While on our last backpacking trip southbound on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia from Three Forks to Springer Mountain, Eric and I thought it would be great to give some demonstrations of two of our most trusted bits of gear while on the trail: our water filter & our stove. Hiking makes us hungry & thirsty people and I believe that these two products have genuinely made our backpacking trips even better (and lighter! and I’m less hangry!)
First up is the Sawyer Mini Water Filter. Watch below to see our most used form of this filter as Eric demonstrates the straw mode.
For $25 the Saywer Mini is a serious deal and a great value. In addition to the straw attachment, it can be used in 3 other ways as well:
1) As a squeeze filter, where you use the attachable soft bottle to squeeze water through the filter into any container. If you want a larger bag than the 16oz one that is included, any Platypus brand soft bottles are compatible with Sawyer products.
2) It threads into any standard soda or water bottle. If you’ve got a leftover bottle of Coke, you can fill it up with water and attach the filter and simply drink.
3) You can also run this filter in-line with a hydration reservoir, meaning you can attach it midway along the hose, fill the reservoir with dirty water, and drink as if it is the crispest, cleanest stuff your lips have ever touched. This does involve some rigging to cut the hose if you own a CamelBak or Platypus brand reservoir… or you can buy the Osprey Reservoirs that now contain a built in breakage point for attaching a filter such as this.
Overall, we like the straw for quick backpacking trips. It doesn’t require massive amounts of squeezing, which can be time consuming for two of us. This filter is ideally made for 1 person, but it works well for two of us in the straw form as we swap back & forth and let our sipping do the filtering rather than squeezing. Our other large amounts of water for cooking are often boiled and negate the need to filter anyway. Maybe you think we like the straw because we are lazy, but I prefer to think of ourselves as more efficient.
Remember friends, 2L of water weighs just under 4 1/2 pounds (72 oz). This filter weighs 2oz. If you are certain of a water source along the way where you can fill up as needed, especially consider this lightweight option.
Next up we have the Soto WindMaster Stove. Retailing at $75 I genuinely think this is the best stove on the market for backpacking. Here’s why:
The piezo igniter makes it an easy start, no pumping required. It starts easily in below freezing temperatures and we had no problem using it out west at 8,000 ft or so in Canyonlands, Utah. Often people think that elevation requires white gas or some other kind of fuel, but this isobutane propane stove proves them wrong for most altitude related conditions. It’s also regulated, meaning it won’t sputter on weak fumes until it fades away, but instead remains on full blast until the very last second of fuel.
The main reasons I bought this stove were because I heard great things from friends and I wanted a stove that had flame control. I wanted to be able to simmer some eggs, sizzle some corned beef, and boil water for some morning tea (and everything in-between). The WindMaster does just that and pretty much functions like a gas burner you’d find at home, but only weighs 4 oz. It also gets a great boil time as well. Don’t get a Jetboil, it’s only compatible with their stuff (pots, pans, etc) and you’ve got two powers which are basically full blast and slightly less blast. The WindMaster wins.
Life in the backcountry is light and easy with both the Sawyer Mini Water Filter and Soto WindMaster Stove. If you are in the market for some new gear, I highly recommend both!