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Sawyer Squeeze Filter Tips
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Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Sawyer Squeeze Filter Tips on 09/12/2012 09:00:32 MDT Print View

There have been several long threads on the Sawyer Squeeze Filter. I thought it might be helpful to list some of the use tips in one place so they would be easier to find. Here's my list, to get things started:

(1) Test the filter before each trip to make sure it has a good flow rate. If it dries out or the internal fibers get coated (with elements within the water) the flow rate can slow considerably. It may to possible to restore flow rate by running vinegar and/or hot water from the tap through it in either or both directions.

(2) Back flushing is easier (with syringe or faucet)if you put a hose washer between the faucet/syringe and the filter. It allows you to get a better seal, more pressure and less squirting. (You can also temporarily remove and use the hose washer that is already installed in filter)

(3) If you are using clear water while hiking you may only need to back fush between trips at home. I use my kitchen's hot water faucet to back flush.

(4) Don't let the filter freeze!

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Sawyer Squeeze Filter Tips on 09/12/2012 09:19:20 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tips. I have had success with the gravity filtering.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Sawyer Squeeze Filter Tips on 09/12/2012 09:30:42 MDT Print View

(4) If you think it might get cold enough for the filter to freeze (which happens on at least half my trips - what good is a filter that can't tolerate being frozen : ):

Shake the filter out vigorously - hold at arm's length and swing quickly a number of times - with filter pointing both directions - to get as much water out of it as possible.

Put in bag and put in sleeping bag. Before and after going to bed, put in your pocket - maybe that's not necesary unless it gets real cold.

If you can blow air through the filter it's been frozen and is useless. If you blow and air doesn't flow through it, it may or may not be broken. This is some other filter manufacturer's advice. Sawyer says if you think it might have frozen, use it the rest of that trip but buy a new one for the next trip.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
some easy mods and tips for sawyer squeeze on 09/12/2012 15:48:44 MDT Print View

Here's some mods and easy things to do, you can read more on them here: Sawyer Mods pt. 1 - Prefilter, tube connector and part 2, new syringes and storage bag.

Articles have more pics and links etc, but this is the basic idea:

Mesh storage bag and 10 ml syringe.

There's the 3 syringes, the one Sawyer gives you, which doesn't really seem to fit anything, the big replacement, which fits perfectly into the tube, and the little one, which can just be pressed onto the tube end for a good fit.

The 10 ml syringe would certainly be better if it were 15 or 20 ml, but it does provide enough pressure for backflushing, and it is totally portable and fits fine with the Squeeze. Takes six fills/plunges to equal one of the big one's.

Note that with the tube / hose connector, the irrigation syringe with the long tip fits right into the tube, and makes backflushing super easy. If I were on a long hike with resupplies, I'd carry the little syringe with me, and put the big one in a bounce box or use it at home, depending on how long I was gone for.

The prefilter is an idea I've come across here as well as other places, it's easy to do, I'd prefer metal mesh, but I couldn't find any, so I used nylon, but it's fine I think.

These are called irrigation syringes, and cannot be found at normal big box pharmacies, those are useless, I went to a real medical supply place, most big cities have them, otherwise you can order online.

Edited by hhope on 09/12/2012 15:53:12 MDT.

Chris Lacey
cap on 09/12/2012 17:18:26 MDT Print View

A smartwater sport bottle flip-top cap fits the clean end as a replacement. I like it better then the one it comes with - no cap to loose.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Neoprene washers on 09/12/2012 20:42:29 MDT Print View

So, those neoprene washers--where are those on the Sawyer? I just got a filter, haven't played with it yet as I'm waiting for an Evernew bag to come to use it with, and I don't remember seeing any washers. There was a grey tip I had to take off to screw on one of the bags, it looks just like one of the hose adapters he shows in the kit from REI (which I also purchased).

Do I need to pry anything off to find those washers? Maybe I just didn't look closely enough.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
ace hardware on 09/12/2012 20:44:42 MDT Print View

I explain all the sources for the stuff, with links, in the articles I linked to, the neoprene washers come from Ace Hardware's rack of little parts and washers and screws and so on.

