LifeStraw vs SteriPEN
Water filters are essential for backpackers, campers and survival kits. Two of the most common are the LifeStraw and SteriPEN. At first glance, they may seem like they’re very similar, but they’re actually very different.
The LifeStraw is an easy to use straw style water filter that removes bacteria and protozoa. The SteriPEN is a UV water purifier which kills bacteria, protozoa, and viruses 1 liter of water at a time, but doesn’t filter water.
Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of the LifeStraw and SteriPEN so you can figure out which one is going to be best for you.
LifeStraw or SteriPEN – Which Should You Choose
When you first look at the LifeStraw and SteriPEN you may think that they’re similar to one another, but they’re actually completely different! The LifeStraw is a water filter and the SteriPEN is a water purifier.
|LifeStraw vs. SteriPEN||LifeStraw||SteriPEN|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||9″ x 1.2″ Dia||7.3″ x 1.6″ x 1.3″|
|Weight||1.62 oz.||5 oz.|
|Does it remove Protozoa/Bacteria||Yes||Yes|
|Does it remove Viruses||No||Yes|
|Filter Type||Hollow Filter Membrane||UV-C Sterilization|
|Battery Life||N/A||50 Liters of Water|
|Filter/Lamp Life||1000 Gallons||1000 Gallons|
The LifeStraw is the original straw-style water filter designed for hikers, bikers, and other people that enjoy the outdoors. It removes 99.999% of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics.
- Length: 9″
- Diameter: 1.2″
- Weight: 1.62 oz.
- Filter Life: 1,000 Gallons
Do LifeStraws really work?
LifeStraws work extremely well. They remove more than 99% of all bacteria and parasites. This means it takes out 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria (this includes e.coli and salmonella) and 99.999% of waterborne parasites (including giardia and cryptosporidium).
Can you drink any water with the LifeStraw?
LifeStraws are a filter so they remove the sediment, bacteria, and protozoa from the water before you drink it. This means that you can grab a gross, dirty glass of water and just drink it through the LifeStraw without a problem. LifeStraws don’t filter fuel and other chemicals out of the water so you need to be sure that there isn’t any chemical contamination in the water that you plan to drink.
They also don’t remove viruses. If you suspect that the water has viruses of some kind in it, then you need to go with some other method of getting it clean enough to drink. If this is the case you can boil the water before drinking it through the LifeStraw. This will kill the viruses (as well as the protozoa and bacteria).
How many times can you use a LifeStraw?
The long life of the LifeStraw is one of its best selling points! You can filter about 1,000 gallons of water with one LifeStraw. That’s about 5 years worth of water.
You can read our entire LifeStraw review here.
Do LifeStraws remove viruses?
How do you clean a LifeStraw filter?
LifeStraws can’t be broken down and cleaned like some other water filters. The best that you can do is to blow out the LifeStraw after each use and leave both ends open so the filter can dry out.
You can also suck some clean water up into the filter and then blow it back out. Of course, you need to have clean water sitting around for this to work.
When you’re using a LifeStraw, you need yo keep in mind that the end that goes into the water can possibly be contaminated. Keep it out of any clean water you have unless you don’t care that you can contaminate it.
What kind of filter does LifeStraw use?
LifeStraws use a hollow filter microfiltration membrane style filter. Water is forced through the .2 micron pores of the filter as you suck up water.
The SteriPEN is a lightweight UV water purifier designed to quickly make water clean and safe for drinking. It eliminated bacteria and protozoa like most water filters, but it also kills viruses which filters can’t.
- Weight: 5 oz.
- Length: 7.3″
- Width: 1.6″
- Bulb Life: 1,000 Gallons
Does the SteriPEN really work?
The SteriPEN kills 99.9% of all bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. It either flat out kills or deactivates them which means that they can’t reproduce or make you sick.
This big difference is that the SteriPEN doesn’t filter anything out. You’ll deactivate or kill anything in the water, but you’re still going to drink it along with any sediment that’s in the water.
How does UV light kill bacteria?
UV light is a type of radiation. UV-C, the type used to disinfect water, is normally blocked by the ozone but bulbs like the one in the SteriPEN produce UV-C because it’s so effective in stopping microorganisms.
When these microorganisms are hit by the UV light, it damages their DNA and stops them from being able to reproduce. This means that you can’t get sick from them because they need to be able to reproduce to make you sick. By reproducing in your body they eventually cause negative health effects.
Can you drink any water with the SteriPEN?
How long does a SteriPEN last?
What kind of batteries does a SteriPEN use?
This SeriPEN has a rechargeable battery that comes as part of the unit. The USB charging port allows you to recharge the SteriPEN with any of your USB power packs or solar panels. This makes it great for me since I usually have a solar panel and battery pack with me.
Can you use a SteriPEN in a metal bottle?
SteriPENs can be used in pretty much any container that you have. Glass, metal, plastic, etc. The container actually blocks any possible harmful UV light that gets produced.
LifeStraw vs SteriPEN – Which is Best for You
Do you need to treat your water for viruses?
Most of the worst waterborne diseases that you’re going to find in North America are caused by either bacteria or protozoa. This means that you’re probably not going to need to kill off viruses in your drinking water. The one exception is the possibility of Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is spread when human feces from an infected person make it into a water supply. Hepatitis A is found all across the U.S. but it’s rare for it to be found in water supplies.
Most people will be better off with the LifeStraw
The LifeStraw and SteriPEN are two common pieces of equipment used to make potentially contaminated water sources clean and drinkable.
Both are small and pretty easy to use, but the similarities really end there. The LifeStraw is a personal water filter and the SteriPEN is a UV water sterilizer that can make drinking water for an individual or a group.
In the end, I’d suggest going for the cheaper LifeStraw over the SteriPEN unless you need to treat water for multiple people or you think you’re going to need to treat water for viruses.