It’s been a few years since the LifeStraw hit the market. At the time, there was no product like it, the concept of a filter straw was new and to be honest, pretty cool. I saw the same ads you probably did, pictures of kids in Africa drinking out of mud puddles and I figured that if it worked out there, it would work for me. So long story short, I bought one, tossed it in my gear and the rest is history.
At that point in time, I had a primary water filter so I didn’t use the LifeStraw until my primary broke on me in the middle of a recon during July. I was hot, sweaty and in need of water. My hydro pack was near empty and my canteen was dry. I stuck the straw in the water, cleared the filter with a few quick breaths and started to drink. It took a couple minutes for the filter to fill up and for the filtered water to actually come up the straw. But once it did, the rest was quick. I drank the entire canteen cup in a few minutes, gave it a good rinse and wipe down and then headed on my way.
Two years later, the LifeStraw is still going strong. I’ve probably drank at least 5 gallons through it with no issue. It’s a simple operation, pop open the cap on the bottom, stick in the water source and proceed to drink.
Now for the fun part, let’s look at the specs on the LifeStraw:
- Uses advanced hollow fiber membrane technology to filter up to 264 gallons or 1,000 liters of water to 0.2 microns
- Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella
- Removes 99.9% waterborne protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium
- Reduces turbidity (muddiness)
Even though the LifeStraw has served me well, it is not my choice for a primary water filter. I have another one on the way to replace my old Katadyn. You may ask why not have the Life Straw as the primary, well the answer is pretty obvious. There is no way to use the straw in conjunction with your canteen or hydro pack. The straw is designed to drink directly from the water source. So unless you have tons of water sources in your area and you feel like stopping every 15 or 20 minutes to grab a drink, you’re going to be out of luck. The straw is the backup for that fact alone. Last time I was out training, I was near a flowing stream so I used the straw at the source and then filled up my canteen and drank that in order to conserve the water in my hydro pack.
Water Filter Options
If you want an effective method of filling up your water container with filtered water, you need to look into the pump filters offered by Katadyn, MSR or Sawyer to name a few. These filters allow you to hook up a hose from the filter to your water container and then pump directly from the water source into your hydro pack or whatever you’re using to store water.
So if you think of water filters like you do the rest of your gear, you know the old adage. One is none and two is one. When it comes to my hydration I take that concept a step further and go with as many options as possible:
1. Primary: Pump style water filter, Katadyn, MSR, Sawyer, etc.
2. Backup: Filter straw
3. 2nd Backup: Water purification powder, drops or tabs
4. Primitive: Boiling
Having these four options gives me tons of flexibility and fall backs if, for example, my primary filter breaks or fails, I can go with a product such as Aquamira Water Treatment Drops to treat a large amount of water. While I’m waiting on the water treatment to take effect, I can grab my Lifestraw and get a drink instantly from the source. If all else fails, I can always boil the water to remove any nasty bacteria or parasites.
Of course the final decision is up to you on how you want to handle this, if you prefer to use drops over tablets, straws vs pump filters, etc. To help in the process, here’s a short list of links to filters on my favorite website – Amazon:
Katadyn Pro Hiker: http://amzn.to/1NWCJFd
MSR SweetWater: http://amzn.to/1FFgzW2
Sawyer PointOne: http://amzn.to/1CtSRYx
Potable Aqua Tablets: http://amzn.to/1FFgMZw
Aquamira Drops: http://amzn.to/1H7SRE0
I have shot a quick video, showing the LifeStraw in use, it’s nothing super detailed since, let’s face it, it’s just a water filter. It either works or it doesn’t. And since I’m here, writing this post, it obviously works just fine. But don’t take my word for it, pick up one today for your kit and give it a try. It’s just another layer to add your preps and for the price, it’s a good deal.
As always thanks for the support and I hope you enjoy the video. Don’t forget to like and share your friends!