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Steripen users advise
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Rogers new Avatar! on 06/05/2011 20:13:23 MDT Print View

"Mick Jagger in the '80 Olympics Cross Country - gold medal round!"

Ahhh, Gimme Shelter, eh?

"Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away"

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Rogers new Avatar! on 06/05/2011 20:50:48 MDT Print View

That's not Roger's new Avatar. That's a fashion statement!

--B.G.--

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Steripen users advise on 06/05/2011 20:58:32 MDT Print View

This is what ultimately leaves me a bit at a loss of how to evaluate the steripen. Most people praise the technology; but the reliability of said technology is at best a mixed bag. Until there is a better reliability track record, it's difficult for me to spend upwards of $100 on a device that could be nearly bullet proof but is as just as likely to experience significant issues.

Am I wrong in this perspective?

Dirk

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Steripen users advise on 06/05/2011 21:02:23 MDT Print View

"Am I wrong in this perspective?"

Yes. People have been using the Steripen for quite some time without issue. I have the Opti and it hasn't let me down yet. One of my hiking buddies has used his for over 2 years without issue.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Just get it on 06/05/2011 21:11:40 MDT Print View

Sometimes the problem with online reviews is you get a distorted picture of an item because you often get the handful of users that had an issue post something but you don't get all of the people that had no issue. I waited a long time before getting the Steripen Opti a couple of weeks ago on sale at REI. The hurdles I overcame before buying one were

1] I didn't want to trust a battery driven system for something as important as water. Easily solved, Micropur tablets or boiling are a solid backups.

2] A handful of generation 1 user reviews of the Steripen scared me away. See original point above. In addition, the Steripen has been out a while and we are into the second generation of the technology.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Am I wrong in this perspective? -- SteriPen on 06/05/2011 21:49:22 MDT Print View

Dirk,

Although I can completely understand your perspective, I think you are indeed wrong. I use different SteriPens for three years. My first SteriPen was a Journey and worked great here in the Bay Area. But when I took it to the Sierra it seemingly stopped working. It was so frustrating to be away for a longer period of time and all of a sudden it didn't work. When that happened I thought I can't trust that technology and was ready to give up on it. But since the SteriPen worked again at home I got curious and researched the problem. I found that the Sierra water was "too clear" and the two metal contacts refused to acknowledge that they are indeed in water. That could easily be solved with a little pinch of salt to increase the conductivity of the sierra water. Once I understood and used this trick the SteriPen worked reliably. The problem was brought to the manufacturers attention and they increased the voltage between the metal contacts. My new model works now flawlessly in clear Sierra water without having to add anything.

I also use a SteriPen Classic for multi-week trips because it allows me to use re-chargeable AA batteries. Instead of the nice LCD display of the Journey it uses a red and a green LED. That too got me frustrated in the beginning. Why did the red LED go on? What did I do wrong? Why doesn't it work? And despite several tries I got the red LED over and over again and was stuck without being able to treat my water. In this case I had been too lazy to read the manual. Once I read it and understood that the contacts were not dry when I pressed the button, I just needed to wipe them dry with my bandana before using the SteriPen. Now it always works reliably. From time to time I get the red LED when I treat many bottles for a group. If I wouldn't know that I need to wipe the contacts dry, I would be stuck and become very frustrated. But with the knowledge I just wipe the contacts and keep treating.

OK, this was a long email. After several years of usage - including the described frustrating experiences - I believe the technology works. As with most techology the user should read (and understand) the manual and follow it to really get the most out of it.

Manfred

Edited by Orienteering on 06/05/2011 21:55:51 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Steripen users advise on 06/05/2011 22:29:57 MDT Print View

I use a Traveler Opti Mini with no problems. Steripens need good quality batteries and some models should be stored without the batteries to prevent power drain. I use a thin plastic strip to keep the battery from making contact with the cap so I can keep the batteries inside for storage-- more to prevent forgetting or losing them.

It is an electronic device, so I carry some Micro Pur tablets as a backup. That gives redundant support and they are lighter than spare batteries. Stuff happens-- I could drop it and break it. I have had batteries fail, but that was very much my own doing. I've used two different models and had no actual failure other than the dead batteries.

