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.
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.