We need water to survive; everyone knows that. What we don’t always know is whether our water is clean and safe. It’s a problem that a large part of the world’s inhabitants doesn’t understand very clearly. We are faced with this same issue when we take our excursions outdoors.
Filtering your water when you are hiking, camping, or backpacking is essential during your stay. There are plenty of products that will filter your water for you but some are better than others.
There are so many items to bring with you in the wild, this is true, but undoubtedly the most important item you take with you is a water filter. The LifeStraw Personal Water filter is changing the whole field of water purification. There are hundreds and thousands of microscopic organisms in your water that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
The water we drink out of our faucets on a day-to-day basis also have some of these organisms, but there are some that are extremely harmful to humans.
Learning about what might be in your water and where your water source comes from will significantly increase your knowledge about what might be inside it. We take for granted the clean water that comes from drinking fountains and sinks, but that is a pleasure we leave behind when we step out onto the trail.
There are a lot of modern conveniences we have to go without when we’re in the wild, but clean, safe drinking water should never be one of them.
Why Filters Are Crucial
Three of the most common water-borne organisms and bacteria found in unfiltered water are guinea worm, cryptosporidiosis (Crypto), and giardiasis. Let’s take these viruses one by one so you know what could happen to you if you are not filtering your water correctly or risking drinking unclean water.
Guinea Worm is basically an organism that is ingested by drinking unfiltered or contaminated water which then roots into your digestive systems. Once inside the host, it releases smaller larvae of the organisms and begins to penetrate the walls of the stomach and intestines. They then mature in your body and can reproduce.
They can find their way our of your body through what will appear as a blister on your skin, usually in the lower extremities. The blister will pop and release the larvae and if the blister comes into contract with more water the same organisms will be released into the water again.
Often the host will not see any changes when infected for up to one full year. After a year, the host may feel symptoms including fever, itchy rashes, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and/or A blister will also develop which will be extremely painful.
There are plenty of complications that can occur if guinea worm is not dealt with properly, and has even resulted in a small number of death.
Crypto is a parasite that is found in the feces of animals or humans who have drank from an unclean water source. It can also be found in soil, food, or surfaces that may have had infected feces in it, potentially even those delicious berries we see along the trail.
It is spread through the drinking (even if accidental), wading or swimming in unfiltered or contaminated water that has come in contact with the mouth, directly or indirectly.
The most common symptom and side-effect is a loose stool. This generally begins within two to ten days after coming into contact with the parasite. With the most common symptom being watery diarrhea, other symptoms include stomach pain or cramping, dehydration, nausea and vomiting, fever, or weight loss.
Once a person is infected with the parasite you may experience symptoms for up to a month after being infected until it leaves your system entirely. Once infected, however, hosts have a higher risk of contracting many other diseases because of weakened immunity.
Giardiasis is very similar to Crypto, and is also contracted through fecal matter and the accidental ingestion of contaminated materials or water. A key feature of Giardiasis is that the parasite is encapsulated in a hardened shell when ingested.
This allows the parasite to stay in the body even longer and allowing it a greater ability to fight off even the best antibiotics. It is yet another parasite that causes its host to have extremely watery diarrhea. Giardiasis is the most common intestinal parasitic disease affecting people in the United States.
Once a person or animal is infected, it must pass the parasite through its bowel movements. Even after it’s been passed, it can live up to a few months in the feces, increasing its chances of finding another host.
As you can see, purifying your water is crucial to your health when you are in the wilderness. Each of these diseases causes extreme discomfort that can occur during your hike or camping trip. The LifeStraw personal water purification system is one of the best ways to combat contracting a parasitic infection when staying hydrated outdoors.
There are some key features to consider when taking a closer look at the LifeStraw personal water filter and qualities that the best water purifier should have.
Qualities The Best Purifier Has
The LifeStraw is one of the smallest, most compact, and lightest water purification systems out there. Size is very important when you are packing and tracking how much weight you will be carrying. Filters can range from the size of a regular water bottle to very large.
Some water filter systems have levers, pumps, or large “bladders” or bags of water to help pump more water, but sometimes speed and amount don’t account for the quality of that pure water. They have filters that require set up and tear down time and some that might need batteries. When every ounce counts, know the usefulness in comparison to the size of your water filter is an important factor to consider.
