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Sawyer Complete Water Filtration System 2 Liter

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Sawyer Complete Water Filtration System 2 Liter pump/gravity water filter

Alright, I'll preface this by saying that I work for Bass Pro Shops and was given this filter (and a replacement filter) for free by a representative from Sawyer. Basically, he played this filter up to saying nothing short of the work of God himself. Basically, the claim he made that seemed so outrageous to me was that the filter got practically everything out of the water, and that it was guaranteed to last a ONE MILLION GALLONS.

I was pretty skeptical that it would live up to the reputation he put up before me and in seeing that, he gave me one to use myself for free so that I'd have personal experience and be able to give any asking customers a little more in depth information. Anywho, without further ado, here we go:


When opening the box, you get a few different pieces:

1. greywater/nonpotable bladder

2. clean/potable bladder

3. microfilter

4.clean water line

5. nite-ize s biner with a nylon strap

6. grey water line

7. faucet hookup thingy (<-- definitely technical jargon)

(mine also came with a second filter, which I believe was an accident but I'm not complaining.)


Basically, the filter is just a good ol' gravity feeding one, so it's naturally not going to move the two liters in a minute.

You put your nasty water into the grey bladder. Using the quick-link system (Katadyn makes replacements and they're compatible with all the newer Camelbak brand antidote bladders) you hook the filter directly to the grey bag (grey side of the filter to the grey bag obviously), hook the filter to the tube and then the tube to the blue bladder and after a good 5-30 minutes (has varied based on water quality) you'll have clean, fresh-tasting water in the blue bladder.

There's apparently a network of hollow fibers inside the filter that let the water pass through but little else, (including dirt, which I'll get to in the test section down there.)

Couple of things: the bladders are of very high quality. They aren't plastic-y or rubbery feeling at all. They feel like water repellent nylon or canvas, which was strange to me. Also, with 10 seconds of work and $8 you can make it so it will gravity feed clean water directly into your hydration carrier (which I thought was very convenient).


So the representative told me that I could grab water from literally anywhere and it would render it safe to drink. Naturally, not wanting to die, I decided to try from a pool of sources before trying anything out in any of the rivers around here (Missouri, Little Sioux, Boyer).


The first one that I tried out was just some of the water from a standing horse tank. For those of you who don't know, what I'm referring to is just a large aluminum or tin water tank that is used to water livestock. This water was just a weebit murky and had some mosquito larvae in it.

After putting a few cups in the bladder and letting it go through the filter (maybe 16oz in about... 2 minutes?), I was greeted on the blue bag end with clean, non-murky, fresh clean tasting water. The verdict of this first test? Success!


Okay, so maybe I'm easily impressed. It was only stock water after all. Definitely not something I'd be drinking out of, but the first was alright, so feeling a little bit easier about it, I decided to try water from a farm pond.

Again, just got about a half liter of water into the grey bag and after a few minutes I was again, met with clean nice water. This was water you couldn't see more than maybe... 3 feet down into. A little bit murkier than the horse tank and it definitely had all sorts of critters in it. I was pretty darn impressed with it still. Again, success!


Feeling brave, I finally took it out to a river. I'm not stupid, so definitely not the Missouri, so instead I decided to go to the river that runs right along my property: The Boyer. Here's where things got a little bit more interesting. The Boyer River is pretty murky. It's fed by all the farms and feeds all the irrigation ditches in the area. Its only about five feet deep where I pulled the water out, but even so you can shine a spotlight into the water and still not be able to see more than a foot.

So long story short, this water is nasty, full of dirt and mud, obviously full of little critters you can't see, and its pretty much in no way, shape, or form fit for human consumption in any capacity. I filled the grey bladder up to the top with this stuff just to see how well this would do.

After about ten minutes of flowing, I noticed that the flow of water was slowly diminishing. All the dirt was clogging my filter and if you've ever been on trail and had a filter clog, you know that it absolutely sucks to have to take it all apart and clean it out to start going again. After about 15 minutes, the flow had turned into a puny little trickle.

Was I worried? Not at all. Here's the kicker and something I didn't mention above. The reason these are guaranteed to a million gallons is the fact that you can wash them out extremely easily. How do you do that? Literally, all you have to do with this one is take the blue bag, flip it over so it's feeding the opposite way, and squeeze some of your clean water back through and after a few seconds a little gross clog of disgusting stuff that was clogging your filter shoots back into the grey bladder and the waterflow resumes at it's full pace again, shooting a stream of clear water bag in.

After letting it sit for 30ish minutes and backwashing this twice. I got the water I was expecting to get and it was refreshing and clear, from a disgusting source. That faucet hookup is to clean it when you're done by shooting water back through it in the same way.


If you can find this filter in a store ANYWHERE, buy it if it's under $120 on the spot. I have called a lot of the other stores to see if anyone in this area carries them and no one seems to. I had to order a second one for my family and the only places I could find them were on Ebay and on Amazon. To get one of these is seriously a no-brainer whether it be for hiking/camping in an area where the water is questionable, or even for just emergency preparedness in your home. Buy it.

