8 Lifestraw Water Filter Alternatives: Are They Better?

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The LifeStraw personal water filter is a compact and portable filter that’s perfect for emergencies. It allows you to drink from questionable water sources anywhere so that you can stay hydrated in the worst of circumstances.

The LifeStraw is very affordable and effectively removes over 99% of the bacteria and protozoa from your water to make it safe to drink. A single LifeStraw will last for 1,000 gallons, making it a maintenance-free choice for survival, emergency, and backcountry use. But is it the best water filter for these uses? We wanted to know, and since we have a lot of experience testing most of the popular water filters on the market, we decided to compare the LifeStraw water filter to its closest competitors.

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How We Compare Filters

To determine if a filter is better than the LifeStraw or not, we have to compare them on certain criteria. We will compare these filters on size and weight, ease of use, dependability, lifespan, versatility, filtration, and price. For each filter, we will rank how they compare to the LifeStraw on each of these traits to determine which is better. At the end of each comparison, we will have a verdict on which filter wins between the two.

Sawyer Squeeze vs. Lifestraw

Sawyer Squeeze

Size/Weight

Edge: None

The LifeStraw weighs just 2 ounces while the Sawyer Squeeze is 3 ounces. But the Squeeze is just six inches long while the LifeStraw is nine inches in length.

Ease of Use

Edge: Lifestraw

With the LifeStraw, you simply stick the end in water and drink. It couldn’t possibly be easier to use.

Dependability

Edge: None

Both of these devices are practically bulletproof and will be ready to provide clean water when the time comes.

Lifespan

Edge: Sawyer Squeeze

The LifeStraw has a lifespan of just over 1,000 gallons. That may sound like a lot until you compare it with the 100,000-gallon lifespan of the Sawyer Squeeze.

Versatility

Edge: Sawyer Squeeze

The LifeStraw can really only be used one way. It’s difficult to use with a carry-along bottle since you must insert the end into the water you want to drink. You also can’t pump water through the LifeStraw to fill a container. On the other hand, the Sawyer Squeeze is one of the most versatile filters on the market. You can use it in a gravity-fed system, you can squeeze water through it to fill a container, or you can even screw it onto the end of a water bottle and drink straight through it.

Filtration

Edge: Sawyer Squeeze

The LifeStraw can filter down to 0.2 microns, but the Sawyer can filter out everything down to a measly 0.1 microns.

Price

Edge: Lifestraw

The Sawyer Squeeze can cost twice as much or more compared to the LifeStraw.

Verdict

Edge: Sawyer Squeeze

It’s a close call, but the Sawyer Squeeze just barely beats the LifeStraw. The LifeStraw may be the simpler, more affordable option, but the Sawyer Squeeze offers superior filtration, versatility, and lifespan for the win.

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GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier Bottle vs. LifeStraw

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier Filter Bottle
Image: Amazon

Size/Weight

Edge: LifeStraw

The LifeStraw weighs in at just two ounces while the GRAYL bottle is just shy of a pound. The GRAYL bottle is also several times the size of the LifeStraw, so it’s not as easy to stash in an emergency kit.

Ease of Use

Edge: Lifestraw

The LifeStraw is about as simple as it gets. Stick it in the water and drink. The GRAYL is simple too, but not nearly as simple. Fill with water, close lid, press button for 15 seconds and then your water is ready. Far more steps than the simplicity of the LifeStraw.

Dependability

Edge: LifeStraw

The GRAYL has moving parts and replaceable filter cartridgesthat may clog up in the worst moments. When we need to depend on something, we want something simple with the least number of breakable or moving parts and that is the LifeStraw.

Lifespan

Edge: LifeStraw

With replaceable filter cartridges, the GRAYL bottle should last a long time. But if you need it in an emergency, you won’t have replacement filters, which is why the LifeStraw wins with its 1,000-gallon lifespan.

Versatility

Edge: GRAYL

The LifeStraw is pretty limited in its use. You can drink from it, but not much else. You won’t be able to fill up a container to use the water for cooking. But with the GRAYL, you’ll have a container full of water to use however you see fit, so it’s definitely the more versatile option.

Filtration

Edge: GRAYL

The LifeStraw removes bacteria, protozoa, and sediment. But the GRAYL bottle does something that few portable filters manage; it filters out viruses. If you want the most complete filtration possible, it’s the GRAYL bottle.

Price

Edge: LifeStraw

The LifeStraw is one of the most affordable personal water filters on the market. The GRAYL is several times more expensive, but it’s also a much more substantial device. Regardless, you can purchase several LifeStraw filters for the price of one GRAYL, so LifeStraw wins in the price department.

Verdict

Edge: LifeStraw

For some situations, the GRAYL water purifier bottle would be the better choice. But when it comes to playing the LifeStraw game of an emergency or backcountry filter, the LifeStraw is the clear winner with better ease of use, superior dependability, and vastly better portability with smaller size and weight. Plus, you can purchase several for the price of one GRAYL bottle, so it’s much more economical.

