Sawyer Squeeze Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, adaptable, easy to use, lifetime guarantee
Cons: Not great for group use, better if you replace the bags
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Squeeze wins our Editors' Choice Award for its unmatched versatility, reliability, and excellent rate of flow. While it doesn't protect from heavy metals or viruses, it'll keep you safe on trips into the backcountry throughout North America. Its lightweight nature and packability carry to make it perfect for long and light backpacking trips. It takes questionable and smelly water and transforms it into delicious and refreshing. Take it with you on your next trip, either as a backup emergency system for large groups or as your personal carry system.
Are you scared of contracting beaver fever? Have no fear, the Squeeze will keep you clear. This tiny filtration system is loaded with a certified 0.1-micron absolute filtration system that has the capabilities of eliminating bacteria, E. coli, protozoa, and cysts from your drinking water. In water sources all around North America, the Squeeze should be sufficient when used properly.
We used this filter primarily while running and hiking in Colorado and Northern Ontario in Canada. Both are areas where we don't have to worry about the contraction of viruses in the water. After over 50 miles of foot travel in these environments, we were kept hydrated and healthy, even when taking water from questionable, turbid, and flowing water sources.
Since waterborne viruses are not a problem in North America, this filtration system is ideal for this continent! However, it is not a purification system, so it can't remove heavy metals or water-borne viruses that might be a problem in countries where water quality is not regulated. So, if you are traveling internationally or where viruses and heavy metal contamination is a problem, we couldn't recommend this system.
For everything else and trips around the United States, it's grand. It removes microplastics and works well for camping, hiking, backpacking, and trail running. Water quality is made better by using the Squeeze — turning dirty, contaminated, smelly water into pristine, drinkable water that tastes good.
Durability and Maintenance
Reliability is critical when taking a system deep into the backcountry as your only means for water filtration. It is what keeps you healthy to truly explore the outdoors. The Squeeze is a system that has a few flaws, but when managed properly, it can provide that reliability that is needed with any exceptional water filtration system. We love that one filter is projected to filter 3,780,000 gallons of water.
Let's start with the durability flaws of the system. The filter itself is constructed of a durable composite that'll easily hold up to falls and drops. It has many pieces to the system that need to be carried with it. It comes with an extra O-ring. While we didn't personally experience this problem, many online users have complained of this O-ring not sealing correctly after a few weeks on thru-trails. As a result, we'd recommend carrying the provided backup one in case this happens to you.
The second durability issue that we personally experienced several times is the squeeze bags breaking. The squeeze bags are used to collect water, then screw onto the Squeeze filter. You firmly squeeze the bags, pushing the collected dirty water through the system, to flow into your hydration bladder or water bottle. We like using this system in this way because of the flow rate while drinking isn't compromised. Alternatively, you can carry the squeeze bag with dirty water and drink right through the filter.
In either case, be aware of the bags breaking. The bags are made of a plastic material that is pretty impervious to punctures and can be thrown around in a backpack. Where they fail is at the welded seams. In most cases when we experienced a bag break, it was when we were squeezing really hard. So, don't be surprised when this happens. For long thru-hikes, we still trust this system, but make sure to bring a few extra bags. Another GREAT alternative is to carry a classic plastic water bottle with you. These bottles are compatible with the threads of the Squeeze filtration system and provide a much more durable "squeeze" bag option.
So, those are the durability issues. Maintenance is another consideration to take in. This system comes with a syringe that is used to push dirty water back through the system. If you are traveling in areas with silty or heavily contaminated water, the flow rate of the filter will be compromised after a few uses. The syringe needs to be carried (with all it's component parts) so that you can backflush the system each time you use it. This doesn't take very long; simply load it onto the end and push air through the system to clean it up. Voila…an easy to maintain system. Of all the Sawyer systems out there, this is the most durable and the easiest to maintain. While it seems like a lot, maintenance and durability issues are super easy to mitigate, especially when you know the failure points before buying this product. All filters require at least some maintenance and care.
Treatment time varies depending on how you use the Squeeze. There are a couple of different ways to collect and filter water, which adds to the versatility of this awesome system. Of all the Sawyer products we've tested, including the Micro and the Mini, treatment time and the flow rate is better, and quite frankly, pretty impressive.
