Sawyer Micro vs Mini

Best Selling Sawyer Micro

When it comes to portable water filters, there are a few options to choose from. Many brands offer different options, and based on the situation, they can all be beneficial. However, in this review, we are partial to Sawyer water filters.

The Sawyer has three portable water filter options that include the Sawyer Squeeze, Sawyer Mini, and Sawyer Micro Squeeze. All these water filters come with unique features and specs that set them apart. For that reason, we review the Sawyer Micro in comparison to the Mini model.

The Sawyer MINI

When it comes to portable water filters that you can carry along during your adventures and hiking, the Sawyer MINI ranks top. According to backpackers, the Sawyer MINI comes with everything you need in a portable water filtering device.

Even though it is smaller and lighter than the original Sawyer Squeeze filter and probably the Sawyer Micro, the MINI provides you with the ability to filter water in four different ways. You can attach it to a water bottle, to a Sawyer bag, use a straw, or an inline with a bladder. This makes the MINI a versatile portable water filter.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Filter Type: Hollow-fiber membrane
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.1 microns
  • Filters: Bacteria and protozoa – giardia and cryptosporidium
  • Colors: Blue, Pink, Orange, Green
  • Housing material: Plastic
  • Included: Filter tip cap, Sawyer MINI Filter, 16 oz Sawyer bag, Syringe for backflushing.
  • Lifespan: 100,000 gallons
  • Weight: 2 oz

Let us look at the notable features that set it apart from Sawyer Micro.

  • Design and Durability

The Sawyer MINI is designed with the hollow fiber filter that features the other Sawyer filters. The only difference is that it has a smaller quantity of fibres. Unlike the old MINI that has only one end threaded, the newer models come with both ends threaded. Moreover, it comes with barbed connections for splicing the MINI into a hydration line to enable you to drink clean filtered water on demand.

The plastic housing material is quite durable. Moreover, the MINI is designed with no moving parts, which eliminated any possibility of breakage while the hollow fibres are tough. Regardless, if the MINI water filter is used in snow temperature regions, the freezing water can break the hollow fibres.

  • Functionality and Ease of Use

The hollow fibre material has tiny gaps that are no larger than 0.1 microns. This means that the Sawyer MINI will filter out 99.999% of water contaminants like bacteria such as cholera, salmonella and E. coli, and all types of protozoa.  There are two types of water contaminants that most hikers and adventures worry about whenever they are out there.

Besides, the MINI has a thread similar to that of a common soft drink bottle. This makes refilling from streams, lakes, taps, and trough hassle-free.

The Sawyer MINI comes with simple instructions on how to effectively use the filter. The cleaning instructions are easily accessible on the water pouch. Filtering water is the same for the MINI as it is with the Micro. You simply squeeze the bottle to force water through.

  • Maintenance

The design of the Sawyer MINI provides an easy way for regular back-flushing to keep it operating at full capacity. This is because it is impossible to remove all the bacteria and other contaminants physically. All you need is a 50ML syringe to force water through the filters until the dirty side produces clear water.

The Sawyer MINI doesn’t come without drawbacks. Let’s look at some of the drawbacks of the MINI.

  • Freezing

The Sawyer MINI features a ceramic filter on the inside and you cannot leave it out especially in the cold nights or regions as it can freeze and break the filter. Some hikers sleep with their Sawyer MINI’s inside their sleeping bags, but this trick only works when you have put it in in the first place.

  • Viruses

The hollow fiber membrane filter in the MINI doesn’t protect against viruses. However, in regions like in the US where viruses are scares, there is no cause of alarm. Nonetheless, the water has the potential of carrying viruses should there be a source of the viruses from fecal contamination. Therefore, so long as there you practice proper fecal disposal in the wild, the virus problem shouldn’t worry you.

  • Bags

You might choose to use the Sawyer bags and combine them with your MINI to filter water.  However, you may end up destroying several bags throughout your hiking. But the good thing is that you can get replacement bags from Sawyer and you can continue purifying your water should the bags fail while you’re on-trail.

The Sawyer Micro

The Sawyer Micro is the newest Sawyer filter in the model of portable hollow fibre water filters. Theoretically, the Micro combines the flow-rate of the Sawyer squeeze with the weight of the Sawyer MINI. Like its predecessors, the Micro is designed to be versatile and offers an easy connection to any 28mm water bottles.

The Sawyer Micro comes with a more compact design, lighter, and even more affordable compared to the Sawyer’s popular squeeze filters. In comparison to the MINI, the Micro weight the same but has a faster flow rate. Ideally, the Micro has the same flow rate as the original Sawyer Squeeze filters.

Key Features and Specifications

  • Filter Type: Hollow fibre membrane
  • Filter Pore Size: 0.1 microns
  • Filters: Bacteria, Protozoa, and Cysts (Giardia, E.Coli, Microplastics, Vibrio Cholerae, and Salmonella typhi)
  • Housing material: Plastic
  • Includes 32 oz squeeze pouch, cleaning coupling, drinking straw, spare gasket, and backwashing plunger.
  • Lifespan: 100,000 gallons
  • Weight: 2 oz

Let us look at what sets the Sawyer Micro apart from the Sawyer MINI.

