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LifeStraw Universal Review

This adaptor kit turns your favorite water bottle into an awesome water filtration solution
LifeStraw Universal
Photo: LifeStraw
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Price:  $35 List | $29.84 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, highly adaptable, lightweight, easy to use
Cons:  Suction required, filters fall off lids.
Manufacturer:   LifeStraw
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2019
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 24
  • Water Quality - 20% 8
  • Durability & Maintenance - 20% 4
  • Treatment Time - 15% 8
  • Weight & Packability - 15% 8
  • Ease of Set-Up - 15% 7
  • Ease of Filtration - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The Lifestraw Universal Adaptor kit can turn your favorite water bottle into a water filtration system. The inexpensive filtration system can remove bacteria and protozoan cysts while the activated carbon cleanses water for smells and other chemicals. It cannot remove viruses. We like how compatible the lids are, working for a plethora of water bottles. Also, the flow rate is amenable, with the narrow adaptor providing a high rate of flow. No other product has this type of adaptability. Many of our friends thought it was great for day hikes, bike packing, and backpacking. Just be sure to check to see the filter is in place each time you use it as it can come loose if not placed securely under the lid, leaving you at risk of drinking contaminated water.

Compare to Similar Products

 
LifeStraw Universal
Awards  Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  
Price $29.84 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$90 ListCheck Price at REI
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$14.95 at REI$7.76 at Amazon
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Star Rating
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Pros Inexpensive, highly adaptable, lightweight, easy to useLightweight, great price, durable design, fast flow, high volume filtration, use for cold weatherLightweight, adaptable, easy to use, lifetime guaranteeLightweight, inexpensive, kills all pathogens (including crypto), reliableEasy to use, lightweight, packable
Cons Suction required, filters fall off lidsDoesn't filter out viruses, no additional storage reservoirNot great for group use, better if you replace the bagsTakes a long time to kill crypto, slight taste to the water, chemical treatmentNot safe to use long-term, lower value than other chemical treatments, poor taste
Bottom Line This adaptor kit turns your favorite water bottle into an awesome water filtration solutionA convenient and easy-to-use gravity filter at a great priceSimple filtration that is lightweight and reliable for individual useThese drops are a reliable and lightweight option to carry all over the worldThis can be used as an emergency treatment system, but not much else
Rating Categories LifeStraw Universal Katadyn Gravity Cam... Sawyer Squeeze Water Treatment Drops Purification Tablets
Water Quality (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
2.0
Durability & Maintenance (20%)
4.0
7.0
5.0
10.0
10.0
Treatment Time (15%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
2.0
2.0
Weight & Packability (15%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
10.0
Ease Of Set Up (15%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Ease Of Filtration (15%)
4.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
Specs LifeStraw Universal Katadyn Gravity Cam... Sawyer Squeeze Water Treatment Drops Purification Tablets
Type of filter/purifier On-the-go (bottle lid adaptors) Gravity filter Squeeze, in-line, on-the-go Chemical treatment Chemical treatment
Time to treat one liter (timed test) immediate 64 seconds 40 seconds Clear Water - 20 min
Turbid Water - 35 min
33 minutes
Measured weight (entire kit, oz) 3.7 oz 11.7 oz 5.7 oz 3.0 oz 2.3 oz
Total cost per 100 L ($) $0.88 $6.00 $0.01 $13.16 $52.00
Replacement cartridge cost per 100 L ($) $0.50 $2.67 $0.01 $13.16 $52.00
# of liters (L)/gallons (gal) per lifetime 4,000 L/1,000 gal 1,500 L/396 gal 378,541 L/100,000 gal 114 L/30 gal per package 25 L/6.6 gal
Filter media or active ingredient Hollow Fiber/ Carbon Filter Pleated glassfiber Hollow Fiber Chlorine Dioxide Iodine & Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide
Effective against bacteria? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Effective against protozoa? (Cryptosporidium, Giardia) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (Gardia = yes; Crypto = no)
Effective against viruses? No No No Yes Yes
Effective against chemicals? Yes No No No No
Effective against heavy metals? No No No No No
Removes Particulates (sediment, microplastics)? Yes Yes Yes No No
Filter pore size 0.2 microns 0.2 microns 0.1 micron N/A N/A
Advertised flow rate Varies 2 L/min 1.7L/min N/A N/A
Dimensions 8.7 x 4.5 x 3 in 10 x 6 x 2.4 in 11 x 6 N/A N/A
Storage capacity (L) 0 6 L 0 0 0

Our Analysis and Test Results

This unique system turns your favorite water bottle into a filtration system. Both adaptors are super lightweight and ultra packable, giving it application for all sorts of backcountry or front country missions. Since it doesn't filter out viruses, be careful not to use it in places where water-borne viruses could be a problem. It's a great option for anywhere in North America.