The first and most popular way to treat water is by collecting the water in the provided bags and squeezing it through the filter. In this form of filtration, we measured the flow rate by filling up one of the provided bags and squeezing one liter of water through the filter. After three tests, we learned that this larger filtration system filters one liter of water in approximately 40 seconds! This is super fast in comparison to the time it takes the smaller Sawyer products and hand pumps out there. As a result, treatment time in Squeeze mode is pretty awesome. Easy and fast for on-trail practicality.
Another way to filter water is through direct consumption. One can use the straw, attaching it to the bottom of the filter with the blue attachment cap, then drinking the water through the filter via the staw. You can use the pouch or a regular water bottle to collect the water alternatively. Screw the filter onto the pouch and drink right through it. While flow rate isn't as fast as drinking without a filter on your bottle, this provides immediate filtration of water. Either way, the Squeeze offers a fantastic treatment time that makes it easy to filter water, especially if the time to treat is important to you.
Weight and Packability
This system is quite packable for backpacking and hiking adventures. We used it while backpacking three days into the Gunnison Gorge in Colorado as a back-up group filter. It doesn't weigh much, and all the components fit into all the nooks and crannies of your backpack.
There is a choice associated with what parts you bring with you on your adventures. The Squeeze comes equipped with a mesh bag, a filter, extra O-ring, syringe for backflushing, a straw, straw adapter, and a few extra bags. On a regular backpacking trip, we'd recommend bringing all the parts, including the extras. You can omit the straw if you know you won't use it. Altogether, all parts of the system are about the size of a big salami sandwich, when loaded into the mesh bag. Given the durability issues of the bags, we'd recommend bringing a plastic water bottle in addition to a bag or two on longer adventures. Altogether, this weighs about 5.7 oz.
The filter itself is bigger than the other Sawyer filters tested. It fits nicely into any kind of pack, whether it's a running vest or backpacking bag. We typically stored it in the lid of the pack to easily access on longer trips. Overall, we conclude that it is a lightweight and packable system that is designed for all types of recreation. Hiking, fishing, backpacking are just a few uses that are ideal for this system.
Ease of Setup
Set-up is relatively easy with this filter. If you're looking for immediate filtration, attach the straw and suck up the water from your source of choice. Alternatively, fill up your bag, attach the filter, and squeeze into your drinking vessel of choice.
Water access for this system requires you to be close to the source. Unlike a hand pump where you can stick a hose into the water from a high bank, you need to be able to either get your face close to the source, for immediate filtration, or you have to put the bag of water into the source for collection.
We found that flowing water sources are the easiest to collect from, followed by lakes and ponds. Shallow, non-flowing sources are a little difficult to collect from using the bag system as you need to be able to scoop it up from the source. In this case, you could use the straw to sip at it if needed.
Overall, the set-up is pretty straightforward. It typically took us about thirty seconds to set up for both squeeze and immediate filtration. We view this system as simple and easy to use.
Ease of Filtration
The filtration rate is pretty amazing on the trail. Simply set-up your system by collecting some water, then squeeze it through the filter. The filtration process, when using the bag system, takes a little bit of patience and a firm grip. Other then that, it's pretty darn easy.
This filtration system has a large amount of surface area that enables a consistent and fast flow that makes getting water easy. Drinking right through it provides a sufficient drink in just seconds. During our squeeze filtration tests, it only took about 40 seconds to filter one liter of water, which is significantly faster than other Sawyer products that are smaller, without the advantage of a higher surface area.
It's important when filtering to find a place with level ground to put your vessel, so it doesn't tip over. We put a bottle between our knees when the terrain is uneven. Overall, filtration is easy and doesn't require too much effort, especially when you're drinking right from the filter itself.
This system comes with many components, including three different squeeze bags, adaptors for in-line filtration to hydration bladders, a straw, back-up parts, and a syringe. Sawyer projects this filter to last for 3,780,000 gallons of water filtered, which is a pretty amazing value overall. It's important to note that bags will need to be replaced, or opt for something like the Platypus SoftBottle. You can also get smaller ones for less. Overall, we deem the value well worth the quality and versatility of this water filtration system.
The Sawyer Squeeze filtration system offers amazing versatility for all sorts of adventures. It is packable and easy to use. Use it in-line with a hydration bladder or simply drink right from the source. While the integrated squeeze pouches aren't the most durable, they are easy to use, squeezing water through the filter and into your bottle. This product is very reliable and one of our most used and favorite systems for backcountry travel, day hikes, and everything in-between.
— Amber King