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SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker’s comparison
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker’s comparison on 03/08/2011 14:22:15 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker's comparison

Edited by addiebedford on 03/09/2011 07:22:58 MST.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker’s comparison on 03/08/2011 16:13:49 MST Print View

I've had an Amigo for a few years now, and I believe it's one of the only pieces of my kit that has stuck around so long. Most of my trips are with at least one more person and it makes perfect sense for group use.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker’s comparison on 03/08/2011 17:19:06 MST Print View

A fair comparison. Interesting. The Hiker filter is very reliable but quite heavy. It would be interesting to compare it with a Sawyer filter cartridge.

My only real comment concerns the solar recharger. It was not made specifically for the Opti: it was available with the first generation Adventurer. I believe it was originally made for use by missionaries, probably in Africa.

Anyhow, I have taken the solar cell out of the case and given it the UL treatment. There is a photo of it at SteripenAdventurer. It got a bit lighter.

There is also a review of the Opti here.


Edited by rcaffin on 03/08/2011 17:19:29 MST.

a b
Steripen vs H2O Amigo on 03/08/2011 17:23:56 MST Print View

Very nice article, Thanks.
My very first filter was a MYOG Ray Jardine "Hikers Friend" gravity system.
It used a collapsible plastic jug and a generic filter element with a piece of aquarium tubing. The H2O Amigo seems much more compact and certainly lighter weight.
Over the past two years I have used Chlorine Bleach drops and an MSR Sweetwater filter.
The problem is: I am lazy.
I really don't like to wait or spend time pumping so i drink untreated water a lot.
So now I have a Steripen Classic to try out.
Your statement:
"Finally, designing the solar charging case to charge the batteries while still inside the SteriPEN would reduce weight by eliminating the need to carry a second set of batteries. It would also add a considerable amount of convenience to the entire system."
This is huge. I keep wondering when a lot of small electronics will be offered with integrated solar charging. Steripen should make a deal with Brunton or Solio and add a flexible solar panel that wraps arrond the handle of the Steripen for storage. A little bit of cord could allow the panel to be spread out on top of the pack, perhaps attached with velcro tabs while the steripen satys stowed in a pack pocket.
Whatever they do they need to maintain the water resistance of the steripen. If i have to start babying it around water or in rain it's definitely out.
I really appreciate the cost comparison chart. It really brings home the issue of disposeable batteries and the waste factor.
Thanks for the great article!

Jim York
(jimbawb) - F

Locale: PNW
H2O Amigo? on 03/08/2011 20:08:45 MST Print View

Is the Amigo actually for sale anywhere any more?

edit...n/m missed that paragraph...

Edited by jimbawb on 03/08/2011 20:15:37 MST.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Cool on 03/08/2011 21:10:34 MST Print View

Neat comparison. I'll still go with the SteriPen, but was cool to see the two side-by-side and showing how they fair on a long hike. For me, just go with an extra set of batteries and leave the heavy solar charger at home, where it won't mistakenly get damaged. I'm never on the trail for long and I bet there's many who are on similarly shorter walks of one to five days. Ninety seconds isn't really very long to stir for a bit of water. Again, great review.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: "SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker’s comparison" on 03/08/2011 21:43:52 MST Print View

I have and still use the original Amigo H2O from ULA.
I switched to the steripen when the Adventurer model first came out.
It promptly failed after a few trips.

Needless to say, I learned the hard way not to rely on high-tech equipment in the backcountry. My Amigo is my trusted friend.

John Nielsen
(johndn) - MLife

Locale: Matanuska Valley, Alaska
Aquamira frontier pro on 03/09/2011 01:34:11 MST Print View

I've been really happy with the Aquamira frontier pro stripped down and used as a gravity filter. I attach it and the prefilter to a 1L platypus, clearly marked as dirty, for the reservoir. I pull off the nipple. This feeds another 1L plat. I attached a string to the reservoir for hanging. I use a sandwich bag for filling the reservoir. The whole kit weighs 4.8 ounces.

You can of course use the filter as a straw or use it for sipping on the end of the reservoir. The only problem I've encountered is that the nipple is poorly constructed and easily broke while taking it off and on. I wrote the company about this, but heard nothing. The nipple problem however is easily worked around.

As a gravity filter it is a little slow, but plenty fast enough. Great tasting, good system for my purposes.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Steripen on 03/09/2011 02:56:46 MST Print View

I agree 100% with Roger about the Steripen. They work well. I have the older Adventurer model and am waiting for it to break or for a lamp replacement. It still keeps lighting. I recommend his articles for a somewhat more technical look.

Since they are nearly instantanious, they save weight. You no longer have to carry extra water while chemicals "cook". 'Corse, in a desert, or a dry stretch, you need some extra, based on water availibility. Generally, most places I hike are 3-4 hours max between water sources. Soo, I drop a 1/2L bottle. "A pint is a pound..."

It is recommended carrying a spare set of batteries. Expensive and a bit heavy, but worth the safety. Flip one battery over to prevent current losses. The rechargables don't give the required current and are heavier. So, spend the $12 on a set of lithium's. Well worth it.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Steripen on 03/09/2011 06:29:21 MST Print View

Buy the batteries online. Cheap.

Look here

I've had an Adventurer since they came out and love it. NO issues.

I do pack a spare set of batteries too.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Bill's "Home Made Gravity Feed Water Filter" on 03/09/2011 07:46:53 MST Print View

Bill's "Home Made Gravity Feed Water Filter"
Note the date: Sept. 23, 2005 

Cuben Water Bag

- 0.54oz
Fittings - 0.176oz
Hose (25")

- 0.95oz
Modified Hiker Pro Filter - 1.9oz

Total Weight - 3.6oz

Stock Hiker Pro - 102.5gr/3.62oz

Modified (not cut-down) Hiker Pro - 52.9gr/1.9oz

Finial weight saving modification of the filter not shown.

