We’ve all been there on a walk or a backpack, where you need to re-stock on water and aren’t 100% sure of the safety of the water supply. While I’ll drink straight from many mountain streams, when there’s a good flow of water, that’s not always the case. And if you’re walking a lower level route, or trail-running then you won’t want to risk drinking the water at that level! While purification tablets are one option, they arguably leave the water tasting strange, and definitely take time to be effective. That’s where a personal water filter like the LifeStraw® Personal Filter comes into its own.
The LifeStraw is a simple, light straw that you simply use to drink direct from the source, making it safe to drink it as it passes through the hollowfibre filter. This eliminates over 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of parasites, though we didn’t quite count them all. Each end of the straw has protective caps to prevent contamination in your pack, or if you put it on the ground while you’re positioning yourself to drink. The LifeStraw lasts for 1000 litres, around 2p a litre, and once it becomes ineffective, will stop working. That’s a fair number of years in the outdoors by our reckoning. These little devices have been distributed to global crises such as the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, so their effectiveness is in no doubt.
You use the LifeStraw simply by placing the base of the straw into the water source (keeping the lanyard secure so you don’t lose it!) and sucking. It can be tough the first time, as the filter is new and hasn’t been primed, but I found it easier than drinking from a hydration bladder. You can stand the LifeStraw upright in the water for 10 seconds allowing it to absorb some water, to make it easier to suck. If you find it awkward to drink in this position, then you could fill a wide-mouthed water bottle and drink from that instead.
Once you’ve had your fill, you simply blow to remove the excess water and clean the filter. Just leave it with the caps open to dry out once you get home.
What the LifeStraw doesn’t do is provide clean water that you can use around camp and share with others, as it is a personal water filter. It would be useful if there was a way to attach a water bottle to the intake and use it to produce a clean supply of water.
We think that a device such as this is an essential bit of kit, and we’re always carrying either one of these LifeStraws or a Sawyer filter in our running, day and overnight packs. We’ll be running a comparison of these personal filters in the spring, but we found drinking from the source with the LifeStraw to be much easier than the Sawyer, mainly as it’s easier to generate suction on the LifeStraw than with the add-on straw on the Sawyer.
As a bonus, for each LifeStraw you buy a child in Africa is provided with clean water for an entire school year. – http://www.lifestraw.org.uk/[alert variation=”alert-warning”]We’ve noticed that there are ‘copies’ available on some websites. Bear in mind that these may not be as effective, and that you certainly won’t be helping out good causes by buying one.[/alert]