Oct 07, 2023

Lifestraw Go filtered water bottle review

When traveling abroad or taking a trip into the backcountry, the last thing you want to have to think about is whether you’ll have access to clean water. From hotel bathrooms and airport drinking fountains to streams in the middle of the forest, safe drinking water — that tastes great too — shouldn’t be an afterthought. And now, it doesn’t have to be.

LifeStraw makes it possible to have access to clean drinking water wherever you travel with its new LifeStraw Go Series 22-ounce bottle, a water filter in reusable bottle form. The Go Series water filter bottle removes 99.999999% of bacteria and 99.999% of parasites and microplastics from anywhere you fill it up. It comes in either BPA-free plastic or stainless steel and in four different sizes and material combinations — the BPA-Free 22-ounce ($45), BPA-Free 1-liter ($50), Stainless Steel 24-ounce ($60), or Stainless Steel 1-liter ($65).

This long-lasting, microplastics-filtering and bacteria-eliminating bottle is a game changer for homebodies and travelers alike who want to make sure the water they consume is pure and clean. You also don’t have to spend loads of money on single-use plastic water bottles that end up in the landfill or, even worse, the middle of the ocean. I put the LifeStraw Go to the test using water from my kitchen sink, the drinking fountain at the airport and even Lake Michigan (insert grimacing face emoji here). Here’s my take on how it performed and whether it’s worth the investment.

Ideal for travelers who want clean water on the go, the LifeStraw Go reusable water bottle filters bacteria, parasites and microplastics. Nearly wherever you fill up — from the airport water fountain to a stream in the backcountry — this bottle makes sure your water is safe to consume and tastes great too.

From filtering out bad bacteria to preventing parasite contamination, water safety is a big concern for most travelers when visiting foreign countries with different degrees of water filtration systems. It’s also top of mind for backpackers and those exploring the backcountry who may need to filter stream, river and lake water to stay hydrated on multi-day adventures. Microplastics are also an increasing concern and are now commonly found in our tap water and bottled water sold in stores.

The LifeStraw Go bottle uses two key water purifying components to filter out 99.999999% of bacteria, 99.999% of parasites and 99.999% of microplastics. The main filter in the bottle is the brand’s famous membrane microfilter, which removes all the nasty, microscopic critters you don’t want to drink, as well as any larger debris like dirt and sand. This membrane is the same one that you’ll find in many of LifeStraw’s other products, such as the original LifeStraw and the brand’s outdoor-focused Peak Collapsible Bottle (which we’ve also reviewed). The carbon filter provides additional filtration and reduces chlorine, odors and organic chemical matter, which helps improve taste and makes the LifeStraw Go bottle ideal for travel.

While I can’t necessarily test exactly how well the bottle filters out bacteria, parasites and microplastics, LifeStraw publishes extensive performance data on its website. I was, however, able to test how well the bottle filters out bad tastes and smells. To do so, I filled the LifeStraw Go with tap water in both my kitchen and at the airport water fountain. I found that the subtle taste of chlorine I typically notice in tap water was nonexistent when drinking out of the bottle.

To really put the taste filter to the test, I filled the bottle with water full of coffee grounds, and unfortunately, that taste was too strong for the filter to completely eliminate. However, when I drank water from Lake Michigan, I couldn’t taste lake water at all and the water filtered totally clear. For most uses — including large bodies of water or moving waterways — the LifeStraw Go does a fantastic job improving taste. Just know that for particularly strong tastes, it can only do so much.

The LifeStraw bottle has been super convenient for situations when I’m quickly running out of the house and realize I forgot to fill up my Brita filter or during times I’m traveling and not quite sure how the hotel, airport or city water where I’m visiting will taste. I also love having the LifeStraw Go bottle as a way to save money and avoid paying for expensive and wasteful single-use plastic bottles when I’m on the go.

