Before we move onto reviewing the three filters that I have used in the outdoors over the years, I believe it’s very important to discuss and review the difference between filtered and purified. This information is important to know and understand before purchasing any products for cleaning your water and making it safe to drink. Your choice will depend on where you’re traveling whether or not you will need to filter your water or purify it.
If you’re traveling anywhere in North America the good news is that using a filtration system in the outdoors is usually sufficient enough. Other good news is that pretty much all the water coming out of any faucet in North America they treat well enough to drink. Contracting a virus in the wilderness after filtering your water properly is low and never really a concern to me. Anytime you are out in the wilderness, just make sure that you are using common sense when searching for a water source. This means to check for dead animals or any other obvious sources of contamination close by.
When using a water filter it will remove 99.9999% of all bacteria including Salmonella, Cholera, and E-Coli. It will also remove 99.9% of protozoa, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The filter uses either a ceramic cartridge or a bunch of hollow fiber tubes that contain microscopic pores, typically 0.2 to 0.4 microns, which will allow water to pass by but the items listed above will not. Viruses, however, are tiny enough to slip by these pores.
There will be a list of purification devices for purchase at most outdoor retailers. The one method that remains simple and effective is boiling your water for at least one minute and 3 minutes if you’re at altitude. This should kill everything lurking in your water but will not remove any sediment.
This information is to inform you that there is a difference between filtering and purifying your water; please remember to always do your research before making a decision on what to purchase for your travels.
Personally, I have used this water filter for many years and I was very impressed, the majority of the time. If you research this particular product, you will find that you must back flush it on a regular basis. If you do this, you will have optimum performance. During a hand full of backpacking, and kayaking trips in Florida, I’ve used this filter to pump dark water full of sediment from lakes and rivers, with great success. No matter the trip I easily supplied two to four people with water: for cooking, and consumption. Remember, it is best to always locate water that is moving and clear of as much sediment as possible. This will maximize the lifespan of your filter.
After drinking directly from the water source, we tried filling up a water bottle and using the Lifestraw to drink from it. Unless I’m forced to drink right from the source, this would be my preferred method of using this filter. Of course, if you’re using this method, you must remember to dedicate one of your bottles to this process. The reason is that once you fill your water bottle up from an unknown source, it’s considered contaminated. Overall, for what it is, it worked well.
For me personally, I would only bring it as a backup filtration system. In my opinion, there are other more well-rounded filters out there for backpacking or any other long distance trips. What I would recommend it for is trail running, mountain biking, or any sport where weight is a concern. The Lifestraw would be an excellent choice during these activities so long as there is an abundance of water sources.
When it comes to convenience the Sawyer Squeeze is my go to all day long. When I started taking extended trips into the wilderness, I continually looked for easier ways to collect water while hiking. Also, I wanted to reduce the amount of water weight I was carrying. There are many great options on the market today for a dip and go type scenario, so long as there is an ample amount of water along with your route. I purchased the Sawyer mini and it was hands down one of the best all around filters I’ve used for the outdoors. The kit that I picked up came with two mini filters, two 16oz collapsible pouches, and a syringe for proper back flushing. It also included a straw that you can attach to the filter for drinking directly from the source.
If your intentions are to use this filter for any camping or long distance trips, I would highly recommend that you purchase at least one 64oz pouch. This will allow you to collect more water for convenience while camping. Being that there is three of us, not counting the new addition, I bought two 64oz pouches.
The best part about the pouches, they’re completely collapsable and rather tough. This doesn’t mean that they are indestructible though. Please remember to not squeeze the pouch with all your might in order to hurry the process. If you feel like the water is not coming out quick enough remember to back flush. That’s the number one thing you can do to keep your filter flowing properly.
Furthermore, there are a couple other things to avoid doing with you Sawyer. First, don’t screw the filter on to tight. This will cause the o-ring to in bed into the pouch, causing it to be out of place and potentially leak. Last but not least, avoid wringing the pouch for a faster flow rate. If you are faced with a non-moving source of water, I found it to be much easier to dedicate one bottle as dirty, so you can use it to fill up your pouches. I’m saying this because upon my attempt of filling the pouch in non-moving water was very frustrating, due to the fact of the pouch being collapsed while trying to introduce water into it.