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Updated Steripens?
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Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Updated Steripens? on 04/19/2010 14:05:38 MDT Print View

Hi Everyone,
Tried doing some searching but didn't find what I was looking for...

I know there were lots of complaints about failing steripens and battery issues and such...

It appears that Steripens have been updated since late 2008 (which prob means the stock in stores has been updated since 2009) for better sensors, etc.

So my question - have steripens gotten better? I keep vacillating between a gravity filter setup and a steripen for my trips this year. looks like the price on steripens have dropped some and the quality improved.

If you've gotten a steripen in the last 9 months or so, how have the AA batteries been? How has the reliability of the contacts been?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/19/2010 14:14:28 MDT Print View

Anything can fail -- but overall, I believe Steripens are dependable. I used my Adventurer regularly on a 7-month RTW trip last year without any problems whatsoever.

To me, I think the decision between Steripen vs. gravity filter should center on water sources. If they are fairly clear and good to OK tasting, then get the Steripen. For brown river water, green algae ponds, or any water with lots of sediments, larvae, dead bugs... I will definitely want a filter that will clarify water and improve its taste.

I find myself using a combination of chlorine and filter when out in the wilds -- and using the Steripen on world travels (hosteling) -- where tap water usually comes out clear and OK tasting -- but biologically suspect.

Edited by ben2world on 04/19/2010 14:15:38 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/19/2010 14:15:46 MDT Print View

They don't use AAs, they use, I think, CR123s.

I have the new Adventurer Opti. It's worked great so far. But then again, my last one worked great too. A bit of a pain in the winter, as I had to keep the batteries warm, but other than that it's been fine.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/19/2010 14:17:45 MDT Print View

The large, classic model uses four AA batteries. The other smaller models use two CR123 batts.

Logan Kidwell
(Logan) - MLife

Locale: Maine
steripen is proving fantastic on 04/19/2010 14:21:14 MDT Print View

I've had my adventurer for almost a year and have had no issues with batteries whatsoever. I've only had two problems: One was when someone else dropped it into their water bottle while zapping it. Not good.

Several days in the hot sun on a dark surface got the water drops out of the crystal and all has been well since.

The other was a "battery cap issue". Something about the metal used getting torn up from removing the battery cap. I sent it back to Steripen and they quickly replaced it for free.

Once again, I am very psyched about this gizmo and it will be my primary treatment method going forward.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
So Far, So Good on 04/19/2010 16:57:25 MDT Print View

I want less weight in my water treatment gear, thus I carry a SteriPen and chlorine dioxide tablets - ONLY.

My SteriPen Adventurer is working very well. I remove the lithium CR-123 batteries after each trip and replace the cap with only gentle tightening so as not to compress the O-ring too much when stored.

My use of the SteriPen is to sterilize (much better than mere filtering) my bike bottle water that I use for electrolyte drinks. That way I have clean water in 90 seconds.

For my hydration bag I use Micropur chlorine dioxide tabs which tend to also keep the tube clean as well. Re-filling the hydration bag at night gives the chlorine dioxide tabs plenty of time to work. I crush them to give them a faster acting dispersion in the water.

I hope to heaven I never have to carry another filter while backpacking. That is SO 20th century.

Matt Sanger
(IPARider) - MLife
and the rest of the story??? on 04/19/2010 17:17:14 MDT Print View

Thanks for this thread, I'm going through the same considerations...and would like to know more of the story behind the complaints and what, if anything was done to address them.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Why a filter on 04/19/2010 18:03:28 MDT Print View

The only reason I don't go the stripen direction is the water quality that I often come across.

A filter gets rid of the stuff that makes some water taste bad. I think I am less tolerant of gunk in my water, but I'm a wimp:-)

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Thanks on 04/19/2010 19:25:43 MDT Print View

Wow look at that info!

I thought they were all AA now but I guess I was wrong. I think I still prefer AA just because they're easier to get. Looks like the steripen is pulling ahead - I tend to be in areas where the water source is fairly clean. The "big trip" this year is the BWCA for a week.

