Water Purifying

Best Survival Straw Filter: Options for Water Filtration | Survival-Mastery

Best Survival Straw

At some point, if you are involved in outdoor activities where survival situations are a real possibility, you might start looking for the best survival straw filter on the market.  It’s a well-known fact that in any survival situation the need for fresh, clean, drinkable water is vital: So much so, it can mean life or death.  The body needs water to remain healthy, and if you go longer than three days without it, you run the risk of dying.

There have been incidents were people have lasted up to ten days without water, but the message is the same: Water is vital to life.  A water straw filter can help you purify a less than pure source of water to ensure you get the necessary hydration you need to live.  In a survival situation, something as simple as a water straw filter can increase your likelihood of survival.

Why you need a filter

A straw water filter is a system you use to strain a source of water through to purify it.  The water moves through the internal filter system.  Such a system has the ability to filter out bacteria and protozoa from the water being filtered.  In some cases, the straw filter cannot filter out viruses.  Other water filtering options can filter out viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, including a purifier, boiling methods, UV light, Chlorine dioxide tablets, and iodine tablets, but it should be noted that cryptosporidium cannot be filtered out through the use of iodine tablets. Check out our article on the best water purification tablets to keep you safe.

Protozoa are tiny invisible parasites that can be found in various bodies of unfiltered, unprocessed, un-sanitized water.  If the water is contaminated with animal or human fecal matter, it can carry harmful bacteria including E.Coli, and viruses also end up in water when contaminated by feces.  Water contaminants vary in size, and a filtration system may or may not be able to block certain contaminants from getting through the filter.

Follow the liters infographic

The product you choose will define what contaminants it can block as well as what contaminants it cannot filter out of the water source you are attempting to purify. One tip you may want to keep in mind when you are out in the wilderness seeking a water source to purify is, if at all possible, seek out water from the highest elevations. Water from lower water sources may have several streams and outlets running into it, all of which transport debris and bacteria.

Harmful water contaminants

Water carries a wide array of natural and unnatural contaminants.  Many contaminants are small and invisible so their size is measured in microns.  One micron is equivalent to one millionth of a meter in size.  The size of contaminants is important to know when discussing filtration, because the straw water filters on the market are described by the contaminant sizes they can filter out of the water.

Bacteria such a E.coli and salmonella range in size from 0.2 to 4 microns.    Water can also be contaminated with Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium parvum, and protozoan cysts measuring 1 to 300 microns.  As mentioned previously, bacteria are in water out in the wild and include things like (all of which measure between 0.1 and 10 microns in size):

  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Escherichia coli
  • Leptospira
  • Salmonella
  • Yersinia entercolitica

Viruses range in size from 0.004 to 0.1 microns.  Water can carry a range of viruses, including the Norwalk, norovirus, enterovirus, rotavirus, and hepatitis A, among others.  Water filters are incapable of filtering out viruses from water.  The only filtering systems that can eradicate viruses in a water source are purifiers: This is important to remember as you search the market for the best straw water filters.

If a manufacturer boasts about its product being able to filter out viruses, you can then begin to question any validity of all claims made by the manufacturer.  As you begin to compare straw water filters, you’ll find the products have a range of features.

Features & what to expect

The filtering straw you buy will often feature a good flow rate or output, allowing you to filter as much as a liter of water per minute, and there are some filters that can process as much as two liters per minute.  The key to approximating a filter system’s ability to offer a speedy output is to look at the surface area of the product: The bigger the filtering system, the more output the product can offer you.

Features of straw filter

When you look at the different straw water filters on the market, remember that the product manufacturer gives you an estimate as to how quickly the product can filter water.  Sometimes you may encounter a product that the manufacturer claims has an output of a liter a minute, but when you use the product, you find it filters a bit slower than suggested.

Straw water filters have an amazing array of benefits including:

  • Lightweight design for ease of portability
  • Filters with adequate pore sizes for exceptional filtering quality
  • Ease of care and maintenance
  • The products are durable and long-lasting making them ideal for repetitive use
  • Straw water filters make water taste clean and drinkable
  • Affordable water filtering options

As you compare straw water filters, you’re going to want to look at the filtering measurements and features lending to ease of use.  What’s more, it’s equally important to see if the product manufacturer is reputable.  Take your time in comparing straw filters and price compare accordingly.