The life of a water filter is also important. Water filters are usually pretty pricey and that’s partially because they are very important to your survival, but you also need to consider how long this filter is going to last. You want something that can be used again and again without fail.
You want something that is durable, easy to clean during your trip, and has little maintenance once you’re done using it. Spending more money now doesn’t always guarantee the best and longest lasting water purifier. Doing the research now and informing yourself, comparing filters to one another, and hearing others’ experiences, however, will save you time and money in the end.
Science of Filter
There are four ways that are popular to filter water.
These are through chemical treatments, ultraviolet light rays, absorptive, and micro-filter.
- Chemical treatments: include dissolvable chlorine tablets or water treatment liquids. These are easy to use and portable but often take more time to work. Sometimes up to 30 or 40 minutes before it’s safe to drink. They also can make you sick if you drink them too early before the treatment is done or use too much of the treatment and ingest a large amount of chlorine.
- Ultraviolet rays: used to kill certain bacteria with light. One flaw with this type is that the water has to be virtually clear to ensure the light is hitting the bacteria at full force. These also require a power source (batteries or charging) which is not always available.
- Absorptive treatments: attract and capture the bad objects in your water. These are highly effective when used properly but often lose potency when heavily saturated over time and may not last as long as necessary. This process also tends to take time because if done too quickly may become ineffective.
- Micro-filter technique: arguably the most effective way to filter water, and is the method employed by the Life Straw. The system is a lot like the absorptive system only they are tighter and more compact. They can usually collect bacteria and viruses effectively and in a shorter amount of time. The only con to these filters is that there isn’t always a way of knowing when they become ineffective, which may not happen for a long time. These mostly need to be replaced after a certain number of uses and can’t always be cleaned and used again because they are so compact in their filter.
This is a big factor when weighing the pros and cons of what water purification system to choose. Is it big and bulky to carry? Is it heavy compared to other types? Is it compact, but unreliable? These are questions for convenience no one can answer but the consumer.
The price for the potency is always the biggest question. You can buy the biggest, electric, solar-charged water cleansing system and lug it up the side of a mountain if that will help you sleep better, but there are options that are just as close in quality and much easier to pack, carry, and use.
You need something that can be used in a jam. When the water bottles are empty and there is only a small brown stream trickling nearby, you want something that only takes a few minutes to use. Most importantly, you need something that you can trust to be effective in purifying your water.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter Review
- Award-winning LifeStraw has been used by millions around the globe since 2005
- Removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and removes minimum 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites
- Filters up to 1000 liters of contaminated water WITHOUT iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals
- Comes in a sealed bag, perfect for storing for emergencies
With all of these features in mind, it’s time to take a good look at other specs:
- Size: Length 8.8 in.
- Width 0.98 inches
- Weight: 1.76 ounces
- Materials: Halogenated Resin filter which kills 100% of bacteria and 99% of viruses & tough plastic outside walls to prevent cracking or breaking
- Filter Life: Filters up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water before needing to be replaced
- Price: For one LifeStraw is $19.93
- Best Use: Hiking, Camping, International Travel, Hunting, Fishing, Backpacking, Outdoors
Who Should Use This Product
The LifeStraw water filter should be used by anyone who will be traveling where clean water may not be available. This includes camping, hiking, cycling, et cetera, in the wilderness and also in foreign countries where the water may not be 100% clean.
This filter is so convenient because it eliminates the need to carry a lot of water with you. You should always leave for your traveling with an ample daily supply, but water is also very heavy. With this product, you can find any water source and use the Life Straw to create clean drinking water.
How Does The LifeStraw Work?
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is one of the only filters that is as convenient and simple as something you would use at home: a straw. There are no additional items to use with this filter. This means no connecting, screwing together, filling or pumping, no chemicals to use and wait on, and no batteries to use at all.
You use this exactly like a straw either through a water bottle that has been filled with contaminated water or by drinking directly from the water source on the ground. Simply remove the bottom cover of the filter and place into contaminated water. Then open the top cover where you will place your mouth and after 3-5 seconds of sucking you will be drinking clean, pure water to keep you hydrated.
Hear What Others Are Saying
There are hundreds of satisfied customers who have purchased this product, and users love the convenience of this filter. At just under two ounces in weight, this straw can easily be carried around your neck or tied to your bag. There are no additional parts to use with this filter which makes it easy to keep track of. No missing parts to slow down the process of getting you clean water.
