Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sawyer Water Filter Review

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

Water, Water Everywhere...

What if there was an abundance of water, but you really couldn't drink any of it, because:
  • You are outside the U.S. and your sensitive G.I. tract can't handle local sources? 
  • Your local (planned-for) disaster just occurred and the faucet isn't working? 
  • The annual Big Blowout camping trip is here and dipping water from the creek after those free-range cattle crossed it ain't so appealing? 
Here is one possible solution to your filtered water needs.

The Sawyer Company

The Sawyer company,, makes many different products like:
  • Sunscreens, available in 2 formulas, which might be familiar to servicemen who have had Gulf War tours.
  • Insect Repellants, designed for your clothes or gear (lasts for up to 6 washings!) and for application to your skin in various formulas
  • First Aid kits/supplies from an EDC pocket kit to group sizes, splints, blister treatment and even tick removal pliers! 
But what I'm here to review is their unusual water filter system, made with hollow fibers. The filter I purchased, #SP129, is a very small, light weight and efficient way to filter up to 100,000 gallons of water!

It is made up of three main parts:
  • The water container/bag (more on this later) 
  • Water filter body and spout 
  • Cleaning syringe
There are no picture of this particular kit, as my card reader ate the camera's memory card. Sorry!

This filter is about as simple to use as I've seen:
  1. Fill the supplied bag with water
  2. Screw on the filter
  3. Squeeze and drink.
What makes this filter able to treat up to 100,000 gallons of water is the design of the filter membrane and the supplied syringe, used to backwash the filter body. (Not to be confused with the 'backwash' you used to do to your younger sibling's sodas!) Sawyer recommends back-washing every 5-7 fills of the 1 qt. bag, (depending on sediment or contamination of your water source) with 1/2 qt. of fresh water. I am packing coffee filters to place over the filler opening to keep sediment down.

Which brings me to my one problem: the bag. (Again, sorry for the lack of photos).

Mine split on the seam near the filler neck. Now, before all the Sawyer fanbois 'n girlz get excited, I can explain! If you compress the bag really hard to see how far you can get it to squirt, it just might fail. I'm talking to you, Pal! After doing a small amount of research on the 'Net, it seems that some problems with the bag is rare but not uncommon. Good thing REI has such a good Return Policy! After making my no hassle return a rep stopped me as I was picking up a replacement and I mentioned my bag issue. Turns out he had a similar failure and offered a cheaper solution:

  • A Sawyer Mini Filter, #SP128 containing the same filter as its bigger brother but only a 16oz. bag and a short piece of tubing to use as a straw 
  • One Platypus 1liter bag, with compatible screw threads to the filter. This bag is BPA free. 
  • Platypus Gravityworks carbon filter element. 
I purchased the replacement filter ($24.95), new water bag ($8.95) and the carbon filter ($12.95) and minus my  20% member discount ($4.99 off the filter) for total of $45.63, including tax, which is almost $5.00 less than the suggested retail for the larger kit.

Why a carbon filter, you ask? If you have been following my ramblings, I mentioned the possibility of having to 'Bug In' due to family obligations and a carbon filter will allow the filtering of organic compounds such as chlorine and other chemicals found in swimming pools! Carbon will also improve the taste of water from unusual sources, so those who have sensitivities can more easily drink the water needed to survive.

I will be retesting the filter with the carbon element very soon, without having a water gun fight with the bag.

As I mentioned, the Sawyer filter was easy to fill and backwash, it weighs very little (approx. 4-6oz. with the new heavy duty bag) and will fit into a 1qt. zip storage bag with room to spare.

I can recommend this to anyone who needs a very portable, simple and efficient filter.

As always, if you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

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