Having potable water in a survival/bug out situation is crucial. One can survive up to 40 days without food but only 3 days without water. Last time I checked I believe it was recommended that a person drink a gallon of water a day. Of course activity and temperature will effect this but roughly a gallon is needed to be properly hydrated. Water is also very heavy. At roughly 9 pounds a gallon, this is not something you will want to carry on your back for very long. Hence you are going to need a way to clean the water that you find to make it potable because no one wants any pathogens in their gut. This brings us to the many options of processing water from boiling to chemicals to filters. When I first set out to practice my survival skills I opted for a filter and that filter was the Sawyer Mini.
What attracted me to the Sawyer Mini at first was that it was simple and back flush-able. It also didn’t hurt that it was made in America. When I back packed with my father we either boiled our water or we used a different filter, but I remember the lever breaking on it. Once that lever was broken the filter was useless. Boiling water is very effective but takes time and can give away your position. With no moving parts and no need of a fire the Sawyer Mini was looking rather nice. Then take into account that it is very light and small and you have a simple yet effective filter. Later on I realized how versatile it was. I can use it like a life straw to get a quick drink from a pocket of rain water or hook it up with my bladder. Finally at just under 20 dollars for most models you can afford to purchase a bunch for redundancy if needed.
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With its simplicity and function it does come with some drawbacks. The main one in my opinion is that because there is no mechanical advantage, just you squeezing a bag or sucking on a straw, the filtering process will be slower than those with a crank. I have not found this to be a huge problem myself but it needs to be noted. Also this model does not filter out viruses. If you live in a first world country then you have little to fear but you need to understand this because if you travel abroad or if your drinking water gets contaminated by sewage then you will have to add another step to make sure the water is potable. Another drawback is that since it is a hollow fiber filter it is susceptible to freezing. If it freezes that filter is no longer safe. Once the filter has been used even once just assume there is water in it. Keep it by your body or sleeping bag to prevent freezing during the colder months.
After 4 years I am still using the same Sawyer Mini. I back flush it after my trips and it just keeps going. I have never gotten sick after any of my trips either and there has been a few times I have had to process water from some very questionable sources. In a survival situation you want results and reliability. With the Sawyer Mini it takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation with its simple yet effective design. You might prefer another filter or method of processing water but at the end of the day you should always have multiple ways of cleaning you water. Add a Sawyer Mini to you kit. You wont even notice its there until you need it, then when you do, you will be thankful you have it.
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