Survivor Filter Appears To Be The Most Versatile of All Personal Water Filters – Does It Work As Good As It Looks?
My first impression when I received the Survivor Filter, is that of a good quality, durable and compact water filter. One that will tuck away nicely in a backpack or glove box of a vehicle. Overall the plastic feels strong and unlikely to break or crack should you drop it.
The first step in reviewing the Survivor Filter was to take it apart and see if the inside parts were of equal quality. For the most part,, all the internal fittings appear to be comparable to the exterior of the filter.
Before I get into more of the results from my testing, check out the video below to become familiar with the parts and the use of the Survivor Filter so you will better understand the different features and parts I will discuss further below the video.
Watch This Video For a Quick Overview of The Survivor Filter:
What are customers on Amazon are saying? Read 477 reviews on Amazon Here – Rated 4.5 out of 5 Stars
About The Quality, Parts & Fittings?
Although the Survivor Filter feels solid and appears well made, I found the way parts unscrewed or twisted apart to be a little cumbersome. What I mean be this, is that they do not just quickly thread together easily, you have to get things lined up right. For example the bottom pre-filter cap, it is hard to grip and when tightened just a bit to much, can be really hard to remove later. The mouth piece pushes in and twist locks into place, but the rubber ring that holds the mouthpiece tends to get in the way… and if you remove this rubber piece, it’ll take a few seconds to get it lined up right again (not a big deal really, but it could be better).
If you screw a water bottle onto the base of the filter, and then want to remove it, it almost always unscrewed the base piece of the filter with it, thus you have to take that off the bottle and put it back on the Survivor Filter – there should be some way to prevent this and a twist lock type of solution (like the mouth piece may have been a better way to go.
You may also find some water bottles do not screw onto the base of this unit very well. In the video (and their website), they mention particular brands of bottles and I think it would very wise to know which ones fit well and those that don’t before embarking on a trip – or you may find your bottle filter setup somewhat messy and contaminated when it is too late. Survivor Filter recommends a 28mm threaded plastic soda/water bottle. Note sure about others, but I don’t recall labels on these containers indicating if they are a 28mm thread?? It would be much better to have an extra alternative base (pre-filter piece) to accommodate more types of bottle threads.
The cap for the mouth piece is not as tight fitting as I expected. Although it will stay in place, you will notice it pops off too easy. If I was concerned about the tip getting contaminated in really dirty environments I would likely keep the filter in a bag of some sort (or closed compartment in a backpack etc). The good part of this cap design is the fact that it covers the entire mouth piece so you are less likely to have contamination from air borne bacteria common in many third world countries where it is dry, and contaminated dust can be easily lifted into the air through wind, traffic or other means.
Check out the video below, it is about assembly, parts and function – It all looks so easy in the video, but the parts don’t come apart and go back as easy as shown. Then again, maybe I just got a bad unit.
As far as replacing parts go, this is where the Survivor Filter is well designed, all of the available replacement parts available for the Survivor Filter can easily be swapped out in less than a minute. I also find this part of the design much more environmentally friendly than straw type filters like the Lifestraw and similar filters.
The Survivor Filter Collapsible Canteens
I can’t say I was all that impressed with these. The plastic seems a bit too ridgid for a container that is meant to be filled and squeezed on a regular basis – I would have expected a plastic that felt more pliable – or a rubberized material even better yet. The cap thread also seemed a bit coarse (maybe intentionally). Although I have not used them enough to determine just how long they will last, I do not feel confident they would stand up over the long term – that said, they are cheap at about $11 to $12 for two canteens. They are also very compact and you could easily pack extra along on a trip.
These are not the easiest to fill either, unlike plastic bottles which can be squeezed to draw water in, these you have to try and keep expanded to allow water to fill them. A much better design would have been to somehow have made the base open ended with a way to seal it after it is filled. But like I said, they are cheap enough and I guess in this case, you get what you pay for. Just don’t expect these to impress you.
