Sawyer Mini vs. Sawyer Squeeze

OK, so you’re going backpacking and you’re trying to decide which water filter to get? Sawyer makes two of the most popular lightweight water filters for hiking, the Sawyer Mini and the Sawyer Squeeze? I own and have used both of them. Let me tell you which one I would carry.

The Sawyer Mini at a glance

Sawyer Mini

  • 0.10 micron hollow fiber membrane
  • 50 grams (1.8 oz)
  • Filter life: 100,000 gallons
  • Price paid: $25 – find on
The Sawyer Squeeze at a glance

  • 0.10 micron hollow fiber membrane
  • 91 grams (3.2 oz)
  • Filter life: 1,000,000 gallons
  • Price paid: $40 – find on

The filters fit popular water bottles like Platypus and Smartwater bottles, or they can be used together with the gray water pouches that they ship with. Both filters use a 0.10 micron hollow fiber membrane, which Sawyer claims to remove 99.99999% of all bacteria such as Salmonella, Cholera and E.coli, and 99.9999% of all protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The filters do not remove chemicals.


What sets the filters apart from each other is the size and the weight, and consequently the flow rate. The Sawyer Squeeze is almost twice as big and twice as heavy as the Sawyer Mini, but it also has a much better the flow rate. I did a test to measure the flow rate of my freshly back-flushed filters. Using a 2L Platypus bottle I timed how long it took to fill up a 1L bowl when sitting on the Platypus bottle:

  • Sawyer Mini: 1 minute 36 seconds per liter – 0.625 liters/minute
  • Sawyer Squeeze: 0 minutes 35 seconds per liter – 1.714 liters/minute

The Squeeze was more than a minute faster per liter. Almost three times the flow rate of the Mini. That’s a huge difference! Especially out on the trail where you have use force of hand to apply pressure. Also keep in mind that the smaller size of the Mini means that it clogs up quicker, and that you have to back-flush it more often just to maintain the baseline flow rate.

Sawyer Mini
The Sawyer Mini in use on the Continental Divide Trail
The Sawyer Mini in use on the Continental Divide Trail

I carried the Mini for the first part of the Continental Divide Trail, but found the poor flow rate extremely frustrating in daily use. Once I was done with the New Mexico section I decided that the Sawyer Mini just wasn’t worth the carry and I shipped it out.

Sawyer Squeeze
The Sawyer Squeeze, bigger than the Mini, but still a handy size
The Sawyer Squeeze, bigger than the Mini, but still a handy size

When I went out on the Hayduke Trail and once again needed a water filter I decided to give the Sawyer Squeeze a try. Going from the Mini to the Squeeze was like going from night to day. Where as the Mini was nothing but a cheap excuse for a water filter, the Sawyer Squeeze was actually able to output an acceptable stream of water, and I found it a lot less frustrating.


Although lighter, smaller and cheaper, the extremely low flow rate of the Sawyer Mini makes it useless as anything but an emergency filter. The much higher flow rate in the Squeeze is worth paying the extra $15 and carrying the extra 41 grams (1.4 oz). When I go hiking and need a water filter I’ll bring the Sawyer Squeeze.

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