If you are a prepper, backpacker, or back-country camper, you are probably familiar with Sawyer water filters. They are compact, inexpensive, and can remove virtually all bacteria and protozoa from your water. Sawyer has recently added a new filter to their lineup, the Sawyer Tap.
The Sawyer Tap water filter is excellent for people wanting a convenient filtering option for their home. It has the same impressive capabilities as other Sawyer filters with the added ability to connect directly to various types of faucets.
In this article, I’ll go over why I bought it, how it works, and my opinion of where it fits into an overall preparedness strategy.
Why I Bought the Sawyer Tap Filter
Like most preppers, I already have a few ways of filtering water. My family uses a Berkey for our daily drinking and cooking water needs. We also have Sawyer Mini filters for each member of our family. We would use these while traveling, camping, or if we needed to bug out.
Our Berkey filter does a good job making water clean and taste good, but it is slow and has a limited capacity. Our Sawyer Minis are really best-suited for individual water needs while on the go.
Related: Recommended Water Filters
Then came the 2021 Texas Winter Storm. We lost running water for a brief period and then were under a boil water notice for several days. Thanks to our water storage and Berkey, we had plenty of water to drink without needing to boil. However, we still needed to boil water for dishes and other tasks.
After this, we picked up a Sawyer Tap filter so that we could use water directly from our Tap for rinsing off dishes. It could also provide an additional layer of protection if we managed to go through our supply of clean water we have stored.
Having clean water is one of the most important parts of being prepared. Because of this, I prefer not to rely on one method of purification since it can be difficult to tell if filters are faulty or have become damaged. Being able to run water through both the Sawyer Tap and Berkey will reduce the chances of consuming contaminated water.
Sawyer Tap Features
Like all Sawyer water filters, the Tap filter uses hollow fiber membranes that filter down to 0.1 microns absolute. Absolute means that there are no pores in the membrane larger than 0.1 microns. A contaminant larger than that simply can’t pass through. It would be like me trying to fit into my jeans from high school. It ain’t happening.
(Note: Sawyer produces a filter that is capable of removing contaminants down to 0.02 microns. Unfortunately, that model is no longer sold in the U.S.)
Filtering down to 0.1 microns removes 99.99999% of bacteria and 99.9999% of Protozoa and 100% of microplastics. This level of filtration is suitable for use in developed countries that have advanced water treatment and sanitation systems.
Viruses, while smaller than 0.1 microns, are not found as often in water sources in developed nations. One exception would be situations such as floods and hurricanes where waste water contaminates “clean” water sources. Viruses found in fecal matter would likely be present in those cases, so that water should be boiled as an added precaution.
*Note: If using a filter, I would recommend boiling the water before filtering it in situations such as that. Doing so would reduce the chance of microorganisms taking up residence in the filter. Let the water cool and then run it through a filter. This will remove any sediment or other debris prior to consumption.*
The Sawyer Tap filter connects directly to faucets by means of a rubber seal. The seal is designed to connect to faucets 17 to 20 mm wide. After it is connected, it is capable of filtering up to 500 gallons of water per day. This is thanks to its relatively larger size compared to other Sawyer filters, such as the Mini. The Tap filter’s larger body allows it to hold more hollow fibers, thus increasing filtering capacity.
Like other Sawyer filters, the Tap filter can be cleaned by backflushing. This allows you to remove debris from the filter, increasing its flow rate and lifespan. The Sawyer Tap filter includes the following accessories: backwash adapter, spigot adapter, tap sizer, extension hose, and dual threaded adapter.
Connecting the Sawyer Tap Filter
To use the Sawyer Tap filter, connect it to your faucet by pushing the rubber seal over it. In order to work, your faucet must have a smooth aerator of the appropriate size hanging from the bottom of the faucet. Some decorative faucets don’t have such an extension, meaning that the Sawyer Tap filter won’t have anything to connect to.
I also discovered that slotted aerators do not work with the Sawyer Tap filter. Water will shoot out of the slots and the slots themselves could damage the filter’s rubber seal. So unless you are trying to teach small children new and exciting words, don’t use the filter with slotted aerators.
The included spigot adapter makes it possible to install the Sawyer Tap onto outdoor water faucets. Simply screw the adapter onto your spigot and slide the filter onto the adapter.
Do not attempt to slide the filter onto exposed threads. Doing so can damage the rubber seal, rendering the filter useless.
Using the included extension hose will allow you to fill containers that are too large to fit in the sink with the filter attached. It is also good if you have to use a leaky spigot. Hold the end of the hose higher than the drip to fill your container. This will prevent contaminated water from entering your container.
Care and Maintenance
The first thing that you want to avoid if you have any Sawyer filter is letting it freeze. This isn’t a problem if the filter has never been used. However, once the water has entered the filter, freezing it will ruin it. Water expands when it freezes, and that will destroy the hollow fiber membrane inside of the filter.
Also, be careful to not turn your faucet on too high. Excessive pressures could damage the filter. Slowly turn on the water and then stop when you have an acceptable flow rate. If your Sawyer Tap filter looks like a pressure washer, turn the water down.
After use, be sure to backwash the filter when you reach an area with clean water. Attach the backflush attachment to the end of the filter and run water through it. Backflushing will help remove any contaminants or debris that is left behind in the filter. It can also be done to restore the flow rate if the filter gets clogged. However, only do it with water that you know is clean.
My Overall Impression
My overall impression of the Sawyer Tap filter is similar to other Sawyer filters: It is well-built and easy to use. I like that it is easy to use and can be backflushed for maintenance. However, my main concern is that the rubber seal could be a weak link in the design. If it gets damaged or degrades over time, the filter will be useless.
I wish that Sawyer had designed the tap filter so that the seal screws onto the input end like the backwash adapter screws into the output nozzle. Doing that would have allowed the user to replace a damaged seal as well as attach the filter to containers.
Because of that potential vulnerability, I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary or sole water filtration method.
However, if you are like me and want to expand your water filtering capabilities, then it is an excellent addition to your preps. If you need water quickly and still have running water, very few options are as convenient as the Sawyer Tap.
In addition, if you already have other Sawyer filters, you could use the dual threaded adapter to connect them to the backflush adapter. This could allow you to convert your other filters to retrofitted tap filters. Just be aware that smaller filters (the Mini) won’t be capable of filtering water as quickly due to its small size.