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Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument.
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Devin Karch

Locale: NYC
Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 10:05:44 MDT Print View

Ok so my system at the moment is:

Sawyer Squeeze Filter 3.49
Water Scoop 0.59
2Liter Bladder 1.08
32oz Platypus 1.00
Ziploc bag 0.42

The sawyer squeeze works as my filter obviously. The weight includes the filter with a Smartwater cap on it(used while stored) and the pop cap that comes with the sawyer(when squeezing water through the filter). The water scoop works both as a scoop and a funnel. I glued two caps back to back so I can take the scoop (the top of a water bottle) and screw it onto the bladder to fill up quickly as well as sleeping the back a bit drier (less possibility for drips). I also can just use it as a scoop by screwing the bladder cap onto it. Whatever. I;m making this more complicated then I have to.

The two liter bladder can hold water and is used to squeeze water through the filter. The 32 oz platypus is my water bottle (and can be used as emergency bladder for the filter in case the other one fails).

Finally, I use a Ziploc to enclose the "dirty' pieces.

Now, riddle me this. At 6.58 OZ i have a quick, efficient way to collect and filter water, making stopping for water faster as well as having the ability to carry 3 liters of water if I have to (BTW should have mentioned this is based around the east coast like the AT where there is an abundance of water.) To the people who use aquamira drops, are you really carrying a lighter setup where you the fact taht you cant drink your water until 20-30 mins is forgotten bc the weight it just too amazing? I know you guys gotta carry water bottles, so there's that weight, and you need something for water storage I assume, unless you just want to carry at max 2 liters..?

Can someone make a sound argument for me to switch to the drops? I would love to hear how you guys do your thing.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 10:31:47 MDT Print View

Face it, there is no single way that is superior to all others. Sure, there are objective differences -- but it also boils down to subjective preferences! Some people (like me) simply don't mind waiting 20-30 minutes for water treatment. Speaking for myself -- I loathe pumping water (for some reason). I also dislike waiting for gravity feed -- unless we are already at camp at the end of the day.

OTOH, plenty of people feel differently -- not minding two or three minutes of pumping while loathing any sort of 30-min wait. YMMV.

Bottom line: make the switch only if it works for you. After you''ve done some amount of reading and comparison -- why care anymore what others do?

Final caution: 30 minutes is the minimum chlorine dioxide treatment time for protozoa cysts. Water just above freezing will require a couple hours more!

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 10:43:18 MDT Print View

I think the best argument I hear is from people who mostly don't treat their water but treat questionable sources only. I'm not comfortable doing that for most eastern hiking either. I just went to a Sawyer Squeeze too and think its a pretty good option.

I think the Sawyer Squeeze is a better option if you are treating most of your water and have regular stream access. In these situations, there is no need to carry much or sometimes any water. If using drops, you'll always need to carry some water while waiting for the drops to do their job.

As for water capacity, I typically don't carry more than 2 liters water capacity. Most of the eastern mountains I hike have regular stream crossings or follow a stream frequently.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 10:52:40 MDT Print View

As with many things on a gear list, there is the lightest option and then there is a "light that works for you" option.

One concept of UL gear is that you have control over you gear weight and make informed decisions rather than emotional reactions. Every gear list is a collection of compromises.

Other compromises that come up:

Rain gear
Sleeping pads
Framed/unframed backpacks
Cutting tools
First aid kits

To answer your question diectly, I use a Sawyer filter for speed and getting the bugs screened out. I carry Micro Pur tablets as a backup, but with chemicals, there is the waiting period and knowing whether you got the cysts that a filter handles well. If I needed the lightest, most compact water treatment, chemicals would have to be the choice, but I can afford 3oz in this case.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 10:57:03 MDT Print View

Can you carry a 2 liter bladder full of water in your pack without risk of it breaking?

Normally I carry 1/2 liter.

I was just on a trip where there was no water so I had to carry it. All I had was a re-used gallon milk jug which I carried in my hand. I need to improve on that system and carry it in my pack.

Nelson Sherry

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 10:57:50 MDT Print View

1) Aquamira costs less.
2) If you rarely treat your water carrying a filter is extra weight for something you don't expect to use or use only rarely.
3) The filter does nothing to protect you from viruses like hepatitis.
4) Filters can freeze and be damaged.
5) Filters can clog.
6) Filter systems can break.

Now, don't get me wrong. The list on why filters are better than Aquamira is just as long. Point regarding the OP being, there are plenty of reasons to choose chemistry over filtration.

And, let's not forget UV light as yet another option. It's as fast as filters, simpler to use than filters, kills everything including viruses that filters don't . . .

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Dehydration Fear. on 04/09/2013 11:23:18 MDT Print View

Your premise seems to be based on the idea that you have to have water accessible to you every minute of the day.

Nobody ever died of dehydration in 30 minutes while waiting to treat or filter a bottle. Or hours for that matter. The fear of being without water, even for a brief period of time, costs people more weight than any filter/chemical system ever could. If you have undue anxiety over constantly having to be carrying water and are never able to wait, I guarantee you're carrying a few extra pounds of weight at any given time.


