How to Choose between the Squeeze and the Mini
If you're trying to decide between the Sawyer Squeeze and the Sawyer Mini, you need to choose the Squeeze.
The Squeeze is superior to the Mini in almost every way, take a look:
Sawyer Mini vs Sawyer Squeeze Specifications
Yep that's right, double the flow rate and basically the same price.
These filters both have 0.1 micron holes that filter out 99.99999% of the junk which for backpacking purposes is close enough to 100% that you won't need to worry about getting sick.
The main difference between the two is the weight and flow rate.
The Squeeze is an ounce heavier and slightly more bulky, but it can filter water twice as fast.
Why the Sawyer Squeeze's Flow Rate is So Important
The difference between 2.0 liters per minute and 1.1 liters per minute may not sound like a lot, but the Sawyer filters require you to squeeze the pouch with the water in it (hence the name) and when you're filling up your water bladder that's 4 liters or 6 liters, you don't want to be squeezing constantly for 3 minutes to get the job done.
All water filtration systems get plugged up the more they get used. For gravity filters like the Platypus, it's not a huge deal because gravity is doing the work for you.
But in a squeeze filter like both of the Sawyers, you'll be doing all of the work and the more they get clogged, the more work you'll be doing.
How to Increase the Flow Rate in Your Mini or Squeeze Water Filter
After the first few times of using a Sawyer filter, you'll notice the flow rate slow down. Every time you filter water, the flow rate will get worse and worse until it stops.
When your flow rate slows down or you have to put too much pressure on the bag to filter the same volume of water, it's time to back flush your filter.
Step by Step Guide to Back Flush the Sawyer Squeeze and Mini
All Sawyer filters come with a plastic syringe that connects to the outlet of the filter and is used to back flush the filter. Simply fill the syringe with water, push it into the outlet of the filter, and push the plunger of the filter down.
This will flush water backwards through the filter and clear out any debris or particles that are clogging the filter. If you want to see the official instructions from Sawyer's website you can check them out here (PDF warning). Here's a picture of the instructions if you don't want to use the PDF.
Do I Always Need to Use a Water Filter?
Even if the water looks clear and good enough to drink, there might be nasty stuff in the water that's too small for you to see.
There are a bunch of different illnesses you can get from drinking contaminated water like Norovirus and Giardia.
Even water in the middle of nowhere that is pristine and pure from any human pollution could still be contaminated with animal feces or other bacteria that could give you some serious stomach issues.
You don't want to be half way through a 50 mile backpacking trip when you get the runs and have to stop every 30 mins for a "bathroom" break.
Be safe and filter your water every time.