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Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument.
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Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
UV on 04/09/2013 15:18:09 MDT Print View

I will assume you are correct, since you certainly seem to know what you are talking about. I had read that UV renders the bad guys "sterile". I will have to research that again. And yes, I am interested. :^)

I must be a giardia "carrier" as I drank water from a contaminated source (cattle in the stream up river) on vacations and some weekends during the summer for 10 years or so without symptoms.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
@ Devin on 04/09/2013 17:09:21 MDT Print View

"Sawyer Squeeze Filter 3.49"

Just curious: Is that the weight of the Sawyer squeeze filter new, clean and dry? Or is it the weight of the filter after it's been used, and is wet and heavier?

Randy Cain
(bagboy) - MLife

Locale: Palmdale, CA
Sawyer wet vs dry on 07/01/2013 16:45:57 MDT Print View

For the Gram Geeks, you may as well ignore the weight of the Sawyer dry, because you won't be carrying it that way...except to your first water source.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
3oz on 07/01/2013 16:51:27 MDT Print View

sawyer squeeze, sucked dry using the adapter plus hose, then shaken, 85 grams, 3.0 oz.

The weight of the adapter and hose tube is nullified by the ease of sucking out the last bit of water from the clean side, apparently. I just weighed this, and the sawyer was tested yesterday for another reason.

3.0 ounces is the filter body only, weighed on an accurate scale. I believe this is the 2012 version though I'm not certain, it could be 2011.

the clean end adapter plus short hose weighs 13.2 grams, or a bit under .5 ounces. So yes, the sawyer weighs exactly what it weighs after you suck the water out, which only takes a few seconds, the 3.5 oz number is valid and correct and could be gotten easily on the trail with no particular work.

As for the OP question, if someone wants to deny themselves the exquisite pleasure of drinking straight from a fresh running stream on a hot day via a sawyer, then far be it from me to care, that's their loss, not mine. The notion of cost of course, assuming an order of magnitude worsening of expected filter life in the sawyer of 100k gallons, makes ALL other options ridiculous in terms of cost, so I would avoid that particular way to rationalize using poison drops. Just use them if you like them, but don't pretend they are cheaper, that's silly. 100,000/30 = 3333.3 packages of aquamira. And that's using best case for aquamira and realistic middle case for sawyer.

Edited by hhope on 07/01/2013 17:18:32 MDT.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
cleaner, pros vs cons== on 07/01/2013 17:15:38 MDT Print View

Pros +:

1. The Sawyer cleans the water better, gets rid of floaties etc.

2. It doesn't put chemicals into my body.

3. I can "camel up" and drink 1-2 liters which is nearly 5 pounds.


1. Heavier than chems by 3-4 ounces.

2. A little more work

3. Not as reliable, thats why I bring 2-3 chlorine tablets in my first aid kit.

Anything else you guys can think of?

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: cleaner, pros vs cons== on 07/01/2013 17:19:46 MDT Print View

not sure why it's any less reliable than AM. if the water goes through you can be pretty confident it's clean. with AM once you wait a certain amount of time you should be confident it's clean. if anything AM has more variables with mixing, time, water temp.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
yes, drops after filtering on 07/01/2013 17:26:30 MDT Print View

for very bad water, after filtering it with a sawyer, drops could be useful I suppose to target viruses, then I think you can just use bleach though since all the larger organisms have been removed by the filter.

Also, for trips over 3 days you should probably bring the 60ml syringe for backflushing if you want to actually reach the rated life span of the sawyer. That adds about 35 grams.

Jake D, exactly, aquamira has a lot more room for error and failure, you have to measure it right, mix it right, let it sit right, then pick the right time/temp combination, accurately, every time, so it's odd seeing its weaknesses noted as a strength. The holes in the sawyer are physical, ie, they are I believe 0.1 micron big, period, unless you freeze it, but how hard is it to not freeze something if you are aware? Not very. Put in sock in sleeping bag at night, end of story.

The sawyer is easy, fill bag, attach, let drip into clean water, drink. I'm glad I don't care about a few ounces for stuff like this, heh, makes the choices a lot easier in terms of using good tools.

The strength of poison drops is that if they are used properly they kill everything, which does matter in some cases, none that I've ever come across, but I'm sure it's valid in certain situations.

Edited by hhope on 07/01/2013 17:31:25 MDT.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: yes, drops after filtering on 07/01/2013 17:44:25 MDT Print View

Yep, i love mine. i did the coffee filter mod to keep larger stuff out of the main filter.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Hmmm... Norovirus on the AT on 07/02/2013 05:30:23 MDT Print View

Im thnking about using both Sawyer AND AquaMira this summer... and if I don't quit Googling "AT norovirus" soon I might even get paranoid to start carrying a little bottle of bleach...

