year I have come to value and appreciate getting to camp and spending a few minutes sitting down and actually ‘making’ a real meal. Having a 900 ml pot allows me to make meals I could never make with a food in bag approach. I can sit there and chop up carrots and real potatoes and all kinds of other stuff and make a real meal, thanks to the larger pot. Yes, it means having a 5 ounce cook setup rather than a 2 ounce cook setup. The long term physiological effect of cooking a real meal more then makes up for those additional two or three ounces. The TrailDesigns Sidewinder is truly a magical cooking accessory. A pot stand and wind screen built into one. It rolls up and fits inside of my pot. Super easy. A bit expensive for what it does (my old pot stand and wind screen cost 25 bucks, versus 80 bucks for the sidewinder) but in this case, it is one of those times when the extra money is totally worth the all-in-one-ease-of-use-amazing-performance factor that the Sidewinder provides. (ps: yes, sometimes I even take the pan-lid that is part of the 900ml pot… I take with me some dehydrated o’brien potatoes and some EVOO and wow does it make an easy way to have a great breakfast.)
#6 – ACR ResQLink 406 PLB – This should be an obvious one. I have never actually had to use mine, but as a hiker that spends the vast majority of my time in the deep backwoods while building a new hiking trail, 130 grams worth of weight is something I do not even think about when it comes to overall life-safety. My PLB goes with me, without thought, without hesitation, without compromise.
#7 – Suunto MC-2G Global Compass – This has been a fairly new upgrade for me. I use to use a smaller, lighter, less feature rich compass. But as time goes on I have found the addition of the features of this compass worth the extra weight. Most hikers would question having a compass with a mirror on it for most trails in America, but it has its value in some situations. Moreover the mirror can do double-duty to help me see the bottom of my feet if I have a bad blister that needs to be taken care of (very rare), and can also be used for tending to any facial cuts that I might get from trees or such. See my article When bulk matters more than weight for more on my thoughts about this.
#8 – Sawyer PointOne Squeeze Water Filter System – Very little can be said herein that has not already been said about this product. The weight to performance of this filter makes it the unquestionable king of filters for hikers. Combined together with the Evernew Water Carry Bags and you have yourself the best 1.0 Absolute Micron filter on the planet with water bags that are durable enough to handle long term use when used properly.
#9 – Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles – You can read my full review of these poles or head right over to their official website. These poles continue to be an exceptional pair of hiking poles. Thousands and thousands of miles using them. I list them as my “favorite gossamer gear product” on my Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador page for a reason: because they are the finest three-season hiking poles on the market from a weight to performance factor.
#10 – Black Rock Gear Vest – I am new to the world of hiking with vests rather then full on jackets, and the Black Rock Gear Vest has proven to me that vests have a place in a backpackers setup. Sadly the demand for these and the fact that Black Rock Gear is a small cottage company and the fact that sourcing material is often times hard, the availability of these vests have been extremely limited. I was lucky to get one from their last batches – and very glad I was able to get one!
#11 – Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles – You can read my short-term review of these poles or head right over to their official website. In my quest to find a four-season set of hiking poles, pretty much everybody I respect that I asked said these where the best ones out there. I gave them a go and have to agree. While significantly too heavy for summer time hiking (unless you are not a sul/xul hiker) these are freaking amazing bomb-proof trekking poles.
#12 – ZPacks Arc Blast Backpack – I have to be honest here and say that I have very few miles on this backpack. However once you have hiked a lot of miles you are able to very quickly know if a backpack is going to work for you or not. This year I have purchased 11 backpacks from three different cottage companies, most of them I used for less then 20 miles and just knew they were not going to work out. The Arc Blast reminds me a lot of the days when I had a ULA Circuit. It has the support and tough feeling factors that my normal non-frame cuben fiber backpacks lack. This should make it very nice for winter hiking and for those times when I am on the trail for 8 or 10 days between trail towns (note: I have not used this backpack in such a situation yet, as I only got it about a month ago, but one just knows these things.) Loaded up with all of my winter gear, this backpack feels like my load is around 4 pounds lighter then what I know it actually is – and that is sweet. I really look forward to using this backpack in 2013 in the deep backwoods of the Redwood forest. I was amazing hesitant to buy this (and did not buy it for over six months since it was released) because I had previously used hybrid cuben fiber backpacks from HMG and found the material to be way overkill for me. In the end my decision for buying it was other hikers reporting the ability to load it up with a fair amount of weight and have it carry the load very well. So far with the limited use I have used it for, I too have been amazingly impressed. I do not understand the how or the why, and my previous ZPacks Blast with external supports did not carry the load good at all, but this backpack is a whole other story. I have had a few buddies try it with a full load and it has made them go “wow”, just like I did the first time I put it on. A ULA Circuit is still going to be more comfortable overall, but if you are willing to give up 26 ounces for just a little bit of comfort, which I am, this could be the go-to backpack for me for the foreseeable future while I am long distance hiking. Only time spent on the trail will truly show if all of this is true or not.
Have you posted a “favorite gear of 2012 article”?? If so post a comment with a link to it so I and others can check out your favorite gear!!
In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that I am a “Trail Ambassador” of Gossamer Gear. The Gossamer Gear products mentioned within the content of this review were purchased by myself and were not supplied to me free of charge, or in exchange for services, by Gossamer Gear, unless otherwise mentioned. I hereby declare that I am a “Sponsor” of Black Rock Gear. The Black Rock Gear products mentioned within the content of this review were purchased by myself and were not supplied to me free of charge, or in exchange for services, by Black Rock Gear, unless otherwise mentioned. 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. (i envy those of you who live in countries where these stupid disclaimers are not required by law to include in articles)
When I got close to reaching the SUL weight I knew that none of those were going to be able to keep being used so I made the switch over to using water bottles such as Gatorade, than to the Smart Water bottles which were a bit lighter and proved to be durable enough. This meant that not only did I get to reduce the weight of using a reservoir but I also no longer needed to weight of the reservoir sleeves within backpacks. (extra perk: no longer needing a backpack with a hole in it to push your tube through, thereby making it just a weebit more water resistant)