Others think differently, read over 300 positive reviews here on Amazon for the canteens. Be sure to check the lower ratings as well as the high ones!
Using The Survivor Filter As a Straw Filter?
Suprisingly, this is where the Survivor Filter shines, especially considering it is filtering down to 0.05 microns. It does not require as much suction as the Lifestraw water filter. I would compare the lifestraw to a really really thick milkshake and the Survivor Filter would be a regular milkshake (about the only way I can think of describing it).
When done using straw filters, it is important to blow out any water left inside (for cleaning and storage)… the Survivor filter was twice as hard to blow out as the Lifestraw. Likely something to do with the higher filtration level of the Survivor Filter. I also let these sit upright overnight after this process to see if any more water might leak out – nothing from the Lifestraw and about a teaspoon came out of the Survivor Filter.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Every type of tubular water filter like the Lifestraw or Survivor Filter require a lot of suction to prime the units (fill the interior chamber and filter membrane with water). For both filters, once the water is flowing, the suction required is minimal. You can easily empty an 8 oz glass of water in about 15 seconds (roughly).
The flavor of the water? How Does it Taste?
I would say of all the water filters of this type, the Survivor Filter had the strongest chemical taste of any of them with first use. IMO, about 2x as strong as the Lifestraw Go bottle and 4x as strong as the Lifestraw itself. I can’t say it was just a plastic taste either, I’d say a bit of a plastic taste but somewhat of an odd chemical taste too – not sure exactly how I would describe it.
With all of these type of filters that I tested, any off taste diminishes with more use.
Survivor Filter Specifications:
Here are the official specifications of the Survivor Filter. Information that is required for the type of water you may have to filter.
- Micron Filtration Level: Down to 0.05 microns (the highest level in its class of filter)
- Best in Class: 400% Better Filtration at 0.05 Microns than the Lifestraw at 0.20 Microns
- Size: 7″ long x 1.25″ wide
- Weight: 3.5 oz dry
- Materials: Impact resistant BPA free plastic
- Life Expectancy: Will filter up to 264 gallons (1000 liters) of water before replacement parts are needed (Will vary subject to the quality of water). Said to last to 100,000 litres with replacement parts but it will be a while until that claim can be proven true – it is a fairly new product.
- Shelf Life: 5+ years – unused and protected from freezing.
- Key Features: Two stage filtration, filters 264 gallons of water, carbon capsule filters 26 gallons, no chemicals or moving parts.
Certified Test Results – What Will The Survivor Filter Actually Protect You From?
At a filtration level of 0,05 microns you can be sure this filter can handle almost any kind of water you can put through it. But, I think is is always best to know exactly what it can filter out, to what percentage, and what it can’t. The link below is the test results for the Survivor filter. Following this link, is related information as posted on the official Survivor Filter website
The official Intertek Report for the Survivor Filters can be viewed here (PDF) The testing and results are very extensive and include primary heavy metal filtration – which the Survivor Filter was able to reduce by an average of 90% (a little higher with the Pro Filter) – very good for this type of filter!
From The Survivor Filter Website…
Survivor Filter is proud to announce that we have recently completed tests on our Survivor Filter and our Survivor Filter PRO units at Intertek Labs in Columbus Ohio which show that our products have been Tested to filter E.Coli (Bacteria), Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) and Phi-X174 (Virus) to the highest lab certifiable level of 99.9%.
For the Virus Testing, the lab recommended that we use the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard choice for Walter Filtration Viral Testing, PhiX-174 as the benchmark. For a better explanation on why the PhiX-174 Virus is recommend as the test standard by the WHO for Viral Filtration, the WHO report can be found here: WHO Water Testing Report, particularly the section on page 6 which discuss Enteric Viruses in water and explain how they recommend testing with PhiX-174 to determine the validity of Water Filters to Filter Viruses.
