LifeStraw: Embracing The Suck

Feature | LifeStraw: Embracing The Suck

Water is the only part of your gear that you absolutely cannot condense down.
It takes up a specific amount of space and a specific amount of weight.
It's also the only piece of gear that you can't make do without or find alternatives for…
With a gallon of water being extremely bulky and weighing in at 9lbs, it makes it impossible to ever be able to carry enough.

Lifestraw Review

That leaves you with only one other alternative.  Filtering your own water on the go.
Water filtration is an absolute must.

You never know what nasty little things are living in the water you’re about to gulp down.
You either have to stop and make a fire to boil your water, use water treatment tablets, or use a personal water filtration straw.
Personally I have always seen water filters as a bit of a pain in the ass…
Generally they are on bulky side, they take up valuable space in my pack, and it takes real effort to pump any significant amount of water through them.
Of course I have one, because everyone should have one, but in the past more often than not the filter would stay in my truck tucked away in my “go” bag. Generally, I preferred to drink somewhat nasty tasting iodine water to lugging the filter around.
And then along came the LifeStraw.
A student of mine turned me on to it and since they are only 20 bucks each I bought a few. When the package arrived it was so light I thought the box might be empty.


Upon initial inspection of the contents I was pleasantly surprised that the little straw filters were not only compact but they truly weigh next to nothing (2oz to be exact).
Several days after the filters arrived I headed down the Colorado River in my kayak on a primitive spear-fishing trip with my wilderness survival intensive course. On the fly I decided to put the LifeStraw to the test, leaving my water bottle behind.
To be honest when I pulled out the filter and leaned my face down to the Colorado to drink I expected that I was going to have to suck hard enough to nearly give myself a brain aneurism.

But that’s not what happened at all. After several sucks the water started flowing and it wasn’t difficult to drink.

In fact I am sure that my two year old daughter could easily drink through it, which before testing it was a concern of mine. And perhaps the best thing, the water tasted great!
Turns out, each straw can filter around 270 gallons. After doing the math I figure that one straw would be enough to keep my family of 4 hydrated on creek or river water for about 5 months straight.

And the LifeStraw filters bacteria and protozoa out at a minimum rate of 99.9% and down to 0.2 microns which exceeds EPA water quality standards for safe drinking water (i.e. it’s cleaner than your tap water).
Since that day this little filter has become my newest companion. I carry one everywhere I go when I’m in the woods and I keep spares in both of my vehicles.
Honestly I have nothing bad to say about the LifeStraw, it’s inexpensive, light, and it works exceptionally well.
Since that first use I’ve drank some pretty sketchy water through it and haven’t had any issues.
What’s not to like?

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 17, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

23 Responses to :
LifeStraw: Embracing The Suck

  1. Marz says:

    It should be noted that it xant filter out salt chemicals or viruses so it limits the safe water sources you xan use it from

  2. Barbara says:

    where do I buy it?
    I believe that I’m already signed up

    1. Tim says:

      You can get them right on, I’ve had mine for a couple of years in my back pack.

    2. Jane Black says:

      You can get them and a whole bunch of survival gadgets at —-Surplus Provisions on eBay. AWSOME prices and free delivery. I have six Life Straws in each ‘Go’ bag. Under ten dollars each.

  3. Desert Fox says:

    My concern has always been the disposability of it. I’m a recycler and don’t like the idea of disposable things. You use it and throw it away? Or can you replace the filter? So far no one has reported that. How do you know it has stopped purifying…does the water look dirtier? Do you pre-filter the dirty water? – I assume.

    1. Taylor says:

      Once the filter has stopped working you will no longer be able to drink water through the straw! It’s amazing!

  4. Jeeff says:

    I like it too, but keep in mind that it is a “filter” and not a “purifier.” So in areas where guardia and other viruses are present (mountain streams, etc) you may still need your purifier pills

  5. Kevin Boland says:

    The LifeStraw is a terrific product, but please note that it does not purify the water of viruses. Viruses are especially a concern in international locations, but they should also be considered a concern within the United States. I recommend that the LifeStraw be used in conjunction with chlorine dioxide tablets, which will purify one liter of water of viruses in 15 minutes; or an ultraviolet purifier such as the SteriPen Adventurer Opti, which will purify one liter of water of viruses in two minutes.

  6. richard1941 says:

    How does it do with seawater?
    How does it do with urine?
    What exactly does it remove, besides microorganisms? Lead? Arsenic? Copper? Chronmium? Calcium? Sodium? Potassium? Zinc? Herbicides? Pesticides? Benzene?
    There is a lot of bad stuff out there besides bugs.

  7. Steve says:

    Sawyer makes a similar product, supposed to filter 100,000 gallons, and has a version that will filter out viruses.

  8. Leif says:

    It’s a hard-to-use product. More of a marketing scheme than a real help. Only for survival

  9. Mark says:

    I’m glad to see several comments about salts in here. Other than an RO system, I know of no filter that can remove salts. In west Texas, water can generally be found in livestock troughs and reservoirs. The biggest question is not about viruses or bacteria, but of alkalinity. Several of the folks that live around here have pointed out sources of ground water that livestock can use with no problems, BUT a human won’t make five paces without having to “drop their drawers” due to the alkalinity (salts) content of the water.
    It would be a better information for me if these articles dealt with identification of drinkable water from a salt standpoint.
    Just as a side note, the reservoirs where these sources are stored have no tell tale salt ring. They also support a healthy aquatic biosphere (bluegreen algae, water striders, dragonfly larvae, etc.). This biosphere is generally indicative of good water in the area.

  10. josh smith says:

    I have a life straw and love it but after I bought it I found the Sawyer mini water filter which filters a whopping 100,000 gallons down to .1000 microns and weighs 2 ounces check it out

  11. This is incredible. I’d like to try this on a fishing trip I wouldn’t have to take a 5 gallon jug of water along and the Conoe would balance better

  12. Reanchi says:

    2014- advanced tech- lifestraw: still cant drink the mexican water 😛

  13. Anthonyk747 says:

    So, now we just have to pray that people have a little bit of intelligence to avoid a river that might have some crocs, gators, or sharks in it. Because I don’t know about anybody else, but the thought of sticking my face down into a river that could contain a gator doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

  14. Pierre says:

    Cool stuff

  15. Great review on the life straw! I had wondered about how much effort it would take to pull the water through the filter. I’ve got some friends who have been using it in Mexico who really like it a lot. I’ve been using a Sawyer filter system (the 2 liter one) that seems to work in a similar way to the LifeStraw with the filter system. I assume you can backwash the filter in the LifeStraw just like you can with the Sawyer filters to prolong their functionality?

  16. Brent Nielsen says:

    I am contacting you because I have not yet received my Lifestraw Family order (Order ID: 235093918)…I would like to find out when I can expect this to arrive. Please contact me ASAP

  17. Paul Smith says:

    DON’T DIE!! It deeply distresses me that people who are supposed to be experts in survival purposely recommend products that could kill if used as intended like the LifeStraw Personal water filter. No matter where you are, it is impossible to know what animal has died and is decomposing upstream just around the bend or submerged and unseen. These people know better, it has been brought to their attention (and to the attention of LifeStraw which obviously doesn’t care who their products kill). If you must use a filter, at least get one that eliminates viruses. To be safe, ditch the filters for an aluminum pan in which you can boil water (and cook food) and a 1 or 2 liter foldable water bag and a dozen water purification tablets with a cotton cloth for filtering out debris.

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