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Water system thoughts & the Sawyer Squeeze Initial Review


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Part 1: Water System Thoughts & My History

I started out with a Hiker Pro filter. I immediately became unhappy with it due to all the hoses and the balancing acts that I went through to use it. Not to mention the fact that, even though I did not have to pull my bladder out of my pack and could simply attach the drinking hose to the filter, I still never knew exactly how much water I had in my bladder (unless I did pull it out and look at it which was a hassle on the side of the trail or at a watering hole). And let us not forget the weight...ohhh the weight...

Before I go any farther, I want to say that I have spent a considerable amount of time and money going to a much lighter weight kit than I started out with. I am happy with the stuff that I carry with me and from experience, I know that this stuff works for me. I understand though that it may not work for everyone else, so I like to talk about stuff works for me and am happy that something completely different may work for someone else. I have no problems with that.

So, moving on...

For reasons stated above, I decided that I wanted to try something different than my Hiker Pro and went straight to Aqua Mira. And I have to say, that to date I find them to be the best option out there (for me anyway). They are light weight, easy to use and can be found at numerous places.

I know that others talk about having to wait 4 hours to drink water when using these types of chemicals, but this has not the case for me. Through reading, I have come to find that Chlorine dioxide "destroys viruses and bacteria in 15 min., Giardia in 30 min. and Cryptosporidium in 4 hrs." (Also, in some readings I also came across articles that stated that these time frames were based on some very nasty water with very high bacteria populations and that were not so likely to come across. However, I cannot remember where I came across these articles, nor how "official" they are.)

So, when I first started using Chlorine dioxide as my water treatment I decided that I would wait at most 30 minutes for the water to "purify" before drinking, and this was only for the dirty looking water...not the clean & clear looking water (although I do understand that even clear water may contain those bad bugs too). This was my choice though that I decided to make, but I admit that I did base this on other reviews and comments that I had read in which others have made that actually use them.

When using the Aqua Mira drops I did not mind having to wait the 5 minutes for the solutions to mix in the little cup before adding to my water. To counter this I usually mixed the solution and then filled my water vessels. Then by the time I was finished filling them the mixture would usually be ready to add.

Also, I settled on a drinking schedule that suited me as well as allowed me to never have to wait on water to "purify" but still not have to carry a bunch of extra water. Which leads me to another issue...

I had also heard others talk about how it is actually heavier to use chemicals because I would have to carry a bunch of water with me so that the water could "purify" for 4 hours. So, all the water weight simply outweighed carrying a filter because with the filter I could filter what I wanted when I wanted it. However, due to my dislike of the filters I was determined to make something work...and I did (for me anyway).

I do not tend to drink too much water while hiking, most of the time. But, I do not like the idea of only carrying a tiny amount of water (1L or less). On the trails I typically hike on here in the Southeast (pretty much anywhere along the AT in the Southern states and in the Great Smoky Mountains) coming across water is a fairly common thing. So, I can usually get away with carrying a somewhat minimal amount of water (but not a tiny amount).

I have decided to leave the house with 2L of water on me. I grab a 32 oz Gatorade and attach it to my shoulder strap of my pack. This is what I drink from. Then I load 1L of water in a 2L Platy (soft bottle) and store it in my pack (usually a side pocket). Once I begin hiking I drink from the Gatorade bottle. Once that bottle is empty I pour the contents from the Platy into the Gatorade bottle and then at the next water I come to I add 1L more in the Platy and add in the Chlorine dioxide. This way, as I finish drinking the water from my Gatorade bottle the water is purifying inside the Platy. And considering the rate at which I do drink while hiking, this usually allows anywhere from 1 - 2 hours for the water in the Platy to "purify" which for me is more than enough time...

However, if water sources are drier or I am not expecting to come upon another water source before the night is up and I plan to make camp I will fill the Platy full, which will give me a little more than 2L and then whatever is in my Gatorade bottle. So, I can carry up to 3L at a time. (If I am going out say during a drought and am expecting very little water, I can add either an extra Gatorade bottle to my set up which would give me 4L carrying capacity, or better yet, I could add another 2L Platy and have up to 5L carrying capacity.)

So, after a while my overall pack weight became even lighter, but I came back to my water system. This is when I decided to try out the Micropur1 tablets. These are much lighter than the Aqua Mira drops and even easier to use, but they are more expensive. But, after the last 10 months or so, I have come to REALLY like using the tabs. The only nitpick I have with them is that if they do sit for at least 4 hours in the water (such as overnight) they do have a different taste to them so I must add some flavoring to my water. I never have experienced the bad taste with the AM drops.