We are proud to show that our products are the only portable filters on the market today that show filtration of a Virus from a certified North American Lab. Our products also with their Absolute Micron rating starting at 0.05 (Survivor Filter) and going all the way to 0.01 (Survivor Filter PRO) Microns, easily blocks out Protozoa (Giardia, Cryptosporidium) in accordance with the CDC Guides (http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/gen_info/filters.html) requiring an Absolute Micron filter rating of 0.1.
How Do You Clean The Survivor Filter?
When you are on the road or a trip (and not likely to be near clean running tap water), simply blow through the mouth piece until no more water is coming out of the unit. Let dry and put away.
When water flow through the Ultra Filter (the main filter piece) becomes is to difficult to use, it is time to remove the Ultra Filter for cleaning or replacement. To clean the Ultra Filter, disassemble the Survivor filter and back flush by running clean fresh water through the filter in the opposite direction you suck water through, then re-install and you are good for more use. If flow is still restricted you may need a new Ultra Filter or Carbon Filter (mouth piece).
Extending The Life of The Survivor Filter
Unlike the Lifestraw which is a sealed unit and must be thrown our when it can no longer filter water properly, you can extend the life of the Survivor Filter with the purchase of the Ultra Filter and the carbon filter/mouth piece. So as long as the main housing remains intact and does not leak, you can keep using the Survivor Filter.
Environmentally, this is one of the best designs available. Far less waste for the amount of water filtered!
Real World Usage?
If you live in North America and plan to use this on camping or hiking trips, the Survivor Filter’s level of filtration to 0,05 microns is likely too much – our water in remote areas is fairly clean, especially in the mountains, and a filter like the Lifestraw at 0.2 microns is more than enough in most cases. Of course, it never hurts to have the extra protection. IMO, the Survivor Filter is a better option in third world countries where the risk of contamination is much higher… and consequences much more severe.
IMPORTANT: When using the Survivor Filter with a bottle or canteen, dry off the dirty water on the bottle or canteen before tilting up to drink or pour – to make sure no dirty water runs down onto the filter and and mouthpiece – this could cause contamination of the mouthpiece.
Survivor Filter vs Lifestraw Filter
First, let me say that the Survivor Filter is sold as the “Do It All” kind of filter. In reality, it is best purchased as a backup, personal use filter for the purpose of sucking water out of cup or other container (not getting down on your stomach and sucking water out of stream, or lake etc – unless you have too).
Without question, if you are looking for the best protection against water borne bacteria, viruses etc, the Survivor Filter is the best option! It is 4x more effective than the Lifestraw with its ability to filter down to 0,05 microns versus the Lifestraw at 0.2 microns – the choice is more about where it will be used.
If you are looking for a water filter to provide camp water for a group or even yourself, it is not a good option – the Lifestraw Mission is #1 for that purpose! I have review results coming soon for the Mission! For one person camp needs, you might also want to consider the Survivor Filter Pro (I have recently acquired this one and will post a review soon)
In the mean time, you can check out Happily Ever Outdoors Demonstration Video of The Survivor Filter Pro below – Impressive Results!
Durability – Which Filter is Stronger?
The Lifestraw does not feel no where near as strong as the Survivor Filter. If dropped from a height of 10′ or more onto rocks I do not feel the Lifestraw would stand up – in fact, Lifestraw does not recommend using it if this kind of damage is to occur. The Survivor Filter on the other hand does not appear to have these weaknesses and the housing looks like it could withstand a fall far in excess of 10′.
The lifestraw housing and parts are definitely of cheaper quality than the Survivor Filter, however, it is designed to filter up to a 1000 liters and then be disposed of – so I would say the quality matches the expected lifespan. The Survivor Filter is at least twice the quality – this design is for the long term with the availability of replacement parts. Whether it will last the claimed 100,000 liter lifespan (with replacements) I think is yet to be seen.
Lifespan – Which One Lasts Longer?
Out of the box so to speak, both water filters are rated for the same amount of water filtration at 1000 litres (264 gallons). However, once this limit is reached, the Lifestraw goes in the garbage, whereas you can buy a new Ultra Filter and Carbon Filter for the Survivor Filter – both around $10 each. While there may not be a huge savings overall, it is much better for the environment.
