Spyderco Urban Safety Orange G-10 Slip Joint Knife Review

I’ve been asked a few times already why I never seem to carry slip joints. Although I do have a few, they don’t make up a large part of my collection, not because I have anything against slip joints, but because the knives I happen to like coincidentally happen to have locking mechanisms. I am aware that the Spyderco Urban, one of the very few slipjoints I do own, is possibly the least traditional slipjoint ever to be conceived, but since I don’t own any traditional patterns from Case or Great Eastern Cutlery yet, this will have to do as my first slipjoint review. With that said, I find that the Spyderco Urban, being such a modern take on a traditional style, is a fascinating addition to the Spyderco line up.

survival blog review spyderco urban orange folding knifeSpyderco Urban Orange Handle Folding Knife – Amazon

The first thing to note besides its lack of a lock is its teensy size. At 89 mm (3.5 inches) long when closed, this is most definitely one of Spyderco’s little big knives: a lot like the Balance or the Dragonfly in that regard.

more than just surviving review spyderco urban orange g-10 handles

Originally, my wife purchased the Urban with the intention of EDC-ing it herself, but for reasons I’ll get into later, she handed it over to me shortly after unpacking it. Even though this knife is far from perfect, I’m glad to have tested it out, as it’s a well designed slipjoint, which helped me to get over my fear of losing my digits with non-locking knives.

survival blog review orange spyderco urban slip joint knife

The Spyderco Urban has a really gorgeous 65 mm (2.6 inch) full flat grind Warncliff blade. I have always loved Warncliffs for smaller EDCs, as I find the blade particularly well suited for everyday tasks like cutting up boxes.

slip joint spyderco orange urban mtjs review

The scales on the Spyderco Urban are quite obviously blaze orange G-10. This really is a love or hate colour (which my wife and I both happen to really love), so I won’t comment much on it except to say that such a loud colour does come in handy when you can’t remember where you’ve placed your knife. It’s especially helpful if you’re on a picnic or hiking, as if you drop your knife in the grass, it likely won’t stay missing for long.

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The wire clip is identical to the one on the Sage 2, and as noted in that review, the clip functions perfectly. The wire clip hugs your pocket nicely without drawing attention to the knife, although with those 3 mm of bright orange G-10 poking out of the pocket, I wouldn’t recommend carrying the knife this way if you’re actually trying to be discreet.

This knife is linerless and very, very pocketable. It literally disappears in your pocket if you aren’t using the clip.

knife review orange spyderco urban slip joint

For those unfamiliar with slipjoints, basically think of a lock back (like the Buck 110), but instead of there being a notch for the lock to drop into, the slip joint simply rests against the tang of blade, exerting enough pressure to keep it open.

The Spyderco Urban is a pretty standard slip joint in terms of “lock” design; however, the tension on the knife is extremely strong. Yes, it’s true that the blade doesn’t lock open, but the knife will in no way close spontaneously by itself, I promise you that.

wilderness survival blog review of spyderco urban folding knife

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I’ve always maintained that in terms of fit and finish, Taiwanese Spydercos have the highest fit and finish, followed by USA Spydercos, and finally Chinese/Japanese made Spydercos.

Now what I’m saying here is not that USA and Chinese/Japanese knives in general have lower fit and finish than Taiwanese knives: not in the least. All I’m saying is that, after owning over 100 Spydercos, I’ve found that there’s some consistency between high fit and finish and which manufacturer Spyderco chooses for a knife. There are of course exceptions to these rules. Some Japanese Spydercos, like the Spyderco Balance, for instance, have perfect fit and finish, but others, like this Urban have quite a few glaring imperfections.

I feel this is important to note, as like many of you I purchased this knife online without seeing it in person. If I had seen the Urban in person first, I may not have bought it. I would go as far as saying that both my Spyderco Tenacious and my Spyderco Resilience blow this knife out of the water in terms of finish. And I really shouldn’t bring the recently reviewed Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K into the picture, as that knife is well above the norm in terms of quality, but by comparison to the CQC-6K, it’s like the Urban was finished by a drunk plumber.