A little while later I decided to pick up an Aqua Mira Frontier Pro water filter (I blame the gear nut in me...) Even though the FP filter only filters down to 3 microns, the FP filter seemed to really compliment the use of chemicals, and at a very low weight penalty (1.6 oz for the FP filter). The beauty of this combination is that I could drop in the Chlorine dioxide for 15 minutes and kill all the little baddies and then just run that water through the FP filter and it would get rid of all the big baddies. So, the end result is completely filtered and purified water in just over 15 minutes using a very light weight kit!

Also, keep in mind here that this combination kills everything, viruses included. Filters such as the Hiker Pro, all those MSR filters and even my new Sawyer Squeeze filter only filter out bacteria. They do not filter down small enough to filter out viruses so even these water filters do not render "purified" water (just "filtered" water). Chemicals will remove viruses, but for the bigger guys like Crypto, it takes a much linger time to kill them with just the chemicals. So, with the above combination, I kill the little guys and then just remove the big ones...

So, the gear nut in me still raved (can it ever be contained?) and a while later I decided to give an inline/gravity filter a try. So, I picked up the Sawyer 3-Way Inline filter. It seemed like this was a very intuitive filter for quite a while, especially amongst "light(er)weight" backpackers (obviously because they were somewhat lightweight filters). But, once it arrived I was not so sure it was for me...

By this time the "UL" philosophy had become somewhat more ingrained upon me. Not to mention my past dislike for "filters' or my new love affair with chemicals. So once I actually got the 3-Way Inline filter in my hand I was a bit hard on it and initially I was not too happy with it. First off, it is listed at weighing 2 oz, and I had even read some reviews that said it weighed in as low as 1.8 oz so you could imagine my shock whenever I set my very own 3-Way filter on my scales and came up with 2.6 oz...dry!

But, I continued on with my experiment to get a final overall weight, as well as thoughts. I had also bought a 1L Platy SoftBottle and some other items to use to turn this into a minimalistic gravity filter. I cut the bottom out of the Platy so that I could actually scoop the water with the Platy and then punched 2 holes in the bottom edges of the Platy and tied a string to make a hang loop. Then I had to use a variety of short pieces of hose and connectors and a cap to string it all together. The final weight ended up being somewhere around 5 - 6 oz in it's dry form...this was not acceptable to me. Which lead me to simply return the 3-Way filter and use the money on something else...

Also, one thing that I learned about filters is that a dry weight is almost an unrealistic weight...of course this will probably only matter to people like me that count each and every little oz, or worse yet...the gram. But the fact of the matter is, the dry weight is incorrect. Once the filter is used on the trail, it will be wet and chances are it will not dry out until it gets back home and has a number of days to sit around. So, the accurate "trail weight" will be once the filter is wet. Saying this, my 3-Way filter alone weighed over 4 oz when wet...after my efforts to remove water (basically slinging the filter and trying to blow the rest of the water out).

(This post was too long...so I will follow up in the next comment section with the rest...)


Sticks Blog

Edited by Stick
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Part 2: Sawyer Squeeze Initial Review

So, I can now get on with my post...

Recently, I have seen a number of people's videos as well as reviews (on blogs as well as on forums) of the Sawyer Squeeze. To be honest, after my experience with the 3-Way filter I was not looking to get another filter (even to try out) for a bit. However, a few people that I know well and trust what they have to say reviewed them and it perked my ears a little. Then, on a recent hike with a fellow hiker by the name of Gizmo Joe I got to actually handle the one that he uses (and likes). This changed my mind a little on my thoughts of filters...so, once I got my REI dividend and the 20% off coupon, I knew what I would pick up...yep...the Sawyer Squeeze...and it came in the mail today! Yeah!

So, initial impressions:

~At a dry weight of 2.4 oz (including a regular cap - not the nipple cap), the Squeeze filter is lighter than the 3-Way filter. That is a plus.

~The 64 oz bag that came with it weighs 1.1 oz (which includes the cap and a string I attached to hang the bag upside down.)

~This is a total dry weight of 3.5 oz.

So, as I stated earlier, dry weights do not really count...so I ran some water through the bag and the filter and then rewieghed them:

~The filter with the regular cap weighed 3.1 oz (after I slung it around like a mad man trying to remove any extra water I could).

~The 64 oz bag (with cap and string) weighed the same 1.1 oz.

~This is a total wet weight of 4.2 oz.

So, this set up is much lighter than the 3-Way set-up that I had. I really feel like this set-up is one of the lightest filter set-ups that I will be able to find, and for that reason I will keep this filter and take it with me on the next few hikes just to see how I like it in the actual field.

