How Long Does the Sawyer Mini Water Filter Really Last?

Aside from the fact that it is cheap, one of the reasons I love my Sawyer Mini filter is because it has a very long lifespan.  But don’t expect the Sawyer Mini to last as long as advertised.  Here’s how long the Sawyer Mini really lasts.


How Long Does the Sawyer Mini Last?

Sawyer Mini has an advertised lifespan of 100,000 gallons (378,541 liters).  Realistically though, the Sawyer Mini will last much less than this. If you mostly filter clear water, such as from mountain streams, the Sawyer Mini will probably be good for upwards of 1,000 gallons.  If you use the Sawyer Mini to filter murky water, such as from ponds, it might only last for 300 gallons.

The reason is because the filter membrane gradually gets clogged.  The Sawyer Mini will still work but the water flow will be so slow that it will be virtually unusable.   My first Sawyer Mini lasted for about 600 gallons before it became so clogged that I had to buy a new one.

My old and new Sawyer Mini. The label wore off on the old one!


Old vs. New Sawyer Mini Water Flow Rate

The Sawyer Mini has a very slow flow rate even when it is new.  As the filter gets clogged, the flow rate gradually slows down even more.  Cleaning the filter will help unclog it but the flow rate may never go back to how it used to be.

In the video below, my new Sawyer Mini is on the left.  The old Sawyer Mini is on the right. The old one is so clogged that the filter is actually leaking at the seal.


Cleaning the Filter Extends Its Life

The next video shows the same two Sawyer Mini filters after I cleaned the old one.  Read how to unclog the Sawyer Mini here.

As you can see, the flow rate is a lot better.  However, if I push too hard, the water still starts leaking from the thread area where it’s attached to the pouch.  This is despite putting a new O-ring on the filter.  If that were dirty water, it would end up in my clean water container.

At a certain point, you’ll have to give up on it and buy a new Sawyer Mini. *Get one here at Amazon or at REI.


Does the Sawyer Mini Expire?

The Sawyer Mini never expires.  You can leave it in storage for years and it will still work fine when you use it again.   However, Sawyer Mini filters can sometimes get gross inside, especially if they weren’t cleaned and dried before put in storage. 

Before putting a Sawyer Mini in storage:

  • Back flush the filter with clean water
  • Sanitize the filter. To do this, mix a solution of non-scented bleach (3 tsp. of bleach per gallon of water) and back flush this through the filter.
  • Let the filter dry before storing it.
  • Test the filter using tap water before using it in the field.


Water Coming from Sawyer Mini is Gross and Moldy Tasting

Always test your Sawyer Mini with tap water before taking it on a trip.  If the tap water coming out of the Sawyer Mini has a gross taste to it, then you’ll want to sanitize the filter by back flushing with a bleach solution.  Unfortunately, this won’t always get out the bad taste – especially if you put a dirty Sawyer Min in storage for a long time.  In this case, you can choose to drink the foul-tasting water or just get a new filter.


Also read: Tips for Using the Sawyer Mini Water Filter



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