Sawyer Micro Squeeze Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, fantastic performance, durable, versatile , lightweight.
Cons: Clogs easily with lots of sediment, bags break.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Micro Squeeze provides a high rate of flow to readily provide you with fresh, clean water free of bacteria and protozoa. It doesn't protect against viruses but offers stand-up versatility as a 3-in-1 filtration system. Use it like a straw or squeeze filter, or plug it into your favorite in-line hydration bladder or gravity set up — all of this for a great price and fantastic longevity.
Utilizing a hollow fiber filtration system with 0.1-micron pore size, it filters out everything from bacteria to protozoans including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. You can take water from some of the nastiest sources in North America, and expect good, clean water. This filter cannot eliminate viruses, so be aware that it can't protect while traveling internationally where this is problematic.
It removes particulates from clear water sources and Sawyer claims that it exceeds EPA standards. During a taste test, we learned that it also makes water quality better, enhancing the taste of our tap water! In clear water sources, you can expect this filter to work well with backflushing after every use. In water sources that contain lots of sediment, like in the Colorado River (one of the world's most turbid rivers), the filter clogs easily after a few filtrations. What's important is ensuring that you carry the backflush syringe that will clear out the filter after every use.
Durability and Maintenance
This filtration system has a very long lifetime, caching in a replacement at around 10,000+ gallons of water. That's approximately 37,850 1-liter fill-ups! While you might have a hard time filtering that much water in your lifetime, it's safe to say that Sawyer does claim an exceptionally long lifetime. That is, however, based on its maintenance that is required.
With the filtration system comes a syringe. Sawyer recommends flushing the filter every time you use it, which isn't hard but does require you to carry the syringe with you in the backcountry. On a fastpacking trip, the filter flow started to slow down. We hadn't plunged the system for just a day and had been among water sources with heavy sediment. Once we backflushed it, it was fine, processing the same rate of water. As a result, make sure that if you buy this, you bring all the pieces along.
Aside from that, you can't take this filter apart. It seems well constructed with not too many additional parts. The straw - however - is easy to lose. Luckily it's compatible with a conventional thicker straw that you can buy at the grocery store, which is nice.
Overall, this system does well in this category. The bags, sadly, do break after roughly 30-40 uses (in our experience). Given that you don't have to squeeze as hard to increase the flow, like you would with lighter Sawyer products, they don't break as often.
As an on-the-go filtration system, treatment is instantaneous that works while you drink. You can drink from the filter through the straw, with a squeeze pouch, or with a hydration bladder. In all cases, treatment time is minuscule. If you want to squeeze filtered water into another storage container, 1-L takes 1.5 minutes based on how fast you can collect water and squeeze it through. Ideally, this system is a personal use system suited for solo use. Filtering water for more than one person becomes a timely chore.
Weight and Packability
This filtration system is lightweight and easy to pack into a backpacking pack. The entire kit includes a straw, filter, a 32-ounce storage pouch and a cleaning syringe that weighs about 3.80oz. The filter weighs 1.85 oz on its own, making it a super lightweight on-the-go filtration system.
While it doesn't come with an easy to carry case (which would be nice), we put this into a ziplock bag and bring all the pieces with us. The package is smaller than a Nalgene bottle. As a whole system, it works well for a single person backpacking where water sources are plentiful.
This filtration system also works well for on-the-go activities like trail running and mountain biking. The profile is a little fatter than the narrow, making it harder to fit into small pockets, but it fits easily into the main compartment of any backpack. We don't find it very often that we carry our filter in our pockets anyhow.
Ease of Setup
Setup is pretty straightforward. Given that it has a plethora of applications, it can also access a plethora of water sources, small to large.
If you find a shallow puddle and need water quickly, attach the straw to the filter or drink from the input end directly. The straw allows you to drink without getting your face right next to the water. If you need to store a little water, you can use the pouch to gather it from medium to large water sources.
If you need to store more water, you can use a hydration bladder. Unfortunately, you need to load your bladder with contaminated water and put the filter inline. Since it has a drinking end on the filter, you need to switch out the bite valve for the filter.
You can also use it with a gravity filter on the end of the line for easy use. If you've lost your pouch on the trail, and happen to find a plastic bottle somewhere, you can affix the threads to the container, and it'll stick. Overall, this filter is easy to set up and very versatile.
Ease of Filtration
Filtration ease in different modes varies. Of all the on-the-go filtration systems, it's one of the easiest to get water from the source into our mouths, which is facilitated by the fatter diameter that can process water faster. Also, the bite valve is big offering an ample flow of water.
For the on-the-go system, it takes a little effort to get the flow of water started through the straw. This system purely runs on sucking force, but once you get it going, it offers an adequate amount of flow. The bag filtration is the same, allowing you to suck a decent amount of water through while squeezing the bag gently and sucking on the bite valve. We didn't have any issues with this.
The hydration bladder, however, is a different story. While this is a cool adaptative piece, we probably wouldn't use it in reality. Simply because the filter fits on the end and it always seems like it might fall off. Besides, you have to work hard to get water, which we don't like. Overall, this is one of the best on-the-go filtration systems because of how easy it is to suck water through the system.
For the price, you get a killer filter with versatility and impressive performance. The larger version is more expensive, while the smaller version is less expensive. It features similar performance (and is lighter) but doesn't have the same awesome fast rate of flow. Overall, if you seek a killer on-the-go water filter, this is our favorite option.
The Sawyer Micro Squeeze is a cousin to the original Squeeze but is lighter and more packable. It functions as a personal squeeze filter, straw filter, and works with in-line gravity filters and hydration bladders. It offers stellar longevity allowing you to filter 10,000+ gallons of filtration in the cartridges' lifetime, and probably yours. Its Achilles Heel, though, is a flow rate that might leave you wanting a bit more.
— Amber King