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What I Learned By Drinking Only Mississippi River Water For a Week

Because we decided to travel the Great River Road from Memphis to New Orleans, I decided to see what it would be like to drink only water straight from the Mississippi for a week. Especially in the lower stretches along where we were traveling, the mighty river is known as the Big Muddy. It’s pretty ugly. In some places, I’d even call it gross!

What did I choose as the water filter that would make or break my week … and potentially my long-term health? Lifestraw.

The plan was to use two Lifestraw products: the GO Water Bottle and the Mission system. The Mission is a 3-gallon, gravity-powered water purifier that can filter a gallon in less than an hour. It’s not meant to be immediate. It’s meant to filter a lot of water for camp use, which is exactly what I needed.

The week went according to plan and I never deviated from using only Lifestraw products to stave off dehydration in the oppressive heat of the Deep South in June. It’s impossible to describe how hot it was every minute of our trip or how much I sweat. If I told you that it was common to wake up at 3 a.m. in the tent and look at the weather app on my phone to see that it was still 93 degrees, I’d be lying. Indeed it was still that hot at 3 a.m. The lie would be that sleep was anything close to common – in that heat, we didn’t get much of it.

In full disclosure, there were a few times when I dunked the Go Bottle in a lake because we were on day excursions that took us away from the river. That said, while everyone in the car was happily enjoying an ice-cold soda when we fueled up, sports drinks, or bottled water, I reached for the Lifestraw GO and took a swig. Here’s what I learned.

The Pros Of Using the LifeStraw GO and Mission for a Week

LifeStraw GO Bottle hanging from pack during the 50 Campfires Field Trip: Great River Road.The number one benefit of traveling like this was that I always had water to drink. There were times when my campmates had to ration bottled water because we were simply too far from town and too busy to run in and stock up. This is where the Lifestraw GO really shines. I could hop out of the car anywhere, dunk it, and drink.

I realized you don’t have to be in the backcountry to benefit from owning a Lifestraw GO. If there are a lot of lakes or rivers in your area and you’re on the go a lot, you’ll use it. Trust me. And once you get used to it you’ll really start liking it. You’ll also pay for it quickly because you won’t be buying bottles of water anymore. Awesome.

The Cons

Because we were in the South in June, I quickly became tired of drinking warm water. Especially toward the end when we were at Lake Pontchartrain. The water was literally so warm that swimming in it brought no relief from the muggy 100-degree temps. It just made you more uncomfortable – and that’s what I drank to rehydrate.

Beyond that, as long as I planned ahead by filling larger containers with the LifeStraw Mission, I have no real complaints. It was a great experiment, and the Lifestraw GO has become a permanent addition to my daypack.

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