Gear Review: Sawyer Squeeze

And my backup water filtration plan, Aquamira

Water is crucial to survival, and you never know where you may have to get it – like out of a mud puddle on the Appalachian Trail in New York because a drought has dried up all the streams. Clean water is critical, and here are the two ways I treat my water.

There are a lot of ways to filter water in the back country – pumps, tablets, drops, straws, UV lights, and other filters. My main choice is the Sawyer Squeeze water filtration system, and my backup is Aquamira drops

Sawyer Squeeze:

  • Treats 99.999% bacteria (like salmonella, cholera, and E.coli) and protazoa (like GIARDIA!!! and crypto)
  • Lightweight – only 3 oz.
  • Lifetime warranty and a “one million gallon” guarantee
  • Fast to use (no waiting for drops/pills, etc.)
    • Do yourself a favor and buy the normal/bigger filter and not the Sawyer Mini. They seem to clog faster and don’t filter water as quickly. I had a few friends start on trail with the Mini and then buy the normal size at an outfitter very soon after they started.
  • Easy to use
    • Screw filter on top of your “dirty” water bag and squeeze clean water into water bottle or bladder/reservoir (you can also squeeze directly into your bladder using the fast fill adapters attachment system)
    • Screw filter on top of your “dirty” water bag and just drink straight from it – there’s a push/pull cap on the filter just like a water bottle
  • Easy to maintain
    • Occasionally backflush the filter with the included plunger (use clean water, of course!)
    • I keep two water bags – a “dirty” one that I put in the stream, pond, puddle, etc. to get the water and a “clean” one that holds the filtered water (when not in use, I just keep it tightly rolled up). I distinguish between the two Sawyer bags by marking one of them with a duct tape X on the bag and on the screw lid for that bag.
    • NOTE: Don’t let the filter freeze – that can damage the hollow-fiber membrane. I keep mine in a ziploc bag, and I put it in my sleeping bag with me on cold nights.


  • I use these drops as my backup water purification – always a good idea to have backups for water and fire
  • Chlorine Dioxide (doesn’t have chlorine or iodine) drops kill bacteria, viruses, GIARDIA!!!!! – exclamations here again because you REALLY don’t want this – and crypto
  • Lightweight (you can get them in 1 oz. pairs) and have a long shelf life (four years)
  • Doesn’t discolor water like iodine or other drops/tablets and improves the taste
    • NOTE: This doesn’t filter the water – it just treats it, so try to find cleaner water without a lot of particulates or grit that you’ll have to drink
  • Easy to use (instructions are on the bottles)
    • Mix Part A and Part B together in the cap and wait five minutes
    • Add mixture to 1 liter of water and wait 15 minutes (30 if it’s really cold or cloudy water)
    • Ready to drink!
  • Great for winter backpacking when you don’t want to worry about the Sawyer Squeeze filter freezing

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