The steel slip joint/backspacer is embarrassingly rough on the inside. I’m not joking: I’ve seen gas stations knives with fewer grind marks. You can spot them at the bottom near the tip. In our photographs its not as evident as in the flesh, but I guarantee, it’s impossible to imagine just how bad it really is.

Of course, you may really not care what the inside of the knife looks like, but for me, with the $100+ price tag on this knife, I just don’t see how this kind of fit and finish is okay.

prepper blog review spyderco urban orange slip joint

The balance is not truly neutral but it matters not, as the Spyderco Urban only weighs 57 grams (2 oz) in total, and has an overall length of 154 mm (6 inches). In real world use, therefore, I’ve never noticed any fatigue as a result of the balance being off neutral.

neon orange knife spyderco urban folder review

The 3 mm (.125 inch) thick VG-10 blade is very nicely ground with a great tapered tip. The Urban is 100% not recommended for hard use, but as a slicer? Excellent. Prying with this tip is really not advised either, as it would take very little lateral pressure for the blade to snap. That’s not a bad thing, however, as this knife was never intended to be used as a pry bar.

The Spyderco Urban also has the perfect amount of jimping on the choil of the blade and on the thumb ramp. I find that Spyderco quite often hits the mark when it comes to jimping, they usually get it to be perfectly functional without it being excessive. Good job here.

folding knife spyderco urban slip joint review

Spyderco’s Urban features a two-stop detent (closed and 90 degree). It’s a great feature for me, but my poor wife simply couldn’t make it work out for her, which is why the Urban joined my collection instead of hers. Although she’s extremely fond of the look and feel of this one, she insisted that it’s just too hard for her to close, even with practice.

I feel that the knife opens relatively smoothly, but it’s hard to gauge, as the slip joint tension is really quite formidable. Personally, I like it, but your tastes may differ. I’d suggest testing it out, if at all possible, prior to purchasing it.

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On my Spyderco Urban, the back end of the slipjoint/backspace was so poorly ground that there is a clearly visible angle. Definitely disappointing. Besides this specific part, however, everything else is very nicely put together, from the blade to the scales.

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Centering is slightly off center, not a big deal but I would have expected better for a knife in this price range.

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Of course, there is no lock to speak of, but I dare say that it’s highly unlikely the Urban will ever fold on you accidentally (not when my wife can barely get it open in the first place). That being said, it does have a generous choil – just in case.

discontinued spyderco urban survival blog review knife

Saber grip necessitates your fingers being on the choil due to the relatively short handle. It is however pretty comfortable for a light EDC knife. Be advised that it does not have a lanyard hole, so if you want to extend the grip, you’re out of luck.

knife review blog spyderco urban slip joint orange

Choking up fully on the blade would be great if the knife had a lock. Seeing as this is a slip joint I would advise against it, as your thumb will probably add too much pressure, risking an accidental disengagement of the slipjoint.

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Reverse grip in theory is comfortable, but again this is a non-locking light EDC knife. I would advise against stabbing anything with it.

mtjsblog spyderco urban everyday carry slip joint review

Pinch grip is pretty comfy. I’ve used this grip quite a lot on this knife, perfect for trimming the fat off of tenderloins. No issues with the slipjoint disengaging in this grip.

folding knife review spyderco orange folder

survival blog review spyderco urban folding knife slip joint

Interestingly, before using this knife, I thought my main issue with the Spyderco Urban would be with its lack of a lock. When I finally had it, I found out that I really didn’t miss the lock in everyday use. What really disappointed me about this knife was the piss poor finish on the slipjoint and the backspacer. I know I’ve already harped on about it, but it really does urk me because this is not a cheap knife. I’m aware that nothing is perfect, but I own many knives that cost less than $40, many which Spyderco has made (the Tenacious and the Ambitious for example), that would never leave the factory like this. The Urban is two slabs of G-10, a small VG-10 blade and a steel slipjoint. Its not rocket science. At $100+, I am damn well entitled to expect a level of finish above a $40 Spyderco’s range.

