The Lifesaver Bottle is a water treatment system that was developed in response to natural disasters such as the tsunami of December 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and more recent floods in the UK, and it claims to be the world’s first all-in-one ultrafiltration water bottle without chemicals. This unique filter system removes bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites and fungi – it’s ideal for life-and-death situations where clean water is essential.
The Lifesaver Bottle was voted ‘Best Technological Development for Future Soldier System Enhancement’ at Soldier Technology 2007. So clearly this is a serious piece of kit that demands more than a passing glance.
The Lifesaver bottle uses a unique 15 nanometre (one nanometre (nm) is one millionth of a millimetre) diameter filter that allows it to trap the smallest viruses, which are 25nm across, without the need for chemicals other than a carbon filter to remove chemical residues. Most other purifying systems do not filter viruses and require chemicals like vile-tasting, short-term-use-only iodine or chlorine to kill them.
The 750ml Lifesaver Bottle is similar in size to a one litre flask and comes with clear instructions. You simply unscrew the base, fill the bottle with water and screw the base back into place. You give a twist to the pump handle to unlock it and apply a few pumps to build up some pressure inside the filter. Then it’s just a case of opening the small teat at the opposite end and drinking the water straight from the bottle. You can also pour its purified contents into a container.
One problem often encountered in the mountains is water that is full of gunge and grit, which would otherwise block a filter. To prevent such material getting into the system the Lifesaver is supplied with a pre-filter disc that can be used to trap muck, grit and debris during the filling stage.
For any serious user the ability to strip down and clean the filter is essential, and with the instructions to hand, this was an easy task – meaning that this unit really could be used for long periods in remote destinations. According to the manufacturer the lifespan of the filter is 4000 litres, while other filters usually require replacement after 750 to 2000 litres.
I found the Lifesaver very easy to use once I had familiarised myself with its radical design, and I was able to filter 750ml of water in just under one minute.
The main drawbacks for backpackers are its 635g weight and bulk. However the technology used in this unit could no doubt be built into lighter and more compact designs for backpackers.
Most important of all is that the Lifesaver Bottle does what its name suggests. Its simplicity and guarantee to provide safe water mean that for lengthy wilderness backpacking this system could be the first choice.
Dimensions: 31 x 10cm
Filter types: 15 nanometre; carbon filter
Effective against: bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites and fungi
Flow rate: 750ml per minute
Service life: 4000 litres
Made in: UK
Stockist details: tel. (01473) 252831; www.lifesaversystems.co.uk
Verdict: This system is easy to use, has no need for chemicals, produces completely safe water, and boasts a very long service life. But its weight, large size, price tag and slower flow rate than some other systems are drawbacks. Overall, it’s a superb water filtration system for long-term wilderness travellers as well as emergency services; but smaller, lighter and lower-priced options have advantages in less serious situations.