My system:

1. 2 x 1 liter bottles.
2. Fill one.
3. When it's running low, plan a water stop.
4. Fill/treat bottle number 2. I pre-mix my aqua mira in camp the night before or in the morning so there is no mixing wait time.
5. By the time bottle #1 is empty, bottle number 2 is ready.
6. I'm rarely carrying more than the weight of a single liter, but have the capacity to carry two. And if my timing is off, so what?
(Desert hiking is an entirely different story)

Many people seem to think you have to have water available 24 hours a day. But it's OK to run out and it's OK to be thirsty. So if I run out of water before I can refill, so what if I have to wait 30 minutes or more to find a source, treat, and drink?

Being thirsty is not a sign of any dangerous condition as long as it's corrected in a reasonable amount of time.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Dehydration Fear. on 04/09/2013 11:44:05 MDT Print View

with that same premise with the Squeeze you could presumably have sources close enough that you don't need to carry any water at all. Filter a half liter of water, drink it while eating a snack or something and move on to the next source. I rarely carry more than 1L in NH unless i'm on a ridge that goes for a while. This is when reading the map and guidebook come in handy so you can plan ahead. If your pack allows it you could do this all without taking your pack off.

I have the squeeze and like it but there is not a huge difference and will only be a difference on spreadsheets.

think less.. hike more. :)

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
UV on 04/09/2013 11:44:11 MDT Print View

BTW, just to be technical UV light does not kill bacteria or protozoa (not sure about virus), it renders them "sterile", as om unable to reproduce. You still consume live "bugs", but there aren't enough of them to cause you any problems.

I know, it's a nit, but that's how I am, ask anyone.... ;)

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Simplicity on 04/09/2013 11:50:41 MDT Print View

My system is like Craig's, mostly for simplicity's sake. I prefer foam pad instead of inflatable, achy stove instead of canister, tarp instead of tent. A minimum of zippers, valves, or other moving parts. Very little that can actually break or fail.

This is strictly personal preference. I'll be carrying a bottle and some water regardless, and I like not needing to carry yet another piece of gear like a filter. I also like to be able to stop at a water source, fill, drop in an aquamira pill, and keep walking. I don't mind waiting a half hour to actually drink. Once the water is ready, I'll often gulp half the bottle, so I'm not carrying full bottles around for very long. Like Craig, I also spend many hours of the day with bottles empty. My water consumption is skewed more towards morning and evening.

The last couple of trips with other people, two people had steripens and one had a sawyer. Both steripens failed and their owners needed to borrow tabs. The sawyer required waiting at the water source for 10-15 minutes for gravity filtering before the reservoir could be filled again. Needless to say, I was happiest with my system. Others will feel differently.

Edit- for Larry. Should have been more specific- he was stocking up for the night and filtering for two- probably was 4-5 L.

Edited by Ike on 04/09/2013 12:47:24 MDT.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Reducing water carried on 04/09/2013 11:57:34 MDT Print View

Jake: "with that same premise with the Squeeze you could presumably have sources close enough that you don't need to carry any water at all."

Yep. On my last two trips, I knew there were plenty of stream crossings, so I carried no water except for 0.5 liters to a dry camp one night (I took a break beside a nice stream and made dinner before hiking a few more miles, so no need for water to make dinner). Stop every few hours, fill up a liter of water, drink it straight from the filter while having a snack and airing out/resting the feet, then carry on.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Sawyer... on 04/09/2013 11:59:47 MDT Print View

10 or 15 minutes?!? Something was wrong with their sawyer or they had the .02 micron (virus) version. Mine takes less than 2 minutes (I've timed it) to filter a liter.

Edited by Hitech on 04/09/2013 12:00:19 MDT.

Nelson Sherry

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: UV on 04/09/2013 12:01:15 MDT Print View

"You still consume live "bugs""

Sorry for the careless wording. But hey, live food, better nutritional content. ;)

just Justin Whitson
Re: UV on 04/09/2013 12:01:52 MDT Print View

"BTW, just to be technical UV light does not kill bacteria or protozoa (not sure about virus), it renders them "sterile", as om unable to reproduce. You still consume live "bugs", but there aren't enough of them to cause you any problems."

In a way, that might be an important distinction and fact. I wonder if consuming live, but sterile pathogens is a good way to build up greater immunity to them should one have the misfortune to consume live but fertile ones?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Fear on 04/09/2013 12:23:37 MDT Print View

Craig's point about being afraid to be without water was true for me when I started BPing. I would carry 2 or 3 liters even though I was coming across water sources every hour or so.

As I learned how to manage consumption and find water, that fear eased and I now carry only a liter. Notable exceptions are in winter when I like to tank up on water in camp so I dont have to melt snow while on the trail and in arid environments.

Like this summer, Im planning on having to carry 8 liters of water. *shudder*

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Re: UV on 04/09/2013 12:24:52 MDT Print View

" I wonder if consuming live, but sterile pathogens is a good way to build up greater immunity to them should one have the misfortune to consume live but fertile ones?"