When taking water out of streams, rivers, lakes and other natural bodies of water, the LifeStraw Go will filter out harmful bacteria and parasites. You always want to avoid stagnant water where possible and opt for filtering moving water. If you’re traveling to really remote places, make sure to research any possibility of viruses in the water, which the LifeStraw Go cannot filter out. Use a heartier water bottle filtration system, like the one you’ll find in the LifeStraw Mission or Grayl UltraPress. These are your best options for filtering water on rugged outdoor adventures or remote destinations.

The LifeStraw Go features a rubber mouthpiece that’s comfortable to drink out of and easy to clean. Simply pull it off if you want to scrub the inside or replace it as needed. The bottle comes with two cap components: a twist-off handle cap that protects the mouthpiece and a full cap that can be removed to refill the bottle and replace the filters. The handle cap is comfortable to hold and you can easily fit a carabiner through the gap in the handle to secure it to your bag or belt loop.

I didn’t experience any leaks when the top handle cap was on the bottle. Even when my bottle was jostled around as I navigated TSA security and the airport terminals, no water spilled into my backpack. I did notice that when the handle cap is off, the mouthpiece will leak when turned on its side or completely over. After a couple months of testing, however, the thread on the top part of the cap began to wear down, so it’s been a bit harder to get the cap to stay sealed.

While more expensive, the double-walled insulated steel bottles are worthy of investment, in my opinion. The trade-off is they’ll last longer and keep your drinks ice cold for hours. They are also extremely sturdy. And while the plastic version of the Go is BPA-free, I’m still a big fan of buying gear made of materials that are built to last for the long haul.

Note: It’s important to remove your carbon filter and rinse it for 60 seconds before first use. Learn more about using your LifeStraw Go for the first time in this video.

Not only is the exterior of the bottle well-made, but the filters themselves will last quite a while, even with daily use. LifeStraw says the carbon filter will last up to 26 gallons of water and the membrane microfilter lasts up to 1,000 gallons or about five years.

However, the dirtier the water you filter, the faster the filter will slow down. The LifeStraw Go series is built for filtering tap water and perfect for travel, and while you can filter water in the backcountry, all that dirt and grime can shorten the bottle’s life. This is especially true because unlike filters specifically built for the outdoors, the LifeStraw Go can’t be backwashed, which helps clean and extend the life of traditional straw filters. So, yes, you can use the LifeStraw Go in a pinch if you’re out in the wilderness, but we’d recommend sticking with tap water that doesn’t have large particles in it to get the most out of your filter’s life span.

It’s important to note that once the main membrane microfilter reaches the end of its life, you’ll start to have a harder time drawing water into the filter as you drink. This is your cue to change out the filter. You can buy replacement LifeStraw Go Carbon Filters ($10 for a two-pack) and Lifestraw Go Membrane Microfilters ($25 per filter) online.

The LifeStraw Go is a great option for most backcountry experiences as it filters out 99.999999% of bacteria and 99.999% of parasites and microplastics from anywhere you fill it up. It’s equipped with lab-tested microfiltration membrane technology, featuring a pore size of 0.2 microns, and meets NSF/ANSI P231 standard for the reduction of bacteria and parasites as well as other testing criteria and protocols established by the World Health Organization, the US EPA, NSF International and the Water Quality Association. Long story short: LifeStraw Go will filter out all the nasty stuff you don’t want in your water — except viruses.

The good news is most water within North America and Europe is free from viruses. If you’re traveling to other countries throughout Asia, Africa and South America, you’ll want to invest in a bottle that is capable of filtering out harmful viruses like Norovirus and Hepatitis A. LifeStraw Go’s filtering technology also does not filter out PFAs and heavy metals like lead or mercury as well. It’s important to know if the water you’re drinking contains traces of those contaminants so that you can be aware of any potential danger. If you want to learn more about the LifeStraw Go’s filters and what it filters out, you can see all its laboratory results here.