What to look for

Keep an eye out for water straw filters promising you a bit too much in the way of protection?  A water straw filter is limited in what it can filter out.  In truth, these devices a filter out quite a bit in terms of contaminants, but that doesn’t mean they can filter out viruses. Some straw filters promise to filter out viruses when that is not possible.

Straw facts

Consider the bulk and size of the product you are buying.  If you can fit the straw into your backpack great.  If you have very little room to store much of anything else since your backpack is stuffed full with survival necessities, go with the smallest straw you can find.  There are models available that are actually pocket sized.

Examine the type of filtration system the straw filter has and read carefully about what the straw can block and/or filter out from your water.  Some straw manufacturers suggest that the flavor of the water is improved, but you won’t know just how much until you try one or more products. Finally, consider price and don’t go for the least expensive option just because it’s cheaper.  The straw may be used to save your life one day so it’s worth an investment into a quality product.

LifeStraw® – features & function

LifeStraw® is, by far, one of the best straw water filter systems on the market to date.  The product has been highlight by the likes of Esquire magazine, Fast Company, National Geographic, Time Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Survivorman, Outdoor Life, and The New York Times.  Time Magazine identified LifeStraw® as an “Invention of the Year.”  It is a chemical free method of filtering water.  It requires no batteries and the device is absent of moving components that might break or render the product useless.  Some of the features of LifeStraw® include:

  • High output rate
  • Light 2 oz design
  • Surpasses EPA water filtration standards
  • Assures removal of over 99% of all waterborne bacteria
  • Assures removal of over 99% of protozoa
  • Filters 1000 liters of water
  • No need for chlorine or iodine

The Lifestraw® cannot filter out bad tastes, heavy metals, viruses, salt, or chemicals.  In order to get the straw to begin the filtering process, it will take about three to five seconds of sucking on the straw to incite water flow into the product’s filter.  It has been on the market since 2005.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LIfeStraw® has received an array of accolades and awards.  Some of the awards received come from Forbes, Gizmag, Reader’s Digest, Saatchi & Saatch, Well-Tech, and INDEX.  Part of every sale is offered up for a good cause: the company uses the funds to support a variety of clean water projects all over the world.  LifeStraw® is $20.00 to $25.00 per unit.

If you like this product you can find and buy it here.

Frontier emergency water filter system

The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System is lightweight and recommended for every camper and hiker.  The straw water filter weighs just under an ounce.  You can tote the straw in your backpack, fanny pack, pocket, or you can even bring it with you when you travel.

At one time, the Frontier straw water filter was crafted with a bendable and expandable straw.  The latter feature was not well liked by users, probably because of the ease in which such a straw can break and the fact that debris can get caught within the folds of the bendable straw.  The manufacturer of the Frontier straw water filter has meet consumer demand by getting rid of the expandable and bendable straw feature.  Current models are fitted with a solid straw for ease of operation and product longevity.

Aquamira Frontier Straw Filter

The straw water filter by Frontier can filter up to 20 gallons of water.  The filter eventually requires replacement. The main filter in the Frontier straw water filter is made of charcoal.  Thus, the device filters out pollutants with the power of a charcoal filter – it can reduce hard minerals, filter out copper, iron, and chlorine.

When the filter clogs, you’ll have to put in another.  It is recommended you pre-filter the water you will purify through a cloth first.  The Frontier Straw Water Filter System is approved by ACME and is affordably priced.  The carbon filter filters out nasty waterborne pathogens, and the product is priced just over $10.00.

If you like this product you can find and check its price here.

The H20 extreme

Everybody knows that hiking with a backpack takes some innovative kind of packing.  There are only so many things a person can pack into a single back pack, so the hiker or camper will need to make sure that only the most vital items are put inside the bag and still have room.

The H20 Extreme is another exceptional alterative if you’re in the market for a straw water filter.  The device is one of the smallest straw filters available.  The manufacturer is Global Star Products and it is affordably priced at just under $20.00.  The manufacturer suggests the straw is perfect for anglers, missionaries, athletes, hunters, hikers, and travelers.

The H20 Extreme device is small so it will take some time to filter out large water amounts. The device is an excellent survival tool, and because they are small enough, it’s easy to carry more than one.  The H20 Extreme will filter out nasty waterborne pathogens, and the device lasts for up to six months of use.

This straw is excellent because it has bacteriostatic, which means that no bacteria will be able to thrive inside the straw.  For a period of six months, you can treat up to eight glasses of water daily.  The device’s carrying case is sold separately.