The dirty water end of the sawyer comes with a thick white washer, about the same thickness as a garden hose washer, and that's the end the neoprene replacement and the prefilter go onto.

The blue adaptor thing comes with its own thick washer, which is sort of stuck on, you can probably remove it, but I saw little advantage in doing that.

Edited by hhope on 09/12/2012 20:50:21 MDT.

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
Clear plastic tubing question for Harald or others on 09/12/2012 20:46:49 MDT Print View

Harald, I like your mods, especially the clear plastic tubing. I see from your blog, that you got the tubing from Tapp Plastics. Off the top of your head, do you know the O.D. and I.D. of the tubing?

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
about on 09/12/2012 20:58:08 MDT Print View

About 3/8" OD, 1/4" ID. Soft flexible tubing, so the little syringe actually seats really well into it when you press it down, and I got no leaks when backflushing it with the small syringe, although of course it's like pumping up a bike tire with a small pump, you have to pump a lot more times. I must have forgotten to note the diameter there, sorry, I'll update that.

I'm not sure on the dry weight of it all together, maybe about 3.75 oz, including the little stuff sack, which just weighs 2.5 grams. The 10 ml syringe weighs about 0.25 oz. Cut the tubing shorter, and it would weigh a bit less for all of it. I guess I could cut a shorter tube and use another neoprene washer on the blue end, that would save a bit, maybe 0.25oz, don't know.

Edited by hhope on 09/12/2012 21:07:43 MDT.

Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
Metal Mesh on 09/12/2012 21:17:16 MDT Print View

Harald-you can find metal mesh in reusable coffee filters. These are easy to pick up at walmart and similar stores for $5, and you get a lot of mesh for various uses. The only trick is that because of surface tension, you can get trouble with water being unwilling to flow through. I find that denting/leaving a creased indent in the mesh does well, but doesn't eliminate the problem. Just a few thoughts, your system looks effective.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: some easy mods and tips for sawyer squeeze on 09/12/2012 21:47:06 MDT Print View

Definitely picking up some mesh to prefilter.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
good tip re metal on 09/12/2012 21:54:42 MDT Print View

good tip on the metal filters. My initial plan was to use a bigger mesh and have the bladder screw down on it, but the washer kept popping off when I had it that way so I cut the mesh to fit the diameter instead.

The store I went to didn't have the metal mesh coffee filters, should have looked more I guess, but I'll see how the nylon goes, that's also from a reusable coffee filter.

By the way, the nylon mesh had no problems with the water flow, it's cheap too, I think the reusable coffee filter costs under $4, and you get 8 prefilters out of it. Sadly, you won't be able to filter coffee with it anymore, but that's life.

Edited by hhope on 09/12/2012 21:59:45 MDT.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Sawyer Squeeze Filter Tips on 09/12/2012 22:27:38 MDT Print View

One of things I've always disliked about filters was the tubes; this is especially true now that I don't use a Platypus/bladder for drinking (I do carry one for in-camp use).

Last month in Olympic (the only trip I've gotten to use the Sawyer Squeeze so far), my system was only 5-parts: the Squeeze filter (with the original white push/pull cap on), a Squeeze bladder (the middle size one), a scoop (cut from an old MSR bladder), and 2 SmartWater bottles. I would have carried the 2 bottles and the scoop anyway, even if I was using AquaMira.

My method was to scoop water (very easy with a cut-up bladder) and pour the water into the Sawyer bladder. The pouring can be done away from the water source on solid ground, which meant I wasn't doing the precarious "balancing act" on a rock next to the river or trying to keep tubes from twisting. Then I attached the filter, turned the whole thing upside-down and inserted the push/pull cap directly into the opening of the SmartWater bottle (a good fit; tight enough so it doesn't pop out too easily). Then I squeezed. It's only a few minutes to fill 2 1L bottles and no tubes.

Note: I didn't have any problems with the Sawyer bladder, but that was the first time I used it. I do have an Evernew bag to try for the next trip. Also, the water quality is very good in ONP, so I didn't need to pre-filter or use the syringe for back-flushing.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: some easy mods and tips for sawyer squeeze on 09/13/2012 09:36:26 MDT Print View


Thanks for all your work and informative links.

