|A Sawyer PointOne Squeeze filter and 1L bag, ready to pack!|
To top that off, these filters are MORE effective at removing bad stuff than almost anything else on the market - the PointOne filters are so named because they filter down to an absolute .1 microns--almost all other filters only do .2 microns--dramatically exceeding EPA requirements.
It's going to be very tough for competition products, especially considering the price point of Sawyer's products--the PointOne Squeeze, for example, is available for just over $50 on Amazon.
The Squeeze is the lightest weight version of Sawyer's PointOne filters, perfect for compact kits and lightweight get home units. Total weight with one of the included platypus-like filtration bags is 3 ounces. And, despite its small size, the Squeeze is still good for a guaranteed million gallons of service.
The Squeeze works quite simply - fill up the container, attach the container the Squeeze filter unit, and squeeze/drink the water through the filter. You can empty the water into a clean container or just drink on the go. The base kit, marketed to backpackers and campers, comes with 3 sizes of Platypus-like bags, in .5L, 1L and 2L sizes. They're good enough quality, but not quite as tough feeling as the Platypus bags, and I'd prefer clear bags over the black/blue scheme.
Of course, the Squeeze is more versatile than that -- the filter's threading will match up with a standard-thread water bottle or 2L soda bottle, and Sawyer makes an inexpensive adapter for integrating the Squeeze in-line with a Camelbak or similar hydration pack. For a few bucks more, Sawyer even sells a kit for using the PointOne Squeeze with a 5 gallon bucket for gravity drip setup--if you're only going to have one filter, I'd probably go with this kit, which gives you both mobile and base camp options. If you're going to use a non-standard bottle, make sure to check the fit beforehand - a sloppy fit with the Squeeze can lead to leaking unfiltered water in with your filtered stuff. I've had zero problems with the water bags included by Sawyer, but an older Platypus bottle is a no-go.
The flow of water is restricted as the water passes through the filter, but the speed of the filter is very good. With mostly clear water, I was able to get a little less than a liter in a minute of squeezing. It doesn't fill up your water bottle instantly, but it's fast enough, especially considering that you're not pumping perpetually for those two minutes - just squeezing.
Using a gravity setup, Sawyer claims up to 540 gallons of production in a day--yes, with one of these little 3-ounce filters, you could meet an entire group's water needs.
As the Squeeze gets dirty, the flow will gradually slow as the filter's hollow fibers clog with bad stuff. Sawyer says that by the time you need to clean their filters, you will have had to clean competitor's ceramic filters several times over. For very dirty water, they recommend backwashing the filter once every 5 to 10 gallons. If the water is clear, it can go much longer than that--potentially hundreds of gallons between cleanings.
That backwashing/cleaning is the maintenance you'll need to perform to keep the PointOne going for its million-gallon guaranteed lifetime. A syringe is included for washing the filter out, and the procedure can be completed in the field in only a few minutes.
The PointOne exceeds EPA guidelines for removing protozoa and bacteria, but like almost all filters, it's unable to remove viruses. Here's the lowdown on waterborne viruses, from REI.com. "Viruses:
If you're in those kinds of circumstances, you'll want to add in a second step to kill off any viruses - generally a chemical like chlorine dioxide or iodine tablets.
However, Sawyer also makes another filter, the PointTwo, which filters down to .02 microns, and will actually remove 99.997% of viruses. The PointTwo is a designed largely for gravity drip using a bucket or larger water bag. Due to the tiny filtration size, the PointTwo filters are slower, producing a claimed "up to" 70 gallons of water a day. But, with the PointTwo filters, you can count on those gallons being clean and virus, bacteria and protozoan cyst free. No need for chemicals, boiling, long wait times or hours of pumping. That's HUGE. The only thing it won't remove is chemicals that have completely dissolved in the water--and to my knowledge, no filter can do that consistently. More on the PointTwo in the future--it's a pretty impressive bit of technology.
Needless to say, these filters are an exceptional prep investment. The PointOne Squeeze and the other PointOne filters are in the $50 neighborhood, and the PointTwo filters are a bit over $100. They're really revolutionary, IMO - a one time purchase that can largely erase concerns over having clean, safe drinking water in bad times. With a 5 gallon gravity drip set up, you could provide clean drinking water to an entire group or community. Heck, trustworthy water could even become a valuable source of barter and trade in bad times!
At this point, we've purchased a PointOne Squeeze and a PointTwo bucket kit, and I've been very happy with both. Initial testing of the PointOne Squeeze in some nearby water sources has gone well. I'm planning on picking up at least one more PointOne Squeeze - these would serve as our lightweight, "mobile" filters, with the PointTwo serving base camp duty.
Truly revolutionary and one of the most exciting survival-related products to come out in a long while. Really, in a long term situation, these filters would be worth much more than their weight in gold. No batteries, no pumping, simple maintenance, very effective and an incredible service life--in my opinion, Sawyer's filters are one of the best preparedness buys on the market today.
Definitely worth a look!
The PointOne Squeeze on Amazon >
The All-in-One PointOne Squeeze Kit on Amazon > This one has the parts for the 5 gallon bucket setup.
The PointTwo Bucket Kit on Amazon >