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LifeStraw Vs. Sawyer: One Is Better For Backpackers

Can’t decide between the LifeStraw and Sawyer water filters? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. You will find out everything you need to know about the two water filters in this detailed comparison, including which one is the better option.

One was designed to bring clean water to people in third world countries, and the other was designed to help the avid backpacker have clean water wherever he goes.

But when it comes down to features like portability, easy of use, speed, efficiency and carrying convenience, there can only be one winner.

Why You Need A Water Filter

We’ve all been there - you brought gallons of water on your hiking trip, and you ran out. What’s worse, all of your friends ran out as well, and you’re all really thirsty. You don’t really have an option other than to drink from a natural water source. But how can you be sure that it’s safe?

Hardcore backpackers know that it can be pretty difficult to come by a source of clean water. Even if you spot a stream or a river that appears to be entirely clean, you can never be sure that there are no harmful toxins or harmful bacteria in the water.

E. Choli, Salmonella and  Cholera are bacteria that live in water and that can be life-threatening if ingested. The same goes for protoza like giardia and cryptosporidium, as well as micro-plastics - all of these things can put you in the hospital if you ingest them. So, don’t gamble with your health and bring a water filter whenever you go backpacking.

Both of these backpacking water filters work in a similar way - they purify the water, remove bacteria and other harmful agents, and make virtually any water entirely safe to drink. Which means that you could technically drink rain water and it wouldn’t harm your health. But it will not taste well.

Also, keep in mind that neither of these filters will keeps out viruses. So, even when you’re using a water filter, try to be careful with the water source - viruses are pretty rare in North America, but pay attention if you’re travelling elsewhere. Go with those that already appear clean, and not like a cesspool.

Anyway, now we’ve established why you need one, let’s talk about the features of these two water filters, and try to figure out which one is the better choice. I will compare all of their basic features, including efficiency, lifespan, speed and portability. In the end, one will prevail. Read more to find a detailed comparison between the two here.


May 7, 2022

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Expert World Travel

Media Mentions from Expert World Travel

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!


My only complaint is that eventually, backflushing won’t be enough. These can clog up after some time and no amount of back flushing will fix its low flow. I went through 2 on the AT. However, it will attach to Smart Water Bottles and most bladders!

Anna Hamrick


Built for backcountry reliability and portability, the Sawyer Squeeze filter is our pick for the best portable water purifier.

Pete Ortiz


The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere