Lifesaver Liberty Water Filter Review
The need for safe drinking water is obviously a human essential and it was the devastating after effects of the 2004 tsunami and hurricane Katrina that prompted inventor Michael Pritchard to work on creating a reliable, efficient and portable water filter capable of removing even the smallest viruses. Since that time the company has gone from strength to strength and recently added the Liberty filter to their range. They sent us one to test......
The Liberty is a well featured portable filter capable of treating 2000 litres per filter cartridge (the filter cartridge is replaceable) and it also incorporates a 400ml filter bottle allowing it to be used as a portable water bottle while the inline pump can easily provide water for several people.
It is capable of removing 99.999% of viruses, 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of cysts and a replaceable activated carbon disc also removes chlorine, taste and colour. The unit has been independently tested to exceed NSF/ANSI P231 and WHO2011 ‘highly protective tier’ drinking water standards.
There is a Flow Valve to control flow rate and a feature called FailSafe which stops the flow of water if the filter membrane is blocked.
The unit has many other useful features and design details. A ‘scavenger hose’ allows easy access into water sources, a side window allows a visual assessment of what is happening in the filter chamber, rugged screw caps protect and seal the filter and container elements and a carabiner attachment point aids storage/carrying.
I took the Liberty on our recent Morocco expedition and the team used it regularly during the remote phases of the trip. It also accompanied a friend’s trip to India and it was again the main water supplier during their trek. In between, I have been using it regularly at home (for testing purposes rather than out of need).
The Liberty is about the size of a standard larger sized cycling water bottle (or, for another comparison, something like a 1 pint milk bottle). This puts it, in my experience, at the larger size end of the filter market, but this is balanced by the fact users wouldn’t need a separate drink bottle. The total weight is 680 grams.
Using the Liberty is very straightforward. If you want to fill the water container section you simply scoop water from the source you are using, screw the base back on a pump a couple of times with the built in pump. The water is then ready to drink and turning the top valve then allows the water to flow. The alternative operating system, for larger volumes of water, is just as simple. The user attaches the scavenger tube to the base of the unit, drops the tube into a water source and begins pumping. Water then flows out of the top and will continue to flow as long as the pump is operated.
The flow rate is said to be 1.2 litres per minute and during testing I was happy that this rate was comfortably achievable. It is also very efficient. The pump rate would easily cope with a group of 9 thirsty mountaineers and guides/cooks in Morocco. Using the scavenger tube is also helped by the tube having a float at the end and there is a clever little strainer unit that will keep any debris from entering the filter tube. The scavenger tube also comes with a handy storage bag and the fact it is so easily detached means it could even be left at home if the filter was just going to be used as a water bottle filter unit.
The build quality of the Liberty is superb. It feels durable and solid enough to be long lasting and yet, given its performance, it is reasonably light and packable. All the crew closures are simple to use and have chunky threads that open and close simply. The screw closures also feature a rubberised and featured grip that can easily be used with gloves on or with cold hands. I thought the viewing window was going to just be a bit of a novelty but it is actually very handy. It really helps to see the water flow and to ensure there are no blockages or trapped air - you feel much more in touch with the process. It is also, I have to admit, quite addictive to watch the water flowing as the unit is used!
At the top of the container there is a small white switch that needs to be rotated to allow the water to flow. It is designed to lay flat against the bottle and not be a catching hazard or to get turned accidentally. It works well in this respect but the drawback of the low profile design is that it is hard to move this rather stiff switch. It is a small gripe, but it is one thing that gets fairly frustrating even after a few operations. I have had no problems with the filter cartridge getting blocked but I have removed it to test how easy this would be to sort out if a blockage occured. The filter is simple to unscrew and pops out very simply. It would then be simple to rinse the filter or, if it needs to be replaced, new filter units are available for £49.99.
As mentioned, the unit also features a system called Failsafe which is designed to prevent continued flow if the filter unit becomes blocked. I haven’t been able to test this as the flow rate has never been a problem, but it is good to know this eventually is taken care of - the water produced by the unit will therefore always be safe. One other very interesting addition is Lifesaver’s SteriTouch antimicrobial treatment. This is a surface treatment containing ionic silver and it inhibits the growth of bacteria and mould. All parts of the liberty are treated with SteriTouch and Lifesaver say independent testing has shown it to provide a 99.99% reduction in both MRSA and E.Coli growth.
The Lifesaver Liberty is a superbly designed and high performance filter. It works well for both individual and group use and I have little doubt it will stand up to intensive and long term use. It is at the bulkier end of the filter market and so isn’t a model I would take on a fast and light trip, but for longer term use or group trips it is among the best I have used.
I also particularly like that the Liberty offers the flexibility of being used as both a through flow unit as well as a water container - I understand this is the first unit ever to offer this combination. The Liberty retails for £124.99 and the video below shows exactly how it works.
Posted by Cal
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