Probably. I drank water from a "well" in a creek at my grandfathers summer place for 10+ years as a kid; until he had the water tested. Since then we haven't drank the water as it "failed" the test (it certainly has giardia). I've never had any problems.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: UV on 04/09/2013 12:49:09 MDT Print View

Well, good question. Actually, none of the top three water treatments are guaranteed to give you pure water. Filtering (Sawyer fo example), Chemicals(AquaMira or Iodine for example) and Radiation (Steripen for example) are all statistically based. You can kill 99.9999% (or render them impotent) but the one that gets through has a finite chance of infecting you. Even boiling can leave heavy metals and some fertilizers in the water.

All is not lost. I normally use two half liter bottles, filled and sterilized in the morning. If it will be a dry day, I will add some to a spare bladder. If I know I will cross several water sources, I may not carry any. That is entirely terrain dependent.

I usually have a Steripen in the pack, and, AquaMira. AquaMira is reserved for overnights, mornings. I use UV during the day, as needed. I also boil water in the morning and evening. Filters are ALWAYS heavier than AM drops for mid length trips, ie up to about 3 weeks. I repackage AM into small bottles, good for about three weeks. They weigh about an ounce. The Adventurer Opti weighs about 4-5oz, depending. In 7 years, I have never had one fail in the field. (I managed to kill one at home, though. They replaced it, no problem. Previous to the Opti, it was just the Adventuror which I never had trouble with, but lost on a hike.)For longer than three weeks, a UL filter (like the Sawyer) would be my choice.

With the advent of the newer UL filters, the weight and flow rates have changed a lot. So, I no longer can say it is any lighter than the Steripen, even at 3.5oz. But it saves about one bottle of water. As does the Sawyer, if done correctly. Or, about 1 pound. So, either pays for itself in overall weight savings.

I would note that simply changing the mineral content of water can change your digestive system, giving you diahrea or leaving you constipated. This is NOT a disease or parisite.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 13:23:00 MDT Print View

> "1) Aquamira costs less."

I would question that one if we are talking about price per gallon of water treated. Aquamira does "up to" 30 gallons (clear water) or 15 if the water is cloudy for about $12. Sawyer Squeeze supposedly does a million gallons at $50 or so. Granted the bags won't last that long and if you accidentally freeze the filter you might croak it, but the odds of it lasting long enough to be quite a bit cheaper per gallon is very good IMO.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 04/09/2013 13:29:19 MDT Print View


Your points are all valid, however, I would that in terms of Cost the Sawyer filter can be cheaper in the long run.

Given that there are no parts to replace or wear out, once someone buys the Sawyer filter, they are done.

Aquamira is a consumable, which requires continual repurchase.

At one point, the Sawyer inline filter had a 1 million gallon guarantee for filtering.

I have been using my 1st generation Sawyer inline filter since 2008-2009 without any problems.

It can clog, but is easily backflushed in the field.

For me, the biggest issues with the Sawyer filter is that it can freeze and you can break the exterior housing, which can be said of any traditional filter.

Anyway, neat discussion, but I am with Ben on this is simply a choice of what works best for you.

My personal belief is that if someone is going to carry a filter, I don't think that you can find better/lighter than the Sawyer.

I like the design of the Squeeze filter enough to consider replacing my perfectly working old inline Sawyer simply for the ease of use of the new design.


Colin Krusor

Locale: Northwest US
UV on 04/09/2013 14:55:23 MDT Print View

"BTW, just to be technical UV light does not kill bacteria or protozoa (not sure about virus), it renders them "sterile", as om unable to reproduce. You still consume live "bugs", but there aren't enough of them to cause you any problems."

As you say, Larry, this is technical trivia, but as long as there are at least two (now three) of us who are interested, I have to say that I don't agree.

Most biologists agree that viruses are nonliving, so you can't kill them with anything, you can just inactivate them, which UV light does. UV light inactivates but does not kill protozoan (crypto, giardia, toxo) cysts or oocysts, and it kills bacteria.

The UV radiation is indiscriminate. It affects all parts of the genome of a bacterium or protozoan, not just the parts responsible for reproduction. UV-induced pyrimidine dimers and other "lesions" in the DNA make a metabolically active cell unable to produce mRNA that can be translated into functional proteins. All metabolically active cells must produce functional proteins constantly to survive. UV treatment of drinking water (ie, with a Steripen) kills bacteria. It doesn't just render them unable to reproduce.

UV irradiation doesn't immediately kill protozoan cysts or oocysts because they are not metabolically active until they excyst in a new host. So, in the environment, they are in a diapause-like state and they don't immediately "die" after UV treatment because they are not transcribing mRNA. The UV does render them unable to reproduce.

On the topic of immunity: I don't know if ingestion of bacterial antigens or whole bacteria in the amounts you'd find in backcountry drinking water would confer immunity, but, thanks to "antigen shifting", consuming most protozoa (including giardia) definitely does not. No matter how many Giardia cells you ingest (viable or not), and no matter how many times you acquire Giardia infections, you will never be immune, because the parasite constantly dons new antigenic disguises. A Giardia vaccine is being developed now that works by using something called RNA interference (RNAi) to force Giardia cells to present their entire repertoire of antigens at once, allowing the host to develop immunity to all of them.

Edited by ckrusor on 04/09/2013 14:56:23 MDT.