Finding your go-to travel essentials can be difficult, whether it’s the perfect neck pillow, shoes or backpack. However, if your packing list includes a normal water bottle, we’ve found a better option that you’ll want to take on every trip from now on.
We all know that staying hydrated on a flight is one of the most important things you can do for your body — and to help you fend off jet lag. Staying hydrated is easier with a good travel bottle, which is why we got our hands on the LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible Squeeze Water Bottle. It isn’t perfect, but it’s an extremely versatile bottle worth your consideration.
While it has some durability issues, this water bottle is extremely versatile and a solid option for any traveler or camper. It boasts a built-in filter, so you can fill it up and drink water from basically anywhere, whether it’s a river or a bathroom sink. And since it’s collapsible, you can always find space to bring it along.
What we liked about it
The LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible Squeeze Water Bottle is one of the most versatile bottles we’ve ever used. We’ve tested tons of water bottles over the years, but thanks to this bottle’s collapsible design and built-in filter, we love taking it on all sorts of adventures.
The LifeStraw Collapsible Bottle’s top-notch filter really makes it stand out from other water bottles we’ve tested. You can refill almost anywhere, thanks to LifeStraw’s membrane technology, which the company says removes 99.999999% of bacteria, 99.999% of parasites and 99.999% of microplastics, silt, sand and cloudiness. With the LifeStraw bottle, you can feel comfortable drinking from a lake if you’re on a multi-day backpacking trip, or even from an airport sink if you’re in a different country and don’t know if you should trust the tap. This way, you won’t have to buy single-use plastic bottles when you’re abroad, making the LifeStraw bottle a more sustainable pick too.
We tested the LifeStraw bottle’s filtering ability ourselves and were seriously impressed. While we didn’t put the filtered water under a microscope to look for parasites, the dirt-filled water we put into the bottle came out crystal clear. A head’s up to anyone who’s sensitive to taste: The water that came out of the bottle did have a little bit of a lingering flavor from the dirt, but it wasn’t so strong that we wouldn’t drink the water.
We took this bottle on a couple road trips too, and it was a lifesaver when we were running low on water at the hotel. Instead of buying plastic bottles, we were able to filter water from our room’s bathroom sink to drink. Again, the weird taste didn’t completely disappear, but especially after adding some ice, it really wasn’t too bad.
On top of the bottle’s filtering capability, we absolutely love its collapsible design. It folds down to about the size of a wallet, meaning you can easily stash it in any travel backpack and take it on the go. The collapsible build also means that you can squeeze water out of the bottle, allowing you to refill other water bottles with clean water from the LifeStraw’s filter.
What we didn’t like about it
The biggest downside of this bottle is its durability. We brought it on road trips and camping adventures to put it through the wringer, and after a few months of squeezing water through the filter, the material of the bottle got a tiny hole in it. This probably came about from squeezing the bottle really hard to get the water through the filter faster. We could say that if you’re careful and don’t squeeze as hard you can avoid this, but the whole point of the bottle is to squeeze it to get the water out, so we wish the material was thicker and more durable. We can still use the bottle to this day, but we cover the hole with our thumb to prevent the leakage. It’s usable, but we wouldn’t take it into the backcountry anymore because we don’t want dirty water leaking around freshly filtered water.
The collapsibility of this bottle gives it the versatility that we absolutely love, but the bottle has basically no structure, so its size and shape are as fluid as the water inside of it. That means it can’t stand up on your desk throughout the workday, and it’s slightly harder to hold on to than a traditional plastic or metal water bottle.
And because the bottle doesn’t have any sort of structure, we wish it had a larger loop on its cap to make it easier to carry. It does have two small loops on the cap, but only one of them is big enough to put your finger through, and the other is meant for a carabiner so you can clip it to a backpack.
Another factor to consider with this bottle is its flow rate. It actually has quite a high flow rate compared to other water filters, but you won’t be able to drink as fast as a traditional water bottle. Squeezing the bottle helps you drink faster, and during our testing, the flow rate wasn’t a big issue. But if you’re someone who prioritizes the ability to chug water fast, you may want to consider a non-filter bottle.
If you want to use this bottle to fill other bottles and containers with clean, filtered water, you might get annoyed at how difficult it is to squeeze out every last drop from the bottle. Since the filter sticks so far down into the bottle, during our testing we found it really difficult to get the entire liter of water out. You can reconfigure the filter so it’s on the outside of the bottle to get all the water out, but if the filter was already inside the bottle, that puts the dirty side of the filter close to where your mouth goes when you drink. If you switch between the filter being on the inside to it on the outside, we’re a bit uncomfortable with the risk of contamination, but if you keep it in one mode while you use it you won’t have to worry about that.
Lastly, cleaning and maintaining the water bottle’s filter can be a bit of a pain. Although it’s not dishwasher-safe, cleaning the actual bottle was easy with a dish brush. But if you’re not going to use the filter for more than one month, LifeStraw recommends storing it in a saline solution. This helps keep the filter membrane at its highest performance but requires some extra work. And if the bottle’s flow rate starts getting slower, you’ll have to backwash it, which entails pushing clean through the filter in the opposite direction with an included syringe. Backwashing is a pretty simple process that only takes about five minutes and can restore your flowrate to its previous glory, but all in all, the LifeStraw Collapsible Bottle requires some extra care to keep it in tip top shape.
How it compares to other bottles
The other bottles we’ve tested have largely featured double-wall insulation, which means they can keep your beverage — be it water, coffee, tea or whatever else — piping hot or ice cold. The LifeStraw Collapsible Bottle can’t do that, but we think its collapsible build and filtering ability make it better for travelers who want to stay hydrated more than they need to carry hot drinks. If you’re looking for a water bottle to sit on your desk all day, check out one of our favorites like the Yeti Rambler or the Healthy Human Stein. But if you’re traveling internationally or camping and want clean water, the LifeStraw is a great option.
There are other collapsible bottles and rigid bottles with filters, but we really think the combination of a collapsible bottle with a filter makes for the ideal travel bottle. There aren’t a whole lot of bottles that have both of these features like the LifeStraw. The Katadyn BeFree is similar and a popular option with backpackers, and while we haven’t tested it yet, people love its fast flow rate. We did test the HydraPak Flux+, which was more durable and had a faster flow rate than the LifeStraw, but is an even bigger pain to clean because it can’t be backflushed.
You’ll most likely run into a lot of other basic water filters like the Sawyer Squeeze, which comes with a fill pouch and an adapter to screw onto most plastic bottles that you can buy. We’ve used the Sawyer Squeeze, and while it makes filtering water easy, both the bag and the filter itself weren’t very durable. If you want a filter that can screw on to single-use plastic bottles, the Katadyn BeFree or the LifeStraw Peak Series Straw are both good options.
If you’ve ever gone on a trip and ended up buying plastic water bottles because you were scared of the tap water or wanted to go on a long hike but didn’t want to carry all your water at once, you should seriously consider the LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible Squeeze Water Bottle. It comes in two colors (blue and gray) and two sizes (650 milliliters and 1 liter) to match your needs, and it’s truly one of the most versatile bottles we’ve ever used.
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