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LifeStraw Review

A simple and inexpensive on-the-go filtration system
LifeStraw
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Price:  $20 List | $17.47 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, inexpensive, simple
Cons:  No storage capabilities, hard to clean
Manufacturer:   Vestergaard
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 24
  • Water Quality - 20% 8
  • Durability & Maintenance - 20% 4
  • Treatment Time - 15% 8
  • Weight & Packability - 15% 9
  • Ease of Set-Up - 15% 10
  • Ease of Filtration - 15% 3

Our Verdict

The Lifestraw Personal Filter can easily pick up water from puddles and other water sources on your next adventure. This straw filter operates by sucking force, and it does take some effort to get water from the ground into your mouth. It's lightweight, easy to use, and simple for a super low price. It filters out particulates and pathogens like bacteria and protozoa (Giardia and Cryptosporidium), but cannot filter out viruses. It also has the capability to remove chemicals from the water. If a lightweight, simple on-the-carry filter for a good price is what you seek, the 1.75-ounce Lifestraw can't be beat.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, inexpensive, simpleEasy to use, fast flow rate, collapsible, lightweightLightweight, 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), reliable
Cons No storage capabilities, hard to cleanLacks durability and reliabilityDoesn'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 treatment
Bottom Line An on-the-go filtration system that is simple and inexpensiveA soft bottle filtration system designed for lightweight travelThe best value gravity filter on the marketThis lifetime guaranteed product is easy to use on the trailThe best chemical treatment option that will kill all pathogens when given enough time
Rating Categories LifeStraw Katadyn BeFree Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L Sawyer Squeeze Water Treatment Drops
Water Quality (20%)
8
8
8
8
5
Durability & Maintenance (20%)
4
1
7
5
10
Treatment Time (15%)
8
10
8
9
2
Weight & Packability (15%)
9
10
6
7
9
Ease Of Set Up (15%)
10
9
6
7
8
Ease Of Filtration (15%)
3
9
9
8
9
Specs LifeStraw Katadyn BeFree Katadyn Gravity... Sawyer Squeeze Water Treatment...
Type of Filter/Purifier Straw filter Squeeze & on-the-go Gravity filter Squeeze, in-line, on-the-go Chemical treatment
Time to Treat One Liter (Timed Test) immediate immediate 64 seconds 40 seconds Clear Water - 20 min
Turbid Water - 35 min
Measured Weight (entire kit -- oz) 1.75 oz 2.1 oz 11.7 oz 5.7 oz 3.0 oz
Total cost per 100 L ($) $0.50 $4.00 $6.00 $0.01 $13.16
Replacement cartridge cost per 100 L ($) $0.50 $2.50 $2.67 $0.01 $13.16
# of Liters (L)/gallons (gal) per lifetime 4,000 L/1,000 gal 1000 L/264 gal 1,500 L/396 gal 378,541 L/100,000 gal 114 L/30 gal per package
Filter Media or Active Ingredient Hollow Fiber Hollow Fiber Pleated glassfiber Hollow Fiber Chlorine Dioxide
Removes Bacteria? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Removes Protozoa? (Cryptosporidium, Giardia) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Removes Viruses'? No No No No Yes
Removes Chemicals? Yes No No No No
Removes Heavy Metals? No No No No No
Removes Particulates (sediment, microplastics)? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Filter Pore Size 0.2 microns 0.1 micron 0.2 microns 0.1 micron N/A
Advertised Flow Rate Varies 2.11 L per min 2 L/min 1.7L/min N/A
Dimensions 8.8 x 1.2 in 9.05 in x 2.73 in 10 x 6 x 2.4 in 11 x 6 N/A
Storage Capacity (L) 0 0.6 L 6 L 0 0

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Lifestraw Personal filter is suited for solo on-the-go use. It's lightweight design and low price make it very attractive. However, it's sucking speed is a little "sucky" and there are better products out there if you're willing to shell out a bit more cash. A decent option if you're looking for a fast on-the-go filtration system.

