Lifestraw products were originally meant for relief purposes in developing countries. We think that is what the Mission's purpose is ultimately for, but are disappointed in how the Mission Gravity filter performs in the backcountry. We found it confusing and difficult to use, and incredibly slow. It does treat for viruses as well as filter particulates, so it could be a better option than the SteriPen Ultra or a chemical treatment like Aquamira Water Treatment Drops.
LifeStraw Mission Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Filters viruses, long lifespan
Cons: Extremely slow, heavy and bulky
Our Analysis and Test Results
By far the slowest gravity filter and the most confusing apparatus to operate, the Mission left us thirsty for more.
The Gravity is one of the few filters tested that filter out viruses with a pore size of .02 microns, along with the MSR Guardian. It also works for bacteria and protozoa. In this way, it is very reliable. We found its effectiveness somewhat questionable because it is confusing and difficult to use and very slow. It has a lot of intricate parts and procedures to make it work at all and is confusing to back flush it. The way it is set up is confusing because the dirty water outlet is on the same unit as the clean hose, and is, in fact, larger and easier to use. One of our testers got frustrated with how slowly the water was coming out of the clean water hose and thought maybe he was using it wrong and started filling his bottle from the dirty water outlet! We promptly told him to stop!
The Mission's filter life should last 18,000 liters, which is a huge amount, surpassed only by the Sawyer Mini's 100,000 gallons and the Sawyer 4L Water Filtration System's 1 million gallon guarantee.
Ease of Use
As we mentioned before, the Mission is complicated and difficult to use, especially for a gravity filter. Other gravity filters in this test like the Katadyn Gravity Camp and the MSR AutoFlow Gravity Filter are extremely easy to use and so we were very frustrated with the Mission.
Yes, the instructions are printed on the bag, but they are not exactly extensive or clear. We were never able to get more than a trickle to come out of this filter, and based on the specs on Lifestraw's website, that is about right for the time it takes to fill 10 ounces — a long time. The strange back flush bulb is confusing, but does appear to force water back through the filter to clear it out.
The design of the filter unit was also difficult to use. The clean water hose was very short and not compatible with any type of bladder or bottle; we had to stand there and hold our vessel up to the hose to fill it and when it takes five minutes for one liter, that's a lot of standing around.
If you have a lot of time, this filter can purify a lot of water. The filter is guaranteed for up to 18,000 liters. However, who has that much time?? The other gravity filters like the Platypus GravityWorks have a great treatment capacity and work much faster. The Guardian's filter also lasts for 10,000 liters and is much easier to use.
We've said it a few times already, but this filter is slow! The fact that it takes five minutes to filter one liter is the major downfall of this filter and made us question if we were using it right. Any other gravity filter, UV treatment or pump will treat water faster. The only treatment that takes longer is chemicals like the MSR Aquatabs, but at least you don't have to stand there holding a water bottle while you wait.
The Gravity is one of the heaviest gravity filters reviewed at 16 ounces, after the 17 ounce Sawyer 4L Water Filtration System. It is also quite bulky because of its large filter unit with the strange back flush bulb so not something you'd want to carry on a lightweight mission where you want to keep your pack small.
Basecamp situations where you need to filter out viruses, potentially some type of relief situation in an urban area or in developing countries. We would recommend the MSR Guardian over the Lifestraw in this situation as it filters water five times faster.
At $145, this filter is not a great value. For $25 less, you can get either the Platypus GravityWorks or the MSR Autoflow Gravity Filter, both of which are great products, especially if you are not worried about viruses in your water — which in Canada and the U.S. is likely not an issue.
For every LifeStraw filter purchased, a child in Africa will be provided with safe drinking water for an entire school year — that is the one good reason we can find for purchasing this product. There are other filters and purification methods that do the same job as the Mission but better.
Other Versions and Accessories
We prefer the original Lifestraw. The Mission Gravity Filter comes in five and twelve-liter bag sizes.
— Jessica Haist