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MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter vs. Lifestraw

MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter
Image: MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter Water Filter, Amazon

Size/Weight

Edge: LifeStraw

The MSR Miniworks EXweighs one pound. It’s a little shorter than the LifeStraw at 7.5 inches, but it’s about three times wider. The LifeStraw weighs just two ounces and fits in your pocket, making it the obvious winner.

Ease of Use

Edge: LifeStraw

The MSR pump requires physical pumping to get clean water from. The LifeStraw only asks you to drink.

Dependability

Edge: LifeStraw

The MSR has moving parts and a filter cartridge that needs to be replaced periodically. The Lifestraw just works, there’s nothing that can break.

Lifespan

Edge: LifeStraw

The MSR filters a little over 500 gallons between replacements. But the LifeStraw will do over 1,000 gallons, so it wins.

Versatility

Edge: MSR

The LifeStraw just allows you to drink straight from it. The MSR filter lets you fill up a container with clean water, opening endless possibilities for you.

Filtration

Edge: None

Both filter down to 0.2 microns and both remove over 99% of bacteria and protozoa.

Price

Edge: LifeStraw

The Lifestraw is significantly cheaper. So much so that you could purchase quite a few of them for the price of one MSR Miniworks EX.

Verdict

Edge: LifeStraw

The MSR pump is a great device for filling up water bottles, but it’s got too many moving parts to be as dependable as the LifeStraw. Plus, the LifeStraw is quite a bit smaller, making it easier to pack and store for emergencies or to carry in your pocket on the trail.

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Katadyn Vario Water Filter vs. Lifestraw

Katadyn Vario Water Filter
Image: Katadyn Vario Water Filter, Amazon

Size/Weight

Edge: LifeStraw

The Katadyn is only 6.5 inches tall, so it’s pretty short. But it’s also very stout with a big handle sticking out, multiplying its overall size. It’s also just shy of a pound weight-wise, so the LifeStraw wins hands-down.

Ease of Use

Edge: LifeStraw

The Katadyn filter even looks complicated. It’s actually pretty simple to use, but with no moving parts, the LifeStraw wins this category.

Dependability

Edge: LifeStraw

Again, moving parts. With none of them, the LifeStraw is very unlikely to break.

Lifespan

Edge: LifeStraw

The Katadyn has a filter that needs to be replaced every 500 gallons, but the LifeStraw is good for 1,000.

Versatility

Edge: Katadyn

The Katadyn allows you to fill up a container with clean water. The LifeStraw can’t give you that kind of flexibility!

Filtration

Edge: None

Both of them filter down to 0.2 microns and remove over 99% of bacteria and protozoa.

Price

Edge: LifeStraw

You can purchase several LifeStraw filters for the cost of a Katadyn Vario. In fact, you can purchase more than one LifeStraw for the price of a replacement cartridge for the Katadyn.

Verdict

Edge: LifeStraw

Affordability, portability, and ease of use seem to be the clincher for the LifeStraw. It’s so cheap and small that it’s very difficult to beat for the type of water filter that it is.

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SurvivalStraw Water Filter Straw vs. Lifestraw

SurvivalStraw Water Filter Straw
Image: SurvivalStraw Water Filter Straw, Amazon

Size/Weight

Edge: None

These filters share a similar design, and they’re nearly identical when it comes to size and weight. The LifeStraw is 22 cm long and the SurvivalStraw is 21 cm long. But the SurvivalStraw is 0.5 centimeters thicker than the LifeStraw, so it just about evens out. They also weigh within an ounce of each other, so this is a tie.

Ease of Use

Edge: None

Both products work pretty much the same way, you stick one end in water and drink from the other end.

Dependability

Edge: LifeStraw

LifeStraw has a proven reputation and a larger capacity, so we’re willing to trust it a bit more.

Lifespan

Edge: LifeStraw

The SurvivalStraw will filter 530 gallons, but the LifeStraw lasts for just over 1,000.

Versatility

Edge: None

Since both of these devices work the same way, they offer about the same level of versatility.

Filtration

Edge: SurvivalStraw

The SurvivalStraw decided to take filtration up a notch by filtering down to 0.1 microns while the LifeStraw only filters down to 0.2 microns.

Price

Edge: None

In the end, both of these products cost about the same.

Verdict

Edge: Lifestraw

We saw a lot of ties here since the SurvivalStraw is closely based on the LifeStraw. But in the end, the original is still the best, winning in more categories than the SurvivalStraw. The LifeStraw has a longer lifespan, which helps to make it more dependable.


Sawyer MINI vs. Lifestraw

Sawyer MINI

Size/Weight

Edge: Sawyer MINI

The LifeStraw and the MINI both weigh in at two ounces, so this category came down to size for the first time. From tip to tip, the MINI is just under 5.5 inches, while the LifeStraw is a much longer nine inches. They’re both about an inch in diameter, so the MINI wins this round.

