Simple Modifications for Sawyer Squeeze Filter – Prefilter, hose adapter, evernew water bladder

Posted: August 16th, 2012 by: h2

The Sawyer Point One Squeeze filter (0.1 micron version) has grown to be one of my favorite pieces of gear.

There are two pages of modifications:

Before I get into the mods, check out this video of the Sawyer Squeeze Filter in operation out in the wilds (The Cascades, by Portland, Oregon).

You can see the modifications in action there.

Use a scoop, not the bag

Even though this seems pretty obvious, if you try to fill the dirty bag from Sawyer directly, you’ll note that unless you have a waterfall of some size, or rapids, you’re not going to get that bag filled. Unless, of course, you use a scooper of some sort. In that video, I used a trimmed down cheap water bottle, but you can use a cut off Sawyer 16 ounce bag, or your drinking cup. No matter what you do, it’s not a bad idea to rinse out the scoop with some clean water before storing it between uses.

One person in the comments noted using your drinking cup might not be the best idea, since you might get some nasties left on it between uses. Not a bad point, up to you, depends I think on how much you dry it and how warm it is between uses. I tried to discover how long Giardia lives out of the water, and couldn’t find any hard data, so if you want to be on the safe side, use a dedicated scoop.

You can also use bags, or anything that will act as a large mouthed scoop. Seems obvious, as I said, but you’ll be amazed how many people try to fill the supplied bags (which look more or less like Platypus or Evernew bladders, only made out of cheaper materials) just by sticking them under water.

One good suggestion I read was to take the 16 ounce, 1/2 liter bag that Sawyer gives you, and which is pretty much useless for anything real, and to simply cut the top part off, and use the bag itself as a scoop. Light, free, since you already have it, and, best of all, you found something actually useful for those small Sawyer bags. And you can roll it around your Sawyer filter to store it. Once you cut the top part off, it weighs about 8 grams. And it rolls up around your filter. Nice. Not quite as convenient as a harder plastic scoop, but should be ok. Try it and see what works best for you.

That’s what the Sawyer 16 ounce squeeze bag looks like cut down. It’s not perfect in terms of ease of use, but it is free and a nice way to get something useful out of that bag.

Use a better quality dirty water bag or bladder

[update 2013-01-28: Sawyer improves their bags and threads :: apparently Sawyer paid attention and in their 2013 products fixed the weak bags and the threads that didn’t fit platypus bags]

This one isn’t as obvious, after all, Sawyer provides 2, 1, and .5 liter bladders when you buy it, the implication being clear that they intend you to use them. Problem is, the bags fail, a lot. So let’s not carry those bags. See above for a good use for the 16 ounce smallest bag, a water scoop.

You have two practical solutions:

  1. If you are lucky enough to have an old style platypus, the one that’s rectangular, not curved, like in the video above, the threads for that fit perfectly with the Sawyer. So bring that.
  2. If you only have new Platypus bags, don’t fret, you can still get bags that fit, from Evernew. Evernew sometimes has supply problems, so you might have to look around to find one. They are nice, they have attached caps, orange, so you won’t lose or misplace them like you might do with Platypus bags. They also come with a small elastic to roll up the bag and keep it rolled up.

The Evernew option is probably the most reasonable.

You can get them, depending on supply, at the following places:

Hopefully one of these has it in stock.

I tested the claims that thinner washers will make new Platypus threads fit, that claim is not correct, the bottle leaks badly, don’t count on that working, even if it does, the thread contact is so slight that it will probably fail while you are on the trail, so just skip that option if you don’t have an old platy bag.

Get the hose adaptor

A short length of flexible tubing coupled to the hose adaptor fitting helps make filling water bottles/containers a lot easier. You can find those at these online stores, or at local shops if you have one in your area:

Now you’re set, let’s get into MYOG mode now.

Note, you can get two sets of these, and try using your water bladder, with hose adaptor, the hose, and the hose adaptor on the clean water end of the Sawyer to try to backflush, but I tried that and I wouldn’t recommend it, didn’t get much pressure on the Sawyer, didn’t seem to work as well as the included backflushing syringe, but if you want to try that yourself to see, it might be worth a try.

Make a prefilter out of a dishwasher safe coffee filter

Let’s face it, using a bandana is a pain, too slow, and you lose the speed of the Sawyer Squeeze, so let’s fix that issue, but still have some prefiltering going on.

Solution? Go the the store and buy one of those mesh reusable coffee filters, it will be sacrificed, and will yield up to 8 prefilters, which is good, that means you can make an extra one to stash away in case you lose the main one.

You can find this one at Ace Hardware. Get to know your local Ace Hardware, they are way better than Home Depot, and have a lot more stuff you can use for MYOG projects.

While you’re there, you can pick up neoprene washers to replace the thicker ones you get with the Sawyer Squeeze, if you want. Those are in the racks of screw/washer/bolt boxes they have. Get a couple of those too, they make good spares.

Coffee filter, with two panels sliced out. Next to it, a rectangle of filter screen. Use the washer as a template to cut the final circle shape for the prefilter.

Prefilter goes on the dirty water end, the opposite side to the arrow that points the flow direction that is, or, alternately, on the female end of the sawyer.

Prefilter in place.

Washer (this one is the neoprene one I got at Ace Hardware) placed ontop of mesh prefilter screen.

You’re done!!

