LifeStraw Go Water Filter Review

22nd Dec 2015

Lifestraw Go

Some years ago a friend of mine headed in to climb the classic rock route Square Face.  It is a long walk to get there and the route is well away from any civilisation.  You wouldn't think that drinking water from the streams there should be a problem and yet, within a few hours of swallowing some untreated stream water, he was laid up with intense stomach pain and vomiting.  He never identified the exact cause but it does highlight the need to be careful when drinking from any natural watercourse even in the remoter mountains.  

For years I have used chemical treatments or purified by boiling or using various filtration systems.  I also don't carry too much water in the UK mountains because we can generally get to a stream on a regular basis and so it is easy to refill.  Perhaps then, the most practical system would be a filter that could be used on the go but which wouldn't delay my mountain journey.

There have been various systems which incorporate a filter into a water bottle but I had never tried one until I was sent a LifeStraw Go to test.  I was intrigued to see if it would work for regular mountain use....

Features

The Go combines a smart looking water bottle with a built in LifeStraw filter unit.  The water capacity is 660 ml and the weight (including filter) is 220 grams.  Once filled, the water is ready to drink instantly.  The bottle is a see through plastic with a solid screw top closure and a pop up bite valve type drink valve.  It is a high quality unit. 

The Go features LifeStraw's hollow fibre filtration technology. This means, in simple terms, that as the water is drawn through the filter it has to pass through very narrow diameter (0.2 microns) tubes that, while being big enough to allow water through, are too small for almost all bacteria (99.9999%) and protozoa (99.9%) to pass through. The Go exceeds US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards and will purify 1000 litres before a filter change is required.

In Use

The Go couldn't be simpler to use - you fill it up and suck up the water which, on its way to your mouth, travels through the filter.  When you are travelling through the mountains you can just top it up at any stream you come across which saves you having to carry too much water.  It may weigh slightly more than some standard water bottles but, depending on where your journey is taking  you, you are likely to more than make up for it in having to carry less water.

What else do you need to know?

The Go doesn't filter out viruses so you need to decide if that's a factor for you.  This is less likely to be a problem in natural UK water sources where bacteria and pathogens are the problem but, for that reason, it may not be the best option in some developing countries.  Please do check on your particular requirements.

There is no backwash system on the Go.  This may be significant if you are using it to filter water with particles or debris that could block up the filters micro tubes.  So far I haven't any problem with this but it has been used mainly in clear running mountain streams.  If the tubes do start to become blocked a large syringe can be used to force water back through the tubes.  

If you are wild camping the capacity can be restrictive if you are carrying water to a campsite to boil for cooking.  On these wild camps I have taken to supplementing the Go with a very light 1 litre water bag.  If I take the filled Go, the water bag and a filled Jetboil pan to my tent for the evening then I have enough for food cooking and drinks without needing to head out again until morning.

LifeStraw pledge to provide clean drinking water for one year for a child in an African school.  A great initiative and full marks to them for initiating this.

Finally, if you do reach the 1000 litre filter lifespan (which will take a lot of outdoor trips!) then replacement filters are easily available.

Conclusion

The LifeStraw Go is great.  It is so simple to use, is light enough to be viable for carrying even on lightweight trips and, at £31.95, it is relatively cheap for a bottle and filter combo. I have found the Go to be a great product providing you use it in areas where it will offer adequate protection.

I have no reliable way of knowing if it lives up to its claimed filtration standards, but I have no reason to doubt it and I can certainly say that I have now used it for a significant number of days without getting sick.  Hardly a scientific test but I guess that is the key criteria for most users.

You also have that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that, while you are drinking clean and safe water, a child in an African school will be doing the same :)

More details about the Go (and the rest of the LifeStraw range) are available on their website here.

Posted by Paul

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