Imagine this scenario: you are lost in the woods. The sun is setting and you need to find a source of water to help slake your thirst and get you through the night. You encounter a running stream, but you don't know if you can reliably drink its water without contracting a parasite or otherwise becoming ill.
You reach for your off-brand LifeStraw. It is at this moment you wish you had read a LifeStraw review before taking off into the woods.
The fact is that not all LifeStraw type devices work as well as the LifeStraw itself. Much money can be saved by avoiding the premium placed on the brand name piece of technology. However, is it worth saving a few extra bucks when it comes to relying on a product with an unknown record of quality?
This is exactly what we have set out to answer with our LifeStraw review. We know that many of our readers are savvy enough to realize they can save a bundle of money buying the competitors to products like Yetis, but the stakes are higher when it comes to a device that might save your life.
We'll outline what you should be looking for in a LifeStraw or similar product in our LifeStraw review. We'll even provide you with three other competitors that might give the LifeStraw a run for its money. The purpose of this guide is to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a product that might end up saving your life.
But first, we must answer:
What Is a LifeStraw?
At its core, the LifeStraw is a water filter. While it looks considerably different from your Brita filter in your fridge, its core principle is relatively the same. LifeStraw is designed for a single person and can filter water without having to wait for water to trickle down through the filtration system.
Instead, the user can suck the water up through the filtration process, basically gaining a straw that renders puddles, rivers, and unknown wells drinkable.
LifeStraw boasts that it can remove almost all of the bacteria and parasites that one is likely to encounter from substandard water sources. How much water can it filter? Enough for one person to drink for up to three whole years.
A single LifeStraw can filter up to a maximum of 4000 liters of water over its life. This makes it an investment which will last its owner three years of constant use. Most people will not drink every drink through their LifeStraw, but even if they did, the product would last them several years.
In basic terms of construction, the LifeStraw consists of a 22 cm long plastic tube that is 3 cm in diameter. Once sucked upon, water is drawn up through the straw's hollow fibers that filter water particles down to 0.2 micrometers across.
That means the process relies entirely on physical filtration. In other words, LifeStraw uses no sketchy chemicals to purify the water passed through it.
Ingeniously, the entire mechanism runs off of the suction provided by the user. Thanks to this tech, the process by which human beings have been sucking bacteria into their systems has been reversed.
Now, thanks to LifeStraw, that human-powered suction can filter your water, keeping bacteria and parasites out of your system.
Originally, it is true that LifeStraw had trouble removing Giardia lamblia from the water it filtered. However, the company updated its tech and LifeStraw now removes at least 98.9% of waterborne parasitic protozoa, and that list includes Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
The newer models like the LifeStraw flex can even remove heavy metals from water. This is great news as the planet's water systems become only more and more polluted with the byproducts of industrialization.
It is hard to say whether drinking protozoa that make your sick is better or worse than drinking aluminum which may contribute to Alzheimer's or mercury which can lead to madness. Luckily, the newest LifeStraws help to filter all these toxins out of the water from around the world.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
- Survival Hax Water Filter Straw
- Purewell Outdoor Personal Water Filtration Straw
- Award-winning LifeStraw water filter is a must-carry tool for hiking,...
- Filters up to 1000 liters of contaminated water without iodine,...
- Removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne...
Ease of Use
If you can use a straw you can use a LifeStraw. Throughout our LifeStraw review process, we were constantly amazed by how easy it was to use.
It even saves you the trouble of having to lap water up from a stream into your mouth (a process we were unable to perform without getting splashed all down the front of our shirts). It just doesn't get easier than suction-powered filtration.
Plus, instructions for how to get hydrated are readily printed on the side of the LifeStraw. This is excellent for those panic-stricken moments lost in the wilderness where you just need an image to help guide you back to rationality and a cool, filtered drink from the river.
Our LifeStraw review revealed that the product itself only measures 8.7 x 1 x 1 inches. That means it easily fits into backpacks and glove compartments. It may even be able to fit into baggy pockets like those of cargo shorts if that's your style.
That it weighs only 2.08 ounces means that it nearly always justifies its inclusion in your survival gear. It's so light, you may as well pack one in your day bag.
You never know when you'll need to get hydrated from a less than reputable source of water. In America, several cities still have lead in their water, which you would certainly not want to ingest.
The LifeStraw is, of course, the original, and that it works so well means that it deserves a high design quality rating in terms of our LifeStraw review.
However, we do dock one star only because it is not the most aesthetically pleasing object one will ever own. That said, the aesthetics are not all that important when it comes to surviving in the woods.
You do have the option to buy either the classic blue LifeStraw or the Red Cross edition. This latter edition comes in a less intrusive grey with red cross insignia on the front. We found it to be the more attractive option between the two in our LifeStraw review.
We loved that our LifeStraw review revealed that the microfiltration membrane has been tested to remove 99.99% of bacteria in water (including E. coli and salmonella). It even filters out 99.99% of parasites found in water like cryptosporidium and giardia.
Not only that, but LifeStraws can remove microplastics from the water you suck through it. This means it gets rid of environmental microplastics down to 0.1 micron.
Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
- Ideal for outdoor recreation, hiking, camping, scouting, domestic and...
- High-performance 0. 1 Micron absolute inline filter fits in the palm...
- Attaches to included drinking pouch, standard disposable water...
The Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System does much of what the LifeStraw can do. It weighs only 2 ounces and it can fit in your hand, so in many ways, it is a comparable filtration device. It even boasts its ability to remove 99.99% of bacteria and a similar amount of protozoa and parasites.
While the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System includes a straw-like structure similar to the LifeStraw, it also relies on a collapsible bag of water that is attached to the bottom of this device.
You can use the straw by itself, just like the LifeStraw, but it also threads onto disposable water bottles and comes with a water pack of its own. This represents a feature that the classic LifeStraw does not provide.
However, the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System costs more than the LifeStraw. Is it worth the extra price to have an attachable bag of water?
Ease of Use
We found the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System to be easy enough to use. Like the classic LifeStraw, all you need is to bend down to a stream and suck up some water. The bag does complicate the process a bit, and for that we docked one star in accordance with our LifeStraw review criteria.
The Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System ends up being 4 x 3 x 8 inches. This is small, but it is considerably larger than the LifeStraw, which is the gold standard.
It ends up weighing about 3.52 ounces, which is not so heavy that it will mess up your backpacking plans. However, this approaches about twice as heavy as the LifeStraw itself.
This product is known to hold up. Throughout our LifeStraw review tests, the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System held up to standard. Although, as is the case for many of these devices, it just isn't the prettiest object one has ever owned. A nice perk is that it comes in many color options.
The effectiveness is top notch. The Sawyer Mini Water Filter provides absolute filtration down to 0.1 micron. This means it can remove 99.99% of bacteria and 99.9999% of protozoa.
Survival Hax Water Filter Straw
- FILTER STRAW - Removes dirt and contaminants from rivers, lakes,...
- .1 MICRON PURIFIER - Eliminates 99.9999% of parasites and bacteria.
- WORKS WITH BOTTLES - This filter can screw directly onto to any...
Are you preparing for the worst, or are you hacking survival? This is just the question that the Survival Hax Water Filter Straw challenges you to ask.
This product tends to be aimed more at the hardcore survivalist crowd than the weekend backpacker who is worried about protozoa in their drinking fountains.
Its military aesthetic will likely appeal to a large group of consumers. We loved that it came with a compass built into its carrying case.
Ease of Use
The Survival Hax Water Filter Straw proved exceptionally easy to use. Just like the LifeStraw, it can be used as the tube through which your mouth draws in the waters of a nearby lake or stream. And, just like the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System, it can be attached to an old water bottle.
Measuring in at 9 x 1 x 1 inches, the Survival Hax Water Filter Straw is a bit less wieldy than the LifeStraw which is its main competitor.
However, it weighs in at a remarkably low weight of 0.32 ounces. This extremely low weight combined with its sturdy carabiner win the Survival Hax Water Filter Straw the full five stars as per our LifeStraw review criteria.
This is by far the best looking LifeStraw competitor. If you are into the army green aesthetic, which we know attracts a lot of outdoorsy types, then you will likely love the Survival Hax Water Filter Straw.
The Survival Hax Water Filter Straw measures up to the best of its competition by employing the standard 0.1-micron purifier. This sort of filtration system does its job eliminating 99.99 percent of bacteria and protozoan parasites.
Purewell Outdoor Personal Water Filtration Straw
- Purewell Filter Straws are a perfect aid for emergency situations....
- Get down close to the stream or lake and use it to drink straight from...
- FOOD GRADE MATERIAL: Build out of strong food-grade plastics,...
Of all the competitors we considered in our LifeStraw review process, the Purewell Outdoor Personal Water Filtration Straw comes the closest to looking like a LifeStraw knockoff. It employs the same type of 0.1-micron filter that keeps waterborne health hazards out of your drink.
Ultimately, its added carabiner is nice for portability purposes, but it mostly serves as a more expensive, less extensively tested version of the LifeStraw. Its aesthetics are even highly reminiscent of the more recognizable LifeStraw.
Ease of Use
If you can use the LifeStraw or any of its competitors, you will have just as easy of a time using the Purewell Outdoor Personal Water Filtration Straw.
The Purewell Outdoor Personal Water Filtration Straw measures 7.87 inches or 20 cm long. It comes with a detachable tube that measures up to 50 cm long, which can help you reach streams without having to bend so much.
Its carabiner allows it to be attached to the outside of your pack, meaning it takes up even less space in a backpacking scenario.
The Purewell Outdoor Personal Water Filtration Straw works well enough as a LifeStraw competitor. However, it is not a pretty object. The slogan on the front “Magical Water in Outdoor” seems like it was the result of a bad translation team, and it does not inspire confidence.
While it will remove large amounts of debris, parasites, and bacteria from your water, the Purewell Outdoor Personal Water Filtration Straw has not been tested to the same extent as the LifeStraw itself.
Conclusion for Lifestraw Review
When it comes to an effective, portable, safe, and aesthetically pleasing straw filtration system, there are really only two options. If extensive testing, Red Cross approval, and brand reputation are of utmost importance, then you cannot go wrong with the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter.
The Survival Hax Water Filter Straw offers great competition to this, especially if you want a compass and a carabiner combined with your survival device.
However, we cannot award it a higher rating than the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter because of its price and the trouble that many consumers have finding the Survival Hax Water Filter Straw in stock.
Featured Image via Pxhere