Considering my chemical set-up, which includes a 2L Platy bag, 20 MP1 tablets and the FP filter weighs in at 3.3 oz (with a dry filter - but in fairness I hardly use the FP filter so it remained dry about 95% of the time - I had decided to only use it with really skanky looking water) the Sawyer Squeeze system is pretty close to on par with my chemical set-up in terms of weight. However, there are 2 differences though that I can see with the Sawyer system. One is that I can drink water within a matter of minutes with the filter if I ever need to, and the water will technically be "safe" to drink (but not technically "purified" since these filters do not remove viruses). The other is that the filter will keep me from having to buy so many of the tablets, which are expensive!

So, I am looking forward to seeing how this system does for me. Until then, thanks for reading!


Sticks Blog

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Hey Stick,

Very informative post. Personally, I seem to continually rotate from filter system to filter system...Always trying to find the perfect solution. (Seems like we might both have this issue) As in your case I've used both the Hiker Pro as well as a Frontier Pro system recently - Both with a carbon element. By going with the Sawyer Squeeze do you have any reservations giving up the additional filtration / water quality improvement that carbon offers? Any idea what type of flow rate you're getting with the Squeeze?

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I am not too worried about the carbon filters or improving the taste of the water. Actually, from most of the reading, the Aqua Mira is supposed to actually improve the taste of the water. I cannot say it improved it, but I can say that I have never complained from the taste when using Aqua Mira. OTOH, with the MP1 tabs, I can tell a taste for sure with them. And it seems to be stronger the longer the water sits or the hotter the weather is...but it is fine though because I always put those Kool-Aid or Crystal Light or something another in it to flavor it so it is all good.

Actually, in the following video you can see the MP1 tabs bubbling up like alka seltzer at about 6:24 into the video:

The flow rate on the Sawyer Squeeze does not seem like it will be an issue for me. Although, coming from using chemicals obviously waiting for water is not an issue either way...

I have filled the 64 oz bladder, attached the Squeeze filter and hung it upside down. It took about 6 minutes to flow through via gravity, however, I could squeeze the bag and it would drastically increase that flow rate. Anyway, I did a video today but have not uploaded it yet. I will get it done tomorrow and then link it here.

I would have to say that the Hiker Pro and the FP are 2 different beasts...I really do like my chemical set-up and having the FP as back up for just skanky looking water...it will be hard for me to leave those behind, so if I like the Squeeze system it will be a good one for me not to want to go back to my chemicals...But the Hiker Pro was just a headache for me. Don't get me wrong, it worked and I feel like it would last quite a while, but it just didn't suit me...

So, what kind of water system are you using Aaron?

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Right now I'm back to the old Hiker Pro. The only thing that I don't like about it is its weight, and after use I've found that even after pumping the filter dry a reservoir of a few ounces of water still remains within the filter housing. Unscrewing the filter itself and pouring out the water solves this extra weight issue, but has to be repeated after each use. One thing that I like about the Sawyer Squeeze is that while it's not rated for viruses, its .1 micron rating definitely beats the .3 micron rating of the Hiker Pro.

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I personally have gone with the SQUEEZE. I love the weight and simplicity. I don't care to break it down like Stick did. But Stick knows my style, as do others. I like the system, it flows well, and is not just light, but compact. I recommend it to any through hiker. If not the SQUEEZE, then at least go gravity filter!


Wallace - Supa Chef

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Aaron, alot of people use the Hiker Pro and it is a good filter (as I am sure that you well know). Even though it only filters down to 0.3 microns, as far as I know it is sufficient enough to remove all those baddies that one would typically come across while hiking in the US. Like I said, the reason I sold mine was because I did not like the balancing on the side of streams, or keeping all the hoses separate...and like you mentioned... the weight...

Anyway, I did a write up on my blog today on the filter. It is much the same information as I have posted above, with just a few more thoughts added in. However, I also added the video that my daughter and I did yesterday. Feel free to check it out on my blog:

First Look at the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

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so, i am kinda wary about filter systems. they work for most everything except viruses, but could leak unfiltered water if something happened to the filter. i started using a prefilter and a steripen adventurer, and i bring a couple chlorine dioxide tablets for backup. that way i know everything is killed, not just filtered. the only catch with the steripen is that it relies on the UV lamp, which is something that is not field testable. So i just send my steripen in once or so a year to get it tested for its UV output so i know that its working properly.

I've been considering getting a new steripen freedom since it has a rechargeable battery built in, so i wouldn't have to keep buying CR123's, and i can bring my goal zero power pack to keep it charged if i think it might need a recharge mid trip.

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