As I have been doing more running in remote areas without access to clean water sources, I have recently purchased a Sawyer Mini Water Filter. This is a small and lightweight water filter which is easy to throw in your backpack and take with you. During my recent wild camping trip on the Pennine Way I didn’t have access to reliable clean water for 3 days and this filter was an absolute godsend!
The Sawyer Water Filter is relatively inexpensive (currently retailing at £25-30). Sawyer state that it is effective against 99.99999% of all bacteria, including salmonella, cholera, leptospirosis and E.coli; as well as against 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia. It is not effective against viruses, but this is not really an issue in the UK. It only removes small amounts of heavy metals and pesticides, so you do need to use some common sense if you are thinking of using it in low level areas.
The Sawyer Mini will filter up to 100,000 gallons of water, so as long as you look after it by backflushing it regularly then it should literally last a lifetime! Backflushing is needed to clean the filter and prevent it becoming clogged; this needs to be done every few days (you notice the flow rate of the filter start to slow as it becomes clogged up), but is a straightforward procedure using the syringe provided to force clean water back up through the filter. The water filter does not have any moving parts or electronics, so there are few parts to break and little maintenance required. There is also no need to activate or replace the cartridge. The main risk of damage is that the filter can break up if water freezes inside it so it needs to be protected in cold climates, for example by keeping it in a pocket close to your body.
One of the best features of this water filter is that it can be used very flexibly. You can squeeze water from the collapsible bag into a drinking bottle; drink directly from a water source using the straw provided; screw it onto a narrow necked water bottle or soft flask; or use it inline in a bladder tube (you will need to cut the tube though so probably only want to choose this option if you will be using it regularly).
It is easy to drink through the Sawyer Mini; you can just use it like a normal straw and the taste of the water is not affected (speaking as someone who is extremely fussy!). I have found it very straightforward and effective to use, although it does take a while to filter large quantities of water so would not be a good choice to use for a group. As a solo runner or walker it is an ideal system, very light and portable and easy to use. I will be planning to get plenty of use from mine in the future!
Pros: Lightweight, small and portable; inexpensive; flexible to use; low maintenance; very effective for UK use
Cons: Slow for treating large quantities
The Sawyer Mini Water Filter can be purchased from Amazon by clicking the image above.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links; it does not cost you any more to purchase via the link, but does help make it viable for me to keep this blog going!