This straw produces an electrostatic charge once the device has water in it. The electrostatic charge allows for the user to make use of the Electro Chemical Oxidation Reduction process to ensure contaminants are not left in the water.

If you like this product you can find and purchase it on Amazon.

Assisting the purification process

No matter what straw water filter you end up buying, some common-sense tips can make it easier for you to filter water through the straw you purchase. These tips will help you choose the safest water sources available, even when in a survival situation.   To find the purest water sources you can find, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Seek out the clearest, stillest waters you can find. If you can find a small pool of water, a lake, or a stream where the water is calm, it is a better water source than a body of either water that has been recently agitated, from a recent storm or rushing waters. Calm waters will give you a water source containing less debris to filter, as agitated waters have particles of silt and sediment floating around in it.
    Still waters are the best water sources because cryptosporidium cysts and hard-shelled Giardia sink in calm waters, thereby minimizing the potential for exposure. Finally, when waters are still they are under prolonged UV radiation exposure, which is deadly to waterborne pathogens.
  • Refrain from collection water immediately following rainfall. This common sense tip goes hand in hand with the notion of not collecting drinking water from an agitated body of water. Rain strikes the water and stirs up its contents, and it causes the bodies of water to rise and bring up bacteria and debris. Try to find undisturbed bodies of water, unused by humans or animals, and make sure you leave no debris behind.

More water finding tips

Even if you have a straw water filter, you can couple it’s use with alternative filtration methods to maximize the effectiveness of your water purification efforts.

For instance, if you have a small pot with you, you can scoop up a bit of water from the surface of a body of water (the cleanest, calmest source you can find), and you can allow the water to sit in the pot for a bit as the small particles of sand, sediment and debris settle down to the bottom of the pot.  Then use your filter straw to draw out the water from the uppermost portion of the water in the pot, where there’s the least amount of debris and sediment.

See also: Best Survival Straw Filter on The Market: Your Options for A Quality Water Filtration System

Alternatively, you can use the pot to boil the water you find to destroy any impurities it contains.  You’ll need to let the water cool to draw out the water with your straw filter though.  Allowing the water to cool will ensure you do not damage the straw or its filtration system.

Easy To Use Straw

Invest in more than one straw water filter.  Let’s face it, if you’re out in the woods hiking, camping, or even if happen to be lost and awaiting rescue, it’s always a possibility that you might inadvertently lose your filtration system.

Carrying an extra one in your backpack will ensure you’ll always have that all important water purification tool at your disposal.  Water filter straws are affordable enough to make an investment in more than one a sound decision.

In conclusion

When you are out in the wilderness or in a survival situation, having pure water for drinking, cooking, and sanitation is a must.  Since straw water filters are so accessible and affordable, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make such an investment.  There are many straw water filters on the market, and many of them are good enough to qualify as one of the best.

The straws vary in terms of features, function, design, and cost, but there are things you can do to make your selection easier.   Look for a balance between feature and cost when you’re going to buy a straw water filter.  Consider the elements of convenience, portability, ease of use, and the quality of the water purification the product promises.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If the information in this post has been helpful, please consider purchasing through one of the links in this article. Thank you.

About the author

Ellie Thomas

Survival-Mastery reflects my love of the outdoors and having the skills to take care of myself in the wilderness and in worst-case scenarios. I grew up in the southeast backpacking, camping, and fishing, and I have hiked and backpacked over 30,000 miles in the US. My background and career for the past 30 years has been in operations and construction and I enjoy learning and DIY projects.


  • This technology is a very good addition to the list of tools that we have but this should only serve as a back-up in my opinion. It’s much safe to bring along a larger container of water or a larger filter.

  • It may be safer, but in a survival situation you won’t be able to carry a large container wherever you go. Even more, the supply of fresh water will be depleted after a while and you’ll need a way to purify the one you can find.

  • I am surprised straw filters work, it seems so surreal. Is there a bottom limit when it comes to determining which water to drink through one of these straws. It is a compact and useful tool, it comes as a surprise I never heard of it before.

    • Hello.You state that no straws will filter viruses.So presumably if you boil the water first,allow it to cool,then use the straw this would solve that problem,correct? Thanks,Craig.

  • Boiling does kill Cryptosporidium, Giardia, viruses, and bacteria, but I believe the water should be fairly clear and not muddy.

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