Speaking of AquaMira, I had a bottle cap brteak in my pack last weekend and now everything (except of course my drinking water) smells nicve and bleachy-clean.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Hmmm... Norovirus on the AT on 07/02/2013 07:46:06 MDT Print View

on the AT don't share food, drinks etc. wash hands after using bathroom, shelter logs, shaking hands etc

problem isn't the water.. it's people who aren't as hygienic as they should be.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
preference on 07/02/2013 08:26:41 MDT Print View

This crazy thing happened this weekend I went backpacking with these two guys that had sawyer systems and I had aquamira drops. We all stayed hydrated easily with out carrying excessive amounts of water and we were all light. This tells me its a question of preference.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Norovirus on the AT on 07/02/2013 20:48:37 MDT Print View

Sounds like a good argument for a Steripen to me!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 07/03/2013 00:26:27 MDT Print View

I have been backpacking for almost 50 years and have never used a filter or other mechanical/electronic purification device. I sure see a lot of threads about these gizmos that failed.

I used iodine until 2008. Since then CLO2, mostly tabs. Wonder how much cumulative weight I have saved.

Don't use GPS, cell phones, SPOTs, PLBs, music player or similar ilk. This is BackpackingLight, you know.

What would you folks have done back in the 1960's? Stay at home?


David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Sawyer Squeeze on 07/03/2013 05:32:42 MDT Print View

Of course they would have stayed home. The vast majority of these kids weren't even born yet.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 07/03/2013 07:45:20 MDT Print View

I've used iodine until a couple years ago when I realized that it didn't work against cryptosporidium and then changed to chlorine dioxide. What I like about iodine is that I can neutralize the taste with vitamin C. My experiences with CLO2 tablets have been as enjoyable as drinking pool water. I've heard that the drops are better but I haven't tried them yet.

I've had no problems with my Steripen Adventurer Opti but I just purchased the Sawyer a couple weeks ago and I'm officially a convert. I used it last weekend paired up with a PET bottle which I prefer to the squeeze bags. In less than a minute, I filled my son's water bottle, topped off mine, and we were on our way. I just keep the filter on the bottle and drink as I go.

I carry CLO2 tablets for equipment failure. My system is a few ozs heavier than carrying drops but I really like how it functions so I'm willing to take the hit. I travel overseas enough to justify keeping the Steripen.

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Re: Re: Sawyer Squeeze vs Aquamira Drops. The argument. on 07/03/2013 08:13:34 MDT Print View


I'm glad to hear that you are alive and well and haven't died yet from using your Sawyer filter. What have you been doing all these years to maintain its integrity? I've been using a very similar system since circa 2009, if you look back at my longish thread on the topic back then, you'll recall the discussions we had on the topic.

I too am wondering if there is any benefit (in terms of ease of use or weight) in switching to a Sawyer squeeze. To me, it seems easier to let gravity do the work rather than having to squeeze a bag, which will eventually fail from repeated pressure. My question is: Can the squeeze be incorporated into a more efficient gravity filter than what I currently have? Right now, my system is as follows (from top to bottom):

Platy "Clean Stream" (now gravityworks) 4.0 L dirty bag with quick disconnect features
Platy "dirty" tubing to connect to Sawyer filter, about 30 inches
Sawyer filter, circa 2009 (the black one)
Short length of tubing and male attachment to insert into clean hydration tube

The whole system, sans my 3.0 Platy hoser hydration bladder (think of ditching this and going with two 1.0 Platy reservoirs on the outside pockets of my pack), weighs in around 6.7 oz. I could try shortening the dirty tubing to save weight, but I think based on my past empirical research having a longer tube helped speed up the filtration time.

Here is a pic of me standing on my kitchen counter trying to awkwardly model the system:Homemade Sawyer gravity filtration system

Tyler T
(tylernt) - F

Locale: Idaho
Converting Sawyer Squeeze into Gravity on 07/03/2013 11:20:06 MDT Print View

David, you have basically what I came up with.

I just got back into backpacking and had a trip coming up with very short notice. I didn't have time to order anything online and had to make do with whatever REI had in stock. So I got a 1.8L Platy "Big Zip" and a Sawyer and... that was it. Cut off the Platy bite valve, cut off 6" more hose from the Platy to attach to the Sawyer clean side output, and finally, jam the Platy hose into the Sawyer dirty side input. Done. Easy. The Platy hose is left long to give fast flow rates, I would not recommend trimming it.

I suppose I could cut the bottom of a Sawyer bag off to make a scoop and buy an adapter to mate the hose to the Sawyer bag-née-scoop. That would save some weight, but then I lose the ability to carry extra (dirty) water for a dry trip. So I think I might just stick with this.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: cleaner, pros vs cons== on 07/03/2013 20:26:35 MDT Print View

I've got to disagree with Jake D here, simply because I cannot see how you can be certain that the water coming out of a Sawyer Squeeze filter is clean just because it "goes through."

