The age-old issue for the minimal backpacker – how to keep things as light as possible without compromising quality and necessity. Innovative designs and lightweight technology seem to be taking care of the problem pretty well, if you’re prepared to spend the extra. So all you need to worry about now is the issue of how to get at least 4 litres of water on board every day, plus enough for cooking, without turning into a camel and breaking your back carrying it all.
Once again, technology triumphs and minimal backpackers are presented with a multitude of water filtration options to choose from, depending on your needs.
The Lifestraw is one such system that manages to tick plenty of boxes for getting clean water on the trail without having to carry much weight and no water at all, thus keeping you moving lighter and faster. But it’s not just hiking and backpacking that we like using the Lifestraw for. Canoeing, trail running and bikepacking are also very well suited to the easy lightweight design – just so long as you can find a water source to filter!
Trialing the Lifestraw water filter
Our first time using the Lifestraw filter was on a day-long canoeing trip. With a couple of litres of water packed for two of us, the Lifestraw was an essential item on the packing list as the day turned out to be much hotter than anticipated. Once we’d finished our bottled supplies, all we had to do was lean over the side and sip away at the river water.
Later in the summer it featured heavily on a four-day canoeing trip where re-filling fresh water was tricky and we didn’t want to waste fuel boiling up litres of river water each morning. Once again, we simply leaned over the side of the canoe for a quick sip to top up the hydration levels. This was fine for the occasional sip here and there, but as the Lifestraw doesn’t eliminate chemicals from the water, this is not recommended on busy waterways or rivers that run through farmland.
We’ve also used the Lifestraw water filter on numerous day hikes throughout the summer, when carrying enough water for 7 or 8 hours in the sun can turn your adventure into more of a military training exercise. So long as we make sure that there are water sources en route, carrying the super lightweight Lifestraw provides a very appealing alternative to the weight of 3 or 4 litres of water.
The performance of the Lifestraw water filter
The Lifestraw is super easy to use – simply put it in the water source and suck up the water as you would through a drinking straw. If you’re worried about dropping it, there is a string attached so that you can hang it around your neck, but rest assured – it won’t sink if it does happen to topple over board.
It is also really simple to clean – simply blow air back into the mouthpiece after each use. This removes any trapped water still inside. Once you have access to clean water, you can do the same thing and then leave it to dry with both caps off.
The specs of the Lifestraw water filter
Sipping dirty water directly from an unknown water source is understandably a little daunting to start with – especially when you can’t see the result of the filtration before you drink it. So take a read of these stats that will help get your head around drinking a pint of pond water without a second thought:
- The Lifestraw removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella.
- It also removes 99.9% of waterborne protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
- As with almost all water filters, chemicals, salt water, heavy metals and viruses will not be removed from the water by the Lifestraw. However, Lifestraw has developed the Lifestraw Mission and LifeStraw Family 1.0 which removes 99.999% of viruses.
- At only 54g, the Lifestraw is barely noticeable in your backpack or on your running belt. You can even have it hang around your neck for frequent rehydration.
- Unlike other water filtration and purification systems, the Lifestraw contains no chemicals, is BPA free and leaves no bad aftertaste.
The cons of the Lifestraw water filter
As with most water filters, the Lifestraw has a shelf life of filtering 1000 litres. Not really a biggie, as this would cover all your drinking needs everyday for a year. But the biggest downside of the Lifestraw is its inability to filter water and then use it for cooking. For that you would need a hand pump or gravity filter. Another problem to get around is if you have filled your water bottle with contaminated water (to drink through the Lifestraw), you can’t then drink out of the bottle normally until it has been cleaned with fresh water. This doesn’t pose a massive issue out in the field, as once you’ve run out of fresh water, it’s unlikely you’ll come across any until you return to civilisation again – but something to be aware of all the same.
For an on the go lightweight water filtration solution, you can’t go wrong with the Lifestraw. It is idea for backpacking, bikepacking, trail running, day hikes and canoe trips where there are multiple guaranteed water sources en route, and a great backup when your main water supplies have run dry. Super simple to use and care for, and a great ‘just in case’ back up to slip into your backpack, almost unnoticed.
Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.