Bill's Modified Amigo

When ULA added the new H2O Amigo to their product they copied everything about my filter except the Cuben Bag and my last weight saving filter modification.

What would your finial comment have been if you had used my filter in your review?

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: Steripen on 03/09/2011 08:35:44 MST Print View

I have used Steripens for 4-5 years and was a beta tester for their Opti model. I find their Opti model the most reliable of all Steripens they've made, not once failing on me. I have worked closely with their support department and they are very insistent on top quality batteries being used. It's okay to get good ones discounted, but I would not get cheap ones myself. I'll try and find some literature on the issue.

Have used them on the JMT 3 years now. The opti for 2 of the 3 years (I had a pre-production opti version which is why I was able to do so).

I know for sure they approve of the Duracell and Panasonic brand batteries. Last I heard they were doing tests on the EverReady. I'll try find out the results.

Edited by marti124 on 03/09/2011 08:42:27 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Steripen on 03/09/2011 09:09:50 MST Print View

Thanks, Roliegh...about my take on it, disregarding the manufacturer's spec.
I am still using the old Adventurer...someday...

The batteries are all over in price. I was quoting about the worst case I have seen at one of the supply shops just off the NFCT.

Robin Evans
( - MLife
Super Delios is the best system I've found on 03/09/2011 10:03:15 MST Print View

I can't understand why more people don't use the Super Delios system. Weighs 58g inc bottle and will purify 1,000 litres of water. You can take the filter (weighs 40g) and put it on Platypus bottle if you want.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker’s comparison on 03/09/2011 10:55:39 MST Print View


One aspect of the Sawyer filter is that it effectively has a life time guarantee and the filter does not ever need to be replace unless you manage to crack the exterior casing or allow the filter to freeze and damage the plastic hollow tubes inside.

I have been using the same Sawyer filter since 2007 and it has no signs for slowing down or wearing out.

It is field cleanable by back flushing and there is nothing that needs to be replaced internally or externally.

I use mine as part of a gravity filter.

Cost wise, it should be the cheapest filter out there because once you buy it you are done.


Beat Jegerlehner
(bjegerlehner) - MLife
Reliability on 03/09/2011 11:07:29 MST Print View

I've been using Steripens a few times to treat water on trail ultra races without aid (100 mile run distance). I had both a SteriPen Adventurer which stopped working altogether, and later a newer model with LCD. Both were notoriously unreliable - even with fresh batteries. I am not sure if this was due to the bouncing during running (both were in their neoprene sheaths on my belt). My observations:

- both devices were tested at home before the races. I always protect the batteries during travel with some cardboard to make sure they don't discharge accidentally.
- some water seems not to have enough electrolyte content to be registered by the Steripen (it only can be turned on when submerged in water, detected by two electrodes) - I had to add electrolytes to it. This was just water from streams in the Cascades.
- It would occasionally just not light up at all, and often light up briefly, to be followed by an error (red light or frowny face).
- The adventurer lasted almost one run but became increasingly difficult to turn on (it would turn on and immediately turn off), and the second one did not work at all once on the trail. I had changes of batteries, they were not the issue.

Overall I found reliability to be very poor, sadly, though I also could not really spend too much time trying to get them to work during the race. I wonder if anyone else had such problems.


Ralph B Alcorn
(backpack45scb) - M
Re: Re: "SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo, a long distance hiker’s comparison" on 03/09/2011 11:14:39 MST Print View

I have the original ULA Amigo and used it for about three years. (two of us). Now I just carry the Steripen Adventurer and the Katadyn Micropur tablets for backup and time saving. The combination pen and pill is faster than the Amigo if we need enough water for a dry camp. We pen enough to drink and pill the rest. We've been getting about 35 liters per set of batteries. That is less than the rated 50, but ok.

James L Moore
(JamesLMoore) - M
mUV vs SteriPen on 03/09/2011 11:32:32 MST Print View

I've been very pleased with the mUV, a field-rechargable UVC water purifier by Meridian Design. Weighing 2.4 ounces, it recharges by a simple attachment to most standard batteries (much simpler than the solar recharger).

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Me too on 03/09/2011 11:49:38 MST Print View

I do the same as Ralph. SteriPen Adventurer for my bike bottle electrolyte water, Micropur tabs for my hydration bladder.

I SERIOUSLY doubt if the Amigo gravity filter will take out viruses. The SteriPen absolutely will.
Thus the SteriPen is a water PURIFER, and the Amigo is not. The FDA/EPA would not classify the Amigo as a purifier.

BTW, I always "filter" my water, whether for Micropur chlorine dioxide treatment or SteriPen UV treatment, with a #1 coffee filter in a small funnel before treating. Keeps out small children and rocks.

Edited by Danepacker on 03/09/2011 16:40:55 MST.

Richard Thalhammer
(Tiktok) - MLife
SteriPEN vs H2O Amigo on 03/09/2011 12:03:05 MST Print View

I bought a Steripen Adventurer some years ago. I found it extremely cranky, failing to function on many occasions and currently, wholly out of service. New batteries haven't made a difference. While a fabulous device when it does work, the lack of reliability in the woods makes it a poor choice to me when contemplating a longer hike or an Alaskan adventure.
I might add that some of the comments to the article were more useful than the H2O Amigo review, if only because the latter is no longer available. It seems like it would be most helpful to explore some of the options outlined by commentators as they described other, available products or modifications that one could employ to achieve what the H2O Amigo once provided.