Great Concept, But Needs A Little Improvement!
First, let me say that overall I really like the LifeStraw Mission. It offers great filtration capabilities and capacity for the price – which is usually around $110 – $120 USD.
I was able to test the LifeStraw Mission in the fall when camping and finally have the time to write up this review. The water I used for testing was a pond near our campsite and although the water was not terrible, it was dirty enough to provide valid testing.
Overall, the quality of the LifeStraw Mission is very good (with a few minor exceptions) and I will go over this in more detail in my review.
LifeStraw Mission Official Video:
To introduce you to the basics of the LifeStraw Mission, please checkout this video first. It covers basic operation and functions.
The LifeStraw Mission Features & Specifications:
The LifeStraw mission is a good water filtering system and the specification are identical to the LifeStraw Family as they use the same filter. The system and parts could use a few modifications which I will get into shortly but first, let’s cover the basics – what can it do and what does it filter out?
The LifeStraw Mission filters to 0.02 microns (20 nm). If you need to know what that actually filters out, See this Particle (Contaminant) Size Chart in Microns
There were a few differences in what is claimed versus what I found out during testing. Any differences are shown in red text.
- Purifies 18,000 liters / 4,755 gallons of water to 0.02 microns (20 nm)
- Removes virtually all bacteria (99.9999%), protozoa (99.99%), and viruses (99.999%) that can contaminate water
- Exceeds US Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards
- Compact roll bag reservoir available in 5 liter (1.3 gallon) and 12 liter (3.1 gallon) sizes
- Reduces turbidity (muddiness)
- Flow-rate of 9-12 liters (2.4-3.2 gallons) per hour (realistically closer to 4 – 5 liters/hour)
- Lightweight: 0.43 kg. (0.96 lbs) (True, very light for the capacity it provides)
- Ultrafiltration hollow fiber membrane
- Requires no electrical power, batteries or replacement parts
- Easy-to-clean pre-filter and purification cartridge
- All raw materials are BPA free and US FDA compliant
- No aftertaste: LifeStraw doesn’t use iodine or iodinated resin chemicals
LifeStraw Mission Limitations:
The LifeStraw MIssion (as well as Family) are designed to filter bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. It is not meant to filter salt, heavy metals or chemicals. If you plan to use this water filter in areas near heavy industry and waters polluted by these sources, you may need additional filtering systems to clean the water and remove those types of contaminants – if possible (sometimes it is not).
In other words, if you are buying a water filter for emergency use in polluted industrial areas, you will need much more than this water filter, and most others similar to it. These filters are designed to protect against natural threats, not man made chemicals and poisons.
The LifeStraw Mission cannot withstand freezing once it has been used – this includes storage. Water will freeze inside the filter and expand causing internal damage. If this happens the filter is no longer safe to use. After use you must keep it from freezing if you are in an area where temperatures will fall below freezing!
Water I Tested & Results:
In the fall of 2017 I tested the LifeStraw Mission in a pond near our campsite in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. Although the water was not terrible, it was well populated with ducks and typical pond vegetation. Very likely to have bacteria and make you sick if consumed unfiltered.
The results were impressive. Water tasted very good, was clear and most important, I did not get sick after drinking about 8 ounces of the filtered water.
Water Flow Results:
LifeStraw claims a flow rate of 9 to 12 liters an hour, but I was only able to get 4 – 5 liters an hour. That said, they also say flow increases with usage and I have not used my LifeStraw Mission enough to verify if the flow would increase that much.
Pros, Cons & Recommended Modifications:
I have to say, all the parts on the LifeStraw Mission water filter system are well made. Unlike most water filter bags, the one in this system appears to be very well made, flexible and strong. The clips and hose look good and the filter itself is well made. The pre filters are thick enough to remain stiff and make them easy to change out (filter housing is located inside the bag to prevent damage) and 5 are included with the unit. Pre filters are changed easily by unscrewing the housing, pop in new filter and screw back on (only takes a minute).
- Overall well made with a strong bag and durable plastic filter
- Variable capacity, 5L or 12L – and this is important when lifting above your head
- Decent flow capacity although lower than advertised
- Bag has instructions and clear view ports to check water level
- Easy to setup and refill
- Without modification, requires high branch or limb to hang – in other words make sure you have a tall person on hand
- 12L can be heavy to hookup when lifting above your head (although it should not be an issue for a person of average strength)
- Although I cannot say with certainty, I doubt if the plastic clips would stand up if you carried the 12L bag over your shoulder back to camp
- Clean water hose needs to be longer – see recommended modifications below
When hung from a tree the total distance from the straps holding the bag to the bottom of the red tap on the filter is 80″. For this to work well and be at a comfortable height, the branch or limb you hang the water filter from would need to be a minimum of 90″ off the ground.
