When hiking, camping, mountain biking or enjoying any other outdoor activity, one of the most important concerns is water. As you roam around in the wilderness with nothing but nature around to keep you company, you might be tempted to enjoy a sip from that nearby stream. The water looks so refreshingly cool that it’s tough to resist.
However, before you do, you need to remember that this is not always a good idea. There are various impurities that could be lurking within that flowing body of water and, by taking just one sip, you could be doing yourself more harm than good.
While you could lug around gallons of water, the alternative is far easier on your back. Continue reading this LifeStraw Personal Water Filter Review to learn more about the product, how it works, and what to expect.
What is LifeStraw?
This innovative device has changed the way we manage our water needs when we are out and far from civilization. While it might have started out as a single product, the name has grown into a product range that includes compact as well as family and even community options.
The personal filtering system was designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind. With this handy device, you can enjoy clean water without having to carry it around with you.
Various products in the range were distributed during such emergency situations as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the floods in Pakistan the same year, and the Thailand floods in 2011, to name a few.
While some have criticized the price, the company is committed to providing one school child in a developing community with safe drinking water for a full school year.
How does it work?
The tube is approximately 9.25 inches in length and has a diameter of about an inch. The durable plastic exterior has a string attached to make it easy to carry. The user simply needs to place one end directly in the water source and drink from the other end, much like a regular straw. You can also take a look at our reviews of the best water filter to help you with more options.
The first version used iodine as a method for killing bacteria. However, since 2012, they opted for an option without chemicals. The product now uses a mechanical filtration system so, when you suck on the straw, the water is forced through the hollow fibres. The pores of these fibres are micro-thin at less than 0.2 diameter, which makes this a microfiltration device. Bacteria, dirt and parasites become trapped in the fibres as the clean water reaches your lips. In simple terms, as you drink, the straw filters the liquid.
You can enjoy an entire quart in just 8 minutes, and a single unit is able to purify 1,000 litres of water. At a rate of 2.7 litres per day, means that it will last an entire year before it needs replacement. There are no replaceable parts. The product will need to be replaced entirely.
What are the advantages?
There are a number of ways in which this device can be of use, and there are also various benefits to choosing this high tech straw over other options.
- It’s really easy to use.
- It does not contain any chemicals.
- There aren’t any moving parts, which means that they are highly durable.
- They are portable, and you can take it wherever you go.
- They are lightweight at just 57 grams.
- Each product comes with a 1-year warranty from the manufacturer.
- It can filter 1,000 litres of water.
- It removes 99.99% of waterborne bacteria.
- It removes 99.9% of waterborne (protozoan) parasites.
- The technology used in these devices has received several awards including the Time Magazine Invention of the Year (2005), the Well-Tech Innovation Technology Award (2006), the Saatchi and Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas (2008), and the “Gadgets for Disaster Zones” (2011).
- It’s highly affordable. Especially when you take into consideration the many benefits.
All reviews need to take in the positive as well as the negative. There are some drawbacks that need to be taken into consideration when purchasing and using this device.
- The device is not able to eliminate viruses (unless you use the family version) so you might still like to exercise caution when selecting your water source.
- The device cannot remove salt or heavy chemicals.
- It is not practical for filtering cooking water. It is essentially a straw, and you need to suck the water up.
- It’s not practical for filtering water that you intend to bottle and store. It would quite literally take forever to suck the water up and then transfer it into a bottle.
- It’s suitable only for one person (unless you invest in the family version).
- It doesn’t help if you don’t have any water nearby.
- Many agree that the water you drink through the LifeStraw does not taste quite as good as bottled water. This really does depend on the source of the water.
- If you drink regularly from particularly muddy water, it is bound to get clogged faster than if you’re drinking from clearer water.
Compared to the advantages listed above, these disadvantages are minimal.
When you think of all the benefits all crammed inside a tiny, highly portable device, many will agree that it’s more than worthwhile.
Important tips to remember
When using the LifeStraw, it’s important to keep some user guidelines in mind in order to really get the most you can from this product.
- When using it for the first time, or when empty, you will need to suck on it several times to get it going. Once you’ve got the water flowing, it will be that much easier.
- If, for whatever reason, you feel like it becomes blocked, simply blow back on it a bit and then continue drinking. When the water is particularly dirty, you might have to do this a few times because it could get clogged.
- Once you’re done drinking, remove the device from the water source and blow out of it just a bit to clear it out completely. If you don’t want it to drip after use, you can give it a light shake. If you are travelling outdoors in colder conditions, you want to make sure that the straw is as dry as possible after use. If water remains inside and freezes, it could cause damage.
- If you want to avoid your clothes getting wet, drink where the surrounding terrain is rocky instead of laying down on soil or grass.
- You could even scoop up some water into a cup, bottle or another container and then use the LifeStraw to drink.
- Take note that there is an expiration date on the product. This is normally three years from the date it was manufactured.
What about the larger versions?
There are a number of different systems to choose from. The original, personal option is the most compact of all and the lightest too. It’s perfect for those who love spending time outdoors and for anyone who likes to be prepared or anything, including an end of the world type scenario.
The company also launched a “Go” version which addresses the issue of being able to carry water with you. This is great, whether you want to enjoy a slow drink as you go, or you want to carry a bottle of water just in case you don’t come across any more rivers, lakes or streams. It is somewhat more expensive than the original version but can be worthwhile.
There are two Family versions. The one is able to filter up to 18,000 litres and is perfect for camping. It’s lightweight, portable and practical. This system can provide five people with water for up to three years. The second version is capable of filtering up to 30,000 litres which means that it can provide five people with clean drinking water for up to five years.
There is even a Community product which, as the name suggests, is suitable for larger groups of people. It is able to filter as much as 100,000 litres of water which is why it is so perfect for emergency situations like after disasters or in areas where the water has been compromised.
There are literally dozens of other wonderful reviews all over the internet along with video demonstrations. Customers agree that this product has helped keep their packs lighter, drinking water safer, and the overall experience has been an easy pleasure. These products are available through various sources, and many of them offer additional incentives like making donations to various communities in need and environmental projects.
This is a great product to have in your emergency pack, hiking pack, camping supplies, and so on. The affordability of this product means that each family member can easily have their own one. It’s also worth remembering that the amount you do pay is a small one considering the fact that the product is under warranty for an entire year!
For situations when you don’t have a filter on hand, see our our article on how to make a water filter from scratch in order to survive.