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Water. It's the most important resource to us as fly fishers and human beings. It provides the habitat for the fish we seek, and we need it for our bodies to function properly as well. Have you ever run out of drinking water while on a fishing trip? Perhaps the hike in was a bit more strenuous than you had thought or you didn't bring enough water with you for you or your group. We are standing in the river but that water is rarely ever safe to drink without being filtered. I wanted a small water filter that I would be able to carry with me, and that would be able to filter enough water for myself and whoever I was with, family or fishing buddies.
I chose the Liberty Lifesaver for a couple of reasons: its built into a water bottle you can use to drink from if you don't have another bottle and also the long filter life. Here is my review with both the pros and cons and my experience using the Lifesaver water filter.
Let's first take a look at the unit: on one end it has a cover and a typical water bottle mouthpiece underneath. The other end has a cap that comes off with a pump handle attached. The operation is simple and it can be used in two modes, water bottle mode or pump mode. The first way I tried was water bottle mode. You want to make sure the cap is on tight on the mouthpiece side so the end you will be drinking from doesn't get contaminated. Open the other end and dunk the body of the filter and let it fill with water, then replace the lid with the pump built in, tighten and give 3 pumps. You can then open the cover on the mouthpiece, open the flow value, and water will flow from the mouthpiece. You can drink directly from the filter or fill a cup or a water bottle you may have on hand.
The second mode the filter can be used in is pump mode. This is for filling multiple water bottles at once or filtering water for a large group or maybe even cooking at camp. In this mode don't open the body of the filter. Instead, attach a small diameter 5ft long hose to the bottom of the filter and use the scavenger hose (as the manufacturer calls it) to suck the water from your water source. The scavenger hose has a pre-filter on it to keep large particles from clogging up the line as well as a float for positioning the end of the tube off the bottom of the river or pond so as not to suck up any debris.
There is a priming procedure that should be completed at home with clean water before taking the filter into the field. We, however, were already standing in the river when we opened the filter for the first time, so we performed the priming process with river water. I contacted the manufacturer and learned that this was 100% fine to do and we did not harm our filter in any way and that they designed the filter to be primed in the field.
In both modes, the filter performed well. I have had other water filters and this one seems to have a better flow rate than ones I have used in the past. The specs from the manufacturer states the flow rate is 1.2 liters per minute. The filter is tested to exceed full NSF/ANSI P231 and WHO2011 standards, meaning it removes viruses, bacteria, and cysts from the water. This puts the device in the water purifier category; you can check out the standards here on the NSF site. It also contains a replaceable activated carbon disc to help improve the taste of the water.
Here is what I liked about the filter: the size for one, it's not too big and it fits in the water bottle holder on my fishing waist pack. I like that you can use it to drink from directly, that means I don't have to carry a water bottle and a filter, leaving space for more fly boxes in my pack. The filter is rated for 2000 liters before the internal cartridge needs to be replaced- that's 440 gallons and about double the life span of other brands filter cartridges.
Now for the only downside we encountered, and this is not related to the function of the water filter but the storage of it. Once primed and used the filter material inside needs to be kept damp by leaving about 1/2 inch of water in the filter and the filter should not be allowed to freeze. Here in Colorado we are often outside in below freezing temperatures fishing, hunting or even camping in the Fall and Winter when temperatures drop below freezing. This requires a bit of extra care and make sure your filter is packed well inside your bag and not exposed to the freezing temps. In other words, don't leave it in an external pocket or left in the truck overnight. Just something to consider. I'm assuming the filter would become unsafe to use if the filter material was allowed to freeze. I was not able to find any definitive answer on the reason they say to prevent the unit from freezing.
Overall I was very pleased with the filter, it's function and expected filter material lifespan. These, along with the ability to drink from the filter itself, are the top features for me and I will keep this in my backpack for sure when on any trip when extra water could be needed.
TrueFly Supply seal of approval: YES
As always our reviews are not paid for and are our honest opinion from using the products in the field. During the writing of this review I did correspond with the manufacturer and they were responsive to my questions and very helpful. When they learned I was doing a product review they asked if they could offer a 10% discount code for our readers. Here is the discount code valid on their website. TFSLIFESVR