What if, instead of going through the process of filtering water and carrying it on your hike, you could just stop at any stream and drink right out of it? Maybe you’ve heard of Lifestraw, the company that makes that dream a reality. This is the newest version – the Lifestraw Steel. Read on to find out where it excels, where it may fall short, and what makes it different, and maybe better, than the original Lifestraw.
Lifestraw began as a simple, cloth-filled straw device designed to filter Guinea Worm larvae from water in developing countries. In 2005, Vestergaard, the parent company, introduced the original Lifestraw, “designed for people in developing countries who don’t have water piped in from municipal sources or other access to safe water and emergency settings following natural disasters when water is contaminated.” So, it wasn’t originally meant for camping or backpacking, but backpackers recognized the crossover potential.
Eventually, so did Lifestraw. Starting with the introduction of the Family filter in 2008, Vestergaard continued to expand the line to include higher volume filters, water bottles with built in filtration, and gravity filters for campsites and expeditions.
The Lifestraw Steel is the first Lifestraw designed specifically for backpackers, hikers, and travelers. Where the original Lifestraw was plastic, the Steel is constructed of stainless steel. And, where the original Lifestraw uses a single-stage filter, the Steel uses a two-stage filtration system. The first stage is an activated carbon filter that removes chemicals like chlorine. The second stage uses hollow fiber filtration to eliminate a claimed 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa. Stage two is rated to last for 1000 liters (264 gallons) while stage one should be replaced every three months. So, each carbon filter should last an entire summer and the Lifestraw itself should last about 300 days in the backcountry (assuming 3+ liters per day of drinking).
The Lifestraw Steel is durable, as should be expected. It’s taken a few spills onto rocks, been tossed haphazardly into packs, and shown no signs of wear. We could probably stand on it without issue. In fact, hold on one sec….yes – you can stand on it without damaging it.
Lifestraw lists weight at 160g (5.6 oz). Our measurements put it at 140g (4.9 oz). It’s always nice when a product weighs less than its listed weight.
Drinking out of the Lifestraw Steel is easy. Flow is high enough that it almost doesn’t feel like it’s filtering. On the downside, you have to get your face close enough to the water to get the Lifestraw into it. Nine inches, to be precise. People with bad backs may want to look elsewhere.
Another downside – there’s no way to store water you filter through the Lifestraw. If your journey requires long jaunts between water sources, Lifestraw may not be your best option. But, if you have water, water, everywhere, you’ll have plenty to drink. Check out our video to see how easy it is to use.
The Lifestraw Steel is a good, reasonably light weight option for hikers and backpackers on excursions with frequent water sources. Also great for travelers heading to countries where water may be of questionable quality. If you’re into fly fishing, bring it along and grab a drink wherever you’re standing. We wish the price was a bit lower – $60 MSRP seems high when the original Lifestraw is only $25 (and generally available for $20) and has the same filtration lifespan. But, nothing is ever full price, right? On sale, the Steel is a great purchase. We can recommend it.