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Gear Workshop The Gear Workshop forum is for the discussion of homemade backpacking gear, gear modifications, and repairs.


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  #1  
Old 03-15-2014, 04:21 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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ContainsImages Sawyer Mini & Aquamira Frontier Pro Water Filter Mod / Combination

The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is good option for water treatment in the backcountry. It's a 0.1 micron (absolute) hollow fiber membrane water filter that weighs a mere 1.3 oz (sans non-required accessories).


Sawyer Mini Filter

I'm considerably attracted to and intrigued by this filter. However, I tend to be the same person in the wilderness as I am elsewhere. Therefore, wherever I go, I normally avoid drinking brown, green, or yellow water.

Sawyer's central focus is obviously on equipping outdoor enthusiasts with a means of making backcountry water safe to drink, and not necessarily on some of the other needs or desires of the human senses.

I'm convinced that most hikers are unlikely to drink discolored, stinky water, unless it's an emergency and the circumstances demand it.

What's missing in the Mini for those who want their water to also look, taste, and smell better is carbon. Carbon can absorb or restrict substances in the water that cause bad taste, discoloration, and odors. It can even reduce some chemical adulterants.

I'm impressed with the Mini's absolute pore size of 0.1 microns, but I'd like this filter even more if it would help with the aforementioned undesirables. So, to resolve this dilemma, I made a lightweight combination filter by using a carbon-containing Aquamira Frontier Pro filter in conjunction (inline) with the Mini.

[Note: This configuration is likely to be more appealing to those who are not following paint blazes from spring to spring on well-maintained trails.]


Aquamira Frontier Pro (Dismantled)

First, I dismantled the Frontier to remove extraneous materials. This reduced the total weight by over half an ounce - from 2.0 oz to 1.4 oz.

Next, I cut a small portion of the Frontier's tubing and used it to connect the Frontier's output to the Mini's input.


Sawyer Mini & Aquamira Frontier Pro Connected In-Line

By the way, the Sawyer Mini comes with a collapsible water bag (not shown) that can be used to squeeze (force by roll down) untreated water through the Mini for filtration. I replaced the bag with a lighter, perhaps more durable Platypus 0.5L Soft Bottle (sans cap).

[Note: The above photo shows the prefilter attached to the Frontier (far right). This may be removed for further weight savings - beyond the calculations in this report.]

There are a number of inline carbon options available including but not limited to the Katadyn Carbon Cartridge, Platypus GravityWorks Carbon Element, Platypus Gravityworks Filter Cartridge, Aquamira Replacement Capsule Filter, and the Seychelle Inline Eliminator. I chose to use the Frontier Pro in this system for its lightweight, compact, and effective properties.


Sawyer Mini & Aquamira Frontier Pro Filter Configuration in Use

The total dry weight of this configuration, including the Platypus bottle (0.6 oz), is 3.30 ounces.

The flow without squeezing is adequate and increases significantly when water is squeezed through the system.

It you're familiar with the size of a half-liter, soft Platypus bottle, you have a basic idea of the compact size of this configuration. It also pulls apart at the tubing connection for easy storage.

Sidebar: I've been using a Frontier Pro with Micropur Chlorine Dioxide Tablets - an effective system that substantially saves on weight and bulk.

This mod is an option for those who want to increase or improve the functionality of their Sawyer Mini.

In a survival situation, I'll drink from a mud puddle if circumstances warrant. However, I'm more likely to hydrate in everyday life (which, for me, includes hiking) if the water is not only safe but pleasing to the eye, nose, and taste buds. YMMV.

Reality

P.S. See also: Lightweight Water Treatment Option: MSR Sweetwater (Modified)
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  #2  
Old 03-16-2014, 06:18 PM
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Slosteppin Slosteppin is offline
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I like your modification. I used the Sawyer Mini as part of a gravity system on a recent hike in Florida. I used a Platy water Tank for the dirty water and filtered into Platy one liter bladders.

I will try your addition before my spring hike.
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  #3  
Old 03-17-2014, 11:21 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slosteppin
I like your modification.
Good. I hope it is of some eventual use for you on your trips.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slosteppin
I used the Sawyer Mini as part of a gravity system on a recent hike in Florida. I used a Platy water Tank for the dirty water and filtered into Platy one liter bladders.
The flow, with clear water, is good, so I can see it working OK for a gravity system. Of course, silt and other debris would restrict the flow.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slosteppin
I will try your addition before my spring hike.
Let us know how it goes. By the way, have you ever used the (included) cleaning plunger (syringe) in the backcountry yet?

Reality
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:08 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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I noticed you filter through the charcoal before the Sawyer. I can be as dense as heavy metals at times. Is there a reason that's the preferred order?
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  #5  
Old 03-17-2014, 12:24 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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There is no important, scientific reason to use that particular order. However, the Frontier's output connects much easier to the Mini's input.

By the way, the Frontier Pro has a pore size of about 3 microns - compared to the submicron pore size (0.1µ) of the Sawyer Mini.

Reality
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  #6  
Old 03-17-2014, 04:04 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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I was wondering if the size of the connections was driving that.
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  #7  
Old 03-17-2014, 04:28 PM
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Slosteppin Slosteppin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality
Good. I hope it is of some eventual use for you on your trips.
The flow, with clear water, is good, so I can see it working OK for a gravity system. Of course, silt and other debris would restrict the flow.
Let us know how it goes. By the way, have you ever used the (included) cleaning plunger (syringe) in the backcountry yet?

Reality

I used the syringe to backflush each time I filtered water. The first time I got water from a pump at a backwoods campground. A sign on the pump said all water should be boiled. I was amazed at the brown rusty looking water that flushed out. I had thought the water looked clear.
After that experience taking the syringe along for backflushing will be SOP.
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2014, 06:20 PM
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FirstRWD FirstRWD is offline
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Thanks, Reality! I have a Sawyer and wish it did filter for taste, etc. Being fairly new to real backpacking, I didn't realize there were carbon filters that did filter for such things. I'm definitely going to use your genius and add a carbon to my Sawyer. One thing I did notice reading the info on the Aquamira is that it says the filter life is increased by using a pre-filter. The Sawyer has a pretty amazing life-span anyway, so I wonder if it would be beneficial to run the Sawyer before the Aquamira to extend the life of the carbon filter. I wonder if that life would be extended by a noticeable amount since you'd be filtering all but the smallest of particles with the Sawyer before running the water through the carbon. This thread also makes me realize I need to learn more about water filtration in general. Thanks again for posting this!
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2014, 06:40 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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FirstRWD,

I'm glad my post has helped you.

The Sawyer could be positioned before the Aquamira, but it won't be as "plug-n-play" as configuring it the other way around. In other words, it will take a little more work to put the Sawyer first in the sequence.

There are other ways to prefilter, if that's the main concern.

Reality
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  #10  
Old 06-30-2014, 07:56 PM
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FirstRWD FirstRWD is offline
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I just found that Sawyer does sell a water filter adapter that would just add a male threading after that little hose you used to connect them. It would allow you to run the Sawyer first, then the little adapter that would screw into the second filter. I might give it a test once I get a carbon filter and see if it makes any difference which way you run it. ...I'm probably just overthinking it.
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