This Portable Water Filtration System Is a Hiking Must-Have

The LifeStraw weighs just 2 ounces, fits in your pocket, and is the perfect portable water filtration system for emergencies.

Lifestraw filtering water
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You never know what might happen when you go out into the wilderness. Maybe your day hike will go totally as planned, or maybe you'll find yourself in need of water, with nary a drop left in your trusty bottle. It's always a good idea for serious backpackers and casual adventurers alike to take precautions in case of an unexpected survival situation—which is why a portable water filtration system like the popular original LifeStraw is so important.

Unlike some other water filters that might work better when you know you'll be filling bottles or cooking pots, the LifeStraw allows you to drink directly from a water source as needed. It's also ultra-lightweight at less than 2 ounces, and small enough to strap to (or pack inside) a backpack. And it lasts a long time, too—the straw's membrane microfilter can filter up to 1,000 gallons before it needs to be replaced. You can also stash your LifeStraw in a bug-out bag or hiking kit for an indefinite amount of time, since the straw doesn't have a shelf life until you've started using it. 

Lifestraw water filter

What it does: Suck water through the LifeStraw when you're not sure if a water source is clean (or if you know for a fact that it isn't). We can't promise your drink will taste absolutely incredible, but we know for a fact that the filter is designed to remove more than 99.9% of bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, as well as parasites like giardia. It will also get rid of dirt, sand, microplastics, and anything that's making your water cloudy. This essentially means you can use it to drink out of streams, rivers, and lakes and won't end up with a nasty stomach bug. When you're done drinking, blow through the straw to quickly clean it; this will prolong the survival tool's usable lifespan.

What it won't do: The LifeStraw can filter out a lot, but it can't be used to remove the salt from seawater or get rid of chemicals (so steer clear of water sources that might be contaminated from mining or agriculture). The straw also can't remove viruses from water.

Should I get one? Absolutely. Right now it costs just around $15 to purchase, and it's worth every penny in peace of mind should you wander off the trail hiking or accidentally run out of water far from civilization. It's an easy thing to store in your car, your camping kit, or even your bug-out bag.

Pro-tip: You'll know your LifeStraw needs a filter replacement when you can no longer suck water through the straw.

Other LifeStraw Filtration Systems


For a few extra bucks, you can get LifeStraw's updated Peak Series personal water filter.

What's the difference? Beyond the minor price difference, the Peak Series straw is updated for a slightly better backcountry experience. It has a grippier design, plus the filter has a better flow rate and is less likely to get clogged. It's also a bit more durable and infinitely more versatile; you can still sip straight from a lake or stream, but you can also attach it to most water bottles or to a gravity hose.

Any downsides? Just one stands out—it weighs just over 2 ounces, rather than under.  

LifeStraw Go water filter bottle

If you hate the idea of drinking directly from a water source and would rather buy a water bottle with the LifeStraw membrane microfilter inside, aim for the brand's 22-ounce Go water filter bottle.

How does the filter work? Like the original and Peak Series LifeStraws, this bottle has a membrane microfilter that can remove most bacteria, microplastics, parasites, dirt, and sand from 1,000 gallons of water. However, it also has a second filter that uses activated carbon to reduce chlorine and chemicals like pesticides. The carbon filter helps improve taste and smell, making the water more appealing. However, the carbon filter will need to be replaced a lot more often than the membrane microfilter if you want it to keep working; it can only filter 26 gallons before it'll stop working its magic.

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