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LifeStraw Community Portable Water Filter Review

Articles on 14 Apr , 2016
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LifeStraw Community Hollow Fiber Water Filter Dispenser Portable 13 GallonThe classic LifeStraw is a huge and veteran name in the world of portable, personal water filtration. But where the original LifeStraw focused purely on the individual, with the LifeStraw Community manufacturer VesterGaard has taken aim at making a water filter on the opposite end of the spectrum, while still preserving the portability that made LifeStraw such a success. The LifeStraw Community looks more like a portable water cooler or dispenser than it does a water filter – and does a great job of doubling as a super-convenient dispenser. With a total capacity of up to 13 gallons and four taps on each side of the LifeStraw Community, it is capable of living up to its name and providing for large groups of people simultaneously.

Able to filter dirty water through LifeStraw’s hollow fibre filtration technology, the LifeStraw Community reduces water turbidity, removes particulates as small as 0.2 microns, and removes a minimum of >99.99% of bacteria, viruses, and cysts, rendering otherwise dangerous water drinkable. Utilizing a gravity-feed system to draw water through the filters, the LifeStraw Community requires no electricity or pumping.

We had the opportunity to try the LifeStraw Community out for ourselves for a few days and this is what we found.



Reviewing the LifeStraw Community – An Effective Way To Improve Clean Water Access?

How the LifeStraw Community Water Filter Works Diagram
Effectively speaking, the LifeStraw Community is more or less just a standard gravity water filter. While it does offer a few neat features and some impressive storage capacity, it is probably possible to achieve better filtration with other similarly priced gravity water filters on the market.

That said, the 13 gallon capacity of the LifeStraw Community makes it a pretty nifty gadget all its own. The capacity is divided equally between the two containers inside the unit. One, the dirty water or “fill tank,” sits at the top of the Community and accepts water from the pre-filter, which removes particles 80 microns or larger. Dirty water then flows down under the force of gravity from the dirty water tank and down through the filtration system, leaving drinkable water in the clean water safe storage tank, which can be accessed through the four taps on each side of the Community.

But How’s the Water?

LifeStraw Community in use at a school
In our review of the LifeStraw Go Bottle we ran into a nasty taste which we simply couldn’t get rid of no matter how we tried. It was with a bit of dread and expectation of the return of that unpleasant chemical flavor that we first drank from the LifeStraw Community – but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the water actually tasted quite fresh.

The water we sampled through the LifeStraw Community was sourced from a local pond, which none of us would ever dream of drinking out of normally. The LifeStraw Community did its job, making the water drinkable (even pleasant,) and we all survived the experience without illness.

Filtration Standards

The LifeStraw Community relies on the same hollow fibre filtration technology which the classic LifeStraw and other LifeStraw products employ. The technique uses a series of hollow fibers with pores smaller than 0.2 microns, trapping particles and microbes in the filter before they can get inside your body and do harm. You can read this in-depth article from HowStuffWorks on LifeStraw’s hollow-fibre filtration for more details.
WHO household water treatment options 2011 diagram
Water filtered through the LifeStraw Community meets World Health Organization standards, ranking the Community in the “Highly Protective” category. The Community also meets EPA standards for microbiological water purifiers. With upwards of LOG 4 reduction of cysts, LOG 5 reduction of viruses, and LOG 6 reduction of bacteria, the filter is capable of tackling most water-borne pathogens. LifeStraw manufacturer VesterGaard has made a number of laboratory studies on the LifeStraw Community publicly available on their website.

The filter lifetime on the LifeStraw Community seems a little odd, with the manufacturer advertising a pretty sizable range of between 70,000 – 100,000 gallons in the filter’s lifetime. We don’t know why they are giving such a large range, however, it is a pretty impressive lifetime on either end of this spectrum. Compred to a similarly priced Big Berkey gravity water filter, the LifeStraw Community’s filter lifetime is on a whole different scale than the advertised 3,000 gallon lifetime of the Berkey. (We should make an important note that the Berkey linked to here performs far more advanced filtration than the LifeStraw Community.)

We have not used the LifeStraw Community nearly long enough to assess its lifetime, but if the numbers are anywhere close to what they are advertised as, the Community is certainly a step ahead of many of its competitors in terms of filter lifetime.



