PSA: If you still use a Sawyer Squeeze, you’re doing it wrong!

	I may ruffle some feathers with this post, but I’m going to keep it short and to the point.  

	The Sawyer Squeeze is a water filtration system that uses a hollow fiber membrane to remove 99.9999% of bacteria (all bacteria) with pressure or gravity. The membrane is not small enough to block viruses, but for North American hiking, it does the job.  

	I used a Sawyer Squeeze for the entirety of my AT thru hike.  It felt like a huge step up from the Katadyn hand pump filter of my youth.  The Sawyer is light (3 oz) and fits the thread of a Life Water or Smartwater bottle.  This allows you to grab water directly from the source with your water bottle, screw the filter on top, and drink straight from the filter. Pretty easy right? 

	So, why do I consider the Sawyer Squeeze a thing of the past?  To start, there are a myriad of downsides to this method. 
1.	The Squeeze relies on a small rubber ring to create the seal between the bottle and the filter.  This tiny ring will fall out, and you will lose it. Without the ring, dirty, unfiltered water will drip from the sides of the bottle and run down your filter toward your unexpecting mouth. This isn’t a great way to obtain safe drinking water and puts you at risk for the villainous wrath of giardia (among other nasty illnesses). 

2.	The flow rate of the Squeeze will slow with time and with great use.  I say this with confidence; no matter how well you backwash the filter, it will end up clogging.  This results in expending great effort to force water through the filter.

3.	You have to backwash the filter with a plunger and clean water.  Yes, you can also use the sport top on your Smartwater bottle instead of the plunger, but this has two downsides.  First, it doesn’t work as well.  Second, you’ve now dirtied the top of your bottle.

4.	You will end up spending a lot of money over the course of the filter’s lifetime on smart water bottles.  It seems insignificant at first because they’re about $1.50 each depending on where you purchase the water.  Multiply this over the length of a thru hike. For example’s sake let’s say you take the average 5 months (20 weeks) to complete your hike.  You buy two new water bottles (2 x $1.50= $3.00) every week ($3.00 x 20 = $60). To put that into perspective, you’re sacrificing 80.1 bottles of high-quality Pabst Blue Ribbon.

	Not to fear, there is a solution to the filtration issue.  Enter, the Katadyn Befree filter.  This was Katadyn’s answer to every issue presented by the Sawyer Squeeze.  The Befree is also a hollow fiber 0.1-micron filter, yet it weighs in at just 2 ounces.  Here are the advantages over the Squeeze.

1.	The Befree works with a soft, squeezable, and durable bottle that is made by Hydrapak.  Say goodbye to the endless wasted plastic bottles.  This bottle features a wide mouth that makes collecting water even simpler. You can even buy a Hydrapak bottle with the same 43 mm top to use as a second reservoir with the same filter.

2.	The flow rate is unreal.  It crushes the Sawyer in this category, filtering twice the water with half the effort in half the time.  It may not seem like a big deal, but when you arrive at camp at dusk as the temperature drops and your sweat dries, it is crucial to complete your camp chores quickly.  You want clean water to rehydrate and get food in your stomach ASAP.  The last thing you want to be doing is sitting by the water source, expending unnecessary effort, as clean water flows ever so slowly from your Sawyer Squeeze.

3.	To clean the Befree filter, you simply swish it in a moderately clear water source.  This can be a flowing river, lake or stream.  No need to worry about back flushing with plungers, clean water, or clean bottles. Just swish.

4.	When your bottle is empty it folds right up and can be stashed in any pocket.  This is awesome for trail running in areas I know will have water.  I don’t have to carry any extra weight, yet I have the filter and the bottle for when I need to stop to hydrate.  It’s also super easy to through in your backpack for a day hike.

	Save yourself some frustration and give the Befree a try on your next outing!  As always, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss our next blog!

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