Monday, September 4, 2017

Product Review: Lifestraw Water Bottle

A lot of people hold up the Lifestraw as the gold standard for mobile water filtration, and since the introduction of the Lifestraw Go, it has started to gain ground in the water bottle market as well.

I have owned a Lifestraw Go for about eight months and use it regularly, because water with high chlorine content (such as in Maryland) plays hell on my gut bacteria. I also visit places with a lot of lead in the pipes (Philadelphia, San Francisco, etc). And besides, why not always have a water filter?

Technical Specifications
  • Filters down to 0.2 microns: does not filter out most of the smaller viruses and a (very) few of the smaller bacteria.
  • Does not do much chemical filtration at all without an in-line carbon filter, but does sediment just fine.
  • 23 ounce bottle capacity: it even includes a line to tell you where to fill up to before you put the lid (with the straw) on it, displacing additional water. As far as I can tell, it really does hold 23 ounces of water even with the filter in the bottle.
  • 1,000 liter filter capacity: this is from the product literature and seems to be a conservative estimate.
  • More information can be found at the Lifestraw Go website.

The Lifestraw Go is a mechanically simple design that breaks down easily, and has only four components.

A blue tinted polycarbonate type plastic, mine has survived being frozen, left in the car in the summer in 100 plus degree heat, and been dropped innumerable times, including once sliding off of my roof while I was working on repairing my chimney. It did fall onto the sidewalk, and has a fairly deep scratch from that, but no cracks.

Officially it is not dishwasher safe, due to the risk of warping, but mine has also done well in the dishwasher several times on both regular and high heat.

A screw-on top with a rubberized mouthpiece, which I have also run through the dishwasher without any problems.

The mechanism that keeps the mouthpiece up has not gotten “floppy” despite extended use. The mouthpiece does not have visible wear, nor does it feel notably different from when I first used it. Unlike CamelBak brand water bottles, I have not had the bite nipple come off.

The lid comes with a fabric strap and a carabiner. When I first had the water 
bottle I worried about the strap wearing through or breaking, but it seems to work well, and I have not had any problems with it to date. The carabiner has had no notable spring wear, even though the enamel has several scratches. 

This is a Lifestraw that has been made to attach within a water bottle. Mechanically, the filter seems to be fairly robust, and as far as I can tell really does filter 250-300+ gallons before things start to taste funny, even when filtering somewhat problematic water. When drinking tap water, the filter definitely has a longer lifespan, but only by about 50% (400+ ish gallons) before the water tastes off again.

(I base these estimations on the number of times I refill it in a day, multiplied by capacity.)

Replacements are easy to obtain from Amazon and are easy to install. After replacement, the water from the first two to three gallons tastes a little off. From what I can tell, this is normal and not a problem with the filter itself.

Either this or the carbon filter (below) can be attached directly to the lid.

Replace this if ever freezes, as the expansion of moisture will damage the filter! Trust me, for I have made this mistake twice. Neither showed external signs of cracking or other wear after freezing, but the filter does become compromised on a microscopic level. This allows unfiltered water to get through. If your water starts to taste unpleasant soon after a cold spell, odds are good your filter is compromised.

Carbon Filter
The carbon filter is only used to take out chemical contamination, such as excess chlorine, as well as odor and poor taste. (On a somewhat more personal note, I drink a lot more water when it does not taste awful.) It comes in packs of two, with each carbon filter lasting about 10% of the lifespan of the primary filter.

You can attach a carbon filter to the lid and then a primary filter, and it takes about 30-45 seconds to add one to it.

General Notes
If you do not fully extend the mouthpiece, it has a tendency to suck in air. If left on its side and the mouthpiece is partially extended, it has a tendency to slowly leak.

I recommend that you mark your name or similar on it in a paint pen, since it looks like every other plastic water bottle on the market unless you are paying attention.

Overall, the filter has been fantastic. I have used others in the past, but this one seems to work the best for my needs and uses.

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