I returned my Steripen
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jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 14:46:28 MDT Print View

I had been somewhat satisfied with my Steripen Adventurer Opti

On my last trip, I didn't take any extra batteries. The batteries in it had treated 8 pints of water. They say a set of batteries is good for 100 pints. The previous set of batteries I used treated 28 pints.

Anyway, the Steripen didn't work at all. It wasn't very cold or anything.

I made the decision that Steripen just isn't reliable enough. If I had carried an extra set of batteries I would have been okay though.

Since I bought it at REI 1.5 years ago, I returned it.

I bought a Sawyer Squeeze.

I think that will work better.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 14:53:21 MDT Print View

The Opti always looks tempting (blue light=cool). Then I remember AM drops seem convenient enough for me. Or drinking raw water, if I'm sure of the source.

John D

Locale: CO
Steripen on 05/18/2012 16:12:57 MDT Print View

I've had one for a year or so, and I still really like it. It has been reliable and basically meets all my requirements for water purification in a relatively light, compact package.

While I agree that their stated efficiency of 50 quarts on a pair of batteries is quite optimistic, I've generally treated about 40 before needing to replace the batteries. AM drops are fine if I'm alone, but the steripen is great for groups.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
placebo on 05/18/2012 18:13:25 MDT Print View

The steripen used to have a poor reputation for reliability on the AT and PCT, but they switched from electrodes to optical sensors, and that's supposed to be a lot better now.

It may depend on where you hike, but in many areas (e.g., the Sierra), the need for treating backcountry water is basically a myth. If water treatment is a placebo, then it doesn't really matter whether you have a reliable placebo or an unreliable one. More info here: http://www.lightandmatter.com/article/hiking_water.html

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 18:35:40 MDT Print View

What batteries are you using?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 19:19:22 MDT Print View

"What batteries are you using?"

That was my question, exactly.

Lots of people take the first batteries that they find and use them in a device like this, and they don't know if they are new, used, or failed. Lots of batteries in the marketplace have been sitting on the shelf too long, and they have undergone self-discharge. In a few cases, they've completely failed. You see that more in the El Cheapo brands that somebody bought for cheap on eBay. Even good brand-name batteries can fail early, although it is a little unusual.

Whenever I purchase new batteries, I put a meter on them, and if I measure anything out of the ordinary, they get set aside for some unimportant purpose or else discard them at the battery disposal place.

Last week I had a bunch of AA alkaline batteries that had been sitting around for six months. I measured the voltage on each one, and I saw 1.54, 1.55, 1.55, 1.55, 1.56, and 1.91. Guess which one got thrown out? All of the normal ones had normal short circuit amperage available, and 1.91 showed just about zero.


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 21:50:19 MDT Print View

First I used rechargeable batteries and they only treated a pint or two before failing.

Then I got 6 Energizers

The first 2 treated 28 pints before failing

The next 2 treated 8 pints before failing

I have heard a lot of people that have had success. I could have bought another set of batteries. I bought mine from Amazon. They had printed "1110A". Maybe that's a date code?

All the batteries were 3.25V when new. the 4 I used were 3.05V after treating 8 pints. The first 2 gradually went down to 3.01V when they failed. The second 2 failed when they were 3.05 V.

All the batteries are Lithium.

Also, especially when it's cold it's really hard to get the button pushed.

If I was going international where viruses are a problem, I'd make the Steripen work. I'd make sure and have plenty of spare batteries.

The Sawyer Squeeze is a bit lighter and doesn't have any batteries or electronics. I think I'll try that instead.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: placebo on 05/18/2012 21:55:19 MDT Print View

I drink untreated water a lot and question if this all isn't irrational fear.

But there are some stories of people that got sick and verified they had Giardia, although it's impossible to know for sure they got it from drinking untreated water.

I keep wondering when I'm swirling the Steripen around that maybe it's not really doing anything, and I could just stir it around with anything with the same effectiveness.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: placebo on 05/18/2012 22:33:06 MDT Print View

My pen has me spooked lately. Isn't a horn from a unicorn useful for purifying water? No batteries.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 22:36:40 MDT Print View

Something's wrong with your pen. I carried mine on the CDT. I'd go about 10 days on a set of batteries or about 30 liters.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 22:51:10 MDT Print View

I had bad luck with Energizer lithium batteries in my Steripen. They just didn't work well. Switched to a different brand and have had much fewer issues.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 23:39:16 MDT Print View

"I had bad luck with Energizer lithium batteries in my Steripen..."

First, you guys said my rechargeable batteries were no good, I have to get brand name

Okay, I got Energizer, aren't they brand name?

Now, you say, no, not that brand, you need a different brand name

Forget about it! I'm going to use the Sawyer...

(Just kidding - like I said, I could make it work if I wanted to. Maybe that batch wasn't good. Whatever...)

Scott Simcox
(Simco) - F

Locale: Nashville
Re: Re: Re: Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/18/2012 23:52:10 MDT Print View

The product is just really unreliable. For every one that a person uses for a whole year there are four people whose units fail within a month.