Performance Comparison


A lightweight personal filter that allows you to drink from...
A lightweight personal filter that allows you to drink from virtually anywhere.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Water Quality


Utilizing a hollow fiber filtration cartridge with 0.2-micron pore size, it can filter out particulates, bacteria, and protozoa including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. It does not treat viruses. This handy filtration system works best in clear water but has the affinity to clean out turbid water.

Simply wear it around your neck or tuck into your pack as you...
Simply wear it around your neck or tuck into your pack as you adventure through the wilderness. It provides good filtration but struggles a little bit in turbid water.
Photo: Amber King

Durability & Maintenance


This system seems to be pretty durable overall with few parts. It's pretty simple. Our only worry is the LifeStraw could snap along the length of the tube because it's so long. The filter lasts around 1000 gallons (roughly 4000 liters), according to the manufacturer.

A look at the intake. While you can't clean this directly, you can...
A look at the intake. While you can't clean this directly, you can blow the water back through if it gets clogged. While this isn't ideal, it works well enough.
Photo: Amber King

Unfortunately, you can't troubleshoot this filter as everything is enclosed and inaccessible. If it clogs, it's hard to unclog. Blowing it out the other way works, but it's not very efficient.

Treatment Speed


Using the power of suction, attaining water is instantaneous. It does not require pumping, and it's not a chemical treatment. It's a great emergency filtration system because of its quick ability to attain water. It, unfortunately, cannot store water, unless you donate a container that you carry dirty around with you.

Weight & Packability


The LifeStraw is one of the lightest options out there. At just 1.75 ounces and a narrow profile, it's super duper easy to pack away and use for lightweight travel. It slides nicely into a side pocket of backpacking, or you can wear it around your neck with its removable lanyard. We found that it was a little too long to use with a hydration vest as it got in the way, but could tuck into a pocket in the back.

An ultralightweight filtration system that can be used for trail...
An ultralightweight filtration system that can be used for trail running or short backpacking trips.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Set-Up


There's not much needed for set-up. You only need to find a water source that you can access.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The LifeStraw's longer length doesn't require you to get your face right into the water, but we typically found ourselves on our knees getting muddy or having to get into the water source to access the water. It might be hard to reach a river with a super steep bank or use this on-the-go filtration system off the side of a big boat…unless you feel like getting in.

Ease of Filtration


After you've found your water source, suck with all you've got. For the first few seconds, you won't get anything as the tube needs to fill with water first before you can get water. The wide intake and output give you a decent flow of water after those first few moments. If the water is murky, this becomes even harder, and the flow decreases significantly. There are other products with a similar design that work better including the Sawyer Micro that offers a better rate of filtration flow, and less sucking strength required. However, the Micro also "sucks" in silty water.

The mouthpiece that provides some flow, but takes a little effort at...
The mouthpiece that provides some flow, but takes a little effort at first.
Photo: McKenzie Long

Another caveat to this system is that it doesn't store any water. If you plan on using this while backpacking and you know you have a long section without water, it's advised to carry dirty water in a storage container. From the storage, you can then drink. However, this isn't ideal as you have to sterilize that storage container before filling it with clean water once again. Because of these limitations, this filter is best for on-the-go use with less ideal options for storage.

This model can also be used to drink from a bottle, allowing you to...
This model can also be used to drink from a bottle, allowing you to collect water at the source and carry it with you, and then you can drink it later.
Photo: Luke Lydiard

Value


This value is hard to beat. Its capabilities are limited to personal on-the-go use. The Sawyer Micro and Sawyer Mini cost just a little bit more and offer better performance and versatility overall. If we had to choose between these systems, we'd go with the Sawyer Micro, but if money is your priority, the Lifestraw is hard to beat.

Little puddles in granite pockets are a perfect place to get water...
Little puddles in granite pockets are a perfect place to get water while alpine climbing with this model.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Conclusion


The Lifestraw Personal filtration system is suited for one person on-the-go use. It doesn't have storage functionality, but water treatment is instantaneous. Sucking through the filter can be cumbersome, and there are better performers out there, but the low price is hard to beat. A great option for emergency use or short trips into the backcountry where water will be plentiful.

Amber King