LifeStraw Review: Skilled Survival’s LifeStraw Field Test

LifeStraw Review: Skilled Survival’s LifeStraw Field Test
4.44 (88.89%) 9 votes

Lifestraw ReviewHave you ever been thirsty?

I’m guessing you answered “yes” to that question.

I’d also guess that you’ve never really been thirsty.

Most people, with access to clean drinking water, take their seemingly endless supply of safe, clean water for granted. Most have never really experienced the pains associated with true thirst.

This is a good thing. It means that the thirstiest you’ve ever been might be after a run on a hot day or that one time you forgot your water bottle while playing tennis in the hot sun.

Now, don’t go trying this at home, but after you’ve gone more than 24 hours without a single sip of water… that’s when you’ll be starting to get thirsty.

Could you imagine going 48-72 hours without water? You probably can’t imagine it and I hope you never have to since you’d likely be close to death by that point.

You know what’s even worse that being thirsty and not having water? Being thirsty and having dirty water but no way to purify it.

The Importance of Water

Access to clean, potable water is one of the most important factors in survival situations. It’s often said that one can survive for three weeks without food, but only three days without water.

Once you have neutralized or removed any immediate threats to your safety, your attention should shift to finding and purifying water.

Given the utmost importance of water in any survival situation, it’s no wonder there are dozens of types of personal water filters on the market, each with a different design and capabilities. Traditionally, many of these filters have been bulky and heavy, often with mechanical parts prone to wear.

Recently, UV sterilization systems have entered the market, but these systems can fail unexpectedly when batteries run low. Failures in survival situations can be the difference between life and death.

Our LifeStraw Review Field Test

In the past few weeks, we’ve had a chance to field test the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter from Vestergaard Frandsen, one of the most user-friendly water filtration systems out there.

With no need for moving parts, chemical additions, or batteries, the LifeStraw provides a robust, lightweight, and compact filter capable of treating up to 1000L of drinking water at a price tag of around $20.

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The LifeStraw started as a humanitarian relief tool, an inexpensive, single-use water filter with a simple design and the ability to treat raw water for a variety of pathogens.

Since 2005, it has been immensely successful and has been widely distributed in relief efforts throughout the world.

Beginning in 2011, the excess supply has been available to the public for purchase and use in camping, hunting, backcountry, and survival situations.

LifeStraw Size Comparison

The one-piece design consists of an 8” long, 1.25” diameter plastic tube with a mouthpiece on one end and an intake screen on the other.

Both the mouthpiece and the intake are covered with protective caps to keep them clean and ensure untreated water doesn’t contaminate the system – or the interior of your pack.

Inside the tube is the working heart of the filter, a closely packed series of hollow-fiber membrane tubes capable of allowing water to pass while removing all particulates larger than 0.2 microns. Filter media of this size is effective against nearly all common bacteria and protozoa, as well as suspended solids.

The LifeStraw has a listed weight of 2oz dry, but will retain another ounce of water in the filter material after the first use. Despite this increase, it still ranks among the lightest filters on the market.

Drinking With A LifeStraw

Using the LifeStraw is about as straightforward and simple as possible. While you can drink directly from lakes, rivers, and even puddles, it’s often easier to fill a wide-mouthed water bottle like a Nalgene bottle as shown below.

Drinking From LifeStraw

This allows you to drink without continually crouching down to the water surface and to carry water along the trail between sources.

After uncapping both ends of the LifeStraw, placing the inlet end into your water source and sucking in a small amount of water to wet the filter, you should be able to start the flow of water within a few seconds.

Straight from the package, we found the initial couple sips of water to have a slight chemical taste, but that disappeared within a minute.

The initial flow rates are impressive, with only a slight amount of resistance as water passes through the filter material. Once you’re finished drinking, the LifeStraw should be cleared of water by blowing through the straw, followed by shaking excess water off and recapping the ends.