I want this to be good so badly! I want to like Steripens and only use them, but I just don't feel they're trustworthy.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/19/2012 01:07:45 MDT Print View

Yeah. I've had this conversation before. I ended up with a Sawyer.
It seems like if your Steripen works, it works well. If it doesn't, well, fingers crossed. Basically I don't want to have to worry about batteries, weak lamps, cloudy water, etc.. I don't hike anywhere where I need to worry about viruses, which is the Steripen's big advantage over the Sawyer. So as far as I can tell, it's all cons once the virus concern is eliminated.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/19/2012 03:19:12 MDT Print View

Jerry, yeah I am guessing you don't flip the batteries. I do this every watering hole. Even somewhat cloudy water is fine if it is treated twice. Like anything else, with an electronic switch, there is a delay for it to register the button press. It registers the change in current as an instruction to do something. Flipping the batteries will preserve them by reming ALL current drain. It takes 15-30 seconds to reinitialize the on board computer, though the lights are on. The button didn't seem to work. I don't usually notice it. But a couple times, I was trying to be efficient and did this step last. Again, it didn't work. I tried a couple times... I confirmed that this was the case at home. It took about 15sec at 65F. I am guessing somewhat longer in the cold fall weather. I am guessing there might also be differences in gadgets, too.

Being a simple device I would expect faster response from the thing. But, because it reinitializes, you cannot press the botton during this time. It will confuse it and seem to fail. Remove the batteries for a half minute, put them back in and wait.

As far as consumption goes, I get about 5-8 pints out of a set of rechargables. Unacceptable. For lithium batteries (and the hugher voltage) I get about 35-40 pints. There is a difference between the stated ~50 liters and actual usage. I have NEVER gotten more than 40 uses. 20% is a lot...but, it is closer to 50 than 0, I am fairly sure that is their advertising people with rounded numbers playing "SELL IT, SELL IT..." to eachother with QC taking the hit.

I do not personnaly feel that tis is a true problem. I do not believe most advertising, or, expect less because they lie. So, your course of action is a good one. Return it if it doesn't meet spec. Demand another. Then, in turn return it if it doesn't meet spec...really. Unless you can afford a big shot lawer and have spare dollars to burn, Spending $5 on shipping will be the only thing you can do.

That said, I like the UV for short trips. The packaging and electronics really SUCKS. But, the mUV is no better. It has minor issues(battery charge) and is subject to breakage. Just hook it up to a battery after ten or twenty liters...it will report charging all day, but work fine. ???

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/19/2012 08:30:33 MDT Print View

I think older units had problems with leakage - you have to flip one of the batteries to prevent. Newer Steripens are supposed to be better.

Of my 6 batteries:

The first 2 I left in the Steripen for about a year un-flipped. They treated 28 pints. Maybe if I had flipped them between uses they would have done a few more.

The second 2 batteries I carried around with me for a year, in a plastic bag with misc. stuff. Occasionally it got a bit damp, but just barely. Then I put them in the Steripen and treated 8 pints. Left them in Steripen for about a month. Then they didn't work.

The third 2 are sitting here - 3.26 volts.

The button, I think, is engineered to not come on accidentally, so it's hard to activate. I think it's harder when it's cold. Maybe it's that my fingers are cold so not as good at pushing. I think someone with a little Arthritis or whatever would find this a problem.

Like I've said, I'm not totally down on Steripen.

The Sawyer Squeeze is much better, but they say you can't let it get below freezing which is a problem. Maybe they're being overly conservative.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/19/2012 10:41:23 MDT Print View

I've tried a couple and wasn't impressed. Stuff needs to work, plain and simple and more so at the price of these devices. So it's back to a Sawyer filter and/or chlorine dioxide and waiting.

Jim Larkey
(jimlarkey) - MLife

Locale: NoCO
Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/19/2012 11:05:29 MDT Print View

Not exactly "apples to apples", but my SteriPEN Traveler shows 0.0 (zero) milliamp discharge in the "off" mode, when measured with my Fluke 179 MM, with a resolution of 0.01 mA. Absolutely zero discharge while off.

Does anybody know factually what the PEN folks say about the need for battery reversal/discharge on their units?

Has anybody actually measured the leakage current in the off mode?

I currently have DURACELL ULTRA CR123A LITHIUMs which open-voltage at 3.06V...and the PEN works fine.

Jerry, I'm not saying yours doesn't: I'm just adding a data point.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: I returned my Steripen on 05/19/2012 11:48:06 MDT Print View

Actually 3.06 V is consistent with my data : )

One set of batteries failed when they got down to 3.05 V

The other set failed when they got down to 3.01 V

This is open voltage after they rested for many days. I assume the voltage graduall increases a little after you use it.

Jim Larkey
(jimlarkey) - MLife

Locale: NoCO
CR123 Discharge Curve on 05/19/2012 12:02:39 MDT Print View

Jerry the rapid drop that you are observing in your CR123s, from approx 3.3 => 3.0 is typical and OK. Not a sign of a bad battery. You can see on the nominal discharge curve below for a CR123 that what you are observing is OK, and typical.

I sure wish somebody has some hard numbers....or the PEN folks enter the discussion.

CR123 Discharge Curve

Edited by jimlarkey on 05/19/2012 12:04:18 MDT.