Much like the Spyderco Balance, the Urban is, in my opinion, very expensive for what you get. But unlike the Balance, the Urban doesn’t have any truly unique/eccentric design, nor does it have perfect fit and finish. In my opinion, even though Spyderco’s Urban functions well, I would save my money for something else. This definitely isn’t worth the price, not for me.

&& *Note: As I hope you know by now, I make it a point never to shill. I’m not here to sell knives on behalf of knife companies, I’m simply here to share my impressions of a knife with my readers. That means that even though I do hand pick my knives themselves (and I never look forward to disliking a knife I own), still sometimes I end up disappointed, meaning my reviews may sound overly critical when I fixate on the issues I see with a knife. This happens when I feel the knife has “failed” its intended purpose, or failed to be good value at its price point.

The Spyderco Urban is just one of those knives for me. Its low quality finish just doesn’t scream value in the $100+ price range.

View Price of Spyderco Urban Safety Orange Folding Knife on Amazon

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July 2014 EDC Purse Dump

everyday carry purse dump

1. Titanium “Bamboo” Kubaton
2. Google Nexus 4 + Frost Clear i-Blason Slim Fit S Line Flexible Case
3. Spyderco Lum Chinese Folder EDC Knife
4. Ronson Jetlite Butane Torch Lighter

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Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K Clip Point EDC Knife Review

When Kershaw first announced the Emerson collaboration, I was gobsmacked: I couldn’t believe that in a few short months I could purchase a bonafide Emerson design for under $50. Naturally, I was really curious, skeptical even, about what the end result would be. That being said, as soon as the CQC-6K came out of the packaging and into my hands, I’ve gotta say I’ve been in awe. I don’t say this lightly: this knife is the game changer of 2014, and judging by the quickly fluctuating stock levels at Amazon and other online dealers, it seems I am not the only one who thinks so.

more than just surviving kershaw emerson cqc-6k review

kershaw emerson cqc-6k best edc knife 2014Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K 6034 Clip Point Knife – Amazon

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K, like all of the Emerson/Kershaw line of knives, are designed by Emerson, then manufactured by Kershaw, a fact proudly emphasized on the amazing-looking packaging. The Emerson/Kershaw line of knives is more than a collaboration, it’s more like a true partnership, meaning that, in practice, for 30 bucks what you’re getting is a legitimate Emerson design in your hands, just as Ernie Emerson intended.

kershaw emerson partnership cqc-6k box

When I first picked up the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K, I was shocked at its heft. Even though it’s an EDC friendly folder, with its blade length scaling in at 8.2 cm (3.25 inches), it weighs in at a not-too-subtle 142 g (5 oz). While this isn’t exactly boat anchor heavy, it’s by no means as light an EDC as I’d expected. I’ll have to admit that pictures make it look deceptively lighter than it really is. That being said, in hand this knife is so well put together that the weight almost makes me feel like quality is behind that heft. Placebo? Maybe, but I still like it.

kershaw cqc-6k folding edc knife review

A good bulk of the weight comes from the solid stainless steel framelock: a worthy sacrifice of lightness, as the lock up is fantastic.

everyday carry knife kershaw emerson cqc-6k edc

This knife, though I’m sure you’ve noticed already, is a true and true Emerson. From a distance, you honestly would never know that the CQC-6K was manufactured by Kershaw: the only giveaway being the Kershaw logo on the other side of the blade. Rarely can a knife look utilitarian and yet be so beautiful at the same time. Ernie Emerson is known for his unique sense of aesthetics, and that’s certainly been passed down to this Kershaw partnership love child. The CQC-6K is clearly worthy of the Emerson name.

more than just surviving review emerson kershaw cqc-6k

The 8cr13MoV clip point blade features a gorgeous two-tone finish. The hollow-ground section of the blade has a gorgeous heavy stonewash, and the flats are left satin with the grind marks leading away from the tang to the tip. One of the best looking blades in my entire collection, competing with knives at every price range.