If the flow rate begins to drop or you notice a significant increase in the amount of suction needed to produce water, you may be able to clear some of the particulates clogging the filter by blowing back through the straw.

As the filter approaches the end of its useful life (roughly 1000L, depending on water conditions), you will slowly lose the ability to clear this blockage.While 1000L isn’t a hard limit and the manufacturer has tested the LifeStraw past the designed lifespan, you can expect to have more difficulty producing water beyond that point.

In most cases, you should choose the cleanest, clearest water available to you – but don’t hesitate to “prefilter” before using the LifeStraw. In our experience, any mechanical filter system can benefit from a few extra steps to reduce the load on your filter media and extend the lifetime of the filter.

Prefilter LifeStraw

Wrapping a clean bandana or paper coffee filter around the inlet of the straw will remove the larger suspended materials (mud, sand, algae, etc.) from your water before it has a chance to enter the straw and clog the filter media.

Despite the obvious benefits of the LifeStraw, there are some situations where it may not be the best solution. The manufacturer states that the LifeStraw does not filter dissolved salts, dissolved chemicals or minerals, viruses, heavy metals, or “tastes”. Many of these items are present in the water at a molecular level, far smaller than the 0.2-micron filter media is capable of removing. If you expect that you will encounter water with this type of contamination, you should consider looking for a much different type of water treatment system.

If your survival scenario is located in a part of the world where temperatures fall below freezing you’ll need to take the necessary precautions to keep your LifeStraw from freezing. This isn’t a flaw of the LifeStaw as all mechanical filters are susceptible to freezing, due to the amount of water left in the filter media after use.

Even the most diligent clearing of water will leave some inside the media, which can freeze and block the flow of water. If you choose to use a mechanical filter in winter conditions, take care to keep it from freezing. Keeping it inside your jacket, though chilly on the skin, will generally keep the filter from icing up.

The bottom line is that the LifeStraw is a great, lightweight filter for personal backcountry use and survival situations. It’s inexpensive and has a 5-year shelf life, making it a good choice for emergency preparedness stocks as well. They’re small enough to carry in a pocket and will treat the most common contaminants with ease.

We’ll certainly be using the LifeStraw more in the future and believe that everyone should have, at least, one in their bug out bag.

Click here to buy a LifeStraw for $19.97.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug out Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Staying alive is all about being prepared.

Make the decision to make today the day you buy a LifeStraw to keep in your bug out bag, your car, your boat, etc.

I hope our Lifestraw review convinced you that you really can’t have too many and at $19.97 each, they’re affordable.

Click here to pick up a LifeStraw from Survival Frog.

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  1. Eric Perez says

    My son turned eight and is looking forward to going camping out in Texas. He has heard my stories enough and now wants to create his own. I just read about the Life Straw and can’t believe its versatility. I can’t wait to receive mine and show my son. I’m sure he will put it to great use. Awesome invention, great job.

  2. squiros says

    it’s not rated for freezing temperatures because frozen water in the filter expands. frozen water expanding expands the pores of the filter. this renders the filter permanently damaged and essentially useless. the frozen water is not just an inconvenience of water blockage. the steripen is 2.9 oz. for a whopping 0.9 oz increase. there are mechanical chargers to charge the steripen that can double as power for sat phones, gps, etc.

    • Just In Case Jack says

      Thanks for the comment.

      Indeed. You should diligently blow out the LifeStraw really well after each use. This would help to remove all water and help prevent freezing. Then you should pack it near your body to keep the trace amounts of water from freezing. But the trace amounts of water may still be a concern in really cold temps.

      However, a Steripen is also an excellent option. Freezing temps are not a concern and it has no moving parts, both of these are significant advantages. So the biggest disadvantage is that it takes battery power.

      As you already suggested, the weight is essentially negligible however, you might need to add the weight of a mechanical charger if it’s not something you already had as a part of your survival plan. If you did, then as you suggest it’s an excellent option to consider.

      I’ll try to plan a Steripen review soon, too.

      – Jack

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