Over the years I have bounced around with water filters, purifiers, tablets, iodine, etc. I always came back to the MSR Hyperflow filter because of it being the lightest,easiest and quickest way for me to get water in the backcountry. It was a pain in the butt though with maintenance and even with regular backflushing I had to buy a new filter for it every year. Every spring I anxiously checked new product releases hoping something new would come out that would be as light and effective always nothing. Last fall I noticed a new filter on the market called the Sawyer Squeeze water filter and was really intrigued by the weight and size of it. After looking at it though I dismissed it thinking that you really needed flowing water that was deep enough for you to fill it up. I have a handful of hunting spots where water is scarce and finding flowing water is almost impossible.
For whatever reason (most likely its scant 3oz!) I decided to pick one up this summer even though I had my reservations and use it on a scouting trip for high country Muley's. After one trip I was hooked and realized this was the answer to my water filtration problems. Not only is the filter exceptionally easy to use but it has a ton of advantages over traditional filters.
No more pumping! The Sawyer Squeeze Me filter works through pressure by you rolling up the bag and pushing the water through the filter. It goes through so easily that it can even gravity flow if you have the time. No more sitting on the edge of the water source pumping away for 10 minutes. The flow rate is also very fast, much faster than any filter I have used.
Extra water capacity- with the supplied 2 liter pouch it gives you the option to carry an extra 2 liters of water when you know water will be scarce. Also sometimes you are just in a hurry and if you have 30 seconds to fill up the 2l pouch you can just throw it in the pack and filter later. I did this a handful of times this September when running late into our elk hunting grounds in the morning.
With the Fast Fill Adapter accessory you can clip right into your hydration tube! More often than not your bladder is buried in your pack and you have to pull out a handful of items to even get to it. With the Fast Fill adapter you'll never need to pull the bladder out again. It also makes a great way to fill up water in your pot, if you unclip it you don't have to sit there and squeeze your mouthpiece to get water out.
Weight! Weight! Weight! The entire filtration system (filter and 2l pouch) weighs a mere 3oz and rolls up and easily fits into the palm of your hand. The filter is so light and compact its going to become a regular fixture in my hunting pack regardless of backpacking or day hunting.
Using the Sawyer in the field with the quick fill adapter
What I found while out in the field was that the filling up the bag was by far easier than using a traditional water filter. All you need is a little waterfall and you can put the lip of the pouch right on it and be good to go to fill it up. With normal filters you always need a little pool of water to put the pre-filter in and start pumping. It seemed that a majority of the spots I get water from were seeps that would run for 10ft or so with no good "pools" but had plenty of spots to fill up the pouch. Definitely completely opposite of the problem I thought I would have.
Another major bonus is that back-flushing is extremely easy. The Sawyer squeeze water filter comes with a large syringe that after each trip back at home you just fill up with water and run it backwards through the filter. With consistent back-flushing Sawyer gives a 1 million gallon guarantee on the filter.
For only $39.95 this makes the filter the best and by far the cheapest filter on the market in my opinion.
The one major negative to the filter is that the pouch could break if you put too much pressure on it. I personally did not have this happen and even tried a few times to really push the pouch to its limits. There are a couple solutions though if this were to happen; if you have the quick fill adapter you could reverse the connection and basically put dirty water in your bladder and filter out clean. Another option since the pouch weighs less than an ounce would be to carry an extra one or also good ol' duct tape might be able to repair and get you back in order. Lastly hollow fiber membrane filters if left with water inside them can break if the temps dip below freezing. This is extremely easy to avoid by just blowing out the water each time after you filter, I did this every time just to get rid of the extra water so it didn't leak in my pack.
Sawyer this September also just came out with the Sawyer Mini: at a whopping 2oz and a retail price of $24.95 it makes it even harder to avoid. The only drawback to the mini and I was really dis-appointed is that it does not have the threads to attach the quick fill adapter but it is built to attach directly to your bladder tube so you can use it as an inline filter putting dirty water in your bladder and filtering as you drink through the tube.