How do you know there is not a small crack or leak in the filtering element? The water would still go through in that instance, but it would not be filtered and therefore might not be "clean."

My biggest problem with the Sawyer filters is that you can't inspect them for flaws. You simply have to go on faith that the element is working. That's fine when you are fairly certain that the water you're filtering is clean to begin with, but we've all been to that dinky little pond that is the only water source for 10 miles and been forced to take water from it. And what have I always seemed to do in this instance? I've chemically treated the water after I've filtered it, just to be sure.

That might just be me, but I suspect others do it too. And if that's the case, I have to ask myself why I'm even bothering with a filter if I don't trust it.

I've tried a Sawyer filter before but I just couldn't find myself trusting it when I needed it most (but that's just me). I haven't had as much of a problem with my MSR Miniworks EX, which is fully field serviceable and the ceramic filtering element is easily inspected and cleaned. The only problem with that filter is that it's not the fastest one out there and it's relatively heavy, certainly compared to the more recent options that have popped up in the last few years.

So, I find myself back to square one now, using Aquamira drops as my sole means of water treatment on most trips. I can see the chemical reaction take place with my own eyes that activates the chlorine dioxide (with the solution turning yellow), so I always know if the chemicals are "good" and can confidently drink the resulting water that is treated.

If you are afraid of "floaties" then just place a bandana or a shirt (or any piece of clean fabric) over the mouth of your water bottle as you fill it. That will take care of most macro particles.

Anyway, this is just my opinion. I certainly don't think that people are "suckers" for using Sawyer filters (hey, I've tried them myself), and I'm guessing that their failure rate is relatively low, I just can't seem to trust them myself too much, so I've personally avoided filtering my water with them lately.

To each his/her own though. I think that most of this worrying about filtering water can be avoided by simply choosing your water sources carefully-- that, at the very least, will dramatically decrease your overall odds ever getting sick. In the end, I think this is all just a game of odds, just like nearly everything else when you get right down to it.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: cleaner, pros vs cons== on 07/03/2013 20:53:28 MDT Print View

Pretty sure the only way through the Sawyer filter is through filtering elements. The only method of failure that i know of is freezing.

i use the coffee filter circle to avoid "floaties" to increase time between backflushes.

How long do you wait with you drops? 5min... 15 min.. 30 min. how cold is the water? to technically be sure you need to wait 30mins.

unless you've had a problem while filtering with a Sawyer then you have no basis to not trust them.

my use is a drop in the barrel (im sorry...sorry) compared to Balls and Sunshine who have used theirs on the CDT for 1500mi so far.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
The only main drawback to Saywer filters on 07/03/2013 21:44:47 MDT Print View

Jake D,
You are right in that the only way through the Sawyer filter is to go through the filtering element. That is, of course, assuming that the element is intact. If you think about it, there must be a seal between the filtering element and the hard plastic casing. There might be glue involved at this junction (though maybe not). Either way, it is a point of failure.

Another point of failure is the filtering element itself. It is clearly not indestructible or else you wouldn't have to worry about freeze fracturing it. We know that ice crystals can cause the filtering element to break, so what else can cause failure? The point is that we don't know and we can't find out because the filter is basically a black box!

I also don't agree that the default position is to inherently trust a filter just because you have never had a problem with it. I do not trust the design of the Sawyer filters because I cannot inspect them (again, this is just me, and it's a little paranoid... I'm aware of that). The fact that I have not had a problem with one yet does not change how I feel about the design.

And for the record, I have had problems with the Sawyer in-line 3-way filter. The first one I bought had to be returned because it wouldn't pass much water (it took about 20 minutes to get a liter of water through, even with lots of pressure). I tried backflushing to no avail. I think it was simply a "dud." I still don't know what was wrong with that filter (and guess what, I couldn't inspect it to find out!). A failure like that sure would suck in the backcountry...

Ok, now to make peace. You are absolutely right that tons of people have used the Sawyer filter over thousands of trail miles and have been just fine. You are also right that chemical drops are not a totally fool proof system either (many variables such as temperature and turbidity can affect the effectiveness of the chemical treatment). But there is no perfect system! That's the whole point, and the reason that there is a multi-page thread on the subject that we are posting on currently!

I am not trying to bash Sawyer filters. A lot of people have used them in the backcountry and have not gotten sick (presumably because of the filter, but we will never know because we don't have an appropriate control group with which to compare sickness rates).

I guess the main point I wanted to get across in my post is that one potential weakness of the Sawyer filters is that you cannot inspect them for structural integrity without breaking the product itself. I didn't see that discussed on the this thread before my post so I thought I would bring it up. That's all :)

Edited by dmusashe on 07/03/2013 21:50:08 MDT.