In the video at the top of this page you can see how high off the ground it is hanging (and the guy is probably very tall). Also note in the video the hooks that need to be clipped on after filling the bag. Imagine at this hieght, trying to hookup a full 12L bag weighing roughly 26 lbs (12 kg), to a limb above your head and getting the clips hooked up – not easy for the average person.
What I recommend…
- Shorten the source hose from the bag to the filter to 18″ or so.
- Swap out the clean water hose to a 36″ hose (if you can find them, you might want to use silicone food-grade hoses as they are more flexible and not prone to kinking)
By making the changes above, you can hang the filter at about 60″ to 72″ and the filter will sit a few feet off the ground. Now with a 36″ clean water line you can set a container on the ground a few feet away from the source water/bag and fill it with no risk of contaminated water dripping off the bag. As well, everything now sits at a more comfortable height to access the taps and flush bulb.
PLEASE NOTE: The exact lengths you use will vary to suit your needs and height – and there is a difference in total height between the 5L model and 12L model. I highly recommend setting the whole system up and playing with it before deciding on what changes you will make – if any!
5L Model Vs 12L Model – Which One To Buy?
The LifeStraw Mission you buy will depend largely on your needs. If you are planning for a group then it is obvious, the 12L is a must. But if it will only be you and maybe a second person the 5L might be more practical and less weight to haul when filled.
You also need to take into account your strength, if lifting 26+ pounds over your head while hooking up clips presents no problem to you 12L might be great. However, if you are a smaller build or maybe have a health issue that makes this difficult, the 5L may be the way to go.
By watching the video above and taking into consideration some of the above points, you should be able to determine which size is your best option.
Bad Press – Leaks & Malfunctions?
I always like to read reviews on Amazon when I am doing my own review – just to see if there is anything that I should pay attention too, verify or debunk.
I seen a small number of reviews (very small number) from people saying their orders were delivered incomplete, it leaked, or simply would not work! I received my order promptly, complete and with no leaks or malfunctions. I can only assume they ordered from a bad seller on Amazon or they just were unlucky and Amazon shipped an incomplete order.
What should come with your LifeStraw Mission package:
- 1 Bag & 1 Strap For Hanging it up
- 1 Main Filter with bulb and 2 hoses attached and ready to use
- 1 pre filter installed (may come separate) and 4 extra pre filters in a zip lock bag
- 1 pouch to carry the all the above components
That said, I do recall ordering directly from Eartheasy.com and not Amazon.com
I do know that you have to be a little patient and make sure you setup the system properly. If you don’t or there is an air lock etc, the filter will appear to not be working. It does take a little while for water to flow the first time you use it.
As far as leaks go, I filled the 12 liter bag to capacity, snapped on the filter hose and experienced no leaks at all – not even when pushing the filter hose onto the bag.
How Portable is The LifeStraw Mission?
With the bag rolled up and hose wrapped around the filter, the whole kit is roughly 14″ long x 3″ x 4″ give or take a bit depending on how you package it all up in the pouch. It can easily fit in a back pack and is very light (about 1 lb / .45 kg).
Overall, I think the LifeStraw Mission is great value for the price. It does have a couple issues but they are easily modified if you feel it necessary to do so.
Make Sure It Works: Before heading out on a camping trip, or elsewhere with the LifeStraw Mission, set it up in your bathroom, hook it up on shower rod and make sure it works and nothing is damaged or malfunctioning. Don’t wait until you are in the bush to discover any issues, missing parts or other problem.
I would say it is best for use in the bush, camping or a long term bug out situation. For home use I would recommend the LifeStraw Family instead!
Due to its size, this is not a water filter intended for travel overseas without a vehicle to keep it in. In other words, not intended as a personal water filter. For groups it is ideal.
Even during the first 12 liters of water I filtered using tap water there was no plastic or chemical taste I ould detect. When used with pond water, the quality of the filtered water was very good, no odd tastes during my testing and no plastic taste.
Although I have not had the opportunity to test really nasty water, I am sure the LifeStraw Mission could filter very disgusting looking water and come out clear and tasting fine.
For the price, which I feel is very reasonable, I highly recommend getting the LifeStraw Mission if you think it suits your needs. For individuals I recommend the 5L size, and the 12L size for groups of 3 or more people.
Where To Buy?:
LifeStraw Mission Manual & Lab Results