On the surface, the Survivor Filter is an unassuming hand-held straw-type personal water filter – portable, cleanable, and reusable – much like many other water filter straws. However, underneath that seemingly standard exterior is an undeniably impressive 3 stage filtration system, the strongest of which has a 0.05 micron hollow fiber filter – the highest filtration strength of any straw tested on the current market! For a reference point, the popular LifeStraw has a 0.2 micron filter, meaning its pores are 4 times larger and that the Survivor Filter will stop things that are 4 times smaller from coming through.
But brute filtration strength isn’t all there is. We’re also concerned with how easy to use the Survivor Filter is, how durable it proves under the test of real use, and all the other little specifics. To get to the bottom of it, let’s go into the details of the Survivor Filter to see if it’s the new portable filtration solution for you.
Three-stages of Filtration and Protection from the Survivor Filter Personal Water Filter
The Survivor Filter runs at about $30, it is easily cleaned and can last up to about 1,000 liters (264 gallons) when properly maintained. The filters are also all replaceable, costing around ~$10. When I got my hands on a Survivor Filter the first thing I wanted to do was take it apart, piece by piece, and see for myself how its unique 3 stage filtration system worked. Luckily, it is inspection-friendly and each piece is easily detached for cleaning or replacement when needed. The entirety of this device is 7 inches by 1.4 inches by 1.4 inches and weighs in at 3.5 oz while dry.
Easily taken apart and put back together, the Survivor Filter is simple to maintain and is a pretty well engineered product. While it boasts of its impressive filtration quality, for such a small device it is hard to imagine it packs three levels of filtration in something that can easily disappear into your backpack. So we took our Survivor Filter apart to look at how it all works.
Dissecting the Survivor Filter’s Abilities
The bottom of the Survivor Filter is the water inlet, and is the first stage of defense and filtration. It has a 28 mm threading to attach onto most standard sized reusable bottles and hydration bladders, including the Survivor Filter brand hydration bladder. You could also just stick this inlet end into a potentially contaminated body of water to drink from – but we didn’t have much luck with this feature (aside from the uncomfortable nature of laying down on the dirty ground, we also found it very difficult to draw water directly from a source without applying some pressure of your own). This stage has a mesh pre-filter designed to prevent sediment and large particles from ever entering the filter itself. You will get 5 extra mesh pre-filters, which is nice because they seem to dirty rather quickly with regular use.
The second stage is the Internal Ultra Filter, aptly named as this is the 0.05 micron hollow fiber filter. Advertised as being “400% better filtration than the LifeStraw” with a 0.2 micron filter. This will filter out over 99.99% of all viruses, bacteria, toxins, pollen, germs, heavy metals, and chlorine! It is important to remember that hollow fiber filters are vulnerable to freezing and being damaged if left wet while it’s cold. Remember to dry your filters and keep them safe and warm for optimal lifespans.
The third and final stage of protection from the Survivor Filter is an Activated Carbon Filter in the mouth piece. The Activated Carbon is created from burnt coconut shells, which have a natural ability to pull and absorb chemicals and other impurities from water, leaving what remains on the other side clean and odor-free! For best results, make sure to change out your Activated Carbon Filter and Mouthpiece after 1,000 liters – even if it looks clean, its filtration power will gradually decline. Fortunately it is very easy to change and only costs around ~$10.
Strengths and Weaknesses – What to expect with your Survivor Filter
The Survivor Filter’s main strength is its filtration strength with its multistage process and 0.05 micron filter. I’ve also noticed how good its portability feels. I didn’t really notice I was carrying it unless I needed to use it. The lightweight plastic feels sturdy while assembled, but I worry about chipping off some of the interlocking plastic bits while assembling or disassembling it. However, Survivor Filter has been kind enough to have a 30 day no-hassle, money-back guarantee – along with a lifetime warranty for any manufacturing defects or problems outside normal wear and tear. That really puts me at ease when purchasing something new.
I would say that the main weakness and what I was most disappointed of with the Survivor Filter is the resistance of the water flow when using it purely as a straw. It is advertised as a filtration straw, and frequently shows pictures and videos of people laying down and using it directly from a fresh water source. I’ve found this aspect to be not only uncomfortable, but often fruitless (and more importantly, water-less). Maybe due to the many layers of filters the water has to go through before reaching your mouth, but for me, it was very difficult to procure my water by just pure suction.
On the other hand the Survivor Filter performs its job admirably when put into a bottle or bladder and squeezed or forced out. Aside from that, the only other downside I had was the 1,000 liter lifespan, I worry that I’d be replacing filters too often to make this a regularly used item for camping or hikes. Great for short trips, especially in foreign areas where you might not know the quality of your drinking water. Or a highly useful addition to your survival preparation kit, as the name implies!
Final Thoughts on the Survivor Filter and Review Summary
The Survivor Filter’s 0.05 micron filter is worthy of admiration – the highest filtration level of any straw on the market. That, along with its unique 3 layers of security make it a force to be reckoned with. It provides a great amount of power and security for its reasonable original price, but with it’s 1,000 liter lifespan, I’d worry about replacement cartridge prices piling up if it were to be a regularly used part of my camping gear. I think it shines brightest for filtration on the go while on vacation – short, powerful bursts. Or in an emergency situation where (hopefully) things will be resolved in a few days, the Survivor Filter could live up to its name and truly be a life saving piece of equipment. However, if you’re looking for a long-term solution you would want to stock up on a lot of replacement filters to make sure the Survivor Filter is always putting out the best water quality possible.
If the lifespan is your major consideration when choosing a filter, have a look at the Sawyer Mini, which has a truly incredible filter lifetime and is in many ways comparable to the Survivor Filter, but does not offer the extensive filtration process of the Survivor (read our complete review of the Sawyer Mini.)
When it comes to filtration quality, the Survivor Filter is unrivaled among other handheld portable camping filters in its class, and especially its price range. Given the affordability of both the unit and its replacement filters (which are remarkably easy to switch out,) the issue with lifetime is forgivable – especially if you are primarily concerned with maximizing your filtration capability.
At the end of the day we award the Survivor Filter 4/5 stars.
Learn More About the Survivor Filter
To check current prices, read other customer’s reviews, get more details on specifics, or purchase a Survivor Filter for yourself, be sure to check out the Amazon listing.
Want to see the Survivor Filter in action? Check out this great video review from YouTube user gideonstactical as he puts the Survivor Filter to the test while backpacking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Highest Quality Filtration
Compact & Portable
Low Filter Lifetime
- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- Survivor Filter Portable Water Filter Straw
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A powerful and compact portable water filter perfect for keeping you hydrated no matter where your adventures take you.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.