Our Gear Editor assesses the lightweight drinking filter

LifeStraw has been making water filters for over ten years for public health use in developing countries. Five years ago the company, Vestergaard, began selling products for outdoor and recreation use with a portion of the revenue from each sale used to provide a school child in a developing country with safe water for a school year. In November 2015, 14 teams visited 330 schools in Kenya’s rural western province and distributed 2,549 LifeStraw Community water purifiers as well as providing education on safe water practice.
LifeStraw’s latest filter is the Lifestraw Steel, which is a 20 centimetre-long steel tube with caps at each end – care needs to be taken not to mislay these. Under the caps lie a drinking mouthpiece at one end and mesh at the other. The filter is in two parts. The mesh is the end of a short activated carbon filter that reduces unpleasant tastes, including chlorine, bad odours and organic chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. Above the carbon filter is a hollow fibre membrane that removes 99.9999% of bacteria like E.Coli and 99.9% of protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The carbon filter is replaceable and will treat 100 litres. The hollow fibre membrane can’t be replaced but will treat 1000 litres.

The verdict

The LifeStraw Steel is simple to use. I found I had to suck quite hard to start water flowing but once it does drinking is easy. The narrow shape means it can be used to access water you can’t get at with a mug or water bottle and of course you can also use it in a bottle of dirty water. What you can’t do is fill a bottle or pot from it. It’s for drinking from only.
When dry the LifeStraw Steel weighs 113 grams. However after use some water remains trapped in the membrane. Some can be ejected by blowing it back out. Even so after use I found the weight to be 135 grams. Leave the caps off the ends and this water will evaporate in time but that’s not practical when carrying it in the pack.
The LifeStraw Steel feels solid and should prove durable. For anywhere with dubious water – farmland, lowlands, below bothies or mountain huts – it would be useful. The slim shape means it can easily be packed into a corner of your rucksack.