Sawyer Squeeze questions: how to pre-filter, and recommended dirty-water bag?

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
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Jan 4, 2015
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2,699
I used to use the tablets, but at some point the taste started to really bother me so I switched to the filter. An added benefit to the filter is that you get the clean water instantly instead of waiting, so from a weight perspective it is actually a little lighter. But I agree that the simplicity of the tablets is awesome.

I know you've done a lot of desert hiking; do you ever have issues with silty water since you just use tablets? Maybe I'm overly paranoid about the murky water thing. I did one trip in Grand Gulch a few years back where the water was the color of chocolate milk, and I was very worried that my filter would instantly clog and that I basically wouldn't be able to drink that water (or that it would mess with my digestive system a lot), even though I had the tablets with me as well. It turned out to be fine---the sawyer did surprisingly well with some backflushing---but I'm always worried that I'll encounter a situation like that in the desert where all I have is super-silty water that I can't filter. This worries me more if I have my son with me (like he was on that trip).
I've had filters clog in exactly that situation before, which is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer drops to filters. I've never had issues with chocolate milk messing with my gut. Alkaline water may be a different story though. Coffee filter or two, plus letting the water settle overnight, can really help. Some folks also bring alum, which I've never tried but seems interesting.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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If I know I'm gonna be drinking some gnarly sludge, I generally bring a coffee filter or two, which performs quite a bit better than a bandana in my experience.
Do you use narrow-mouthed bottles like the Smart Water bottles, or wide-mouth ones like the gatorade bottles? I ask because I tried to use coffee filters the times I tried using the bandana, and I found both options to be a pain. But I was using the standard Sawyer dirty bag, which has a narrow mouth. Maybe it would be easier with a gatorade bottle. In any case, I think I'll try cutting out a little piece of filter to put inline with the Sawyer like the method that I linked to further above.
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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Feb 15, 2020
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Funny enough, chlorine dioxide (the active ingredient in Aquamira) is commonly used in municipal water supplies as a disinfectant. So if you're on city water at home, you're already using Aquamira :D
Way to make me feel even more irrational... :)
 

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
Messages
655
I use a cutout metal coffee filter as pre-filter for trips with occasional silty water filtering. It fits under the o-ring in the Sawyer Squeeze. It's light enough to keep with my filter kit and easy to clean.

+1 to carrying a backup chemical sanitation system
 

wsp_scott

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May 16, 2016
Messages
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I know this isn't about the Sawyer but I gave up on Sawyer. I'm all over the Katadyn Befree.

My biggest issue with the Befree is that if the bag goes, you have a useless filter. The Sawyer fits on my Evernew bags and on a standard water bottle. I like the redundancy.
 

donkiluminate

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Nov 28, 2018
Messages
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My biggest issue with the Befree is that if the bag goes, you have a useless filter. The Sawyer fits on my Evernew bags and on a standard water bottle. I like the redundancy.
Yeah. I worry why the bag too. I carry an extra bag just in case. For me its something I’m ok living with instead of using the sawyer. I find trying to fill the sawyer bag too much of a hassle
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
409
I know this isn't about the Sawyer but I gave up on Sawyer. I'm all over the Katadyn Befree.
My reasoning for sticking with the Sawyer (other than the fact that I already own one) is more or less as follows:
  1. I'm guessing the Sawyer and Befree use basically the same underlying filtering mechanism (I haven't researched this, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong).
  2. If assumption #1 is correct, then I'm thinking there are two ways that you could achieve a better flow rate: by having a larger filter that has more of the little holes (and hence a better flow rate), or by having the same size filter with larger holes (and hence a better flow rate). The cost/tradeoff with the first option is the added bulk and weight; I am willing to put up with this to some extent, which is why I chose the regular squeeze over the mini. The cost/tradeoff with the 2nd option is that it is less effective at removing the bad stuff (particularly the little guys). I'm not sure if I'm willing to accept that or not; I haven't dived into the numbers to figure out my risk tolerance on that. Perhaps with further research I could convince myself that the befree is effective enough, and I may make the change in the future. But having not done that research yet, I'll stick with the squeeze for now.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
409
I use a cutout metal coffee filter as pre-filter for trips with occasional silty water filtering. It fits under the o-ring in the Sawyer Squeeze. It's light enough to keep with my filter kit and easy to clean.

+1 to carrying a backup chemical sanitation system
I was going to do something like that, but I changed my mind and am instead going to just use the regular squeeze (with no prefilter), and then pre-filter with coffee filters/bandana only when needed. My reasoning is that if the pre-filter is effective, it will probably reduce the flow rate. But the vast majority of the time, I don't need to pre-filter, so I would rather have the better flow rate. Also, if the water is really silty, I fear that it may just clog my filter anyway (even with the pre-filter), and I want a pre-filtering option separate from the Squeeze so that I can use it with my backup purification tablets if needed.

The only problem with this approach is that in the past, I have had a hard time pre-filtering with coffee filters or bandanas with the Squeeze. My attempt to make this easier looks like this:
PXL_20220321_050026722.jpg

The 1.5L Evernew bag (which stands up on its own much better than the Sawyer bags) is attached to a cut-off top of a SmartWater bottle, which will act as a little funnel to make it easier to place the coffee filters or bandana. I already had the yellow adapter (to connect my Squeeze with the clean SmartWater bottle); I think many people use a similar adapter. So the only extra thing I need to carry is the cutoff bottle, which may be kind of a pain because it's an awkward shape. This approach seems pretty modular but I haven't tried it yet (heading to the desert this week).
 

Pukwudgie

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Joined
Jun 18, 2021
Messages
96
I did one trip in Grand Gulch a few years back where the water was the color of chocolate milk, and I was very worried that my filter would instantly clog and that I basically wouldn't be able to drink that water (or that it would mess with my digestive system a lot), even though I had the tablets with me as well. It turned out to be fine---the sawyer did surprisingly well with some backflushing---but I'm always worried that I'll encounter a situation like that in the desert where all I have is super-silty water that I can't filter. This worries me more if I have my son with me (like he was on that trip).
It was a trip to Grand Gulch 15+ years ago that was the impetus for me buying my first filter (MSR Hyperflow which had just come out $100+). Specifically the "spring" at the confluence of Grand Gulch and Bullet, which was full of horse crap at the time and the color of chocolate milk as you state.

It's always a bit of a conundrum, the worst water will clog your filter, but also benefits the most from a filtering. I usually just go for it and backflush after that's why you go for the Squeeze instead of the smaller options. Also 25-30 bucks for a filter is so cheap that you can just get a new one when its used up. As stated carry chemicals to save time or as a backup. I usually carry a Visine dropper with bleach.
 

Mike K

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Jul 6, 2012
Messages
854
Somewhat related to the OP asking about a pre-filter or dirty water bag...

For a few desert trips where silty water was a given, we've used the Pur chlorine/alum packets with great success. It seems like the shelf life is short on these which is a bummer. I think the newer version of the Pur packets are named P&G Purifier of Water. Also, I think I bought these Chlor/Floc ones at some point but I can't remember if I used them.

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