Besides the gorgeous blade finish, the knife features a bunch of little quirks that really amp up the appearance and feeling of quality. There’s the perfectly contoured G-10 scales, and the scalloped jimping throughout. There’s also those little Emerson detail touches, like the Emerson skull on the pocket clip, all really bringing home how much care went into this extremely underpriced folder. Not a detail was spared in making this knife. Emerson went all out with the design; just as though they were manufacturing the knife themselves.

kershaw emerson cqc-6k review edc folder survival blog review

Surprisingly, the balance is not as handle-biased as I would have assumed. No, it isn’t neutral, but after using it for a few weeks, I don’t really notice that anymore.

emerson kershaw cqc-6k knife review folding edc

As many of you know, my preferred blade grind has always been a nice, lean full flat grind. That makes the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K an exception for me. However, its hollow ground 2.7 mm (0.11 inch) thick blade is so nicely tapered, I would say it’s more of a saber grind than anything else. It’s not a super slicer, but it’s no slouch either. Though I wouldn’t use it for food preparation, for everyday use? No problem. The 8Cr13MoV blade is holding its edge just fine.

The point is nicely tapered thanks to its swedge. I would say it’s possibly one of the most acute on the market taking into account how beefy the overall knife is. I recently reviewed the CRKT Ripple, and while that has a more needle-like point, the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K, with its combination of toughness and leanness in all the right places, would make a more effective tactical knife in pretty much all aspects.

best folding knife kershaw emerson cqc-6k review

The pocket clip is the stereotypical Emerson one and does not carry deep. This is necessary for use of the Emerson Wave (more on that later).

best edc knife 2014 kershaw emerson cqc-6k review

Speaking of the hardware, I wouldn’t be surprised if it came straight from the Emerson warehouse. It’s almost identical in style and function to the few Emersons I have handled. Very much utility-oriented with no magic proprietary screw heads (take note Microtech). I could take this knife apart in the field with my Victorinox Swiss Classic if I wanted. Love it.

emerson kershaw knife edc everyday carry folder cqc-6k

When my wife snapped these pictures of the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K, the centering on the knife was off. After a week of playing with it, it’s now dead center and hasn’t budged since. Seems this knife is magically self-centering. Fit and finish is extremely nice, and if I handled it without seeing the price tag, I would have said it was in the $100+ price range.

kershaw emerson knife best everyday carry 2014

The 4xx series stainless steel frame lock engages with authority. This knife is a 3.25 inch tank. It has zero blade play in either direction. I stabbed it in some 2×6 slabs of wood a few times and checked for lockbar travel or slip, and nothing budged. Kudos Kershaw.

everyday carry folding knife kershaw cqc-6k emerson collab

The CQC-6K’s steel liner and the steel frame lock have zero skeletonizing. No surprises there taking into account its significant weight.

survival blog review kershaw emerson cqc-6k knife

The thumb disc will never be my favourite method of deployment. I’ve gotta say that I am spoiled by the Spyderhole, but in terms of pure performance it does function very well. Like all Emerson knives you can always remove the thumb disc if you want to. Just unscrew the single Philips head screw.

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The Emerson Wave is truly Ernie Emerson’s legacy to the knife world. Its a thoroughly genius, elegant deployment system that has no moving parts or spring, and yet reliably works using the natural motion of withdrawing your knife from your pocket.

