Gear Review: LifeStraw Go Water Bottle With 2-Stage Filtration

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle With 2-Stage Filtration.
LifeStraw Go bottle with 2-stage filtration, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Water Filter Bottle
LifeStraw Go Water Bottle With 2-Stage Filtration
$45, 8 oz.
22 ounces/650ml bottle capacity

On an 80-mile, five-day backpacking trip in the North Cascades National Park Complex in September, I stopped filling my pack’s bladder by the second day. I didn’t need it—I could just top off my LifeStraw Go bottle every time we passed one of the frequent creeks along our route, and continue hiking with hardly a pause. Rare is the piece of gear whose convenience and utility actually change the way I behave, but the LifeStraw Go does exactly that.

Filling the LifeStraw Go at a spring in the Great Smokies.
Filling the LifeStraw Go at a spring in the Great Smokies.

I used it on several other trips, too, including a 34-mile, mid-October backpacking trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and a mid-September trail run-hike of about 20 miles in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak. Whenever there are fairly frequent water sources along a hike, the Go bottle enables me to carry less water and avoid the inconvenience of taking time to filter water: I can just dip and fill this bottle in a couple seconds and start drinking and hiking again. Measuring 9.3 inches/235mm by 3.1 inches/80mm, it holds 22 ounces/650ml of water, enough for at least an hour on the move. Using it is simple and quick: Flip up the mouthpiece (which folds down into the cap to avoid damage in transit) and start sucking as you would on a straw. It initially takes a few seconds to draw water up the filter, but once it’s flowing, the water comes basically as fast as you can drink through a straw.

LifeStraw Go cap and mouthpiece.
LifeStraw Go cap and mouthpiece.

Without requiring batteries or pumping, the LifeStraw Go’s two-stage, hollow-fiber, 0.2-micron filter membrane with activated carbon removes 99.9 percent of bacteria, protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium, and organic chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. The replaceable activated carbon capsule—the small piece inside the top of the filter unit—is good for treating 100 liters (over 26 gallons) of water, and the hollow fiber membrane filter for 1,000 liters (264 gallons). The filter and carbon capsule are easily dissembled without needing tools—just pull the filter off and pop out the carbon capsule.

A mini-carabiner on a nylon strap lets you clip the bottle to a pack strap—a good safety feature even when it’s in a pack’s outside pocket, to ensure against accidentally losing it in steep terrain. The BPA-free Tritan plastic bottle is lightweight—most of the weight is in the filter unit—and hard to break: I tried a few times, dropping it onto rocks with the weight of water inside, without causing any damage. Lifestraw recommends taking the bottle apart and rinsing all the parts with clean tap water before a first use and before storing it after use; and let the parts dry out before storing it. LifeStraw also commits a portion of profits to providing safe drinking water to schoolchildren in the developing world.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside, which has made several top outdoors blog lists. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter, or enter your email address in the box in the left sidebar or at the bottom of this story. Click here to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Follow my adventures on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and Youtube.

LifeStraw Go filter.
LifeStraw Go filter.

The Go has limitations, including that you can’t use it to filter water into another bottle or a bladder. But in places with less-frequent water sources, I can simply bring an extra plastic bottle or two (weighing about two ounces each) or a water bag to haul extra water for refilling my Go bottle. If I’m in a group of three or more people (like my family), carrying multiple Go bottles makes less sense because you’re adding the duplicative weight of multiple water filters to the group’s total gear weight, when you could carry one pump or gravity filter; then you’re choosing between unnecessary weight and the dip-and-go convenience of the LifeStraw Go.

LifeStraw Go with 2-stage filtration.
LifeStraw Go with 2-stage filtration.

Those minor limitations aside, though, the LifeStraw Go actually changes the way I think about managing water in the backcountry, enabling me to carry less water weight wherever there are frequent sources, without compromising convenience or safety. It has become my go-to water carrying and filtering tool on virtually all single- and multi-day, three-season backcountry outings, and indispensable for international trips where there are concerns about water safety.

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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

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