The Sawyer Micro Squeeze System
Photo by Natalie McMillan
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Review: the new Sawyer Micro Squeeze filtration system

We review the Sawyer Micro Squeeze, Sawyer's newest water filtration system. The Micro Squeeze is lighter than the Squeeze and costs about the same. The flow rate, however, is slower than the Squeeze.

Paul Bodnar       Tech on the Trail      11/19/2018
Paul Bodnar
Tech on the Trail
11/19/2018

The Sawyer Squeeze water-filtering system is very popular among backpackers. Like other filters, this system filters out bacteria (e.g. E. coli) and protozoa (e.g. giardia). The Squeeze’s advantage is that it is lightweight, reliable, and simple to use. It works by attaching a container of unfiltered water to the filter, then squeezing the container to force water through the filter and produce clean water.

All items in the Micro Squeeze package: squeeze bag, filter, back-flush syringe and connectors
Items in the Sawyer Micro Squeeze package

Sawyer recently introduced the Sawyer Micro Squeeze as a lighter-weight alternative to the Squeeze. I ran a series of measurements and tests to determine if I should convert from the Squeeze to a Micro Squeeze.

Sawyer did not solicit this review, and I purchased all tested items.

Weight

You can save up to 1.5 ounces if you use the Micro Squeeze and the squeeze pouch that comes with it. The filter is not only lighter than the Squeeze, but also smaller, providing a little extra room in your bag. In addition, the Micro Squeeze has a re-designed squeeze bag that is lighter than the Squeeze version.

Item* Squeeze weight Micro Squeeze weight Difference in weight
Filter, completely dry 64 g 47 g 17g
Filter, wet 103 g 69 g 34 g
Squeeze Bag 25 g 17 g 8 g
TOTAL DRY SYSTEM 89 g / 3.1 oz 64 g / 2.3 oz 25 g / 0.8 oz
TOTAL WET SYSTEM 128 g / 4.5 oz 86 g / 3.0 oz 42 g / 1.5 oz

* All other items in the Squeeze and Micro Squeeze kits weigh the same

Sawyer Micro Squeeze next to rule - about 4-1/2 inches long
The Sawyer Micro Squeeze filter
Sawyer Squeeze next to ruler - about 6 inches long
The older Sawyer Squeeze filter

Flow Rate

Next I tested the Micro Squeeze against the Squeeze to check flow rate. To get consistent results, I used tap water filtered through a Brita filter. I conducted each test 5 times and averaged the results.

I measured flow rate by taring a water bottle, measuring the volume of water that flowed into the container over a certain amount of time (1 milliliter of water weighs 1 gram), then calculating volume per minute of water flow.

Water bottle on scale
A water bottle was placed on a scale to measure the amount of water filtered over time.

Filtration Methods

Hikers generally use one of three methods to filter water through the Sawyer Squeeze system:

  1. Gravity filtration
  2. Squeeze filtration with a soft-sided container, such as the bag that comes with your Sawyer filtration system or a water bladder such as an Evernew
  3. Squeeze filtration with a disposable water bottle with matching threads, such as the SmartWater 1-L bottle.

Gravity filtration means that water passively flows through the filter using only the force of gravity. This method takes a lot longer than forcing water through the filter by squeezing the water container, but some hikers use gravity filtration while taking a break. The advantage of gravity filtration is that you can set it up, walk away to do other tasks, and when you come back your water is filtered.

Most hikers force water through the Squeeze by pressing against the sides of the attached container. The advantage of this method is that it is much faster than gravity filtration. Bag leakage or breakage is a common problem with the Squeeze system (think of the pressure you are putting on the bag when you squeeze it), so some hikers opt to use a strong, disposable water bottle as the squeeze container. The SmartWater bottle’s threads match the Squeeze and you can easily replace the bottle whenever you get into town.

Closeup of hands holding a Micro Squeeze filter
The Micro Squeeze filter used for tests, shown here with the blue back-flushing cleaning coupling.
Closeup of using the soft squeeze bag to filter water into a water bottle
Micro Squeeze filtering with the Sawyer soft squeeze bag
Close up of man holding Smartwater bottle attached to Micro Queeze filter, filtering water into a water bottle.
Micro Squeeze filtering with a SmartWater disposable water bottle

Results: Gravity Filtration

Gravity filtration is much faster through the Squeeze (0.32 ± 0.01 liters/minute) than the Micro Squeeze (0.18 ± 0.01 liters/minute). It takes a little over 3 minutes to filter one liter using the Squeeze and about 5-1/2 minutes to filter one liter using the Micro Squeeze.

Results: Squeeze with a Soft Squeeze Bag

I used the Squeeze bag that came with the Squeeze and the Micro Squeeze to test the flow rate for a soft-sided water container. The Squeeze bag flow rate (1.7 ± 0.1 liters/minute) is only marginally greater than the Micro Squeeze bag flow rate (1.6 ± 0.1 liters/minute). It takes about 36 seconds to filter a liter of water through the Squeeze and about 38 seconds through the Micro Squeeze using equivalent force on each bag.

Results: Squeeze with a SmartWater Bottle

I used a one-liter SmartWater bottle to test flow rate using a disposable water bottle. The flow rate through the Squeeze filter (1.6 ± 0.1 liters/minute) using a SmartWater bottle was much faster than the Micro Squeeze (1.1 ± 0.1 liters/minute). This difference is likely due to the fact that you cannot put as much pressure on the water bottle as on a soft-sided water container. Between this test and the gravity filtration test, it appears that the Squeeze operates at a much higher flow rate at lower pressure than the Micro Squeeze.

Summary of Flow Rate Results

Filtration Method Squeeze Rate Micro Squeeze Rate Difference to filter 1 liter of water
Gravity 0.32 L/min 0.18 L/min Squeeze: 2min 26s faster
Soft Squeeze pouch* 1.7 L/min 1.6 L/min Squeeze: 2s faster
1-L SmartWater bottle 1.6 L/min 1.1 L/min Squeeze: 17s faster

* 32-ounce soft Squeeze pouch that came with the filtration system

Cost

It’s difficult to do an exact cost-comparison due to the way the Squeeze and Micro Squeeze kits are sold. But it’s safe to say they cost about the same amount.

Conclusion: Micro Squeeze Pros & Cons

PROS:

  • Lighter than the Squeeze (dry or wet)
  • Similar flow rate as the Squeeze if using a soft-sided unfiltered-water container

CONS:

  • Weight savings may not be worth the cost if you’re replacing your Squeeze system
  • Flow rate much slower than the Squeeze for gravity filtration or disposable water bottle squeeze container

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About the Author
A man wearing a backpack and carrying an ice axe kneels in the snow.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 40 guides for trails around the world.