  • Water Collection

The Sawyer Micro has a collapsible 32 oz squeeze bag that serves as the main dirty water reservoir. This capacity is twice that of the Sawyer MINI that comes with a 16 oz squeeze bag. The large squeeze bag can easily be filled in flowing water but can prove difficult in still shallow waters. So, if you are looking for more capacity in a portable water filter, then the Micro is the most ideal.

  • Flow Rate

The Micro comes with a good flow rate that is even better than that of the MINI. However, do not try to squeeze the bag too hard to think you are increasing the force to attain an even faster flow rate. Squeezing with a steady pressure is the most ideal.

When you squeeze the bag with steady pressure, the amount of water in the bag will decrease. To maintain even pressure, you will have to adjust your hands and squeeze. It requires a bit of practice to get along with this technique. Wringing or twisting the bag will lead to failure regardless of its flexibility. As such, careful attention to maintenance is needed for the bag to last longer.

  • Effective Filtration

Like the MINI, the Micro is efficient in removing up to 99.999% of all bacteria and protozoa (E.Coli, cholera, salmonella, cryptosporidium, and giardia). Therefore, you will not have to worry about drinking contaminated water with Sawyer Micro in your backpack.

  • Design and Functionality

The Sawyer Micro is designed to be lighter, more flexible, and compact. It weighs just 2 oz just like the MINI, which is excellent for portability.  Even with its flexibility, its bag can still rupture if pressured too hard. As such, Sawyer advises users to be careful when using, cleaning and maintaining the filter to prevent undue pressure that might cause it to rupture.

The Micro features a spotty design for its squeeze bag. As such, most backpackers use the Micro with the Smartwater bottle as a dirty water reservoir. Although you can squeeze short bursts at a time into your mouth without a hassle, using the Smartwater bottle as a reservoir to filter more liters of water proves a bit difficult with the Micro squeeze.

  • Easy to Use

To use the Sawyer Micro, you need to fill it up including the pouch that comes with it. Screw the squeeze on the filter and drink it directly from the pouch or squeeze clean want through the filter into a bottle. As such, the Micro is not any different from the MINI when it comes to usage. The MINI also offers a wide range of usage possibilities. You can screw the MINI squeeze onto most bottles to drink clean water on demand.

  • Affordable

Although the Micro costs less than the original Sawyer Squeeze, it is not so to the MINI. The MINI comes at a more affordable cost than the Micro, making it among the most affordable water filters you can get on the market. But if you want more capacity, you can forego the extra cost on the Micro.

  • Cleaning and Maintenance

The Micro comes with a syringe for hassle-free backwashing. The syringe allows you to force water through the filters until clean water comes through the other side. According to Sawyer, cleaning restores up to 98.5% of the filter’s flow rate whenever you clean it. Regular backwashing is recommended for the filters to keep their flow rate steady.

Like the MINI, the Micro too has its shortcomings. Let us look at some of them.

  • Not ideal for Winter Trips

Like the MINI with hollow filters, the Micro cannot stand the freezing temperature during the winter seasons. The hollow fibre will break due to the freezing cold. Therefore, if you intend to take your Micro on a chilly trip, make sure to keep it from the cold.

  • Effect from Backwashing

Like the filters in the MINI, the Micro filters require backwashing to keep them clean. After a couple of uses, the flow rate gets, and at some point, you will have to replace it. Regardless, Sawyer guarantees the Micro to serve up to 100,000 gallons of water. However, this depends on how dirty the water you are filtering is. Regular backwashing helps to keep the Micro’s flow rate strong.

  • Not for Large Groups

Even though the Micro is large in capacity than the MINI, it is still not ideal for large groups of people. Squeezing can become tiresome over time when filtering large amounts of water for a larger group. So when traveling in groups, remember to carry along a few Micros – 1 for every 2-3 for sharing the workload.

  • Difficult to Fill Pouches in Seeps, Puddles or Lakes

Filling pouches can sometimes be hard to fill sawyer pouches from shallow water sources like lakes, seeps, or puddles. However, pump filters tend to function the best in such conditions though they are bulky and expensive.

  • Doesn’t Filter Viruses

Like the MINI, the Micro does not filter out viruses that may lurk in the water. If you are suspicious that the water you intend to filter may have viruses, consider throwing in a Chlorine Dioxide pill for 100% protection.

Final Thought

The Sawyer MINI is one of the smallest and lightest portable water filters you can find on the market. If you are opting for the MINI, in some way, you are compromising some convenience or features offered by the larger and more convenient Sawyer Micro filter.

Without a doubt, the MINI has the potential to impress so long as you have the patience to maintain it and sit patiently, especially when filtering large quantities of water using the Sawyer bags. Besides, it comes in handy when used by an individual and not a group.

But if you are looking for a larger yet lighter portable water filter, the Micro could be the best option. It offers the most foolproof water filtration performance compared to its predecessors and the Sawyer MINI. It can be ideal for sharing among three individuals.

Regardless, both the MINI and the Micro have some downsides. But we believe that the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. So when choosing between these two Sawyer water filters, your choice may purely be based on personal preference and the number of people you intend to filter water for. So which one could you pick, the MINI or Micro?

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