Waiting for the Flow

LifeStraw Community Portable Water Filter Gravity Fed Filtration
One drawback of the design of any gravity-fed water filter system is that getting your water filtered is going to take time. And there is nothing you can do about it but hurry up and wait. The LifeStraw Community filters at a rate of approximately 3 gallons per hour. Given that you only have around 6.5 gallons of clean water if the LifeStraw Community is full, suddenly the 13 gallon total capacity of the Community seems a little smaller. Sure, you can have another 6.5 gallons of dirty water in the process of filtering, but getting all that water clean is always at least 2 hours away.

Still, given the constantly flowing design which allows water to be filtered continuously, the LifeStraw Community is definitely capable of catering to a sizable portion of the water needs of large gatherings and groups. Properly utilized, the Community could certainly prove a valuable asset in regions where access to clean water is limited. But a hand pump would have been a pretty nice addition to the Community, enabling it to provide instant access if needed while still receiving gravity-fed filtered water when the pump was inactive. Maybe next time, VesterGaard!

Some Assembly Required

One neat feature of the Community is that it actually disassembles and is designed to be compacted into a smaller, more easily portable configuration for easy transport. The benefit of this is massively increased portability, but the downside is having to assemble and disassemble the unit yourself every time you set it up or break it down.

Fortunately this is a pretty simple process, and the design of the LifeStraw Community is obviously pretty well thought out and executed. Check out this short video below from VesterGaard which demonstrates how the Community is assembled. The video also provides a great overview of the whole system and how it works.

Backwashing Mechanism

As demonstrated in the video above, the LifeStraw Community is equipped with a backwashing mechanism which allows you to purge the filter of contaminants to some degree. This mechanism is likely what enables the LifeStraw Community’s exceptional filter lifetime, as it allows for a regular cleaning of the filter, preventing build up and clogging degrading filtration quality.

The backwash mechanism is operated via the red handle on the side of the Community. When engaged, it forces water backwards through the filter, forcing dirty water into the backwash bottle on the bottom of the unit. This water, and the contaminants it contains, can then be disposed of safely, helping to restore the Community’s filtration to optimal levels.

Review Summary

LifeStraw Community Gravity Water Filter In Use By School Children
Overall, we find the LifeStraw Community to be a pretty cool product. The ability to break it down for compact portability, the massive filter lifetime, the four taps, and the large capacity are all good features. At 0.2 micron filtration, it is quality filtration, althoug similarly priced gravity water filter systems outperform the LifeStraw Community substantially in terms of filtration.

The LifeStraw Community is pretty sturdy, but it is made of plastic and there are a lot of components that have the potential to break. We don’t know how it will be in terms of longevity, especially if it is frequently being handled, transported, taken apart and reassembled.

Given everything that it does, the $300+ pricetag seems fairly reasonable, esepcially if filter lifetime is anywhere near what it is advertised to be. Assuming the construction holds up, the Community would be a worthy investment for anyone who needs to filter relatively sizable volumes of water for group consumption.

We award the LifeStraw Community 4/5 stars in this review.

Learn more about the LifeStraw Community by visiting the Amazon listing.

Other Options

LifeStraw Mission Portable Gravity Water Filter 12 Liter reservoirIf the LifeStraw Community is a little too big for your needs but you still want something that can filter a bit more than a personal amount of water on the go, check out some of LifeStraw’s other options such as the LifeStraw Mission, which is available in 1.3- or 3.1-gallon varieties, or the LifeStraw Family which has no reservoir of its own but provides LifeStraw filtration via gravity into your owner container.

Be sure to check out our Reviews Section for more reviews on water filtering and purification products for at home and on the go.

Pros

Quality 0.2 Micron Filtration
Disassembles For Easy Portability
4 Separate Flow Spouts For Quick Drinking

Cons

Requires Frequent Maintenance & Assembly/Disassembly

  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4 stars
  • 80%


The LifeStraw Community aims to provide a simple gravity-powered portable filtration solution capable of providing drinking water for your whole group - or even a small community.

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LifeStraw Community Portable Water Filter Review was last modified on: December 21st, 2016 by Jacob Hatch
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