Performance Comparison


A look at the Lifestraw Adaptor kit and it's compatible bottles. In...
A look at the Lifestraw Adaptor kit and it's compatible bottles. In the center is the filter that attaches underneath the lid. A great option for on-go-travel if you love your water bottle.
Photo: Amber King

Water Quality


This bottle adaptor kit can get rid of particulates, bacteria, and protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, with a 0.2-micron hollow filter membrane. This filtration method cannot rid contaminated water of viruses. It's best for areas where viruses are not problematic, so it's perfect for most backcountry locations in North America. The activated carbon used in this filter removes bad tastes and odors from water, improving flavor.

A look at the hollow filter cartridge that is infused with an...
A look at the hollow filter cartridge that is infused with an activated carbon capsule that also removes chemicals.
Photo: Amber King

Durability and Maintenance


We didn't experience any issues with this unit while drinking. In sandy water, the filter can get clogged, but when run under clear water it is simple to clean. You can also blow out sediment from the other side if you want to backflush the unit. This filter has a lifespan of about 4000 liters or 1,000 gallons.

Be sure the filter is screwed on tightly to the lid, or else it...
Be sure the filter is screwed on tightly to the lid, or else it could come undone. This puts you at risk of drinking tainted water.
Photo: Amber King

Several online users reported that the filter came undone from the lid, which put them at risk for drinking contaminated water. If your bottles aren't translucent, this is an even bigger problem as you can't see if it's detached. We had this experience but realized when it was because when the straw is saturated it gets weighed down and can pop off. We wish this lid had threads to ensure this doesn't happen. We really had to push it in to ensure this didn't happen — double check to see if your filter is in place before drinking.

Opaque containers are harder to monitor this. Here we open the...
Opaque containers are harder to monitor this. Here we open the bottle, right before we were about the take a drink. Thank goodness we checked!
Photo: Amber King

Treatment Time


Given that this filtration system filters on the go, the time to get drinking water is instantaneous. This system comes with two water bottle adaptors that have varying rates of flow. The water that you can get from the bottle into your mouth depends on your sucking force and the bottle itself.

Weight and Packability


The parts of this package are super lightweight. The filter detaches from the base of each adaptor head. The filter weighs 1.60 oz, while both heads with the cap weight the same at 2.10 oz. Altogether, the system weighs 3.70 oz, not including the weight of the bottle.

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The parts of this system are super packable and don't take up much space. You can affix both the filter and the appropriate adaptor to the head of your water bottle. Or you can pack the different parts away into a small pouch for use later on.

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As a result of this ultralightweight design, its a good option for backpacking if you plan on taking your own container. It's also great for front country use where you might be concerned about water quality. It even comes with a carry case to avoid lost parts.

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Click to enlarge

Ease of Setup


The bottle cap adaptors are compatible with a plethora of different companies. It fits bottles from Nalgene, CamelBak, Hydroflask, and Klean Kanteen.

There are two size options. The filter sits into the housing under the lid. The only downside is that you have to choose a bottle that is longer than the filter itself. So it doesn't work well with containers that are less than 1L or have a shorter, fatter profile. The filter itself is about the length of a Nalgene bottle.

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Click to enlarge

When you find a compatible bottle, screw insert the filtration unit into the lid. Then scoop up your water from your source, and screw the lid onto the bottle. Voila…you have a filtration system.

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Ease of Filtration


While the setup is easy, the actual drinking process is a little cumbersome. Both mouthpieces worked when we used the unit, but the smaller mouthpiece functioned far better than the wider one normally used with the Nalgene container.

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Click to enlarge

When your bottle is full, it takes just a few sucks before you'll get water. You have to pull water into the filtration unit using sucking force. The more narrow adaptor is far better at this than the wider adaptor. The narrow unit also has a better suckling valve that makes it easy to bite while the larger one is harder to suck through. Once you've saturated the filter, the flow rate is adequate, providing you with water at the rate at which you suck.

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Click to enlarge

If your bottle is not full and the filter is not saturated, it's important to note that the flow rate will decrease significantly or won't work at all. Saturate the filter before trying to drink. All in all, like all on-the-go filters, it requires a little work to get water. We like the narrow bottle adaptor better than the wider option.

Drinking dirty water from the Nalgene adaptor requires a little...
Drinking dirty water from the Nalgene adaptor requires a little sucking effort.
Photo: Edward Kemper

Value


This unit can turn any bottle into a filtration system, which is valuable. The only downside is you should find yourself replacing the filter after 265 liters, which in the long run may become expensive, depending on how often you use the system.

Prior to sleeping on this dreamy beach in Hawaii, we filled our...
Prior to sleeping on this dreamy beach in Hawaii, we filled our water bottles with water that was somewhat questionable. Luckily, we have the Lifestraw adaptor kit that fits nicely with the Nalgene bottle we have tucked away into our backpack.
Photo: Amber King

Conclusion


This unique adaptor kit is quite inexpensive and turns any compatible water bottle into a filtration system. It has many applications, and both of the mouthpieces provide sufficient water flow to keep you hydrated on the go. Be sure to check the filter before consuming contaminated water as it may accidentally pop off.

Amber King