Best Water Filter Straws

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
178 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best water filter straws

Last Updated September 2019

A water filter straw is a compact tool that can be used to easily remove harmful bacteria from water, making it a popular choice for hikers and adventurers.

What makes water filter straws different from other larger water filters is that you can use the straw to filter water right from the source. However, the capability of water filter straws can vary, so it’s important to choose one that can filter out the exact type of bacteria that will be present in the water where you will be traveling. The number of gallons a straw can filter before a replacement is needed can range from a few hundred gallons to thousands. In addition, some straws include accessories like drinking pouches, cleaning tools, or survival gear.

A water filter straw is a tool that could save your life while you are in the wilderness. Read on to learn more about selecting the right straw for you and your adventures. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top recommendations.

A water filter straw makes a great addition to any survival or emergency kit.

How water filter straws work

Water filter straws are the younger sibling of water filters and filtered water bottles. They are compact, fairly lightweight, and reusable.

  • Most water filter straws use carbon filters to remove harmful bacteria and protozoan cysts found in freshwater sources. This makes most water safe to drink, whether you are drinking right from the source or from a bottle of unfiltered water.
  • In addition to a carbon filter, many straws also have a hollow fiber membrane to remove additional bacteria. These membranes remove harmful bacteria by catching them in porous tubes that allow water to pass through.
  • A prefilter, which many straws include, removes larger particles, like silt and mud, to further clean your water and protect the carbon and hollow fiber membrane filters. If you are drinking from murky water, a prefilter is a must-have.
  • A water filter straw relies on you to pull water through the straw, unlike a regular water filter, which may use a pump system. This can make drinking tiring, but it’s also a simple system that takes no prior experience to use.

Most water filter straws are 100% BPA free. This is also the case for included water pouches.

Key considerations

Your water filter straw should be portable, easy to use, and capable of protecting you from the bacteria in the area you are traveling in. Before you purchase a water filter straw, you should carefully research the region you will be in to find out what bacteria, parasites, and viruses are found in its water.

Filters vs. purifiers

Most water filter straws — true to their name — are filters, not purifiers. There’s a small difference between these two types of systems, but it’s an important one that you should consider before making a purchase.

  • Filters remove most bacteria and protozoan cysts from water, in addition to other impurities to improve taste. For most travel in the U.S. and Canada, this is a sufficient system for making freshwater drinkable.
  • Purifiers remove everything that filters do, but they also remove viruses that may be found in some water sources. If you are not sure whether you need a filter or a purifier, you should research the area you intend to travel to.

Micron Rating

Some water filters list a micron rating — this is a rating of the maximum-size particle or organism that will be stopped by a filter. The micron rating of water filter straws ranges from 5 microns to .01 microns. Smaller is always better, as a lower micron rating means more bacteria and viruses will be caught in the filter. Water-borne bacteria can be as small as .02 microns, so only a filter with an extremely low micron rating can prevent bacteria of this size from passing.

Weight and size

While most water filter straws are fairly compact, they do vary in size and weight, and every ounce counts when you’re hiking long distances and carrying all of your gear. Most water filter straws range in length from 6 to 9 inches and weigh between 2 and 6 ounces.

Lifespan

Any water filter has a lifespan. As particles, heavy metals, and bacteria are filtered out of the water, the filter itself will begin to clog and lose effectiveness. When water becomes difficult to draw through the straw, it may be time to get a new filter.

The lifespan of a straw is measured in the number of gallons it can safely filter before it loses effectiveness. Straws can handle anywhere from 20 to 100,000 gallons of water before they need to be replaced. Since most straws have multiple filters of different types, one filter may expire before the other. Take note of the different filters in each straw and what harmful particles and organisms they remove — it may be safe to continue using your straw if only one filter has expired, as long as you are drinking water that doesn’t contain any contaminants that the other filter can’t remove.

DID YOU KNOW?

With a water filter straw, you can drink directly from bodies of freshwater or from a container.

Features

Additional accessories

Many water filter straws come with accessories to make drinking or purifying easier.

  • A water pouch allows you to easily collect water so you can filter on the go rather than having to drink at the source.
  • Cleaning syringes can be filled with clean water and used to flush the filter, removing any debris that would render the filter ineffective.
  • A carrying case allows you to easily transport the straw and keeps it clean while you travel. A less bulky case is generally better, as it is easier to fit into your backpack.

Water bottle compatibility

A water filter straw may have threading at the entry point that can connect to a water bottle or an included water pouch. Not only does this allow you to turn most water bottles into convenient vessels for unfiltered water, but it also allows you to squeeze the bottle, requiring less effort on your part to pass water through the straw.

Water filter straw prices

Inexpensive: For $10 to $15, you can buy water filter straws with one or two filtration systems. These often need their filters replaced after a few hundred gallons of water, and they may not come with cleaning tools or other accessories.

Mid-range: In the $15 to $20 range are water filter straws that may have two or three filters. Straws in this range often include useful accessories and may be good for thousands of gallons of water.

Expensive: High-end water filter straws for $20 to $25 may also serve as water purifiers and can often handle hundreds of thousands of gallons before their filters need replacing. These filters often have extremely low micron ratings of .02 or .01.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

While nearly all water filter straws are designed to remove bacteria, most do not remove chemicals from the water. For water that may be contaminated with chemicals, a backpacking water filter may be needed.

Tips

  • If you have a straw that can attach to a bottle, a bottle that can be squeezed makes it easier to pull water through the straw.
  • Most water filter straws have a limited number of uses before they need to be cleaned. If you are taking a long trip, bring all necessary cleaning tools with you so you can continue to drink clean water.
  • If a water filter straw requires filter replacements, consider the additional price of extra filters when choosing a water filter straw.
  • While water filter straws can filter out harmful heavy metals, they usually cannot filter chemicals. If this is a concern, a backpacking water filter may be needed.

Other products we considered

If you are looking for a more compact straw, the H20 SURVIVAL Water Filter Straw is a great option that stands out for its slim design. Measuring 6.5 inches long and only a half an inch wide, it’s one of the smallest water filter straws available. Pulling water through the straw can be challenging, however, and with a lifespan of 18 gallons, this straw will need a new filter quickly. But overall, customers love its efficiency and how well it improves the taste of water. For a cheaper option, consider the Aquamira Frontier Straw Filter. While it won’t prevent 100% of the bacteria from passing and has a 30-gallon lifespan, this is a reliable straw for an emergency kit and is fairly low-priced.

Though mud will overwhelm a water filter straw, most can handle murky or clear freshwater.

FAQ

Q. How do I clean my water filter straw?
A.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but in most cases, you can use a syringe (often included) to push clean water through the mouthpiece of the straw. This process is known as “backflushing” and can prolong the lifespan of the straw. The mouthpiece and entry point of the straw can be cleaned with soap and water.

Q. Can a water filter straw without a bottle attachment still be used with a water bottle?
A.
As long as the mouthpiece is kept away from the unfiltered water, you can drink from any water container.

Q. Aside from regular usage, can water filter straws expire?
A.
Yes, and most manufacturers list the expected shelf life. To keep yourself safe, you should discard expired straws.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
    Writer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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