Editor: Randy Johnson
iReview Gear Lead Field Editor
Alti2ude Outdoors Pro Staff

Basic Description:

The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is one of the simplest and best water filtration lightweight systems out there on the outdoor market. Extremely inexpensive and only 5 inches long and about an inch in width this filtration system is a backpackers dream. The Sawyer Mini differs from typical pump models since it operates by squeezing your water out of a bag through a small filter. Rather than pumping water through hoses like most other filters, the Mini’s compact filter screws onto a small mouth bottle, thus allowing you to drink directly through the filter, giving it one of the fastest treatment times of any other option on the market today.

randy kuiu

Just the Facts:
The Sawyer Mini SP128 is a perfect solution for backpack mountain hunters who seek the reassurance of safely drinking water free of Giardia and other harmful bacteria or protozoa. The Mini will also meet your personal needs while traveling internationally, is a must item for emergency preparedness kits and can be used for all types of outdoor recreational activities, hiking or camping.
The Sawyer Mini is absolutely one of the most versatile personal filtration systems available and comes with all the accessories that you may need to use this system in any of the following ways.
1. Attach to the included 16 ounce reusable squeeze pouch to drink directly from the filter or squeeze water into a water bottle.
2. Attach to most disposable water or soda bottles.
3. Attach inline on a hydration pack – no adapters required.
4. Use the included personal drinking straw and drink directly from the source or scoop up a bottle of water directly from any freshwater lake, river or stream.
Please review carefully the following technical features for Sawyer’s Mini 128 Water Filter!
• High performance filter fits in the palm of your hand, weighs 2 ounces and filters up to 100,000 gallons (30 times more than comparable filters)
• Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable water bottles, hydration packs, or use the straw to drink directly from your water source
• Removes 7 log (99.99999%) of all bacteria and 6 log (99.9999%) of all protozoa.
• Sawyer’s certified 0.1 micron absolute filter removes bacteria and protozoa at a higher rate than accepted EPA guidelines.

sawyer 2


Absolute Micron Filtering Technology Makes The Difference


“U” shaped micro-tubes allow water to enter into their core
The proprietary element of Sawyer’s water filters is comprised of tiny “U” shaped micro-tubes that allow water to enter into their core through tiny micro-pores. The high number of those tiny tubes and their surface area allows the filter to have one of the fastest flow rates in the world. This high flow rate eliminates the need to store water, reducing the possibility of water contamination after the filtration process.
Each filter is certified for absolute microns; that means there is no pore size larger than 0.1 in size. This makes it nearly impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholerae and Salmonella typhi (which cause Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through the Sawyer Mini filter. Sawyer filters have been tested by independent and qualified research laboratories and found to remove 7 log (99.99999%) of bacteria and 6 log (99.9999%) of protozoa, exceeding US EPA standards. The filter does not remove chemicals, dissolved solids, or viruses. However, viruses are very rarely found in North America or when traveling to foreign cities.
Sawyer’s revolutionary filter technology is in use by hundreds of groups, including non-profit organizations, relief agencies, and governments in more than 70 countries around the world.

The Story:
I spend a great deal of time as a “Mountain Hunter/Sheep Guide” drinking water from stale, sandstone pot holes in the desert terrain of southern Utah. In many instances the water has washed into these water sources from small drainages and has debris such as leaves, flies, rodent droppings and other organisms in it that are not desirable. It becomes critical for me to filter or chemically treat this water before drinking. Filtered water is always preferable because it tastes much better than chemically treating with pills.
Earlier this year a good friend of mine and I were scouting for a desert sheep hunt that he had drawn and water was extremely difficult to come by. To stay properly hydrated we located a small spring that had been trampled by some wild cattle and had to utilize the limited, very contaminated H2O from small depressions that literally smelled like “cow pee” and “cow crap.” To make the best of the situation we used his Sawyer Squeeze Filtration System to safely drink the water. After that experience I was convinced that I needed to add the Sawyer Mini on my list of gear that I carry with me in a backpack.



Differing from traditional pump filters, the Sawer Mini consists of a small filter that can screw onto small-mouthed bottles or to one of three different collapsible bags that come included with the filter, differing from the traditional pump filters that most of us are used to. I found it to be a very lightweight, inexpensive, and compact treatment method if I was backpacking alone or perhaps with a buddy. However, on a recent backpack trip with 5 friends, I found that the Mini is much more difficult to treat water for larger groups of people as the flow from the squeeze bottle is not very fast nor efficient for the amounts of water we needed. In this instance it can become very slow and inefficient and a pain in the backside to squeeze that amount of water through the small filter.

While using the Sawyer Mini I found that flow of water slows down considerably when the filter becomes dirty and clogged with turbid water that has a lot of particulates in it. The filter is very easy to clean however by simply backwashing it in the field with the plastic syringe that is provided. When I get home from off the mountain I like to also backwash the filter with clean water that I sanitize with a few drops of chlorine.

I liked Sawyer’s concept of providing connectors for my hydration hose so I could squeeze filtered water directly into my hydration bladder or Nalgene bottle. It will also work with small, standard sized water bottles.

I’ve broken several of my traditional pump filters while out in the field but with the Sawyer Mini, there are no moving parts with the filter, so it is basically impossible to break. The squeeze pouches, however, can blow out around the seals at the neck so it is wise to carry extras with you.


The Mini has been research proven to be effective against protozoa, bacteria, and particulates, but does not of course treat for viruses. The 0.1 micron hollow fiber filter strains out pathogens, and this pore size is smaller than all other filters that I have previously tested or used. Simply explained, this means that Sawyer’s Mini Filter can eliminate very small organisms.

I absolutely love the fact that the Sawyer Mini filter can treat up to a million gallons without needing to be replaced. This, essentially, is a complete lifetime of water treatment. With pump filters that clog and get dirty very quickly, then have to be replaced at $40 dollars or so a pop, the Mini is extremely cost effective.

Although the Sawyer filter does require back-flushing by the user, that process is simple and very straight forward. The parts that may not last as long are the collapsible ‘bag’ bottles that comes with the filter, yet these are not vital to the function of the filter and can be easily replaced with similar versions by Platypus.

For a purchase price of $25 my Sawyer Mini Water Filter is extremely inexpensive and came with the following:
• Sawyer MINI Water Filter with Tip Cap
• 16 oz Reusable Squeeze Pouch
• 7″ Drinking Straw
• Cleaning Plunger (Syringe)
• Cleaning and Maintenance Instructions
I strongly suggest that users purchase several of Sawyer’s replacement pouch’s that are light and easy to carry with you on your backpack excursions. The 16 oz pouch sells for $8, the 32 oz or $9 and the 64 oz for $10. I prefer the larger sized pouch. Another option that also worked well for me was to use one of my Platypus collapsible containers to squeeze water through since the cap on the Sawyer Mini Filter is built to accommodate that exact cap size.

What They Could Do Better

For what the Sawyer Mini SP128 was built for I feel that their engineers did a great job and recommend its purchase.

Sawyer MINI SP128 Water Filter Review
  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability