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Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen?
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Tom B
(TomHiker) - F
Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/11/2011 01:38:03 MST Print View

I've decided to try a Steripen but am unsure of the model. I have no experience with any of the models, I have read most of the reviews and did a forum search. I've read about the problems but I think the possible benefits can outweigh the issues if the primary benefit (to me) which is ease of use can be instantiated. I'm open to any recommended model but I think the two most likely choices are the Journey (the one with the LCD display) and the Adventurer Opti.

Anyhow here's where I'm at, thanks for any advice or comments on the following:

Containers: It's round where it fits into the container so you can fill a bottle, insert the Steripen and invert to sterilize. You can use lightweight bottles such as Aquafina (and I assume others). This sounds good to me as that is what I typically carry. This ease of use made the Journey my first choice.
UI: LCD provides end of cycle feedback info. (Is this better or worse than user feedback of Opti? )
Cost: Not a driving factor but is less expensive then Opti.

Battery drain: Then I read the Opti review and it mentioned the older Adventurer drains batteries when off. Is that a problem with the Journey?? This issue could kill the Journey choice. I read the multiple posts on the Steripen and there was lots of discussion on battery issues. So do all the older models including the Journey LCD have this issue? I don't want to moving batteries in an out every time I use this thing. I couldn't tell if this was just an issue with the older Adventurer and not the Journey LCD.


Is the following "Pro" for the Opti correct?
Ease of use / reliability: This is my biggest driver if my understanding is accurate. Is this an easier unit to use??
- Battery drain issue solved or at least mitigated such that I can leave the batteries in the unit for a 7 day trip?
- Best feedback for when the unit is functioning correctly and finished the sterilization process.

Weight: Unit weight slightly lighter than Adventurer but if battery issue is "solved" I won't carry spares (which would drop the weight further) and will just carry Aqua Mira as backup.


What container to use? My cooking pot is packed away so that's out. I don't want to carry a heavy Nalgene so cross that out. And while I do believe in the power of duct tape, I am skeptical of the reliability of the solution I read of cutting an oblong hole in the top of a gatorade bottle, building a duct tap gasket for the Opti and then using it inverted. I see that as another point of failure...

Can one use the lighter, collapsible, wide mouth Nalgene canteens with the Opti? How do you ensure that all the water in this canteen is treated? Is simply swirling the Opti enough? If you are moving a collapsible container with an open top, doesn't the fill height move up and down causing a problem with the sensor / UV bulb?

OK, that's enough late night rambling for now. What's your vote, Journey LCD or Adventurer Opti?

Thanks, Tom

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/11/2011 03:44:22 MST Print View

I have the Adventurer. For the first couple trips it went through a LOT of batteries. Once I figured out that there was a rather high idle current, I simply started turning the batteries over. It has held up well for 4 years now.

It does require a wider mouth on any bottle, like a gatoraid bottle. All you need to do is make sure the water is swirled. So, just flopping the thing back and forth while rotating the bottle is enough to insure that there is enough swirling.

Squeezing excess water out while similtaneously screwing on the cap forces clean water out through the top and threading. Like with chemicals...

I still carry some AquaMira, but only about a weeks worth.

Any purely electronic switching will have a idle current drain. I would flip the batteries anyway. It only makes sense to avoid ANY current loss.

Edited by jamesdmarco on 02/11/2011 03:53:24 MST.

Simon Wurster
(Einstein) - F

Locale: Big Apple
Re: Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/11/2011 06:38:21 MST Print View

I use the Adventurer (and before that, the Classic).

The "reach" of the UV rays are pretty far, say 8" or so from the lamp. So simple swirling will kill everything from the tip of the lamp to the surface of the water, within most containers. Mating and tilting of the pen + bottle is overkill, IMO. Careful filling can avoid contamination of the threads, although the no. of nasties caught there are minimal.

My favorite container is a 1L Nalgene Cantene which, although not the lightest option, can fold up easily, and accepts the SteriPen pre-filter if you want. Another advantage of the Cantene is that it can carry that last liter of treated water, providing dual use. I'm pretty sure the folks at Hydro-Photon have given the Cantenes their blessing for safety. Note that the more useful (volume) 1.5 L Cantene is too deep for use with the Adventurer unless you tie a lanyard to it.

I use blue Tenergy rechargeables, the 900 ma ones IIRC. They provide ~26 liters at home (best-case scenario), and have treated ~10-12 liters in the field in temps. ranging from ~40F to 70F (not the most challenging field test), with power to spare. I don't carry spare batteries for short trips, and haven't noticed dramatic parasitic drain; maybe I have a newer version.

Re: Journey vs. Adventurer... The lamps are all the same size, so it's a matter of weight and display. Journey is a bit heavier (1 oz.?) but has the LCD readout (clock and smiley face), while the Adventurer has the somewhat cryptic LED (slow flash, fast flash, red, green, what?). The Opti has an LED light (for treating water in caves?) Check the PDF docs on their website and see which interface you like better. Mostly, it's a matter of practice... The Journey will mate with the bottle, but I think that's overkill.

Will Webster
Journey on 02/11/2011 07:31:17 MST Print View

We went with the Journey so we wouldn't have to carry a widemouth bottle. The neck on a Platypus is too long for much of the lamp to get into, so you need to carry a regular bottle - but that's what I drink out of anyway.

The batteries which came with it didn't last too long; we bought some rechargeables from LightHound (based on comments on candlepowerforums) and carry a pair of primary cells as backup. We've never needed to switch to the backups but they're pretty light. Longest we've used it for to date was 4 days/3 nights, purifying all the water (drinking, cooking, cleaning) for two people.

We also carry ClO2 tablets, which came in handy when the unit dropped about 3' onto rocks the first evening out in the Grand Canyon - no visible damage but the bulb broke internally. We should have had it in the neoprene sheath that came with it or a MYOG bubblewrap case.

The gasket on the battery door is pretty fiddly so I wouldn't want to be removing or reversing batteries on a regular basis, but I don't think drain is an issue with the current models.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Re: Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/11/2011 17:18:26 MST Print View

I would go with the opti. I have the adventurer which uses the water contact safety interlock and it's really twitchy especially with high alpine water. There have been times that I've had to use a spoon to swirl the water instead of the pen itself because it would go out. Haven't gotten an opti to test yet though...

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/11/2011 20:29:42 MST Print View

Full review of Opti at
and Adventurer at


bill king
(Darto501) - F
battery situation is THE problem on 02/11/2011 20:52:39 MST Print View

Until the batter situation improves I stick to only the tablets. So easy and lightweight. The backup is boiling.

Somewhere in this forum there is a thread (and youtube vids) on using 1 micron polyester bag filter (cost about 5-10 dollars ebay and Amazon). A number 2 cone shaped Melita filter goes inside that (for profiteering). And on the outside of both is another layer which is just a nylon thread sewn cone made of fiberglass window screen (this is just to keep fingers and twigs off the filter, its not a filter layer). Finally, all this goes inside a one quart plastic yogurt container. The whole thing weighs 2 ounces or so. I made one and weighed it, not yet sewn the screen, don't have the right thread. The poly filters bags are about 7 inches by 16 inches and makes 4 round poly filters after cutting the bag and unfolding it to 14 x 16.

The problem is the shipping charge on the poly filter bags adds some more $.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: battery situation is THE problem on 02/12/2011 02:09:44 MST Print View

> using 1 micron polyester bag filter
Which will stop Giardia but not bacteria and not viruses.
My personal opinion is that all this does is delude the user.


Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Opti on 02/12/2011 07:19:10 MST Print View

I have an Opti and have used it for about 6 or 7 months now. It has never let me down once. Initially, I was very reluctant to rely on an electronic gizmo and did not want to use a Nalgene, so I considered the Journey too. In the end, I don't regret my choice. I haven't noticed any battery issues, and the green and red LEDs work great, even in bright light. Most important, since I switched from chemicals, I've reduced the amount of water I carry by 1 to 3 lbs. Nalgene's (the white polyethylene ones) are only a couple extra ounces. Really thought I'd regret getting one of these, and planned to sell it the first time it was a hassle, but it's turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I need to start buying batteries online or get rechargables, though. They are expensive, but I haven't really shopped around, since the time and weight savings justify the cost to me. I carry a few chemical tabs as backup. I have enough tabs to finish my trip if the battery dies (2 to 4 day trips are all I've had time for lately). If I were out longer, I'd carry spare batteries and might do that this summer. The weight savings more than justifies it and the speed and convenience of this thing is what I like most. The bottle issue turned out to be no big deal. Oh, and I've used it down in the teens (F) with no problem. It's pretty sturdy too; I don't feel like I have to baby it. I'd say try one. I don't think you'd have a problem selling an Opti if you didn't like it.

Tom B
(TomHiker) - F
Re: Re: Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/12/2011 11:57:44 MST Print View


Great reviews and it was your review of the Opti that had me considering the Opti over the Journey. Do you know if the battery drain issues you described for the older Adventurer apply to the Journey? - Thanks

Some info on the switch issue. Went to REI yesterday and there was an Adventurer Opti bundled with a solar charger that had been opened. Got a chance to see how it feels in one's hand and also tried the switch as I had read that it was difficult to depress. Found it was easy to depress and there was even a little feedback from the act of depressing the switch. Seemed like a non-issue to me.

As I didn't want the solar charger I purchased the Adventurer Opti packaged on its own. (In a sealed packaged.) Brought it home, opened it up and the switch had a much different feel.(??) I couldn't tell if I had clicked it once (for .5L) or twice (for 1L dosage). Seems strange to have that variance, is that different production runs, issue with quality control or something else?

REI also had the 32 oz collapsible Nalgene canteen which didn't appear to be a great solution. The larger Nalgene canteens are gusseted on the bottom and have a nice shape, the small one is shaped more like a flat rectangle with the sides coming together at the bottom.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/12/2011 13:56:07 MST Print View

Hi Tom

Those micro-tactile switches can be a problem. However, if you feel the unit you have is not satisfactory, either swap it at REI or contact Steripen(Hydro-Photon). I know that Hydro-Photon is very concerned about quality and PR and will not hesitate to swap.

The older problem with the switch being hard to press was a n early production issue with the first of the Adventurers. To the best of my knowledge that is a way historic.


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Steripen Classic on 02/12/2011 14:03:00 MST Print View

Nobody's talking much about the "Classic"?
It is 2 or 3 ounces heavier than the lighter ones, but:
Uses more common lithium AA batteries. Other AA work in a pinch. Means you can get replacement batteries at a small town convenience store or gas station.
One set of batteries lasts significantly longer, my guess 3 or 4 times longer than the smaller lighter models.
The classic works well with standard soda bottles, my preferred water container.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 02/12/2011 14:04:59 MST.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Steripen Classic on 02/12/2011 14:54:51 MST Print View

I chose a Classic for the same reasons. Also, battery cost per liter is much less. Whether it's the Classic or a lighter model, I more than make up for it's weight by being able to quickly 'camel up' and carry less water. I still carry cl02 tablets for back-up whether I'm carrying the Steripen or Aquamira drops.

Edited by Lancem on 02/12/2011 14:56:12 MST.

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Yet Another Steripen Thread - OR - Which Steripen? on 02/14/2011 19:03:33 MST Print View

They have a model called the SteriPen Sidewinder. The website says it does not use batteries. I do not have one or have used one. If someone has experience with it and the actual weight on our scale, please post.

Arnold Levin
(surf1div1) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
SteriPen Sidewinder on 07/02/2011 14:28:43 MDT Print View

Except it's over a pound.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Steripen Classic - or Emergency on 07/02/2011 15:40:14 MDT Print View

> Uses more common lithium AA batteries.
You could also look at the new Steripen Emergency. Rubber seal around the neck for inverting bottles, takes 4*AA cells. heavier than the Opti for sure, but easy to use. Review in the future.