Portable summer hydration: A review of the LifeStraw Go

Note: I received a LifeStraw Go for free from Eartheasy, and I let them know I'd try it out and write a review, but I haven't been otherwise compensated for this post. I also haven't been asked to say certain things, or told how to write this. Questions? Just ask -- I want to be maximally transparent about this kind of thing!

A while back I went to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee for a long weekend. One thing to know about hiking in Appalachia: There's water everywhere! I remember hiking in the Catskills and going a whole day or more without seeing any water at all. We definitely don't have that problem here. In the Blue Ridge Mountains where I usually go backpacking, and definitely on this trip in the Smokies, there are often multiple stream and river crossings for even a short hike.

It was hot and the water was a very welcome diversion, even if it was astonishingly cold! We explored waterfalls and people (not me) swam in frigid mountain springs and streams.

We went on some long, looong hikes, including up Chimney Top, which has a bare rock vertical climb to the summit, but 360-degree views one you're up! I have a little bit of a fear of heights and had a few minor panics going up, but nothing a short break and deep breathing couldn't fix.

The only problem was, we hiked for a loong time (5-6 hours) and I downed all the water in my water bottle way too early in our hike. For day hikes, I just never really think to bring a water filter and all that business, so even though we were surrounded my water, I couldn't drink any of it. By the time we got back I was parched and grateful for clean water.

This is why I was totally psyched when Eartheasy reached out to me about trying a new product from LifeStraw, the LifeStraw Go.

The LifeStraw got a ton of coverage when it first came out: I first learned about it a few years ago after traveling to Kenya. Basically, it is a super super super cheap personal water filter. (Water filtration systems are usually around a hundred bucks; the LifeStraw is under $25.) It's basically a straw that filters the water as you drink from it, making potable water from all kinds of distrustful sources, like lakes, ponds, puddles, rainwater, dirty tap water, etc. This is a big deal in the developing world, and also a pretty awesome thing for backpackers, kayakers, hikers, cyclists, etc. And, the company uses a portion of the profits (though I'm not sure how much) to set up water filtration systems in school and communities

The LifeStraw Go is about $10 more than the regular LifeStraw, and it's basically a LifeStraw wrapped in a 23-oz BPA-free water bottle, meaning it's great for when you want to quickly refill water and keep moving. I tested it out on a hot day at the Eno Rock Quarry.

It's pretty simple! If you unscrew the top + LifeStraw, it's just a regular water bottle made of hard, Nalgene-like plastic. Fill it up....

Screw the lid back on...

And drink! The straw filters the water as you drink.

After you get home, just rinse it really well with clean water and let it dry. The filter lasts for about 1000 liters worth of water, 

I was not expecting to be so dazzled by this thing, but it's really empowering to feel like the whole world is your water fountain. It's kind of the way I felt when I first got a Garmin, and I realized I could have track practice anywhere I wanted. 

Thanks to Eartheasy, which is a cool company in its own right -- they're entirely carbon-neutral, and they work with Trees for the Future Foundation to have a tree planted for every order placed.

Does anyone remember "running?"

Remember that thing that was so hot for a while, "running?" 

For real, I haven't run more than a couple times since the Tobacco Road Marathon. 

One of the things that makes me feel like I'm not a "real" runner is the way I can drop running without a thought. Sure, I miss it, but I didn't feel that total collapse of identity some people describe when they stop running. I'm content with anything that's outside that lets me move my body: biking, walking (really), hiking, running, swimming in the quarry, gardening, etc. And my interest in running, specifically, waxes and wanes with the seasons: In the summer, it feels like a death march.

One of the worst heat waves I can remember.

One of the worst heat waves I can remember.

I've been riding my bike a lot, but riding to work when it is nearly 100 degrees out is like opening the door of a convection oven with hot, oppressive air rushing at my face. 

Each time I tried to go for a run, my knee flared up and I couldn't make it past 2 or 3 miles. I didn't mind that much -- if it needed rest, I was totally fine to just give it more rest.

Then it was time to get married. Our wedding was in early May, and while a wedding seems like the kind of life event that is nearly certain to disappoint (it's expensive, overhyped, and laden with familial and emotional significance) it absolutely didn't. In fact, it really was, as they say, the happiest day of my entire life. I've thought a few times about writing about it here, but I've never been that comfortable with unreciprocated sharing, and I'd have to share a whole lot to really do justice to the story. Maybe someday.

We brought running shoes on our honeymoon in Asheville, but we never ran. And then I crashed hard and bronchitis set in. I had the kind of deep cough that rattles the ribs (at one point, I thought I had broken one, it was so sore from coughing). I worked a lot but enjoyed what felt like endless free time, what with the long summer days combined with no wedding to plan and no marathon on my horizon.

Now I feel fully recovered from the physical and emotional feats of the spring, and the itch to run is coming back. I've been eyeing potential goal races this fall, but haven't committed to anything yet. I'm letting this feeling sit for a while and waiting to see if it roots. I do really miss training for something.