When it comes to water filters there are plenty of companies to choose from. Over the last few years, it seems almost everyone has been trying to capitalize on the need for a small and reliable water filter that is as budget friendly as possible.
Some of you may have read my reviews on the Survivor Filter already and be familiar with it. The Lifestraw has been around longer and plenty of fellow preppers have a few of these on hand. At our place we keep one in the truck just in case we get caught out somewhere.
At under $20 it was a good deal at the time and 264 gallons of filtration (Lifestraw recently updated this to 1,000 gallons) is more than enough to do if two people are trying to make it home.
After trying out the Survivor Filter (full review here!) it got me thinking that the Lifestraw (Full review here!) was good when it came out but there are better options for your money out there. In this post I am going to compare the Lifestraw to the Survivor filter so you can make a more informed decision when buying this style of filter.
Filters: Bacteria and Protozoa. This includes E-Coli and Giardia. Lifestraw has been tested and found to filter out 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of Protozoa.
Filtration Level: 0.2 microns reduces the turbidity of water. This is particularly important when getting water out of lakes, swamps, or after rain or large snow melts.
Lifespan Of Filter: Originally reported to be 1000 Liters or 264 gallons. Lifestraw now says that tests indicate their filters are good for 4,000 liters or around 1,000 gallons. Their website indicates that the larger claim is true even if you have bought one of their earlier straws.
Replacement Filters Available: Lifestraws do not have replacements. You have to buy another complete Lifestraw
Cost: $15-$20 or approximately $0.015-$0.02 per liter of clean drinking water using the old 1000 liter lifespan and $0.00375- $0.005 using the new 4,000 liter figure.
- Inexpensive and easy to find at numerous online retailers and outdoor suppliers.
- Made in the USA rather than in a country with less quality checks and rules
- Only practical for short to medium term survival situations due to the 1,000-4,000 liter lifespan.
- No prefilter so sediment and other debris can be more of a problem and even clog the main filter up faster than expected so your filter can fail sooner.
Filters: Bacteria, Protozoa, and Viruses
Cost: $30 (check here for the latest)
Filtration Level: 0.05 microns
Lifespan of Filter: This filter is rated to be good for over 26,000 gallons which means it has the filtration capacity of 7-26 Lifestraws (depending on which figure you go with for lifespan.
Saying 1,000 liters and then upping it to 4,000 seems iffy to me) while only costing $10-$15 more than the Lifestraw. This means your water filtration costs go down to $0.001153 per liter!
Replacement Filters: Every filter component on the Survivor Filter is replaceable. In fact you can easily order these on Amazon. Filters can also be cleaned for an improved lifespan. The prefilter helps keep the level of flow high and helps the main filter last far longer.
Pros: Contains a sediment prefilter made of cotton that can be cleaned and reused many times but the filter comes with a package of these so you have some extras on hand from the start.
Cons: I know it might sound trivial to some but Survivor Filter is foreign made. I feel that I have to let readers know this before they buy so they are not disappointed later. I think Survivor Filter is a quality filter regardless of where it is manufactured.
Hydration Pack & Group Considerations
Using either filter inline with a hydration back is not possible with the Lifestraw. Don’t get me wrong, 1000 liters of pure and clean drinking water is enough to get a family through a lot of situations I could think of but you are going to have to pass the straw around.
At a rate of 10 liters of water a day a Lifestraw could get you through a 100 days. 10 liters is just over 2.5 gallons which would provide 3.3 Liters of water per person for a family of 4.
That is a very generous water allowance especially if water is just being used for drinking and light cooking. I think a family of 4 could easily get through 4 months with a little consideration but it would not be easy.
I love that the squeeze canteens you can buy separately or as part of the Survivor Filter package can be used when necessary and you can screw it onto a standard soda bottle if needed.
For those that like Lifestraw, there is a new product from them called the Lifestraw Flex.
This can be bought for $35 and can be used inline with a hydration pack! For a group situation this would be far better than a regular Lifestraw and cost less than buying a lot of Lifestraws.
Other Considerations When Choosing A Water Filter
Please make sure that when you are considering any water filter to think about how easy it would be for you personally to use. Sucking up water is not going to be easy for some but using a squeeze bag might be much more manageable and realistic.
Sometimes I have to say that you can get an exceptional deal on Lifestraws in bulk. They are not a bad purchase at all if you find them on sale or just want a quick and easy filter that is well known. They can be a good way to get others introduced to the idea of prepping and look less intimidating than some filters.
Other Filters In Both Families
The makers of Survivor Filter also make a handy pump filter that I really like. It comes with a cup to filter into and it is very lightweight. Like all Survivor Filter products, you can get replacement filters for it. The pump is easier on your hand then a lot of filters I have had like the MSR Sweetwater.
Lifestraw Family Of Products
Lifestraw makes some very good products beyond the Lifestraw. The Lifestraw Mission or Family Filter are both good values. In fact if you are going for an easy to use group filter, the Lifestraw Family is under $60 and filters a lot of water using a lightweight design.
If you are worried about the durability of the standard Lifestraw but like their products otherwise, then you might consider the Lifestraw Steel (read my full review here!). This new version packs some extra features and is very impact resistant. Here are the major differences you get with this filter.
Filters: Bacteria and Protists but also has a carbon filter that improves the taste of water by eliminating chlorine. It also reduces organic chemical matter such as herbicides, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
If you live in an area where agricultural activity is present or where chemicals are used often on lawns, you should be concerned if your water filter is good enough to take care of getting rid of these compounds.
Pros: Highly durable yet lightweight.
Cons: Significantly higher cost and it is still just a straw style water filter. The carbon filter is the only replaceable filter and it has to be replaced every 26 gallons. The replacements carbon filters ups the cost per liter of filtered water.
I would definitely stick to the Survivor Filter for individual use after having both but if I wanted something to use for a group or share with another person I would buy the Lifestraw Flex.
It is simply a better value and has a more rugged housing that is more likely to stay together during emergencies and survival situations where it may get bumped or fall. I also like that the Survivor Filter can be used with a squeeze bag so you don’t have to suck water up if you don’t want to.
The prefilter on the Survivor Filter is definitely a major bonus too if you are in a situation where water is especially turbid such as a lake or right after a period of rain or snow melt.
Water is your first line of survival so you want to have several filter options and know that they are durable enough to make it through a situation. Survivor Filter is made of military grade plastic that is made to take an impact. If I dropped this filter on a big rock it really would not do much besides add a little scratch or something.
A Standard Lifestraw does not seem as convenient to me.
The Lifestraw is more cumbersome to use when using solo. Both it and the Survivor Filter would be difficult in very shallow water sources. In this case, you would have to dig out a spot to get water from or scoop it into a squeeze bag.
I also still say that the Survivor Filter would be hard to see if you dropped it some places. It does have red lettering but you still may want to put some bright tape on it unless you are really trying to be serious about Camo everything. Remember that most of the time a small filter like Survivor Filter is going to be in your bag and out of sight anyway.
So which one is appealing to you?
With any water filter there is a lot to consider. All water filters have their negatives and positives. It is my hope with these reviews and comparisons that even if your opinion is far different than mine, I have at least helped you think about what is right for you and your family.
I would love for you to comment below and share your experiences with Lifestraw or Survivor water filters. In this way we can all combine experience and learn together!
Further read: How can you make your water filter last longer? Read here!
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