Noticed the hook above the thumb stud? Sure it doubles as a handy ramp for your thumb to rest on, but that’s actually the key to the Emerson Wave.

emerson folding knife kershaw cqc-6k edc review

As you naturally deploy the knife from its position hanging in your pocket, the hook catches on the pocket lip, opening the blade with lightning speed.

most popular kershaw emerson cqc-6k folding knife review

It should be noted that it does take a little bit of practice to withdraw the knife at the right angle, and you will need to pull the knife out relatively aggressively if you want the lock to engage solidly, but in my experience, it only takes a few minutes of practice to have the Emerson Wave withdrawal down to a fine art. Of course, I need not mention, but the Emerson Wave works perfectly on the Kershaw CQC-6K.

popular emerson kershaw collaboration knife cqc-6k folding edc

The beauty of this deployment system is that the blade is out and ready for action in one fluid movement. It’s the ultimate deployment system for tactical purposes if you want to practice with muscle memory in mind whilst not depending on a spring or other mechanical device, like automatic knives, that could fail when you need them most.

kershaw emerson cqc-6k review best everyday carry of the year 2014

The shots above were staged because when trying to capture the Wave deployment “live,” our super high performance DSLR was not able to catch those in-between moments where the hook catches on the pocket.

The Emerson Wave really is lightning fast. One second the knife’s folded nicely in your pocket, and the next it’s locked open in your hands: ready for action. Fantastic!

best folding knife cheap affordable kershaw emerson cqc-6k

In the almost impossible event that the lock fails, the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K has no choil. That being said, I’m not at all concerned over this, as the framelock is very well implemented. With its sturdy grind and beefy framelock, this knife is perfectly suited for hard use – I wouldn’t hesitate to push this beauty hard.

review emerson kershaw cqc-6k more than just surviving

The standard saber grip is wonderful. Any Emersons I have handled in the past have always struck me as having perfect ergonomics. The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K is no exception. It locks into the palm of your hand seamlessly, with the Wave hook serving as a great resting place for your thumb. Again, very well designed and manufactured. Nice contouring and subtle jimping throughout, and so incredibly comfortable.

I will add that the few Emersons I have handled seemed, in my opinion, to have a superior G-10 texture. The CQC-6K G-10 is grippy, but not as much as an Emerson manufactured knife. Preferences will of course vary, but bare that in mind.

survival blog review emerson kershaw cqc-6k

Choking up on the blade is not ideal. The CQC-6K has no choil, so it obviously was not designed with this in mind. As if it wasn’t evident enough, the hook biting into the flesh of my thumb reinforces that fact.

kershaw emerson knife review cqc-6k most popular

In reverse grip, comfort is fantastic. The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K has a plastic backspacer that sits more or less flush with the scales. While I do wish this knife had the same backspacer as the Kershaw Volt, it would clash with the overall Emerson styling, so I’m not all that disappointed.

emerson kershaw knife cqc-6k review

Pinch grip is not ideal. Much like choking up, the CQC-6K was clearly not designed for this grip. Ernie Emerson is often referred to as the father of tactical knives for a reason: this is not your grandpa’s ol’ Case knife.

folding edc knife best 2014 emerson kershaw cqc-6k

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K is as irresistible to ants as the Spyderco Sage 2 was to bees… Take a look at that beautiful satin finish on the flat of the blade.

kershaw emerson folding edc knife best everyday carry cqc-6k

emerson kershaw cqc-6k folding knife 2014

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K is a game changer in the knife industry, not just because of who designed it or the frankly ridiculous low price, but because it really is the whole package as far as EDC knives go. I absolutely love this knife and would argue that, from what I know, this blade beats pretty much every entry- and mid-level knife available in production from absolutely any manufacturer. Period.

If Emerson and Kershaw had decided to price this knife at $100 instead of the $30 it’s usually at, I’d still have bought it and thought it was the best priced folder under the sun. At $30, this knife is a legitimate steal. I really cannot emphasize how good of a buy this is more than to say it’s almost constantly out of stock these days. This is one of the few Chinese made knives I can see being a collectible in the future, and I know I’m probably going to end up purchasing at least half a dozen more of them myself.

An amazing feat of engineering for its entry level price. 1200% recommended. Great job Ernest Emerson, and great job Kershaw. I can’t wait to try more of the Emerson/Kershaw knives out.

