Recently we talked with Tyson Benton, who is travelling South America with only one water bottle – an Ecousable Ech2o.

This stainless steel bottle has a long straw with a water filter inside, and is designed to help you stop buying hundreds of plastic bottles. We were sent a couple of water bottles with water bottle filters to use and review during our trip; it makes sense considering we hate buying bottled water and it’s necessary in so many countries.

In the past, I’ve publicly derided taking water filters because of the extra weight … let’s see if they can change my mind.

The unboxing

The Echo2 bottles arrived while we were in Cusco. Packing was minimal — a cardboard box with some paper packing: all totally recyclable … if we were in a country that makes recycling possible.

The bottles had stylish lines, one plain stainless steel, the other with a brushed-metal swirl running around it: nice and easy for Linda and me to recognise the differences. Each bottle came with a velcro collar, a shoulder strap, and a caribiner. The shoulder strap became part of a camera case, and the caribiners were too angular to be comfortable. I replaced mine with a more-rounded option immediately.

Unscrewing the lid, I removed a long, thick plastic straw with a huge filter bulb on the end. It felt like the straw and filter combo was about the same weight as the bottle itself. The whole thing had stylish lines, but was quite large at 750ml.

First impressions

After a quick wash, I took the risk and filled my bottle with Peruvian tap water. Although the bottle holds 750mls of water, you have to account for displacement from the straw and filter — normal capacity is around 500mls.

Considering the amount of Travellers’ D we had recently suffered, I felt a bit anxious: there was no way I wanted to spend another few days sculling back loperamide and antibiotics to match my stomach cramps. The water tasted fine, but with a slightly sour taste. I’d never tasted Cusquenean tap water before, but I later realised the filter doesn’t cover up bad-tasting water: the water in San Pedro was completely undrinkable.

Drinking from Peruvian taps, Inca fountains and Lake Titicaca’s islands

ecousable filtered water bottle ech2o review - craig profile
Craig drinking in the Sacred Valley, Peru
First things first: At time of writing, I’ve been using this bottle and filter for 100% of my water intake — around half a litre a day (supplemented with beer, wine and coffee, don’t worry!) — for eight weeks and I’ve only been sick once.

My luck has been better on this than it was on bottled water, where I was sick for large parts of the first five weeks in South America.

I’ve drunk from taps in Peru and Bolivia and streams on islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca (one of which was precariously down-stream from a donkey); and Indie Travel Podcast designer extraordinaire Angela took Linda’s on a trip to Machu Picchu, drinking from Inca fountains along the way. So far, the filters have proved 100% successful in keeping us from the sickbed.

One day, determined to test my ability to survive in the wild without actually going off the grid, I half-filled my bottle before a day hike in the Sacred Valley outside Cusco. Our group of five Kiwis and Renzo, a Peruvian couchsurfer, started with a calm minibus ride to Chinchero, looking around the ruins before descending down the valley towards Urquillos.

I filled my bottle from a clear stream that turned into a waterfall alongside some steps. The bottle lived in my bag’s side pocket and came out regularly for sips of cool, clear water. When we stopped at Urquillos, I refilled my bottle with water from a natural fountain — I’m 99% sure it was powered by the small aqueducts that flowed from the river: completely open and natural.

That water lasted for the rest of our hike, the bus into Pisac and the bus home again. Once again, no problems with digestion or anything else: the filter works again.

Replacing the filter

But the filter doesn’t last forever. It needs to be replaced every six months or so. I guess this is easy enough for US-based readers, but what about us full-time travellers? How easy is it to find replacement filters at fair prices worldwide?

We did a little poking around on the Ecousable website and Amazon to find that it’s reasonably affordable, with Amazon stocking it at about US$25

— ideally, I’d like this to be much lower.

The replacement process is as easy as unscrewing one part and changing it for the replacement part — no engineering required.

Final thoughts

I’ve been unconvinced about water filters and filter straws for a long time, but I’m sticking with this bottle. It’s large and heavy, but sits fine on the outside of my daybag … and it’s seldom empty these days.

I’m using it for all my water needs, and no longer hesitate when filling it from most water sources. If you’re in the market for a product like this — for home or travel — definitely go for it.

Your thoughts on "Ecousable filter water bottle – review"

  • My issue with many of these filtering methods is that you need to have spare parts (filters or whatever) which will never be obtainable in the parts of the world where the water isn't fit to drink. While the need to manage the explosion of plastic bottles is important, I along with you have always been dubious of these products for that reason. Theer is one where you dip a pen-like implement in the bottle and use ultraviolet radiation. No sure how good they are either though I've seen the odd review that rates them highly.

    on June 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm Reply
    • Yes, I know Mark. We're just coming up to the time to replace our filters, so we'll decide whether it's worth the cost in the next month or so. Right now we're in Australia, so it shouldn't be too hard to have things sourced here, but the cost will be important.

      on November 28, 2010 at 7:41 pm Reply
  • Hats off to you brave testers - its reviews like this that give true confidence in new products. I agree that the price Amazon are asking is too much - but I have to say I like the widget they provide.

    on June 30, 2010 at 6:55 am Reply
  • Thanks for this review! Been going thru this debate on my own, so this was extremely helpful.

    on November 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm Reply
  • Henri, Talon, glad you found the reviews useful. Let us know what you decide -- and if you buy it, feel free to add your own thoughts here. (And that widget is pretty cool.)

    on November 28, 2010 at 7:44 pm Reply

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