Nov 03

Lifestraw Family Test and Evaluation

The good folks over at were generous enough to send me one of their Lifestraw Family water filtration devices so that I could write a review about it.  Here’s the deal, there is no test which I can conduct which will overshadow the fact that the Lifestraw Family absolutely works and is being utilized by thousands of people in 3rd world countries at this very moment, giving them purified water to sustain life.  Still I considered it my responsibility to put the product through the paces in order to justify’s faith in me to provide the readers with a decent review.

I decided that I needed to put a new spin on things, after all most filtration device reviews describe the product and then feature someone drinking murky water with the end result usually being a recommendation (thumbs up).  My test methodology would be as follows:

  • Go down to the nearest river in order to collect water samples
  • Test the samples with a First Alert Drinking Water Test Kit
  • Run the water through the Lifestraw Family
  • Test the filtered samples with another First Alert Water Test Kit
  • Compare both tests, annotate any differences

The Bottom Line Up Front

For those who like to scan down to the bottom in order to read the results I’ll just give it to you straight.  The Lifestraw Family is an awesome filtration system at a great price point, one worth owning for contingency operations when clean water is not readily available.  My water test experiment was somewhat a bust because the river water I tested did not come back with lots of contaminants so there was no huge difference in the before and after results (other than appearance).  I guess the lack of creepy crawlers and other nasty grime in the water is a good thing as my dog loves to drink the stuff while out playing in the river.

The Lifestraw Family’s Best Feature

Before starting the test I wondered what made the Lifestraw Family any different, for better or worse, than other filtration devices on the market (many of which I own).  I discovered what made it so special by accident while conducting my test.  When I got back to my house with the water samples I decided to complete the test in the garage, so I broke out the filter set and hung it off the side of my SUV.  It was at that moment when I realized just how portable and useful this could be in a bugout situation.

Lifestraw Family on SUV

Lifestraw Family on SUV

As I sat there staring at the Lifestraw I thought about what a great device this was because it could be used in a “field expedient” manner (read: quick to set up and tear down).  It’s small and very portable and if the need existed to filter water on the go you could simply tie it off to a tree or to your vehicle.  This versus hauling around one of the large canister type filtration devices.

On to the Test (Finally)

The first thing I had to do was go down to the local river and gather water.  The brown murky water did not look very tasty, if I absolutely had to drink it without a filter I’d make sure to drop some iodine tablets in my canteen and/or boil it.

water collection

Collecting Samples

The next step was to test the river water utilizing a First Alert Drinking Water Test Kit.  This kit tests for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrites/nitrates, chlorine, hardness, and pH.  There were two separate vials in the kit along with test strips.  The first test was for lead and pesticides, I made sure to lay the strips out next to the instructions so that the results would be easier to read.  As you can see there is really no issue with either lead or pesticides, PRIOR to running the water through the Lifestraw Family.

BEFORE Test: Lead and Pesticides

BEFORE Test: Lead and Pesticides

Here is the test for lead and pesticides AFTER running the river water through the Lifestraw Family.  As you can see there truly isn’t much worth noting in the way of differences (before vs after).

AFTER Test: Lead and Pesticide

AFTER Test: Lead and Pesticide

Up next was the nitrates, pH and chlorine test.  Once again I ran the river water through the test cycle and the results are pictured below.

BEFORE Test: Nitrates. pH, Chlorine

BEFORE Test: Nitrates. pH, Chlorine

Here are the results for nitrates, pH and chlorine AFTER running the water through the Lifestraw Family.

AFTER Test: Nitrates, Chlorine, pH

AFTER Test: Nitrates, pH, Chlorine

The test for bacteria was probably the most important for me.  The test took 48 hours to conduct, but both results (before and after filtration) showed negative (purple).

Bacteria Test: Before (left) and After (right). Both negative.

Bacteria Test: Before (left) and After (right). Both negative.

The most telling difference while conducting the test was the difference in the clarity of the water.  To me this is a huge mental edge as I’d rather drink clear water versus brown, murky looking water.  Just check out this picture of the filtered water flowing into the bottle versus the unfiltered water next to it.

Water Clarity Difference

Water Clarity Difference

Let’s Recap

The Lifestraw Family is a versatile water filtration device which has proven itself while being used in 3rd world countries.  At a price point of $74.95 (with free shipping) from this really is a bargain which would make a great prepper Christmas gift!  Although my test really did not reveal any substantial differences between before and after water samples, I suspect that can be attributed to the fact that the water I used was not that contaminated to begin with.  Still yet the difference in appearance really did make a statement, the clear water after filtration surely would be easier to drink versus the brown stuff.

My Recommendation

The LIfestraw Family is a great filtration device worth owning but it should not be your only filtration device.  Pick one up if you can afford it but remember that redundancy is key in any prepper pantry.  I own a Lifestraw and several other filter systems as they each have their own strengths and weaknesses.  While I was fortunate enough to have provide me with a filter system to test out I would not hesitate to purchase another one at the current price point of $74.95 (as of 11/03/13).



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  1. These little filters are definitely great filtering devices, especially when in a jam. However, they are just like any other portable water filters, they will not filter out viruses. As of now, there are no portable water filters on the market that will remove both all of the bacteria, and all of the viruses, and when one does come onto the market, all of the others will be a thing of the past.

      • PJ on November 5, 2013 at 10:12 PM
      • Reply

      Henry, Thanks much for the input!

  2. Henry & PJ, the LifeStraw Family filters out viruses. It filters 4755 gals of water down to 0.02 microns, which removes viruses.

      • PJ on November 15, 2013 at 7:21 PM
      • Reply

      Joseph, sorry I missed that! Thanks for pointing it out and thanks again for the product. It’s quality and a definite MUST have.

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