View Price of Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K Clip Point EDC Knife on Amazon

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10 Tips for Building a Stockpile on a Budget

Stockpiling can be quite a challenge when finances are tight. Though there is no quick fix to building up the ideal stockpile on a small budget, there are different tricks and techniques you can use that may help you to stretch your bank account a little further than you thought it would go. Follow the tips below that you think will help you best overcome your financial burden if you’ve got to stockpile on a tight budget.

survival blog tips for stockpiling

1. Be realistic about your expectations.

As much as you may want to have a fully stocked bunker that you can live in for 10 years post-apocalypse, chances are, you’re not going to be able to afford all that. Keep your expectations as realistic as possible; don’t go overboard.

2. Prioritize, prioritize.

In line with the fact that you just don’t have the budget to afford everything, it’s wise to keep in mind you should be preparing for the most likely emergency situations first and then expanding your goals once you’ve completed the most urgent ones. You probably don’t need that home electricity generator until you’ve got at least a few months worth of non-perishable survival foods stockpiled first.

3. Make lists: Know what you need and how much before you begin to stockpile.

If you start stockpiling before you’ve got a list going, chances are you’re going to forget something important, or spend valuable money on items you didn’t really need. Make lists and check them twice before making your purchases.

building a stockpile survival blog tips

4. Set clear financial limits on your stockpile expenditure.

It can be easy to go overboard when stockpiling, especially when you first get started, but sometimes making large purchases, even toward a good cause, can be problematic financially. If you have limited funds, it’s probably best to set a budget for your monthly stockpile expenditure early on.

5. Make a calendar.

Knowing what you’re going to purchase next will help you stay on track and on budget.

6. Keep dipping into your stockpile fund? Use a dedicated bank account.

Sometimes just putting the money aside in another bank account will help you to reserve funds for your stockpiling goals.

7. Dedicated bank account double benefit: save money automatically.

If your money doesn’t seem to get the chance to get to that dedicated bank account, think about getting your bank to automate the transaction. If once your paycheque hits your regular savings or chequing account, a certain amount is automatically withdrawn to your stockpile account every month, you’re less likely to fly through that money because you won’t be seeing it in your regular account.

stockpiling tips for preppers survival blog

8. Space out more expensive purchases.

If you space out the expensive purchases, you’ll have time to recoup from large financial investments. Having to buy two expensive items in two consecutive months would likely be daunting on your monetary fund.

9. Don’t dip into your emergency fund: even if you’ll have to take a break stockpiling.

Make sure you always have a good amount of cash stashed away for a rainy day. Don’t dip into this fund for your stockpile: who knows when you might really need that money for an immediate emergency. Take a break from stockpiling for a month or two instead, to replenish your funds. Then start back up again with your stockpile calendar when you’re financially ready.

10. Be ready to make sacrifices when you have to.

You may find that you’ll have to to minimize expensive activities as much as possible in order to have enough to fund your stockpile account. It may be frustrating to stay home while all your friends are at the movies, but your stockpile fund will flourish with that kind of perseverance.

more than just surviving stockpiling survival blog article

What other tips can you think of for those trying to build up a stockpile on a budget? Share your advice in the comments.

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LifeStraw Personal Water Filter Review

If you’re a veteran reader on the survival blog scene, chances are you’ve already seen your fair share of LifeStraw reviews already. These small, portable little water filters have been making the rounds from blog to blog for quite some time now, and for good reason. The LifeStraw is a hand-held personal water purification system that actually manages to remove 99.99999% of the waterborne bacteria in lakes, streams, rivers, etc., helping to make personal consumption of natural bodies of water overwhelmingly safer than without the straw. From a survival perspective, it’s obvious how one of these could really be a life saver in an emergency situation. Yet they’re really handy when it comes to camping and hiking, too.

lifestraw survival blog reviewLifeStraw Personal Water Filter – Amazon

The LifeStraw packaging is fairly basic. Instructions are given, but it’s very intuitive to use, so you probably wouldn’t need those anyway. It’s essentially a straw with two caps. Uncover caps, stick in water, drink. Easy as pie.