Similar to many other bottles equipped with straws, changes in elevation and temperatures can turn this bottle into an erupting geyser if you remove the cap without releasing built-up pressure. While flying with this bottle at 35,000 feet above sea level, I unscrewed the handle cap and water started overflowing out of the mouthpiece. I was soaked. CNN Underscored outdoors and sustainability editor, Kai Burkhardt, had a similar experience when testing a LifeStraw Go of his own when he drove from an altitude of 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet.

If you unscrew the whole lid before trying to open just the top, however, you can help release the pressure within the bottle at high elevations. Just listen for a tiny, audible release of air — a sign you’re safe from water overflowing out of the mouthpiece.

This bottle won’t drink as fast as your normal wide-mouth Nalgenes or Yeti Ramblers. That’s because the water has to pass through the filter before reaching your mouth. The trade-off is you’re certain the water you’re consuming is as clean as can be. After about a week of use, I started to notice some drag in the filter and that I needed to suck harder to get water through the mouthpiece. To improve the flow rate of the water in your bottle, you can blow through the mouthpiece to loosen up and remove any blockage in the carbon filter and membrane.

You’ll also want to make sure the bottle is vertical when drinking from it. If not, you’ll likely suck in air and no water. Tipping the LifeStraw bottle horizontally while you drink, especially when there’s only a little bit of water in the bottom, means less water is touching the surface of the filter. You can prevent this by making sure the bottle is vertical and the filter can efficiently absorb water.

There are thousands of water bottles on the market today, from the viral Stanley Quencher and hefty Yeti Rambler to the tried-and-true Nalgene loved by backpackers and outdoor adventurers. What’s less common is finding a reusable water bottle that also comes with a filter and purifier inside. If don’t plan to travel anywhere with extremely harmful water, you can opt for the Brita Premium Hard-Sided Filtering Water Bottle. At a price tag of $23, its carbon filter helps with purifying water for a better taste and filtering out common contaminants found in tap water, including chlorine zinc, mercury and other class VI particulates. The LifeStraw Go bottle and other backpacking filters like the Katadyn BeFree ($45) are better travel options for filtering water from other countries’ taps, hotels and water fountains, as well as on outdoor adventures, like backcountry hiking or paddling.

We’ve reviewed the LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible bottle in the past, which is another great option for travelers. However, that bottle doesn’t have a carbon filter, which means it doesn’t filter out unwanted flavors nearly as well. On the other hand, unlike the LifeStraw Go, the Peak Series is collapsible, so if you’re on a trip where packing space is a premium, it’s still a great option to consider.

Grayl takes water filtration to the next level. More akin to the needs of rugged adventurers who spend their days trekking in the backcountry or ultra-remote areas, Grayl bottles use a unique press filtration system composed of two bottle chambers that remove the most gnarly contaminants, like harmful viruses, waterborne pathogens (99.99% of viruses, 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoan cysts), heavy metals and chemicals like lead and chlorine and life-threatening parasites like Giardia. The Grayl UltraPress, which will cost you $90, can purify and filter 16.9 ounces of contaminated water in 10 seconds. This is your bottle if you have a feeling you’re going to need to filter the “world’s sketchiest freshwater sources” (for which Grayl promises it has you covered).

It’s important to note that LifeStraw does offer gravity filters that remove viruses from the water, like the LifeStraw Peak Series Gravity Water Purifier with Virus Removal, if you have a place to hang it, like at a basecamp or your international accommodations.

When travel calls, there’s no better companion on the road, in the air or at the hotel than the LifeStraw Go water filter bottle. Even in your own home, this bottle does wonders for filtering out unwanted bacteria, parasites and even microplastics that are becoming all-too-prevalent in our tap and drinking water.

With its ability to remove 99.999999% of bacteria and 99.999% of parasites and microplastics, you can rest assured knowing the water you drink won’t impact your adventures near and far. The LifeStraw Go’s membrane microfilter (good for 4,000 liters) and carbon filter (good for 100 liters) are long-lasting and reliable. Consider investing in this water filter bottle if you don’t want to second-guess the cleanliness of your water, no matter whether you’re hanging at home or traveling the world.