In short:


  • Worked great for terrible quality water
  • Down to .1 micron filtering, MSR is down to .2 and Katadyn is usually .3
  • Great value for the price (usually about $89-$120 if you can find it)
  • Guaranteed TO, not up to, but TO 1 Muillion gallons by Sawyer, Inc.


  • Can be hard to find one to purchase
  • Was hard to find a case that I was satisfied to carry it in, but that's my own problem.

In short: Buy this. You won't be disappointed.

Price Paid: Free sample from Sawyer

Wasn’t sure a gravity feed was going to work for me after 15 years with a pump filter. After an 11-day backpacking trip in the Northern New Mexico Rockies, I was sold. I give this 4.5 stars.


  • Lots of water with little effort
  • Easy to setup
  • Seems durable


  • Screw-on caps make a little bulky to pack

So we get to our first camp in a meadow along small creek, the water was running well and clear so I was happy to try the Sawyer out. I walked the 50 yards from the camp to the creek and filled up the grey bag, took about 20 sec to fill, back at camp I hooked in the gray hose to the filter, then to the bag, nothing... then I remembered a note in the instruction about air in the hose.

I pulled the grey hose off the filter and after the air was pushed out and water was flowing I put it back in the filter, out came the water. I had it drop right into my water bottle (ultra light, ultra cheap Powerade Zero bottle), in a couple minutes it was filled, I then offered it to others in the group. After a 2nd bottle was filled I trekked back to the creek.  

When I got back with the water there was other stuff going on so no one wanted to stand and fill their bottle so I pulled out the blue bag hooked it up and caught up with the group to hang the bear bags. When we returned the blue bag was full. I was asked by a boy for some water so I sent him with the gray bag to the creek, when we returned I showed him how to bleed the hose and use the blue bag to fill his bottle.  This was working great. Even though we also carried two pump filters, a Steri-pen and purification tablets,  the Sawyer became the process of choice.

Most of sites had a good water supply to filter, though one we had to place our cook pot to collect water from a dripping spring pipe it filtered after 30 minutes, this was then filtered. Overall I was pleased with the performance, ease of use, and durability of this system. If the air was not purged each time it would just sit there and that was a bit frustrating when you expected more water to be purified.

After a rainstorm the creek we were at clouded up quite a bit so we saw the flow diminish, but disconnecting the grey hose from the filter and a simple push on the blue bag cleared the filter right up and it returned to flowing. If this does last one million gallons then it worth the price (twice the cost of a single replacement filter for my pump filter).

After I got home I decided to back flush and sanitize it for storage. I hooked up the backflush hose with the faucet adapter and ran water into the blue end of the filter. After a few seconds it was running clear as it stated it would, I then noticed something, if I turned off the faucet, shook the filter and then turned the water back on it ran dirty for a few seconds then clear. Thinking this was odd, I tried it again, over 10 times it took until I could not get it to run dirty.  I then ran the bleach water through it and set it aside to dry.

Overall I like the filter and this two bag system, the weight, the lack of effort needed but there are a few improvement I would like to see:

  1. The screw-on caps are bulky and heavy and do not allow the bags to store small (rolled up) or easily cleaned out (especially the grey bag) maybe a top seal type closure would be better.
  2. While filtering, it would be nice to have a 2nd hose attachment to the blue bag to retrieve water while it is being filled (we did find that we could unscrew the cap and fill bottles while it is still attached to the filter)
  3. I am thinking of creating a longer strap that I can attach to a limb then attach the grey bag above the blue bag on the same strap, this will keep the blue bag off the ground.
  4. Not sure how it could work, but it would be nice to have a prefilter, so big stuff does not make it to the filter from the grey bag.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $83

I have this system and like one of the reviewers said, the sales people will say this filter cleans water better than God. I used it while traveling in the Philippine and it clogged while I filtering tap water. I know that you can back flush it to make it clean. Additionally, I dropped the filter on the concrete and it broke!

I took it back to REI and they gave me a new one. The new one does not have the "kangaroo" pouch to store the filter in. What a pain!

I have to say that Sawyer needs to work on the user friendliness of this thing. Needs to be unbreakable too. What happens when you are in the back country and it breaks like it did for me? You are $.... out of luck.


  • Filters a lot of water


  • breakable
  • clogs
  • no carrying case (duh!!!!)

After being sold by an overzealous sales person at REI, bought it hook line and sinker. It's a pain in the rear to use. I am not even sure what this thing does.  It's supposed to clean giardia and all the nasty stuff.  Good luck if you buy one.

It's slow.

It's breakable.

It does not come with a storage case. You have all kinds of hoses and connectors. Not simple to use out of the box.

Buy yourself a pump.  I have used a ceramic MSR pump for years and it has never failed.

Source: REI sales person

Quick filtering and effortless. I love this system. Never has ever failed me!


  • Easy to use
  • Quick


  • Drinking tube pops off on occasion

Great system. I love it. The clean water reservoir bag also has a drinking tube and fits right into my pack. Easy to use and very reliable!!

Source: bought it new

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Price Historic Range: $76.93-$119.99
Reviewers Paid: $83.00
Product Details from Sawyer »