How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

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Snowtrout
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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by Snowtrout » Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:37 pm

Only have used Sawyer.
1. My second Sawyer squeeze has lasted 6 years so far (first one 2 years but see reason below).
2. Never had it fail in the field but.....
3. It will slow down if using dirty water. Back flushing a few times usually gets the flow near, if not to, the same flow rate as new.

Lesson learned from my first Sawyer filter: do not use tap water to back flush when at home. The first filter became clogged since I have hard water and took a bunch of flushing from both directions to clear the dried crystals out. Switched to using distilled water for flushing = no problems since.

Like others have said, do not let the filter freeze. Any possibility of a cold night, filter goes in a ziploc and is put in or under the sleeping bag.








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The Other Tom
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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by The Other Tom » Fri Sep 18, 2020 5:04 am

CAMERONM wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:43 pm
The only issue is that one has to be careful when it's below freezing temperature at night. These filters will be permanently damaged once frozen.
+1 done that
+2
Been there, done that.
I didn't read through all the posts on this thread, but some people swear by the Steripen. Of course there's no "filtering" with that, but you probably don't need to in the Sierra anyway.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by RSC » Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:00 am

I've used the Sawyer mini for several years. Never had to backflush in the field -- I only do that when putting away for storage. The only failures I've had have been in the squeeze bags, but nothing catastrophic. I've had the bags leak where the plastic loses its seal to the screw opening. This has only been after a few trips, so I try to take a fairly new bag in good condition. I also started taking a second bag as backup, which can double as a clean water container if not needed for squeezing.

Recently though, I think that Sawyer has changed the bags. I've always until recently used the 16 oz. bags, but ordered a pack of the 32 oz. bags. They are of a lighter material (good) and might have a more durable seal around the screw opening. The new 32 oz. bag actually weighs less than my old 16 oz. bags. However, I had a couple of non-catastrophic failures of these bags, both on the same trip. In one, there seemed to be a spot where the plastic was welded to itself, so I tried to separate the weld by squeezing the bag. This resulted in a leak there. The other developed a fairly big hole in it. I'm thinking this was because I left the bag out full of water at my campsite and maybe a raven or something came along and pecked at it. Just two cases, and maybe these are rare anomalies. I was able to fix the problem with duct tape and being gentle with the squeezing.

Lastly -- the Sawyer mini is pretty slow in my experience, and I get impatient. So for my most recent trip I tried the BeFree. Much faster, about as fast as you could want. The bag definitely looks fragile. I don't know whether it is or not. I decided to carry the filter and squeeze bag in a solid nylon bag rather than the mesh bag I had been using for the Sawyer. I also took tablets as backup. No failure on this trip, but the BeFree squeeze bag is not confidence-inspiring, at least not yet. Also, the BeFree bag, at least mine for now, imparts a taste to the water if the water sits for a while. It's not horrible, but not pleasant. It's fine if I filter right away, but maybe not good for gathering then filtering later.

On the whole, I prefer the BeFree because of the speed and that's what I'll be taking. I haven't tried the Sawyer Squeeze or the new Sawyer Micro. They are supposed to be faster than the Mini.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by John Harper » Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:10 am

My BeFree developed a tiny pinhole leak this summer, after almost 5 years. It wasn't enough to interfere with filter function, and if I put my finger over the leak it was fine. Katadyn asked me for the serial number on the seam of the old bag and sent me a new bag for free. I still have a Sawyer mini, but the BeFree is so much easier and faster. You can also buy larger Hydrapak bottles that have the same opening as the BeFree so you can just use the filter element. I have a 2L Hydrapak Seeker to use as a larger capacity if needed.

Although the BeFree bag seems flimsy, it seems to be pretty durable. I have not noticed any smells or tastes with the BeFree, but I also drink tapwater instead of foo-foo bottled water. YMMV

John

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by John Harper » Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:21 am

c9h13no3 wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:21 pm
The weak bags on the Katadyn are certainly a concern if you're using the direct drink versions. Mine sprung a pinhole after about 20-30 hikes and it's pretty annoying.
Don't let it annoy you, there's a solution.

Contact Katadyn customer service. They'll ask for the serial number on the seam (use magnifying glass) and send you a new bag for free. Mine lasted a long time and just developed a pinhole leak this summer. Got a replacement bag in a few days.

John

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by robow8 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 5:10 pm

John Harper wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:21 am
c9h13no3 wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:21 pm
The weak bags on the Katadyn are certainly a concern if you're using the direct drink versions. Mine sprung a pinhole after about 20-30 hikes and it's pretty annoying.
Don't let it annoy you, there's a solution.

Contact Katadyn customer service. They'll ask for the serial number on the seam (use magnifying glass) and send you a new bag for free. Mine lasted a long time and just developed a pinhole leak this summer. Got a replacement bag in a few days.

John
Hydrapak makes the bag. They make a lot of different bottles and reservoirs of all different sizes that will fit a BeFree. It uses a 42mm opening. Here's one:
https://hydrapak.com/collections/activi ... ux-1-liter

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by John Harper » Sat Sep 19, 2020 5:15 am

Oops, forgot that they came out with a similar flask under their own name. I was going to get one, but decided to email Katadyn first. To my surprise, they send me a new BeFree bag for free.

John

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by TurboHike » Sat Sep 19, 2020 9:57 am

There is a fairly significant price difference and claimed useful life between the BeFree and the Sawyer mini. It's not gonna break the bank, so to speak, but still it's worth considering.

BeFree with 0.6L bag, $40, total lifetime filter capacity (from Katahdyn) is 1,000 liters.

Sawyer mini with 16 ounce bag, $20, total lifetime filter capacity (from Sawyer) is 100,000 gallons.

Note the units on the total capacity, liters versus gallons. I suspect it's because one has the ability to backwash and the other does not.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by tahoefoothills » Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:10 pm

I have used a Sawyer Squeeze for about seven years now. I'm on my second one because I let my son borrow the first one and he left it outside in the elements where I am sure it froze. I had a major problem with my Sawyer this summer when I was backpacking in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Only a trickle of water would slowly filter and it took a very long time to get even a liter of water. Luckily, one of my sons' friends who was with us had his own Sawyer, which was working perfectly, and he let me borrow his when I needed water. As best that I can determine, the filter must have dried out after I stored it the previous summer. No amount of back-flushing on the trail would help. When I got home i soaked the filter for an hour or more in very warm water and that seems to have helped a lot. Nevertheless, I am reluctant to use this particular filter on the trail again. I am perplexed, though, because I followed all directions that came with the filter scrupulously. I like to filter my water, but I have several friends, perhaps who are immune to water-borne disease, who scoff at me for filtering water in the Sierra.

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Re: How reliable really are Sawyer & Be Free water filters?

Post by TurboHike » Mon Sep 28, 2020 8:29 am

tahoefoothills wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:10 pm
As best that I can determine, the filter must have dried out after I stored it the previous summer. No amount of back-flushing on the trail would help. When I got home i soaked the filter for an hour or more in very warm water and that seems to have helped a lot.
Yes, this can happen if the water that is filtered is "hard" water. When it dries inside the filter, the dissolved minerals such as calcium will clog the microscopic filtering tubes. To prevent this, you can flush the filter with distilled water before storing the filter. Before you use it after long term storage, you can soak the filter in distilled water for few hours then backflush. It seems like your warm water soak did the trick!

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