Survivor Filter claims you can filter about 100,000 litres before the other parts of the filter will fail (housing etc). After seeing how the parts fit together, I am not so sure about this, I would think some of the O-rings or threads on parts would wear down long before 100,000 liters – but it is a fairly new product so I think this has yet to prove itself.
Ease of Use – Which one is the most comfortable to use?
As noted above, I think the Survivor Filter is best used as a straw filter for emergency use. That said, it is amazing how small differences can effect the use of a product. The lifestraw is a little longer and thinner and this small difference makes it feel much better in the hand and for use as a straw – hence its length is comparable to straws we use in the fast food industry. I recommend scooping water up in a cup or other container and sucking it through the filter that way – much better than getting down on the ground (possibly wet or dirty). Using it this way, the Lifestraw feels much more comfortable in the hand and your distance from the cup.
The Survivor Filter on the other hand is a little bulkier and shorter, and this is noticeable when used as described above. It is only about 1 1/2″ shorter but you do notice it. You will also notice the size of the cap near your mouth with the Survivor Filter, it is much bigger compared to the cap on the Lifestraw.
The lifestraw comes with a rope attached to the filter to hang it around your neck or elsewhere. The Survivor filter does not – but provides a slotted extension on the side for this purpose.
Which one should you buy?
If camping or hiking in North America, I would personally team up the Lifestraw with the LifeStraw Mission. If you are buying a filter for preparedness e.g. Bug out bag, then I would go for the Survivor Filter and Lifestraw Mission combination, as both will be more useful with water sources found in, or around cities and suburbs. In either application above, IMO, neither straw type filter is enough on its own.
if I had to keep one in my vehicle glove box for emergency, it would be the Survivor Filter – the 0,05 micron rating and the carbon filter mouthpiece, offers the extra piece of mind when you do not know what water sources will be available, how contaminated they are, or what the contamination is.
If traveling to countries where water contamination is a given and severe (third world), I would choose the Survivor Filter over the Lifestraw without question. The lifestraw just won’t provide all the protection you need and thus poses a risk. In these countries, having a small compact and capable water filter with you at all times is a must – this is where the Survivor Filter is the best choice.
Survivor Filter Summary:
Overall, I found the quality of the Survivor Filter to be good. However, I do feel the parts could fit together a little more smoothly – but they do fit, and they fit tightly. The Ultra Filter is easily removed as is the carbon mouthpiece and pre-filter at the base – all are very easy to replace.
As noted above, I did notice more of a plastic/chemical taste with the Survivor Filter than others mentioned. However, I do think this aftertaste will be drastically reduced after sucking a few gallons of water through it.
Cleaning out the Survivor Filter does require a fairly strong amount of blowing pressure – a lot! More than the Lifestraw, but about the same as lifeStraw Go 2 bottle (which I find odd as it uses the same filter as the Lifestraw – maybe it is the addition of the carbon filter that increases resistance),
A Must For Third World Travel, Not So Much For North America. Taking all things into consideration, I think this is the best “personal carry” water filter for use in Third World countries. The 0.05 level of filtration cannot be beat for this size and type of water filter!
Having this on you at all times ensures you should never have to worry about clean water, or better put, getting very sick from having to risk drinking contaminated water.
The Survivor Filter comes with an instruction booklet and 4 extra pre-filters (in the little bag). Replacement parts are easily obtained on Amazon.
For $30, this water filter, even with its minor flaws, is still the best option in this size range for overseas travel, or travel to areas of high risk. Also ideal for a Bug Out Bag in the city (or glove box). For these particular purposes only – I highly recommend it.
Read Survivor Filter Reviews on Amazon (477 to choose from)
P.S. Going Overseas?
If you plan to buy this unit for a long trip overseas, I would recommend buying a complete set of replacement parts to make sure you always have a functioning water filter in places where getting spare parts may not be easy, or possible… which may be the case in many third world countries.