Drink Water from the River…With Life Straw

by | Gear Explorer

The sound of the river is not only highly relaxing but can also make you thirsty. This is especially true when it comes to rivers located outside human settlements that look particularly clean. When you find yourself near a spectacular river surrounded by green trees and you get thirsty, it is hard not to consider drinking water from the river.

The problem is rivers are full of bacteria and parasites, making this option look less delicious the more you think about it. However, thanks to science and technological developments, you can now drink water from the river when hiking and camping with the help of a portable water filter.

One product you can consider for one or two trekking days is The Life Straw. This water filter is said to eliminate almost all waterborne bacteria and parasites. It can filter as much as 1,056 gallons (4,000 liters) of water, which is more or less what a person needs in three days.

The product comes in a few versions, namely Life Straw, LifeStraw Family, LifeStraw Go Water Bottle (for some reason, I feel that the name of this model is very good; don’t ask why), LifeStraw Flex, LifeStraw Play, LifeStraw Universal, LifeStraw Community, LifeStraw Steel, and LifeStraw Mission.

Background

 

The history of LifeStraw water filters is quite interesting. Designed by Bestergaard Frandsen (based in Switzerland), LifeStraw was meant to be distributed to people living in developing nations where access to improved water is limited. The filters are also meant to be of help during humanitarian crises. For example, the product was used during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Thailand floods.

While the product clearly has some very important applications,  not long after being launched, LifeStraw became popular as a consumer product. The product has received several awards, including the “Best Invention of 2005″ by Time Magazine, and was also featured in the Museum of Modern Art (New York).

Specs

 

LifeStraw is made of a plastic tube 8.6 in (22 cm) long and 1.1 in (3 cm) in diameter. Water drawn up through the straw passes through hollow fibers designed to filter water particles through physical filtration. The entire process is powered by suction.

The original LifeStraw model weights 2 oz/56 g; it is one of the lightest water filters on the market. At a price of around $20, it is also one of the cheapest. This light product does have the inconvenience of not allowing you to store water for later use, which is why I do not recommend it for long trips in areas where there’s a significant distance between water sources.

The newer models of LifeStraw, such as LifeStraw Go and LifeStraw Steel, are a bit more expensive and are not as lightweight yet allow you to store water, and are a far better option for longer journeys.

One should not forget that LifeStraw will not filter out viruses or heavy metals and will not desalinate water. For this reason, you should not use LifeStraw in places where there are reasons to suspect that the water might contain viruses or other harmful elements that cannot be filtered.

Go Trekking With LifeStraw Steel

LifeStraw Steel has a flow rate of 1.2 liters/min and a  filter lifetime of 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters). The product has a length of 8.26’’ x 1.18’’ (20.98cm x 2.99cm) and weighs 3.70 oz (104.8 g). It is also recyclable, and the carbon filters can be replaced.

For trekkers, the LifeStraw Steel seems the most relevant product. This personal water filter builds upon the original LifeStraw personal water filter with a sleek steel exterior and a 2-stage water filtration process. The hollow fiber membrane filters bacteria and protozoa, and the activated carbon capsule reduces chemicals such as chlorine and organic compounds, odor, and bad taste. LifeStraw Steel is a good option when trekking for several days, especially in areas where there are not many water sources.

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