Users who have bought this product also love the low maintenance of the LifeStraw. To clean this filter while you are traveling, one of the easiest ways is to simply backwash the filter. This will help clear the filter out after each use and help preserve the life of the product.
After each drinking session, simply blow air back through the same hole you were just drinking from and push the rest of the dirty water back through and out the bottom of the straw. This will flush the filter and cleaning membranes inside the straw and avoid having bacteria or dirt sitting inside the straw for long periods of time between uses.
This will also ensure the next time you drink that the straw is as clean as it can be after each use.
One note of caution, though, is to always keep a grip on this small straw. It is made of durable plastic, but it also becomes slick then wet. Be careful to never let the “clean” end or the tip that goes into your mouth come into contact with dirty, unfiltered water.
Never let the straw sit alone inside your water bottle or the contaminated water could enter through the wrong end, even with the safety cap. Never set your straw on the ground or on any surface that may have harmful bacteria on it.
Another note of caution from users is that the straw is really only made for one person. If you are traveling with family or friends then a filter that can clean more water than just for one person might be helpful. That being said, many consumers think that it’s also convenient when each traveler has their own straw to minimize the time needed to filter water for everyone.
Pros & Cons of the LifeStraw
- Lightweight (less than 2 ounces)
- No additional items or products needed
- Removes up to 99.9% of viruses and bacteria from your water source
- Simple and easy to use
- Can be reused again and again
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Can be used for up to 1,000 liters of clean water during its life
- Compatible with nearly every water bottle
- Will not filter a large amount of water to be used for other things such as cooking
- Only filters for a single person
- Is made of plastic that could become slippery and is easy to drop
- Can accidentally be submerged in a water bottle with contaminated water and become unusable
- Cannot filter effectively if frozen
Other Related Products
The LifeStraw Steel is very similar to the regular LifeStraw only comes in an even more durable stainless steel body and cap. This will prevent cracking and breaking from drops or even freezing temperatures. With the same amazing filtering abilities and versatility, this straw is just a little more hardy than the plastic version.
If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can buy it on Amazon.
Another member of the LifeStraw family is the LifeStraw Go. This is the same trustworthy LifeStraw filter attached and already inside a water bottle. This eliminated your need to bring a water bottle with you of your own. The LifeStraw Go has everything you need.
Simply fill up the bottle by removing the top and slide the straw back in and tighten the lid for a clean drinking experience without worry. One note of caution would be the life of this filter because it makes backwashing and cleaning much more difficult.
Like this product? Then you can buy it on Amazon.
LifeStraw Family 1.0
The LifeStraw Family 1.0 is a gravity-fed filter. Simply fill the top bucket up with dirty water and let gravity to the work to ensure that clean water is available through the tube and straw. This product works very well for traveling with families and can filter clean water for a family of four for up to three years before needing to be replaced.
One down-side is making sure that you have something to tie or latch the top of the filter to that is both sturdy enough and high enough. Camping in certain areas or at certain elevations, trees may be scarce to finding other creative ways to hang this device might be necessary.
Like this amazing product? Then you can check its price here.
LifeStraw Mission (5 or 12 Liter)
The LifeStraw Mission is another gravity-fed filter. Only much larger than the LifeStraw Family. This filter is ideal for camping in groups of more than 5 people. The bladder or bag is filled with unclean water from the nearest source, the bag is slung up into anything that is high enough, and gravity does the rest.
Simple take the faucet end and either drink directly from there or use the lever to fill your bottle. This works well for filling up clean cooking water as well. This product comes in both five or twelve liter bags that, when empty, flatten and roll up tightly for easy storage.
Like this amazing product? Then you can buy it on Amazon.
Drink Up The Views, Not The Viruses
As you can see, water purification is no joke. After reviewing the LifeStraw I hope you have a much better understanding of why filters are so important, what to look for in a good quality water purification system, and why the LifeStraw is, quite simply, one of the best in its field.
What purifiers have you used in the past? How do they compare to the LifeStraw filter? Have you owned or used a LifeStraw before? What was your experience with it? In a community of people who love the wild, we need to share our experiences to help others.
Tell us what you think about the LifeStraw and share your stories or opinions with us in the comments. Make sure you and your friends never go into the woods unprepared by sharing this article with them as well!