How To: Use a Sawyer Mini to Filter as You Drink

Sawyer filters are an increasingly popular option for backcountry travelers who need clean drinking water as they move forward. They’re smaller, lighter, and cheaper than many other options, and it’s hard to beat filling a bag with dirty water and simply squeezing it through the filter! But, a lot of people don’t realize it could be even easier.

For those of us who use hydration bladders like EMS’s new Berm or Tacamo during a hike or backpacking trip, you can remove the squeezing motion entirely and go straight from dirty water in your bladder to clean water out of the mouthpiece using just the Sawyer Mini. Here’s how to do it yourself:


All photos credit: Mark Meinrenken
All photos credit: Mark Meinrenken

1. Cut your bladder’s hose

First, pick a spot close to the bladder itself to keep the filter safely in your pack while you’re hiking. Then, using scissors or a knife, cut the hose where you want to insert the filter to make two tubes.

Sawyer Inline

2. Examine the filter

The Sawyer Mini is a one-way road for water. So, use the arrow printed on the side to determine which way water will flow from the bladder, through the filter, and out of the mouthpiece. The arrow always points in the direction of clean water!

Sawyer Inline

3. Connect the filter to the tubes

Based on the orientation you just figured out, slide the tubes onto the plastic ends of the Sawyer.

Sawyer Inline

4. Fill the bladder with dirty water and drink!

Once the filter is installed, use it on your next hike whenever you pass a water source and you’re running low. There, simply fill the bladder with water straight from the source. As you drink, you’ll be pulling water from the bladder and through the filter before it gets to your mouth!

Things to Remember

  • This system may not be the best if you plan on using the bladder during day hikes or other activities where you won’t need to filter water. By exposing the bladder to dirty water, you’ll want to make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned before drinking from it without the filter again.