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Survival gear: LifeStraw water filter review from SHTF blog

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I’m a fan of the Life Straw water filter, and tested it extensively last summer on a backpacking trip. My friend Bob, “Jarhead Survivor” of the excellent SHTF blog,  recently checked the product out and here is what he discovered. – Leon


Well, I finally got a chance to try out the LifeStraw this weekend and I can tell you that its found a home in my BOB.  Here are the instructions Joseph over at eartheasy sent me on how to use it.

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How to use:

  1. Before using, uncap and let it stand up in a tall glass of water for one minute. That allows the water to seep into the membrane.

  2. Take 5 quick strong sucks and the water will flow up through the mouthpiece.

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  3. If it plugs while drinking dirty water, blow back into it to clear the membrane.

The LifeStraw uses hollow-fiber membrane to remove bacteria and turbidity. There’s no chemicals, iodine, or moving parts. It’s ultralight and inexpensive enough to keep in your backpack in case of emergencies or for hiking trips. When it reaches it’s limit of 1,000 liters/264 gallons, the flow will stop as the membrane pores will have become plugged with debris.

Pretty simple eh?  On the right you can see that it comes with an instruction sheet that you’ll want to look over first.  The biggest thing to keep in mind is that this device does not filter out viruses, chemicals, or salt water.  Some of you readers talk about polluted water in the southern states, so while this is a pretty cool piece of equipment, it won’t help you in that respect.  

However, for the rest of us looking to drink water from sources like ponds, streams, rivers, etc this baby will get the job done.

Does It Work?


The nephew demonstrates how easy it is to use the LifeStraw. (SHTF blog photo)

My nephew and I went for a hike in the woods behind my house today (Sunday June 2, 2013).  For a change all I took with me was a knife, my lifestraw and a canteen.  It was hot, and it didn’t take a long time to work up a thirst.

We came to a stream with brackish water coming out of a beaver dam.  As you can see in the pictures the water was that dark brown color that slow moving swamp water gets to be.  When I walked up to the stream frogs darted away from the edge and I knew I’d found a good test for the straw.

I made my way to the edge of the stream and stuck the straw in the water.  This one hadn’t been used before and it took about five or six good sips through the straw before the water started flowing.

After I was done drinking my nephew – the Boy Scout – said, “I want to try it!”

So I gave him the straw and he made his way to the same rock I used and tried it out.  That’s confidence in a product folks.

Anyway, the only downside of using the straw that close to the water is that you get the smell of the nasty water right in the kisser while you’re drinking.  If you can get by that hurdle the water itself isn’t that bad.


It really is a cool piece of equipment.  If you can’t afford one of the bigger filters then you really might want to invest the $20 or so these little filters cost just to have one in your BOB or your hiking kit.  A lot of times the only way to get clean water is to boil it, which takes time; however, with a filter you can fill up and keep going.

The other good thing is that its very light.  The LifeStraw is a little awkward size-wise, but is so light that it won’t add much weight to your pack.

Another bonus is the low price.  Twenty bucks is a small price to pay for 264 gallons of clean water in the wilderness.

For another look at it check out my buddy Leon Pantenburg’s review of the Lifestraw.  Leon has a lot of experience in the great outdoors and has a great website too.

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