I see a lot of questions popping up in my Twitter feed regarding the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. As I was planning on doing a review for this product, I decided that I would also take the time to answer some of these questions here on UK Survival Guides.
Now first off, this water filter comes in second of my personal favorites just behind the Sawyer Mini but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad filter, I love it, the Sawyer Mini just has a bit more going for it.
I’m going to start off by answering a few questions and then I will get down to my review.
Can LifeStraw Filter Urine?
While the LifeStraw may remove all parasites and bacteria, it can’t do anything about salt. It cannot be used to make ocean water drinkable, and since urine typically has a high salt level, it can’t help here either. Also, at the end of the day, it will still taste like urine as the LifeStraw can’t do anything about taste either.
Can You Filter Salt Water With a LifeStraw?
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is designed for the backcountry and will filter out 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites. Chemicals, salt water and viruses will not be removed.
What Does the LifeStraw Not Filter?
Chemicals, salt water, heavy metals and viruses will not be removed from the water. If you were looking for a high capacity filter to remove viruses, the LifeStraw Mission and LifeStraw Family 1.0 remove 99.999% of viruses.
How Much Does a LifeStraw Personal Filter?
A single LifeStraw can filter 264 gallons which is enough for a person to live for a year.
How Do You Clean a LifeStraw Filter?
After every use, back-flush your LifeStraw by blowing a breath of air back into the mouthpiece to purge all remaining water trapped within the filter. If you have access to clean water, suck some into the filter and back-flush it again. Give it a few shakes and leave both ends uncapped to air dry at room temperature.
Do LifeStraws Have Expiration Dates?
According to the manufacturer, Lifestraw has a shelf life of 5 years with periodic usage and proper drying. Unused in the original wrapper it appears to me to be useful much longer but according to the manufacturer it is 5 years.
LifeStraw Personal Review
For the price that you are paying for the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, you are getting a compact, lightweight, and simple system for treating water. It is chemical free, doesn’t have any batteries or moving parts (meaning it is unlikely to break), and can last for 1000 liters or 264 gallons.
The LifeStraw was originally designed to provide easy access to clean drinking water for people in Third World countries. This is an emergency water treatment method that can also work in the backcountry. the downside being that you have to lay down everytime you want a drink and can’t take the water with you. Now they do offer the LifeStraw Go which deals with this problem but that isn’t what this review is about. It cannot treat large quantities of water but does allow fast and easy access to clean water if you have a questionable source.
It effectively strains out bacteria and protozoa, including Cryptosporidium, through its hollow fiber membrane, but it does not treat for viruses. It makes a handy water treatment system for international travel, but be aware that you will still be vulnerable to viral diseases. This filter is reported to last around 1000 liters. I mentioned at the start of this post that this came in second after the Sawyer Mini which lasts 100,000 gallons. so you are getting much more for your money with the Sawyer. There is no way to troubleshoot this water filter, other than blowing out the water you just sucked into backflush.
The LifeStraw is incredibly easy to operate. You dip the filter into the water and drink out of the top like you would out of a straw. It can be tricky to suck through the filter if the water is especially murky, and there is a delay as the water goes through the filter before it reaches your mouth. Once it starts moving through, it is easy enough to drink your fill.
The straw is not particularly long and if the banks are high you have to really get down to get your face close enough, or if the bank is muddy, this poses another problem. It seems like it’s best to use this filter like a straw out of a container you’ve filled from the source.
The main downside to this filter is that you can’t treat water with it and then transfer the water to another vessel like a cooking pot or a CamelBak. So you can’t use it to treat water for cooking, for groups, or for situations like alpine climbing where you want to bring clean water with you and leave the filter on the ground with your bivy gear. You can only drink through the filter. If you are backpacking and need to bring water with you between sources, you will need to carry a bottle of dirty water with you and drink through the LifeStraw whenever you are thirsty. Keep in mind that doing this contaminates your vessel, and you will need to drink through the filter out of it every time until it has been properly sterilized.
Since this is a filter straw, drinking through it is almost instantaneous. It does not require pumping or an incubation period like chemical treatments do. At 2.7 ounces, this is one of the lightest water treatment methods you could bring with you into the backcountry.
This filter works well for short backpacking trips or for emergency water filtration but is not the most ideal treatment method for extended periods in the backcountry or for treating water for more than one person. This seems like more of a novelty treatment than anything else and is fun to have along to drink out of puddles.
This is a unique product with a rather specialized use. It is inexpensive and lightweight and works fairly well for personal use, but it won’t treat large quantities of water or water for groups.