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This year, we included Lifestraw’s Peak Series straw-style filter in our summer gear guide. While it isn’t perfect, the redesign brought the brand’s filtration devices into the modern era with solid flow rates and plenty of versatility. The recycled plastic filter body is the burliest on the market right now—you no longer have to worry about accidentally crushing it if you sit on your pack—with a tough TPU bladder that also scored top marks in the durability department.
The Peak Series Straw Filter, one of several offerings currently in the brand’s “Peak” lineup, is already fairly lightweight at 65 grams (2.3 oz). But for the gram-counters amongst us, Lifestraw has just launched an even smaller, lighter version. Much like its predecessors and competitors, the Peak Solo comes with universal threading to allow it to be attached to a plastic water bottle, or used interchangeably with the Peak Squeeze and Gravity systems. Lifestraw says that this filter is faster, too, with a three-liter-per-minute flow rate. We were skeptical of such claims, but so far, this tiny-but-mighty filter has proven its mettle.
The new Peak Solo, which clocks in at 48 grams (1.69 oz) and 5 inches long, uses the same membrane microfilter as the rest of the line, but adds a removable mouthpiece/top cap and bottom plug to allow easy conversion between straw and gravity or squeeze filter modes. The bottom cap can be completely separated from the filter, unlike with the larger Peak Straw. (Lifestraw plans to sell these upgraded accessories, which are compatible with the larger Peak Straw, too).
In Washington’s Olympic National Park and Alpine Lakes Wilderness, we tested the Peak Solo against its larger predecessor (the Peak Straw), the Platypus Quickdraw (similar in size and flow rate to the Peak Straw), and the Sawyer Mini, which is currently the lightest straw filter on the market.
Compared against the Sawyer Mini, the Peak Solo mouthpiece is superior in comfort and has a significantly faster flow rate—almost twice as fast when squeezed—at roughly two liters per minute. Weight-wise, the Peak Solo is slightly heavier than the Sawyer Mini (48 grams vs 40 grams), a tradeoff we are willing to swallow. The larger, heavier (94-gram) Platypus Quickdraw is slightly more comfortable to drink from and has a small edge in flow rate over the new Peak Solo in straw and squeeze modes. The larger Peak Straw was slower than the Peak Solo during the straw test, but about the same during the squeeze test.
In short, the new Solo is slightly faster than the Peak Straw, significantly faster than the Sawyer Mini, and comparable to the Platypus Quickdraw while just 8 grams shy of the straw filter weight record.
The standard hose connector found with the Peak Straw is absent, meaning that the Peak Solo can’t be used as an inline filter, which may be a dealbreaker for hikers who depend on that method. Lifestraw says that omitting that connection permitted a larger intake, which in theory should facilitate a faster flow rate—although our squeeze test demonstrated equal flow rates (just over two liters per minute). The claimed lifespan of the Peak Solo is on the lower end, too: 2,000 liters, compared to 4,000 liters for the Peak Straw and 375,000 liters (unverified by Backpacker) with the Sawyer Mini. The Platypus Quickdraw and Katadyn BeFree limp in with a measly 1000-liter lifespan. For $30, however, it’s not a significant barrier: the Peak Solo will keep the average thru-hiker hydrated for years before it needs to be replaced.
While we’re still testing the Peak Solo—which hit shelves this summer—for inclusion in our 2024 summer gear guide, we’ve been impressed with its flow rate given its low size and weight, not to mention its burly design. Lifestaw’s new filter could soon be a common sight, screwed onto Smartwater bottles along the PCT and everywhere else.