But why use it in the first place? I wanted a quick method for water purification. The water is pretty good in most of the areas I hike in, but I don't want to get sick either. I normally have access to lots of water sources, so I can hike with the Steripen and carry one liter rather than two and do quick refills. With chemicals I would normally refill when one liter was gone and drink from the other, giving plenty of time for the chemicals to work.

I have a filter too and I think that is good for groups, where the weight and the pumping can be shared. I carry tablets as a backup for the filter as well. Stuff happens :)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Rogers new Avatar! on 06/06/2011 04:49:51 MDT Print View

Well, it was a hot day ...
:-)

Cheers

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
+1 on the Classic on 06/06/2011 06:00:39 MDT Print View

The classic is a bit heaver than the other options, but I'm cheap. 4-AA lithium batteries means I get a lot more life out of my batteries than the CR type. Means a lot more trail miles per set of batteries.

AA are more common and can be had at remote convenience stores and gas stations near the trail.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Rogers new Avatar! on 06/06/2011 06:20:18 MDT Print View

You can tell who's new around here if they haven't seen that avatar before.

I love my SteriPen. I did have one failure. Lamp became separated from the electronics. Made noise, no light. Warranty replaced. Back in business! Been using one for years, very reliable in my experience.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
What you talkin bout kenny boy? on 06/06/2011 08:12:23 MDT Print View

Roger you are a brave man

and for a bloke from the land of Ozzzz
have an unusually pale bronze.

I take it surfing isn't your sport?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Steripen users advise on 06/06/2011 08:39:01 MDT Print View

"Yes. People have been using the Steripen for quite some time without issue. I have the Opti and it hasn't let me down yet. One of my hiking buddies has used his for over 2 years without issue."

But with just as many reports of success, there are equal tales of failure. The technology (i.e. UV purification) may be proven, but the product has had some quality issues. A quick google search confirms this. Reminds me of the NeoAir.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Steripen users advise on 06/06/2011 08:42:45 MDT Print View

"Reminds me of the NeoAir."

The Steripen is rated to R 2.5. I don't think they're fudging those numbers...... ;-)

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Steripen users advise on 06/06/2011 09:22:01 MDT Print View

Bahaha,

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Steripen users advise on 06/06/2011 09:25:18 MDT Print View

I'd bet that 99% of failures (at least on most recent models) are due to users using poor quality or wrong batteries.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Northern Europe
Steripens on 06/06/2011 09:28:25 MDT Print View

There are a whole lot of things that could potentially not work in the field due to unfortunate events but I've not only used a Steripen (various versions) for a few years, I've seen and been around dozens of Steripens on various groups and trips over that span. The only issues I've seen have been related to forgetting to replace batteries before a trip or not appropriately keeping the device warm prior to use in winter (once warm, it'll work again). So there is definitely the possibility of not appropriately using a Steripen -- like anything else. I have never seen a technical failure or broken device in the field.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
+1 on the Classic on 06/06/2011 09:46:32 MDT Print View

A group of us did a three day trip weekend before last. Everyone carried their own preferred treatment method, filter and chemicals were on the list.
After the first day, everyone was relying on my SteriPEN. Because it was quicker, easier and in the end, lighter.

It was hot that weekend, we must have treated 10 gallons of water.

As of yesterday 2 other members of that trip have purchased there own SteriPENs.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Steripen users advise on 06/07/2011 01:03:37 MDT Print View

Thank you all for taking the time to answer my question. I appreciate everyone sharing their perspectives when it comes to Steripen use and reliability. The advice offered here is quite helpful, and you have convinced me that in addition to fresh batteries, the instruction manual should be read prior to use in the field. Such a high price to pay for fresh water....

Dirk

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: What you talkin bout kenny boy? on 06/07/2011 04:02:38 MDT Print View

> I take it surfing isn't your sport?
Nope.
Mountains and rock.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Steripen users advise on 06/07/2011 04:05:25 MDT Print View

> I'd bet that 99% of failures (at least on most recent models) are due to users using
> poor quality or wrong batteries.

The first generation of the first designs had mechanical assembly problems. All replaced under warranty.
Very early models had a far-too-high off-state current drain. Isolate batteries between uses.
The current models have the benefit of a lot of production experience.

Cheers