emergency water filter lifestraw review

What I find especially convenient about the LifeStraw is how crazy light it is. It’s certainly lighter than an average neck knife (like my Mora Classic 1 for example), and I have no issues carrying them around all day long. The LifeStraw, with its provided neck cord, is barely noticeable by comparison.

buy lifestraw personal water filtration system

While the LifeStraw does filter out 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan cysts, it should be noted that other nasties besides bacteria and protozoa parasites can lurk in the water. The LifeStraw won’t filter out minerals, viruses, or chemicals, so while it’s fairly safe to drink from running water in rivers, brooks, and creeks, it’s not a good idea to use the LifeStraw downstream from an industrial plant or in a pool of water in a third world country. Of course, if you have absolutely no other choice but to drink, because you’re stuck in a survival situation say, go for it. Always better with the LifeStraw than without it. But beware that there are still risks as the LifeStraw cannot filter out everything dangerous.

I’d like to mention also that since the LifeStraw does not filter out minerals, it is not safe to use the LifeStraw to drink ocean or seawater. A LifeStraw cannot remove salt from water, and as such you should never use it to drink seawater in survival situations, not even to drink a little, as the salty water will still dehydrate you, whether or not you drink it from a LifeStraw filter. This should not be held against the LifeStraw at all, however, as it was never meant to purify salt and other minerals from water. A water purifier that did so would be inhibitively expensive.

For a $20 filter, the LifeStraw performs exceptionally well. If you are unsure about your water source, and happen to have iodine on you, you can always purify with iodine prior to filtering.

lifestraw-review-personal-water-filter

The top of the LifeStraw has a plastic mouth piece for comfort. Thankfully, it’s a rigid plastic and not one of those rubber ones that inevitably gets chewed up and ends up looking like crap after a couple of weeks of use.

lifestraw-personal-water-filter-survival-blog-review

more than just surviving lifestraw review

The LifeStraw boasts being chemical free, which is awesome as that’s always been my biggest gripe with alternatives like tabs and boiling water. It can filter 1000 liters in its lifetime, certainly enough for users like me who would only need it from time to time in case of emergencies, while hiking, or during camping trips.

The design is both sleek and comfortable to wear, and as I’ve mentioned before, quite lightweight. Remarkably, it only weighs 2 ounces.

the lifestraw personal filtration system price on amazon

low cost lifestraw survival blog review

The business end of the LifeStraw has a plastic grill covering the filter itself. The filter can handle filtering up to 2 microns, which is tiny.

The caps on both ends do does stay on securely, and while the plastic tab connecting the cap to the straw is relatively thin, I would say that breaking it off accidentally would be highly unlikely. It’s definitely durable for what it is.

lifestraw how it works instructions

In order to properly test the filter, we located a nearby brook and drove over for a trial run.

I’m going to be 100% honest with you, I was pretty damn hesitant about using the LifeStraw when I saw that brook, especially since the water wasn’t particularly clear. Even while running, the stream water was still an unappetizing shade of yellow-green.

Of course, I know that many, many people have used the LifeStraw before me. Vestergaard, the company that originally introduced the LifeStraw, boasts that it has already been used by millions of victims of floods and earthquakes as an emergency response tool. With this in mind, I found a good spot to crouch down in and got to business.

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Of course the very first thing I noticed was just how difficult it was to get low enough to use the LifeStraw. I used a pretty large rock to keep myself propped up, sparing me from getting wet from the creek, but it definitely was no picnic staying crouched to drink long enough for my thirst to be satiated.

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You have to sip quite hard to get the water up through the straw. Not quite as hard as you would have to suck on a straw to get up a really thick milkshake, but that sort of persistence was definitely required. I honestly take this as a good thing, as it reaffirms my faith that the filter does in fact remove virtually all the contaminants as the advertising claims it does.

Being pretty thirsty, I stayed crouched over for a solid 3 minutes: uncomfortable to say the least, but fine nonetheless. Once I was finished drinking, Elise, who was taking the pictures, immediately asked me whether the water tasted good or not. Surprisingly, the LifeStraw doesn’t impart any kind of chemical aftertaste to the water. It also reduces particulate matter, meaning most of the muddy taste the water would have had before being filtered is gone. The flavour was so neutral that I actually quite enjoyed it, and the texture was phenomenal. I told Elise to try it out by taking a sip herself, and she agreed. No funny taste, and while it takes a little effort to get out of the straw, definitely worth it.