IPARider - the classic complaints were cold weather battery failures and some kinda failure where the steripen wasn't recognizing that it was in water. Warming the batteries against your skin should fix the battery failure, and the larger contacts on the newer models should fix the water recognition issue (which is why I started this thread).

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
AA classic on 04/19/2010 19:36:42 MDT Print View

Just FYI, it's possible (I know because I did it to mine) to modify a classic Steripen to use AAA's instead of AA's. This cuts down on the weight a lot, but note than AAA's have less than half the capacity of AA's while not quite being half the weight, so for longer excursions it's not worth it. I don't know for sure how long they last because I've only used it for weekend trips.

How-to: cut a rectangular piece of lightweight foam to fit in between the 4 batteries and provide pressure against them (stops them from moving around). Then, use needlenose pliers to pull and extend the contact springs inside the battery comparment. It is good to pull these quite far, to put more pressure on the batteries and keep good conatact.

I got the Classic version because I needed it for a Europe bike tour and wanted easy-to-replace-or-charge capability. I had a AA/AAA solar charger with me so I could charge on the go. I would get a Lithium version now, but the weight isn't hugely different and I'm waiting for an LED Steripen instead, which should be way more efficient and lighter.

Edited by dasbin on 04/19/2010 19:39:54 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: and the rest of the story??? on 04/19/2010 19:41:49 MDT Print View

I got the new one because it looked like they've solved most of the issues.

This weekend will be first real test of my Opti.

Ben R
(snowfiend131) - MLife

Locale: Western PA
Steripen Sensors on 04/19/2010 19:41:58 MDT Print View

I was one of the people complaining about the Steripen Journey's sensors not knowing they were in water. I heard Steripen updated the sensors, so I swapped my Journey for a new one. I no longer have any issues. I even tested it in distilled water (thinking that distilled water would conduct electricity just as poorly as the cleanest stream water), and it works fine.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: AA classic on 04/19/2010 20:31:40 MDT Print View

You can also get AA shells for AAA batteries. I do not know abou weight.) For example:

Alleged coupon code: MLCK401433031075NL1

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/19/2010 23:04:51 MDT Print View

Yes, there have been two major updates.

Early Adventurers had a battery problem when switched 'off'. Too much leakage. BPL drew this to the attention of the company and they fixed it. (Whether BPL actually triggered the fix is however unknown!)

The recent Adventurer Opti has low off-state current and is a dream to use. Review coming shortly.

My preferred method.


Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/20/2010 07:21:44 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger -
It appears the only differences between the Opti and the other models is that the opti uses optical sensors instead of metal contacts to detect the water, and the Opti uses CR123 batteries instead of AA. is that right?

Matt Sanger
(IPARider) - MLife
new Opti on 04/20/2010 07:50:45 MDT Print View

Roger - and please say a bit more on the "low off-state current" and how that is different in the Opti than the other models


George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/20/2010 07:51:49 MDT Print View

>> a dream to use. Review coming shortly.

Good to hear. I got it based on your last review and their fixes. I don't doubt the BPL review helped push change for them. : )

I will try mine this coming weekend. Let me know if I can collect any test data for your upcoming review. Will be in GSMNP.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/20/2010 09:25:46 MDT Print View

I purchased my Adventurer last year. I'm pretty sure it's updated -- with water sensor:

1. No problems whatsoever with the sensors.

2. No problems whatsoever with leaving the batteries inside the Adventurer in-between uses. The last set of CR123's -- they were used regularly for 2 months up to Dec 2009 -- and have been sitting inside the battery chamber unused for 5 months now -- and they still work!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/21/2010 15:54:55 MDT Print View

Hi Kieran and Matt

No, the Opti has several differences, which I outlined in the article:

Lower off-state current drain
Optical sensor rather than conductivity (through metal plates)
Easier to remove lamp cover.

Only the Classic uses AA batteries; all the rest use CR123s.

The off-state current was about 600 microamps in some early models of the Adventurer, and this was an accident I am assured. The off-state current is now supposed to be below 60 microamps. I haven't verified this myself, but I have some confidence in my source.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Updated Steripens? on 04/21/2010 15:55:58 MDT Print View

Hi George

Thanks for the offer, but the review has been submitted already.