Each of your improvements makes sense to me and I'm looking forward to implementing them.

Sawyer should incorporate your ideas in their new models. Their back flushing syringe, in particular, was not well thought out at all.


Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Sawyer Squeeze Filter Trips on 09/13/2012 09:39:23 MDT Print View

+1 to Steven's post above. I often use the same set-up (except with an Evernew bladder in place of the Sawyer bag).

I punched holes in the bottom extra flap of the Evernew bladder and ran some cord through it so I can also hang it from a tree for a gravity filter if I want.

Remove the push-pull cap, screw on a Tornado Tube to the clean end of the filter and then you can directly connect a platypus, Evernew bladder, or normal-sized opening water/soda bottle directly to the filter for gravity filtering. No hoses, no connectors, etc.

To make the Tornado Tube fit the filter with a good seal, use a hack saw to cut off about 1/4" of the plastic at one end. Sand the rough edges smooth and you're done. This allows the clean end of the filter to nest far enough inside the Tornado Tube to get a good, tight seal.

Edited by NickB on 09/13/2012 09:40:08 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
clever too on 09/13/2012 10:57:12 MDT Print View

The tornado thing is a good idea too, didn't know such a thing existed. It looks like that will also work with the smaller syringe, by the way, though the fit won't be as tight as it would be with a flexible tube.

where does the air go when you fill up a bottle though, that seems to be a weakness there. Bladders will expand, but hard bottles won't.

Daryl, glad you found the ideas useful. I agree, to my eyes, after looking at just two alternate backflush syringes, it really looks to me like Sawyer literally put no thought at all into that part, just picked one and bought a bunch then packaged it up. The lack of a small screen prefilter is equally incomprehensible, it's like they want their unit to fail or something, while guaranteeing it for 1 million gallons. And I'm sure there are many different styles of syringes like that, they seem to have picked the one that is worst for the application.

Edited by hhope on 09/13/2012 11:02:17 MDT.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
@ Harold on 09/13/2012 11:07:09 MDT Print View

Good point about using the Tornado Tube with a bottle. I hadn't actually tried it with a bottle other than to see that it threads correctly.

Using it with an empty "clean" bladder with most of the air out of it, it works great. I've used it in this manner for at least half a dozen trips now with no issues. Got a couple more coming up too in the next few weeks.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Dirty End Filter/Washer on 09/14/2012 11:11:19 MDT Print View

Here's an off-the-shelf alternative to the filter/washer combo posted by Harald above.

These filters have bigger holes than the coffee mesh filters so they won't screen out as much stuff. They should screen out insects, small wood pieces and other debris that might be in the dirty water, however. I was concerned about things like this getting into the filter on my last trip. Looks like it might be difficult to get such items out of the filter if they entered.

I think these filters are meant to be used in washer machines, yard sprinkers, etc.



Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
good find on 09/14/2012 12:39:23 MDT Print View

that would make a good replacement for the washer, and serve as a really good pre pre filter I think.

But I wouldn't skip the mesh prefilter, that catches the stuff you don't see, I think it's about 20 to 50 microns, give or take, on the coffee filter, I think that's what coffee filters have to be to work. That's the stuff you don't want clogging up the inlets to the little tubes.

I'm probably going to try all the stuff here, the tornado tube and that hose filter too, the sawyer just needs some help to get it really tuned well for what it's job is. Sawyer should pay attention I think, they kind of just tossed that squeeze filter out as an afterthought, their squeeze bags show that pretty clearly, as does their syringe.

They're not seeing the profit potential here, like, replacement all in one washer/prefilter units for 3.95, hose adaptor/hose/better syringe, 7.95, or 8.95, rebranded evernew bags for 12.95, you know people will buy them if they are available. oh, and a snug fitting water scoop cylinder that the sawyer fits into, hmm, that can be included I think, or as a 4.95 extra.

Edited by hhope on 09/14/2012 12:47:53 MDT.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: good find on 09/14/2012 13:09:46 MDT Print View


I agree on the mesh prefilter. Safeway has one I plan on buying today.

I also agree on the profit potential for Sawyer. Makes me want to buy stock in the company.