A few months ago, I was complaining to my hubby about how heavy our two year old son Mason was getting and how much stuff I have to carry on trail as a parent, and he casually mentioned I didn’t need to bring so much water. I kind of ignored this comment because he knows better than anyone how much water I drink when I hike. I’ve been known to drink not only my water, but also to start in on his before the end of a long hike.
As parents, one of the big concerns about heading out there with kids is having enough food and water so you don’t have meltdowns. At the same time, also making sure you aren’t carrying everything under the sun can be a tough balancing act. Since I am always looking for tricks to lighten my load, I got excited when I was contacted about adding the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle ($29.95) with integrated filter to my trail set up. I was excited to give it a go.
I’ve been using the bottle now for the last two months (which includes taking it on a trip to Baja where there were definitely goats hanging around the water sources we were drinking from) and my overall opinion right off would be two thumbs up.
Here are some pros and cons from my trail mommy perspective after covering about 40 miles with it dangling from my carrier:
No Weird Taste
Yay for no funky taste in water! This is a big issue for me. I can’t do tablets when we camp or are in third world countries, and I am even finicky about tap water. With the LifeStraw Go Bottle I didn’t notice a weird taste in spite of reading other reviews about some experiencing this. Perhaps it was the bottle they got? Not sure, but either way my water pretty much tasted like water. That said, I drank nice looking water, so I might have to test it in pond scum to see what happens there sometime. Or I can just leave that testing up to my toddler.
It’s Easy for Kids of All Ages
Mason loves water bottles that he can suck on. He was never a fan of baby bottles and early on we started him with a Camelbak kids bottle and then a Kleen Canteen, so he didn’t even bat an eye when I offered him water from the LifeStraw. My expectation was that it would be hard for him to suck the water through–this wasn’t the case at all. There’s little difference from a typical water bottle without the filter.
Every extra pound counts when you are carrying a 25-30 pound kid on top of whatever else you need for the trail. I know that the LifeStraw needs to be the weight it is because that filter is critical, but I would love it if there was more bottle space for water and less filter. Although the set up is a bit heavier than my traditional bottle, I didn’t carry two bottles of water (one for Mason and one for me) like I usually do. I had to take this into consideration when hiking with it.
How Much Water?
One thing that’s a negative is that the LifeStraw filter, as amazing as it is, takes up space. I felt like the bottle itself doesn’t carry that much water (remember I said that I am a pretty heavy H20 drinker) because the filter takes up room inside the bottle. This means it’s an ideal set-up if you are in the Pacific Northwest and hiking to waterfalls and next to rivers. I’m not sure how well this would do on a Hike it Baby Austin hike where there’s not a lot of liquid flowing. You definitely need to know how much water you anticipate needing and where the refill spots are on your hike. For short 1-2 hour hikes on a normal day there’s plenty of water. In the mid summer heat this wouldn’t be enough water, so I would probably use this as my second bottle for an all day hike.
Durability is Key
Mason is a water bottle destroyer. I can’t tell you how many stainless water bottles he’s thrown down on the rocks and dented. The bottle is BPA-free plastic, which may turn some people away. To date I have dropped this bottle a few times on rocks and it’s holding up great. Also, I think if they were to ever do a kids version of this they should make it fun though and put graphics on it. Mason is a big fan of graphics on water bottles. (Although I guess I could just add a sticker and call it good.)
The downside of the LifeStraw Go Bottle is once you have stream water in your bottle and a friend hiking with you runs out of their water, you can only share if they drink out of your bottle. No pouring water into their bottle. I am not a germophobe, so this isn’t a big deal for me, but some people are not fans of sharing water with others. I feel like swapping spit makes Mason’s immune system stronger, but that’s just me. The lack of being able to store or share water might make this item a turnoff for some parents.
Don’t Freeze it
If you are one of those people who like cold water and might throw a bottle in the freezer before you head out on the trail, be forewarned that this could damage the LifeStraw filter. While this may not be a problem for quick day hikes, if you are camping and relying on the LifeStraw and the weather shifts to snow (this happened to us last September when camping) make sure your bottle is not left out on the picnic table.
Taking Care of Your Bottle
If you are concerned about germs and you tend to throw everything in the dishwasher, note that the Lifestraw is not dishwasher-safe. The hot water will warp and could damage the filter. Besides, do you want to have dishwasher soap getting into that complicated straw? Overall, it seems like a pretty simple setup and just running water through it and sucking the straw should clean it out. When it’s hard to suck the straw, that means your filter’s done so it’s time to replace.
The Carabiner is Awesome
One thing I’ve noticed about which bottle I take on trail is that it’s always the one I can find that has a carabiner on it. This makes it super easy for me to grab and attach to my carrier and go. I have used this bottle more than my other bottles in the last month for this reason alone. I guess I could move the carabiner to my other bottle, but the fact that it was there when I opened it up added to the ease of attaching it a pack and leaving it there. Also the nice thing about it being attached to my frame carrier always, is if I forget a water bottle I can just pull over anywhere to or from a hike (remember I am in Oregon so water is all over) and fill up. I think this one is going to stay permanently on my Deuter frame carrier.
The Cause: A Last Thought
One of the big things I love about LifeStraw, that has nothing to do with how the bottle works, is that the product they are creating is directly tied to helping get safe drinking water to children around the world. This matters and makes me even more inclined to purchase their product.
Note from Shanti: We are giving reviewing products a go. Let us know what you think about this and if you would like to see more gear pieces. We want to know from you what products would help get you out there better. Eartheasy sent me a water bottle to try out for this piece. Look for more awesome items on their site for solutions for sustainable living. In spite of this fact, my review is completely 100% my experience with the product and was not swayed by getting a freebie. I received only this bottle and no financial compensation for this piece.