Cons: No storage capabilities, hard to clean
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|Pros||Lightweight, inexpensive, simple||Lightweight, inexpensive, kills all pathogens (including crypto), reliable||Easy to use, lightweight, packable||Easy to use, super packable, lightweight, cheap in comparison to other filters||Inexpensive, lightweight, versatile, durable and reliable|
|Cons||No storage capabilities, hard to clean||Takes a long time to kill crypto, slight taste to the water, chemical treatment||Not safe to use long-term, lower value than other chemical treatments, poor taste||More expensive then other chemical treatment, chlorinated taste, does not kill Crypto||Hard to suck and squeeze, clogs easily, low durability of the included bag|
|Bottom Line||A simple and inexpensive on-the-go filtration system designed for the solo adventurer||These drops are a reliable and lightweight option to carry all over the world||This can be used as an emergency treatment system, but not much else||This is the lightest chemical treatment option out there||This personal and versatile on-the-go filtration system offers great value|
|Rating Categories||LifeStraw||Aquamira Treatment...||Potable Aqua Purifi...||MSR Aquatabs||Sawyer Mini|
|Water Quality (20%)|
|Durability & Maintenance (20%)|
|Treatment Time (15%)|
|Weight & Packability (15%)|
|Ease of Set-Up (15%)|
|Ease of Filtration (15%)|
|Specs||LifeStraw||Aquamira Treatment...||Potable Aqua Purifi...||MSR Aquatabs||Sawyer Mini|
|Type of Filter/Purifier||Straw filter||Chemical treatment||Chemical treatment||Chemical treatment||Squeeze, in-line, on-the-go|
|Measured Weight (entire kit)||1.75 oz||3.0 oz||2.3 oz||0.1 oz||3.7 oz|
|Number of Liters (L)/Gallons (gal) per Lifetime||4,000 L / 1,000 gal||114 L / 30 gal per package||25 L / 6.6 gal||60 L / 16 gal (30 tabs)||378,541 L / 100,000 gal|
|Filter Media or Active Ingredient||Hollow Fiber||Chlorine dioxide||Iodine and Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide||Sodium dichloroisocyanurate||Hollow fiber|
|Effective Against Bacteria?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Effective Against Protozoa? (Giardia,Cryptosporidium)||Yes||Yes||Yes (Giardia = yes; Crypto = no)||Yes (Giardia = yes; Crypto = no)||Yes|
|Effective Against Viruses?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Effective Against Chemicals?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Effective Against Heavy Metals?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Removes Particulates (sediment, microplastics)?||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
|Filter Pore Size||0.2 microns||N/A||N/A||N/A||0.1 micron|
|Advertised Flow Rate||Varies||N/A||N/A||N/A||Varies|
|Dimensions||8.8 x 1.2 in||N/A||N/A||N/A||5.5 x 4 in|
|Storage Capacity (L)||0||N/A||N/A||N/A||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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ease of Set-Up
There's not much needed for set-up. You only need to find a water source that you can access.
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.
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 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.
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
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