And that’s it, easy as can be, you have a Sawyer Squeeze Point One filter, with a built in prefilter now, thinner washers, and a usable dirty water bladder replacement, and now you’re ready to filter endless gallons of water. Sawyer claims 1 million, if you do proper cleaning/backflushing/storage, but we’ll see.

Even if you get one tenth that, the Sawyer is BY FAR the most environmentally sound solution to water filtration, one Sawyer is equal to 40,000 bottles of AquaMira if you accept the 1 million gallons guaranteed claim, and even if you cut that down by an order of magnitude, 10x, that is, it’s 100,000 gallons, or 4,000 sets of AquaMira. Next time you weigh your gear, remember to weigh the stuff you throw out each trip, that’s part of the environment too, even you want to pretend it’s not. And at 200 gallons per filter for Katadyne Hiker, a fine filter, although heavy, you’d need to buy 500 replacement filters at $39 a pop to get to 100k gallons.

Tips and Tricks

Remember: you cannot freeze any water filter, it will burst the filtration mechanisms, small tubes in Sawyer’s case. Once it’s frozen, you have to consider it dead and unfixable, so make sure you stuff it in a sock if you expect a chilly night, and stick that sock down by your feet in your sleeping bag. That’s really the only thing you have to be aware of, that and the need to backflush the sawyer every 4 or 5 days, Sawyer says. The prefilter mod might help that time frame a bit, we’ll see.

You don’t need to squeeze the water bladder to get the water, it just drips through in a steady trickle on its own, unless the filter is getting clogged, in which case it’s time for a backflushing/cleaning. Not squeezing the dirty water bag makes the bladder last a lot longer, and might make the Sawyer supplied bags last longer than a few days, which is what seems to happen to many people out there.

Read More

You can read more on the Sawyer Squeeze filter here:

Basically, this is one of the most popular new products out there, for good reason, it’s a big step up in simplicity, light weight, and reliability. And it’s not based on poisons!! That’s a good thing too.

9 Responses to “Simple Modifications for Sawyer Squeeze Filter – Prefilter, hose adapter, evernew water bladder”

  1. Pat says:

    I would recommend not using your drinking cup to fill your dirty water bag…that kind of defeats the whole purpose of filter as your drinking cup in now contaminated. Good idea with the coffee filter.

  2. h2 says:

    I’ve debated that question, and it’s my belief that if you get all the water out of the cup, then swish clean water in it, then dry it, there should be no giardia cysts remaining at that point, or so few that it really does not matter. Then the stuff dries, since the cup is left outside the pack.

    There’s a thing with diluting substances, if you start with an almost dry, but dirty, cup, after you’re done, then swirl in say, 2 ounces of clean water, then toss that, and make it almost dry, then, if you want to be careful, do it again, at that point, there is almost no chance that there is anything left in that cup. And of course, since the cup dries between uses, nothing that dies out of water will survive anyway.

    At that point, you’re talking about FAR less remaining dirty water than you’d get say, washing your pot, spoon, or face with stream water.

    But I am aware that using the cup might not be ideal, I’ll see how it goes, but I think the dilution method works pretty well in chemistry in general. ie, use, flick dry, wash, flick dry, wash, flick dry. Then hang outside pack.

    Also keep in mind, many people stick the sawyer in a plastic bag, which is going to, after a short while, have dirty water in it, and that dirty water will not go away. I store mine now in the outside pocket, and store it in a mesh bag, with the clean hose pointed up, and the dirty water inlet pointed down, so there too it’s pretty safe.

  3. Nice mods! Keep up the innovation.

  4. Matt Swider says:

    Great post, I did most of what you recommended except for one thing. I took the cap from the 16oz container that I converted to a scoop, drilled a hole in it, and friction fit the tubing into the hole. I covered over the robe and cap with thinned plumbers goop to seal and provide some holding power. Time will tell if it holds up in the back country, but if not I can always buy the Sawyer in line adapter later.

  5. Matt Swider says:

    Oops, typo above, should have type “tube and cap”, not “robe and cap”.

  6. h2 says:

    Good thinking on also recycling the cap, let me know how that holds up. Note that if using the hose also for backflushing, it might not hold well enough, but for regular use, sounds like a good idea too.

  7. Hiking Dude says:

    I used my Squeeze for my AZ Trail and Superior Hiking Trail treks this year – loved it. I use a zip-loc instead of a scoop to fill the dirty bag – cheap and easy. I also hold the filter horizontal when filtering so dirty drips don’t get in my clean water. In your video with your dirty water bag directly above, drips can run right down and mix with the outflow.
    Hike On

  8. Brandon Reed says:

    I just purchased a sawyer squeeze through REI. It came with three of the new bags and the inline adapter that goes on the dirty water side of the filter but not the clean side adapter. I went back and looked at the description on REI and it didn’t say anything about it coming with either piece of the inline adapter or the new bags. I don’t know if that’s how that are all being shipped or if I was just lucky. Have you heard anything about this?

  9. h2 says:

    I heard a little bit of talk on about the new generation of sawyer bags, that apparently are thicker. I hadn’t heard that they were including an inline adapter, but maybe that was their recent ‘revolution in water filtration’ they advertised, not having any actual revolution beyond their very nice filter tech to promote, so I assume that was it.

    So if REI is shipping the new sawyers, good for you, let us know if the bags hold up under reasonable use.

    To me, it’s the clean end adapter that is most useful, the other end I don’t need anything for because the filter is only used when I prepare clean water.