There’s something exciting about traveling with a water filter. It’s the kind of gear that says I’m ready for anything. I’ll be gone long enough that I’ll run out my trusty kitchen sink water, and I’ll need something to filter ground water so I can stay hydrated for a period of time away from home. Simply, carrying a water filter maximizes the potential for adventure.
Or, there’s the flip side where you don’t plan on running out of water, but like a good Boy Scout, you happen to have one with you in a pinch.
Fortunately, there are a lot of options these days and we’re all farther than ever from ending up like a bad episode of Man vs. Wild.
As someone who enjoys big backcountry rides, backcountry camping, and traveling, I was pretty excited to receive a few of Lifestraw’s latest products earlier this year.
In March, Lifestraw released its new Peak Series filters designed for the outdoors and backcountry. I’ve long had an actual Lifestraw in my pack for emergency use, but these filters are great for finding water spots and filling up so you can move to the next one.
I tested a collapsible 650ml bottle — perfect for refilling bottles at streams and lakes, a 3L gravity system for camping trips, and the Camelbak Reservoir Filter Kit and used these items in Central and South America and on backcountry camping trips.
Camelbak Reservoir Filter Kit by Lifestraw
The Camelbak Reservoir Filter was perfect for a mountain bike trip to South America this spring. South and Central America tend to have less than ideal water quality, and water can be contaminated because of poor sanitation facilities or contamination from resource extraction, and it’s generally a good idea to only drink filtered, purified, or bottled water if you’re on a trip. Many locals do the same.
The Reservoir Filter was handy to have on this trip because I had my pack on me day and night, whether I was riding or in a room. At night, I’d often fill it up and lay it on the floor next to my bed to drink out of.
Camelbak says this uses two stages of filtration: a Hollow Fiber Filter removes bacteria, parasites, and microplastics while an ion-exchange filter reduces lead, taste, and odor plus chlorine or other chemicals. The filter rinses clean and is free of BPA, BPS, and BPF.
I’m assuming because the hose is quite long and far from the filter that it takes some extra effort sucking from the hose. It also adds about 6″ of length to the hose so expect it to reach more than normal.
Otherwise, the Reservoir Filter worked great and it’s staying in the bottom of my pack just in case.
- MSRP: $40
- Weight: ~90g
- Longevity: Hollow fiber lasts 1,000 gallons, activated carbon lasts 25 gallons
- Buy from REI and Performance Bike.
Lifestraw Peak Series 650ml Squeeze Bottle
This bottle-size collapsible filter is the most versatile of the group. On a recent bike touring trip I left it unfilled and it was small enough to fit in a small top tube bag with other gear. It’s lightweight, easy to carry, and easy to use at springs, waterfalls, and stream crossings.
This bottle is made of a soft but durable material and it can be used as its own bottle or a small filter to fill up other bottles and is pretty straightforward to use. Take the cap attached to the filter off, fill up the reservoir, put the cap/filter back on and give it a squeeze. The 650ml bottle has a good flow rate and you’ll quickly look forward to finding natural water sources. Fresh, filtered water is usually delicious.
This came with a threadable syringe that attaches to the bag so you can push water backwards through the filter to clean it and improve longevity. The membrane microfilter this bag uses lasts up to 500 gallons and Lifestraw says it will stop flowing through when the filter has reached the end of its lifespan.
- MSRP: $33
- Weight: 102g
- Longevity: Up to 500 gallons
- Buy from Amazon.
Lifestraw Peak Series 3L Gravity Filter
Each of these products has a different intended use scenario and that’s how they’ve all been used. While the above two are good for backcountry rides or traveling, the 3L Gravity Filter has come in handy on backcountry camping/overlanding trips where I’ve tried to travel light and sleep next to a water source.
The 3L Gravity filter has a similar material to the smaller squeeze bottle but the filter is external, allowing more water to get through. There’s a strap with a carabiner to hoist it somewhere high and let gravity do the work. There is also a little valve on the hose to stop the flow of water, otherwise it’ll keep draining. The end of the hose can sync up with a Camelbak reservoir too so you can pump filtered water into a pack.
I used this for a few days in the backcountry and though it would have been easier the first time if I was closer to water, it’s still very simple to use. Take the cap off, try and get the mouth of the bag into running water, and fill ‘er up. On flatter running water, it takes technique and some back and forth to get water into the bag. I recommend using something faster or falling water if it’s available. Then the 3L filter has a strap to haul it back to camp too.
The flow rate is actually pretty quick on this one. The 3L has a membrane filter and works for bacteria, parasites, microplastics, silt, sand and cloudiness. The filter should last up to 500 gallons and will stop flowing at the end of its lifespan.
- MSRP: $60
- Weight: 230g
- Longevity: Up to 500 gallons
- Buy from Amazon.