Ease of Use

Edge:  LifeStraw

You can’t beat the simplicity of stick it in and drink.

Dependability

Edge: Sawyer MINI

The Sawyer MINI has a longer lifespan and is just about bulletproof, so we give it the nod for dependability.

Lifespan

Edge: Sawyer MINI

The MINI is good for 100,000 gallons while the LifeStraw does just over 1,000.

Versatility

Edge: Sawyer MINI

The LifeStraw may be dead easy to use, but you can only use it one way. The MINI is a very versatile filter that can be used in-line with a hydration bladder or gravity-fed system, or it can screw right onto a water bottle to drink straight through it.

Filtration

Edge: Sawyer MINI

Since it filters down to a tiny 0.1 microns, the Sawyer MINI wins the category as well.

Price

Edge: None

The Sawyer MINI costs just a little bit more, but you’ll have to replace the LifeStraw many times to reach the lifespan of a single MINI.

Verdict

Edge: Sawyer MINI

In the MINI, the LifeStraw has finally met its mini-match. These are both very small and portable devices. The LifeStraw is a bit simpler to use, but the Sawer is smaller, more versatile, has a longer lifespan, and even filters more thoroughly for just about the same price.


MSR TrailShot vs. Lifestraw

MSR TrailShot
Image: MSR TrailShot, Amazon

Size/Weight

Edge: LifeStraw

The TrailShot is pretty compact and light at just five ounces. But the LifeStraw is still lighter and smaller.

Ease of Use

Edge: LifeStraw

The TrailShot is very easy to use. You stick in the water, pump, and drink. It’s just one more step than the LifeStraw, but it’s still one more step.

Dependability

Edge: LifeStraw

There’s nothing to go wrong with the LifeStraw. The TrailShot doesn’t exactly have moving parts, but it requires motion to work while the LifeStraw just works.

Lifespan

Edge: LifeStraw

The TrailShot has exactly half the lifespan of the LifeStraw.

Versatility

Edge: TrailShot

You can drink straight from the TrailShot, or you can pump through it and fill a container for cooking, washing, drinking, or whatever else you want.

Filtration

Edge: None

Both remove over 99% of bacteria and protozoa for an even tie.

Price

Edge: LifeStraw The LifeStraw is so affordable, it’s really hard to beat in this category. It’s less than half the cost of the TrailShot.

Verdict

Edge: LifeStraw

Another one bites the dust! For a survival/camping/emergency filter, the LifeStraw is pretty hard to beat, so it takes out another challenger.

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Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification Tablets vs. Lifestraw

Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification Tablets
Image: Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification Tablets, Amazon

Size/Weight

Edge: Potable Aqua

A bottle of fifty tablets weighs just 1.44 ounces, making Potable Aqua the first contender to win in the Size/Weight category.

Ease of Use

Edge: Potable Aqua

Stick it in and drink is easy, but you have to lean over the water source and not fall in. With Potable Aqua, you just drop a tablet in your container and drink. You just have to wait a little bit between those two steps.

Dependability

Edge: LifeStraw

The Potable Aqua tabs can go bad, but the LifeStraw can’t so it wins in dependability.

Lifespan

Edge: LifeStraw

The LifeStraw is good for 1,000 gallons of water, even if you don’t touch it for years. But the Potable Aqua tabs go bad after four years.

Versatility

Edge: Potable Aqua

Once you purify your water with Potable Aqua, you can use it for anything you want. With the LifeStraw, you can only drink.

Filtration

Edge: LifeStraw

The LifeStraw removes sediment. Potable Aqua won’t, which will make drinking it a gritty experience.

Price

Edge: Potable Aqua

It’s surprising, but Potable Aqua is even cheaper than the LifeStraw.

Verdict

Edge: Potable Aqua

For emergencies and survival situations, keeping a bottle of Potable Aqua stored is an excellent idea. It’s smaller and easier to use than the LifeStraw, and cheap enough to stash a few bottles in various places where you may need them.


Conclusion

So, the real question; is the LifeStraw the best emergency, survival, and backcountry filter, or are the alternatives superior? In the end, only three alternatives managed to beat the LifeStraw at its own game.

The Sawyer Squeeze and the Sawyer MINI both have longer lifespans, offer more versatility, superior filtration, and the MINI is even smaller than the LifeStraw.

But aside from these two contenders, the Potable Aqua tabs offered a smaller package with a cheaper price tag that’s even easier to use in an emergency. That said, it’s still difficult to beat such an affordable filter that offers a 1,000-gallon lifespan, ultra-simple ease of use, and a meager weight of just two ounces that fits in your pocket.

Whether you choose the Sawyer filters or the LifeStraw, either will make an excellent emergency device that can easily be stored away in a safe place such as a first aid kit, purse, or even the glove box of your vehicle.


Featured Image: Amazon