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In order to see whether the water looked any clearer once it’d been through the filter, I took an empty water bottle and spat some into it (sorry for the visual) after having used the LifeStraw. Surely enough, that gruesome yellow-green colour was well gone.

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Of course, crouching down is just one way you can use the LifeStraw. If you happen to have a container on you, like a water bottle, a pot, or a cup, it would do you well to put the stream water into the container first, then drinking with the LifeStraw from the container, rather than the stream.

Unfortunately the LifeStraw does not fit inside the neck of a typical plastic water bottle, but it’s a problem that can quickly be solved if you’ve got a sharp edge on you. Simply cut off the top of the plastic water bottle, and you’re all set.

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With the top off the water bottle, placing the LifeStraw in for a sip becomes effortless. No more couching down to get water. No more staying in awkward positions for long enough to satiate thirst. I actually wouldn’t mind using the LifeStraw as my sole source of water purification for extended periods of time using this method.

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Cleaning the water filter is straightforward as well. Intuitively, as you may have already guessed, all you need to do is blow out the remaining water that’s in the hollow membrane filter onto the ground. Then just put the cap back on and pack the LifeStraw away (or of course, keep it around your neck for the rest of the trip).

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A fairly recent review of the LifeStraw titled “The one problem no LifeStraw review ever mentions” (read it here), critiqued the product based on the fact that once you walk away from the natural source of water, you essentially have no water period. He argued that the LifeStraw lacking a built in water container like the Sawyer Water Bottle filtration system was a serious design flaw, an oversight that hadn’t yet been addressed. Of course LifeStraw does have an alternative to the Sawyer Water Bottle, called the LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle, but that’s besides the point.

In Canada, where we happen to live, brooks and streams are no rarity to come by. Walk around for long enough and you’re likely to bump into some water. Go out of your way to look for bodies of water, and you’re even more likely to come across some liquid you can ingest. Yes, it is possible to leave the body of water and not come across another one for days, but it’s unlikely. In such circumstances, I’d much prefer having a smaller, more compact and utilitarian design with no extra bits. If I had a water bottle attached to my LifeStraw, it would be significantly harder and more irritating to carry. I definitely wouldn’t be able to casually roam around with it around my neck comfortably. For my environment, I feel the LifeStraw fits my needs better, allowing me to leave my pack at home for a more lightweight hike or stroll in the wilderness.

When camping, the same is likely to be true. Typically, you’ll pick one spot near a body of water, so you’ll always know where the water is. Going back and forth to that body of water typically won’t be a problem, and you can always use a separate container to bring water back to camp if you choose.

What’s most convenient and useful depends on the type of situation you’re in. There’s a reason why the LifeStraw is so incredibly popular. Not everyone wants to carry around a filter strapped to a water bottle, at least not all the time.

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The LifeStraw water purification system is a pretty awesome piece of kit. From an objective point of view, it does its job quite well. From a subjective standpoint, the water filtration system leaves the H2O tasting great, with no chemical or gritty taste. And hell, I’m still alive. Never felt sick even once since I tested it out about a week ago (July 1, 2014), though I’m guessing the millions of natural disaster victims who have used the LifeStraw thanks to emergency relief are more of a testament to how well it works.

I heartily recommend the LifeStraw as a cheap, functional insurance policy when you’re out hiking or travelling through locales with less robust infrastructure. As for end of the world survival? You’ll want a more robust system with a more durable filter. But for hiking, camping, and enduring survival situations until you’re rescued, the LifeStraw is one hell of a valuable piece of gear.

View Price of LifeStraw Personal Water Filter on Amazon

Thank you to Vestergaard for sending us the LifeStraw product + specs to try out for ourselves!

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